Tao Philippines, Day One

The majority of my short time in The Philippines was spent on a Tao Philippines expedition between El Nido and Coron. This company, founded by two friends, one British, the other American, is the only company that does ‘tours’ through the archipelago in northern Palawan between El Nido and Coron. While being relaxing (the majority of each day consists of soaking up the sun onboard the boat), the trips also give you an insight into the everyday life of local Filipinos, allow you to snorkel the beautiful coral reefs and WWII Japanese shipwrecks, each delicious local foods and just soak in the atmosphere of the island lifestyle. Tao Philippines also donates part of the money you pay for the trip to local communities, assisting with schools, educating locals and even helping in the typhoon relief.

The first day we set out early in the morning, about 8am, from the Tao House in El Nido. We quickly got to know of fellow travellers (15 in total) and the crew on the boat. During the first day, we left from Papaya Beach in El Nido, snorkelled at Tapiutan and swam out to Nacpan Beach. The evening was spent at The Farm (a camp and farm set up by Tao Philippines, employing local people and teaching them agriculture). Here we received a free massage (subsides by Tao) from the local women and spent out first night in little huts, only a few metres from the beach.

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El Nido, The Philippines

My first few days in The Philippines were spent in and around the small town of El Nido. And what a lovely welcome it was too. Spectacular scenery, gorgeous people and beautiful weather (apparently I missed a lot of rain back in Sydney). It could not have been any better.

El Nido is a small town, but is rapidly developing as a result of tourist flocking to the area. A few people I bumped into said that they were in El Nido a few years earlier. They mentioned that the town as grown significantly and the roads into town have been greatly improved to facilitate traffic in and out.

There isn’t much to do in El Nido itself, but there are plenty of day tours around the surrounding islands, lagoons and beaches. Named tour A, B, C and D, they will keep you occupied for at least a few days. If you want to spend a day relaxing by the beach, asked a tricycle driver to drive you to Las Cabanas beach. The trip is 150 pesos each way (approximately AU$4). Or you can make a return deal with your driver for 200 pesos. There are plenty of places to eat, with most restaurants being full in the evenings. Just remember, the entire town runs on a generator, so during daylight hours, there is no electricity, unless your accommodation runs on its own generator (we did experience an evening of pitch blackness when the town generator failed).

The reason I chose to begin my travels in El Nido, in the northern part of the island of Palawan, was to join one of the Tao Philippines expeditions, which run between El Nido and Coron. The following posts will offer more information about this amazing company.
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Essentials

Getting There:
I took a flight with the private airline Island Transvoyager from Manila. A little more expensive than the commercial airlines which fly to Puerto Princesa, but it saves you a 6-8 hour bus trip. The service before, during and after the flight is something to write home about. Also remember, they do strictly charge you excess baggage for each kilo over 10kg

Stay
I stayed at El Gordo’s Guesthouse in El Nido, which is located slightly out of the centre of town, in the village of Tandul. Run by a lovely American/Filipino couple, Gordo and Cristina, the place feels like a home away from home. And it has a lovely view out onto the bay too.

Eat
Fish and Seafood! El Nido is a fishing town, so you’re almost guaranteed to have plenty of fresh fish on offer wherever you go.