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Monday, June 11, 2012

What We Did in San Vicente, Palawan

Rainy season has started but for us, summer isn't over yet.  In the middle of some intertropical convergence zone, we found ourselves in San Vicente, Palawan.  San Vicente is accessible by private hired van from Puerto Princesa.  Twas a grueling four hour ride on rough road more than half of the way on a rainy day.  Upon our arrival late in the afternoon, it was drizzling and there were rips on the shore.  We were left with not much to do but to stretch and lay in bed to give our butts some rest and here's what we did the rest of our stay:

Played: Party Flippo

With occasional rain showers, after dinner, we entertained ourselves in a hut by playing Party Flippo.

Party Flippo is an app downloadable on an ipad or  an iphone.  It's much like Pinoy Henyo where you split into two teams. Each team member takes a turn at being the "guesser". A random word is shown to the guesser's teammates as he/ she tries to guess what it is by asking questions. The team members can only answer with a Yes, No or Maybe.  Party Flippo' keeps track of the players' turns, scores and timer and is available in English or Tagalog.

At the end of the night, we laughed our hearts out on the most outrageous guesses and hints we made.

Ate: Lamayo
dried fish marinated in citrus

Attempted: Survivor Challenge
Excited and psyched up with some real Survivor challenge, we were quite disappointed with the parlor games.  See the rest of the story here.

Island Hopped: Long Beach, San Vicente

The next day, we had a peak of long beach.  Unfortunately, our outrigger boat could not dock because of strong rips.  We just stopped there for a few minutes and took some photos.  There's practically nothing else but a 14 kilometer long stretch of off white sand beach, with countless number of coconut trees perfectly lined near the coast. It looked promising though, if you're up for some real rustic experience, this must be it.  If I were with a different group, I would have loved to explore it.

Island Hopped: Exotic Island, Port Barton

An hour boat ride away is Exotic Island, which is part of Port Barton.  I could just imagine how pretty the island would look when viewed from the top, where a sand bar on shallow waters connects two islands.  These photos doesn't even do justice.  On the corner, these stones provides a very picturesque spot for photography, the other side was a stretch of white sand with some good snorkeling spot.
I should have written Port Barton instead of San Vic (short for San Vicente)
Island Hopped: German Island, Port Barton

Named after a German writer who took inspiration and once lived on this island.  We soaked up in the warm sea water while the rain poured with cool breeze.

Watched: Poi

In the evening, we entertained ourselves (again) with some yoga for the brain... Poi.  One of our companions was gracious enough to show us his talent and did the fire dance, something he has not done in ages, but we gazed in awe.

Watched: GGV

Stuck in a remote area where there's practically nothing else to do in the evening, some of us prepared sangria and giggled the night away with Gandang Gabi Vice.

Our trip to San Vicente, Palawan was one for the books.  Although we felt short changed by a deal we got over at Deal Grocer, when what was offered was not delivered, we made do with whatever good vibes that was left.  May it be adventures or misadventures, cheers to my travel buddies namely ruffaG. of Cebu, the fire dancer, the coke ambassador, the busy bee, the soon to be ironed man, the rapunzel, the dramatic writer, the abstract iron man. :D

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Capari Resort, Palawan Survivor Getaway Reviews

One rare evening, I chanced upon TV Patrol (a local news program) featuring the long beach of San Vicente, Palawan stretching about 14 kms, probably the longest in the Philippines. The idea immediately came to me that I shall visit the place one of these days. A few days later, deal grocer flashed a deal called Capari Survivor Getaway. Ecstatic about the listed itinerary, I sent out an invite to my travel buddies.  8 young professionals overwhelmingly responded to my invitation.

Capari Resort is located in a very remote area in San Vicente, Palawan, accessible by private van for four hours on extremely rough road more than half of the time from Puerto Princesa.  The road condition worsen especially on a rainy day.  As part of the package, we were picked up by a van at the airport. The van wasn't a private van of the resort but one used to shuttle tourists or available for hire.

Upon reaching Capari Resort, I was taken aback by the ambiance of the resort, it didn't appeal to me.  The rooms are small, equipped with very basic ammenities. The bed for two is a double bed (queen or king beds are not available). Third person is charged with mattress laid out on the floor, the room is too small that by doing so, the room can only be half opened. Mosquito nets (except for the extra bed) is hanged overhead. Obviously, mountain mosquitos is abundant in the area, insect repellant is a must.

Food is tasty but portions is extremely small and expensive for its serving.
chicken was tasty but 1/8 chicken part per person is definitely not filling

Capari Resort is located on a cove on its own, with the beachfront privately accessible by its guests.  The beach sand is fairly fine and white, but sand fleas is abundant, rain and waves can also be strong in months other than February to April.
interesting itinerary right?  but none of these were delivered :(
If you are looking for a place to stay near the long beach of San Vicente, this is not the place.  Overall, we left Capari Resort disappointed.  Half of us headed to El Nido, savoring the remaining good vibes that was left. We could have let it pass but subsequent events led us to believe we were deceived.  We were not here for the resort, nor for the food, not even for the beach.  We were here for the so called "Capari Survivor Challenge".  It challenged us in a different way though... what was promised was not delivered, not even an attempt to deliver, we had to prod them several times even for the simpliest task to do a briefing.  Looking back, there were signs that the resort wasn't actually true to their offer.  They quickly respond to inquiries via email or phone however, as soon as we bought the vouchers, they hardly reply.
even this review on tripadvisor looks suspiciously bogus.  ms. marinas is connected with the resort

A week has passed, we haven't heard from Capari Resort.  On the other hand, Deal Grocer in a matter of hours agreed to refund the full amount.  This was the gist of our complaint as written by my friend sunjun.


Incident Report
Deal Grocer 3D/2NSurvivor Getaway for 4 at only 9,600/person” Deal at Capari Resort
·         To show that the deal was grossly overpriced.
·         To show that it was false advertisement.
·         To show the lack of intent from the resort to deliver and provide what was promised.
I. Background
·         A group of 9 individuals (4 men, 5 women) went to Capari Resort in San Vicente, Palawan to avail of the 3D/2N Survivor Getaway offered by Deal Grocer
·         Since there were 9 of us, we bought 2 coupons and opted to pay 8,600 pesos, as quoted by the resort manager, for the extra person.
·         The group stayed at Capari Resort from June 2-4, 2012. 
·         The reservation was made around the last week of March 2012.

II. Pricing
·         According to the Deal Grocer site, the whole package was valued at 80,800 pesos but it was being sold at a 60% discount of only 38,400 pesos.
·         Package Inclusions as stated in Deal Grocer:
·         Breakdown of prices according to our research
Price (Pesos)
2 Deluxe Rooms
Capari website (3,250+ per Deluxe room as of June 6, 2012)
3,250 x 2 x 2 = 13,000 pesos
Van transfers from/to Puerto Princesa airport
Capari website (7,500 per van per way, max 8 pax)
Daily set breakfast, lunch, merienda, and drinks for 4 persons
Continental Breakfast – complimentary with the Deluxe room
Lunch and Merienda estimated at 750 pesos per pax per day.
750 x 4 x 2 = 6000 pesos.
Survivor Challenge / Resort Activities
·         According to our research, subtotal of the whole package not including the Survivor Challenge and resort activities is only at 34,000 pesos.  This led us to believe, by simple arithmetic, that the remaining Survivor Challenge activity must be worth around 46,800 pesos.
·         Further validation of this observation came from  Ms. Sharon Padua, the resort manager, herself.  In an email correspondence dated March 27, 2012, she wrote
"The package for deal grocer is a special one of a kind deal.  We even went to the extreme by having 20 performers welcome each survivor group as a kick off for the "Survivor Getaway" package.  We have combined survivor challenges and island hoping in one trip.  The package has really been down played in Dealgrocer."
click on the image to zoom in.
III. Meals / Meal Concerns

·         Estimated cost: 750 pesos for lunch and snacks, Breakfast is complimentary with the rooms.
·         The resort sent us Set Menus for the Deal Grocer package just a few days before our visit to the resort. 
Day 1:
·         For day 1 we chose Set Menu B.  Late lunch was requested due to limited availability of flight schedules and flight delays. 
·         Set Menu B as emailed to us by the resort.
·         Set Menu B as served by the resort on June 2, 2012 for 3 persons.
·         This was served together with a few slices of Watermelon as well.  And instead of Banana Turon, we got a handful of Camote (sweet potato) covered in caramelized sugar.  I leave it up to you to decide whether our estimate of 750 pesos is reasonable.
·         We ordered 2 bottles of Coke and were charged for the drinks.  We presumed that drinks are not included in the set meals.   
·         The second group from Cebu arrived around 5 to 6 pm and was served the same menu except the Camote was no longer available. 
Day 2:
·         For breakfast we ordered a mix of Longganisa, Lamayo, and Tocino.  We have no complains.  Generous portions, tasty, and delicious.  Water, Coffee, and Juice were available as well.
·          For lunch, we ordered Set A and Set C.  Here are the menus as emailed to us by the resort.

·         According to Ron-ron, the resort staff who took our order, the fish in set C would be around 250 grams.  We were worried that it might not be enough so we ordered an extra fish to go with it.
·         Here’s our lunch as prepared by the resort on June 3, 2012.
·         The Veggie Spring Rolls in set A were missing.  Instead we got grilled vegetables. 
·         We paid for the extra fish.  I leave it up to you to decide whether our estimate of 750 pesos is reasonable enough. 
·         In addition, note that this menu was prepared for 9 people.  We paid for an extra person rate of 8,600 pesos for the same experience. 
·         Also note that lunch came with 9 free soft drinks (Coke).  Makes us wonder why soft drinks weren’t included for lunch on the first day.
·         For snacks, there were no Bananas in caramel sauce.  We instead had Camote in caramelized sugar again.  We also were served only 4 Tuna Sandwiches.  Kind of validates our suspicion that Set C was prepared for only 4 people.  What happened to the extra person?  Was he included in Set A? Why don’t you go back and count how many pork chops there were in the picture.
·         Discussion in the Deal Grocer site indicated a Deal Grocer representative as stating “Some people actually find that the lunch and merienda are filling enough to have just a v light snack for dinner.”
IV. Survivor Challenge / Island Hopping
·         Estimated cost based on Deal Grocer site and our research:  46,800 pesos for 4 pax.
Day 1:
·         Day 1 itinerary as indicated in Deal Grocer
·         The group from Manila arrived around 15:00 while the group from Cebu arrived around 17:00.
·         There was no welcome note directing us to report to a Game Master.
·         There was no Welcoming Rites.
·         We had to prod and ask for the briefing and welcoming rites several times.
·         Any of the staff we asked didn’t seem to know of such an activity happening for that night, strengthening our claim that the resort had no intentions of providing such an activity.
·         In addition, we were looking for the 20 performers that were suppose to welcome each survivor group as mentioned by the resort manager in her email.  Remember that bold line from her stating that the deal was “downplayed” by Deal Grocer?
·         Not only was it mentioned in the email, it is shamelessly being advertised at the resort’s Facebook page as well.
·         The resort manager sighted several times the rainy weather as an excuse.  Apparently there was no contingency or back up plan.
·         There are several covered areas in the resort that could have served as the venue if the resort had real intentions to deliver what was promised.
·         Due to our insistent prodding, a briefing of the next day’s activities was done by the Resort Manager after we had dinner.  She just stood at the edge of our table and spoke for about 3 minutes. 
·         Apparently the next day’s schedule and activities were very flexible.  Another sign that the resort didn’t really prepare a program for the Survivor Challenge Day.
Day 2:
·         Day 2 itinerary as indicated in Deal Grocer
·         Sample itinerary starts at 08:30.  On day 1, the resort manager said that their “Island hopping” usually starts at 09:00. 
·         Island hopping is quoted because that is how she referred to the Survivor Challenge Day.  And I’ll show you later on that that was exactly what they only intented to offer.
·         Since it was raining in the afternoons in San Vicente, we requested for an early start of 08:00 the previous day.  The request and idea came from us and not the resort.  We had the impression that the resort manager really wanted to start 09:00 am and not 08:00 but, we were happy that she obliged to our request.
·         We requested to pass by the Long Beach as well.
·         There was no Message in a Bottle activity.  Instead, we hiked to the tribal council and did the Maze challenge.  Our concern of heading out early so we can dodge the rain later in the afternoon was offset because of this activity.  Another sign of a lack of planning from the resort.
·         After the Maze Challenge we boarded the boat and headed for Long Beach.
·         We just passed by Long Beach.  We didn’t swim.  We didn’t dock.  We just watched it from afar for about 5 minutes.
·         We headed next to Exotic Island.  Just swam maybe an hour before our boatman/game master called us for supposedly another survivor game.  Our boatman/game master hid 40 eggs in shallow water and tasked each team to look for their corresponding eggs.  All in all the game took only about 5 minutes.
·         Our crew didn’t bring with them enough Snorkelling gear.  They probably only had 2 masks and 1 snorkel ready.  It was a good thing most of us brought our own gear.  I guess snorkelling gear is not part of this survivor package.  I wonder how the resort expected us to participate in the game without masks.  Due to lack of equipment, some of our team mates had to be content with looking for eggs in areas where the water level was only knee deep.
·         There were only 2 huts in the island.  The island seems to be public.  At first we occupied both huts.  After a few minutes though, another boat arrived and we had to vacate one of the cottages to give way to the new group.  Note that we bought 2 deal grocer coupons.  If we weren’t on the same group, would the 2 groups be forced to occupy the same hut? 
·         After lunch, we were informed that “if we wanted” to do another game we can challenge the teams to build the best shelter out of only the raw materials in the island.  We were dismayed and bored, we opted to skip this challenge and just head on to the next island.
·         The next island was the German island.  We just swam there.
·         We inquired about “Swimming with the Turtles” they only cited that it was difficult because of the weather.  If the weather was so difficult, then we shouldn’t have been out there in the first place.
·         There was no cook out challenge. 
·         There was also no cooling down at the water falls.
·         We were back in the resort by around 15:00. 
·         Finally a hint of planning and intent from the resort when they informed us that there will be an awarding ceremony at night.
·         Night time came, we had dinner.  The resort served an extra fish dish and said that it was complimentary.  Take it as the award for the winning team they said.  That was the whole awarding ceremony.
·         Was this all worth 46,800 pesos?
·         Note that on a separate email correspondence dated March 27, 2012, we asked the resort manager (Sharon Padua) how much the island hopping / snorkelling with the Turtles activity costs.  She wrote that it costs “P4500/day trip.”
·         Note that in El Nido, the whole day island hopping tours offered by El Nido Boutique is only at a maximum of 1,000 pesos per head (Tour C).  It’s 1,400 pesos per head for Tour A  if you take the Kayak with you.  These island hopping tours come with free lunch as well (pork barbecue, grilled fish, mixed veggies, rice).
·         Note that in El Nido, you can rent a private boat with lunch for a whole day for only about 4,000 pesos. 
·         Note that we bought 2 deal grocer coupons and the resort saved on both manpower and boat because we only took one boat.
V. Rooms
·         Very small rooms with poor amenities.  We can’t complain as we have been forewarned by the resort manager that it’s a “modest” resort.
·         One issue we had though was the fact that the extra person will have to sleep on a mattress that’s only laid on the floor.  Each bed in the resort is equipped with mosquito nets for good reason.  The extra bed will not have a mosquito net.  How can they oversee this need?
·         In addition, the rooms are so small that when you lay out the extra bed on the floor it will either block the doorway or the path going to the toilet already.  It’s not a very good situation to be in.
·         Shampoo and conditioner offered are mere L’Oreal sachets.  In most rooms, only one set was placed even though they knew 2 people were staying in the room.  We had to ask for extra.
VI. Other Concerns
·         Insistent prodding from the resort staff requesting that we check out early the next day.  First it was Let-let, a resort staff, who approached me after dinner the night before to inquire what time we planned to leave the next day.  When I informed her that we didn’t plan to leave until 11am she advised that we should leave earlier.  She informed me that the vans will be waiting as early as 8am.
·         On the day of our check out, another staff approaches one of my companions asking her if we could leave earlier like say around 10am.  She said the staff advised that we leave earlier so that we can drive in convoy with the other van carrying a different group of guests.  This was supposedly for safety reasons.  When in fact, I believe it would have been safer to leave at a later time to allow the roads to dry out a bit because it rained heavily around 6am during that day.  Besides, the other guests were passing by Long Beach.  An attraction we already have been to and are no longer interested in.
·         At around 10:30am, just about when we finished eating breakfast, the resort’s electricity shuts down.  The resort manager informed us that there was a black out.  We were beginning to feel unwelcomed.
·         A Korean contingent was checking in that day.  Could they be the reason for all the rush?
·         We finish packing and finally board the van that was to take us to Puerto Princesa.  It was in the resort since 8 am.  When we boarded the van, we couldn’t understand why the driver wouldn’t still drive.  As it turned out, the air conditioning was busted.  He informed us that it was busted and that we should open the windows on our way to Puerto Princesa.  What?  There was nobody from the resort at the parking area to attend to us. 
·         This was when I had to go back inside the resort to look for the manager and ask for a new van.  Nobody checked the air conditioning all the time the van was parked in the resort.
·          After a few calls, the resort manager informed us that a replacement van would be coming in 5 to 10 minutes.  At this time, the resort manager is already passing on the blame to the van company.
·         A man arrives on board a motorcycle.  I thought he was a mechanic.  It turns out he has planning to hitch a ride back to Puerto Princesa with our van.  What?
·         The replacement van doesn’t arrive until 45 minutes later.
·         But before the replacement van arrived, I make a passing remark asking Sharon to turn the electricity back on.  By some miracle, the electricity turns back on and we were allowed to wait inside our rooms with the air conditioning on.  Could it be that there was no black out after all? It certainly looked that way. 
·         The replacement van that arrived was from a different van company.  It was from Fort Wally, a van service known to transport passengers publicly.  It was stinky and dirty.  Dried mud were present not only on the floor but on the seat covers as well.  The windshield mirror had a crack on it. 
·         Due to the delay in van arrival, we lost the time to stop somewhere and leisurely take our lunch.  We had to do everything in a rush.
·         Furthermore, upon arrival at the airport, to our embarrassment, the van driver asked us for the payment.  Apparently, they weren’t informed on who would be paying them.
VII. Conclusion
The lack of intent to provide what was promised as a unique “Survivor experience” was very obvious from day one.  The resort’s idea of a Survivor experience was to organizing a few games together with an island hopping experience.  Except for the tribal council structure which we just visited, there were no banners, no set ups to contribute in providing a Survivor ambiance. 
If what we got was all that was intended by the resort for the deal, then the deal is grossly overpriced.  We could have gone on our own without buying Deal Grocer coupons and it would have costs us less or probably just about the same amount.  We chose the resort for the single reason to be able to experience the Survivor getaway that is currently being offered only by Capari Resort.  If we simply wanted to go island hopping and snorkelling, we would have chosen a different destination.

We have been to all kinds of resorts from all over the Philippines (from Davao all the way to Batanes).  If it were only for the inconveniences, we would have been able to get over them in just a few hours.  We encounter inconveniences on every single trip.  We've learned to accept them.  It is the lies, the deceit, and the lack of intent to provide that bothers us most.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Planning a trip to El Nido, Palawan

Even before I could compose my thoughts and publish this post,  I was back in El Nido, Palawan sooner than I thought.  I must have fallen for the place so much that I don't mind going through long hours on rough roads to get there, not just once but twice for the past thirty days.

Along with my colleagues, we were planning on a trip to Palawan, to see the Underground River after it was proclaimed as one of the 7 wonders of the world.  On Christmas Day, airfare has gone on sale, for our planned trip in time for the Labor Day holidays.  We hurriedly purchased a ticket with Cebu Pacific Air from Cebu to Puerto Princesa at half the price.  We scouted a few travel packages but decided to do it on our own.  As I was pretty much occupied with work, it finally dawned on me two weeks before the trip that I ought to make some reservations.  Contrary to what is written on the net, the permit to enter the Underground River required two months prior booking.  Ever since it was proclaimed as one of the 7 wonders of the world, local and foreign tourists has flocked this site.  We were left with no choice but to change plans, visiting Puerto Princesa isn't worth the trip without a trip to Sabang to see the Underground River.  El Nido must be the next best thing, deep inside me, it's the best thing.  A trip to El Nido has been on my bucket list for the longest time.

El Nido became popular because of the luxury resorts of El Nido Resorts in Miniloc Island and Lagen Island and soon to open Pangalusian Island which is frequented by affluent individuals including hollywood stars.  For many years, I've equated El Nido with luxury resorts and chartered flights.  Actually, this is so untrue.  Anyone with meanial budget can still enjoy the beauty of El Nido.  Here's how we made it to El Nido on an affordable budget without compromising comfort.

How to get there:

1. By Air:

We took the plane ride from Cebu to Puerto Princesa on Cebu Pacific Air.  Prior to our departure, we have pre-arranged private van transfers with Lexus Shuttle to pick us up at the airport and to shuttle us all the way to El Nido.  

In Puerto Princesa, we stopped at Badjao Restaurant since Ka Lui (the more popular one) was full for lunch.  At half past two, we started the long 5 and half hour ride to El Nido.  We made two pit stops along the way.  It was a relief to see that the road was already concreted four-fifth's of the way.

The shortest way to get to El Nido is by chartered flights on Island Transvoyager Inc. (ITI) they fly three times a day from Manila to El Nido Town at a price of P6,700 per way.  El Nido Resorts guests normally enjoy a preferential rate of about P10,000 round trip.

ITI Hangar No. 5-03-127, Andrews Avenue
(near PAL Medical Center)
Domestic Airport, Pasay City

Tel. No.: +63 (2) 851 5664; +63 (2) 851 5674; +63 (2) 851 5670Fax. No.: +63 (2) 854 1418; +63 (2) 852 8151 E-mail:

Return flights from El Nido to Manila can only be booked through El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe.

El Nido Boutique & ArtcaféSirena St., Buena Suerte
El Nido, 5313 Palawan Philippines
Telephone:  Office hours: 7:00-20:00h
Office:  +63-9209026317         +63-9175604020

If you find the chartered flight too much like I do, Cebu Pacific Air flies direct from Manila and Cebu to Puerto Princesa, while Philippine Airlines flies only from Manila to Puerto Princesa.  Also check out Zest Air.  Check out their site for the latest flight schedules.  

2. By land:
From Puerto Princesa airport, one can head to San Jose Terminal, then take the public bus (8 hours) or  commuter van (6 hours) to El Nido or pre-book a private shuttle van like we did.

Option 1: Public RORO Bus (*airconditioned) fare is at P480 and runs regularly with the following schedule:
  • Puerto Princesa to El Nido – 4AM, *6AM, 8AM, *10AM, 12NN, *2PM, 4PM, *6PM and *10PM
  • El Nido to Puerto Princesa – 4AM, *6AM, 8AM, *10AM, 12NN, *2PM, 4PM, *6PM and *10PM
Option 2: Lexus Shuttle Vans scheduled departures or private van

  • Puerto Princesa to El Nido Schedule: 5AM, 7AM, 10AM and 1PM
  • El Nido to Puerto Princesa Schedules: 5:30AM, 8AM, 9AM, 11AM, 2:30PM
Puerto Princesa Office - +639121002651, +639175859602
El Nido Office - +639121002653, +639175859612

There are other shuttle provider such as Eulen Joy and Fort Wally however, Lexus Shuttle has better reviews online.  Do visit for more information, he did a very comprehensive post about it.

Since there were six of us and traveling with kids, we pre-booked a private shuttle van with Lexus Shuttle for P6,000 per way, others charge P7,000.  It was worth the premium compared to taking the public van for P750/head or bus at P500/head.  It can get cramped on the van, with four people sitting in a row.  The van was clean and fairly new and the driver drives safely.  If you wish to book with them, simply give them a call with the above mobile phone numbers, payment will be made at your destination.

Option 3:  Booking through travel agency like Maple Travel and Tours

On a separate occasion, I had to arrange through a travel agency since we were a big group arriving in different flights. About 30+ of us, are travelling from Puerto Princesa to Sabang (Underground River Tour) then to El Nido and back to Puerto Princesa.  They charged us P1200 per pax for underground river tour plus P15,000 for roundtrip van transfers to/from El Nido on a Nissan escape while the driver stayed overnight in El Nido for 3 nights.  Their vehicle was quite comfortable because it has a headrest and wide leg room.

Maple Travel and Tours
+639175902345, +639189511338

Option 4:  Booking through Daytripper's executive coach/van

I've not personally tried their service but their executive coach and executive van looked comfortable each having a head rest.  Considering the 5 hour drive to El Nido, a little premium for comfort is worth the price.

Executive coach (12 seater) P900/pax
Executive van, a toyota grandia (10 seater) P800/pax

A private executive coach costs P10,500 per way
A private executive van costs P7,700 per way

The only drawback is they only have one unit each available for now.

Check out their site for details and availability 
+63 917 8488755
+63 921 7423683
+63 48 7230312

Where to Stay:

To stretch your peso, instead of checking-in luxury resorts in a private island, there are quite a number of options in El Nido Town and we've stayed in three of them:
We stayed for a night at Garnet Hotel that we booked through The hotel is new, the rooms and bathroom are spacious and clean, service was great too.  It is located right in the middle of El Nido Town, although it's not beachfront, the road is too narrow that it remained a stone throw away from the beach.  We can see the beach from the windows. We got the family room for P2,500 good with breakfast for 3 persons, with 1 queen bed and 1 single bed.  On the other hand, the deluxe room at P1,800 comes with 1 queen bed and breakfast for 2.  The rooms comes with aircon, lcd tv, towels, basic toiletries and free wifi.  Electricity is available only between 2pm to 6am, like the rest of the town.  The hotel is still finishing up the rest of the floors and is expected to be in full operations by 2013 and plans to have their own generator for 24 hour power.  (update 2013:  the hotel now has a generator running during the day, enough for lights and hot water) The hotel looked vibrant in orange, probably one of the very few modern buildings in town, a standout amongst its neighbors that looked very rustic.  Complimentary breakfast was served across the street at Habibi Restaurant with a spectacular view of El Nido Town beachfront.  During our checkout, we met the owner who was gracious enough to offer a ride on his brand new Kia Picanto when it was raining.

El Nido Beach Resort is beachfront on one side of El Nido Town.  Since rooms were not available on agoda on our preferred dates, I had to call them to make reservations, however  the front desk entertains only email communications for reservations and does not guarantee your booking unless you do money transfers through M Lhuillier or Palawan Pawnshop or through their korean bank account.  We got the cheapest room at P3,000 with buffet breakfast and three single beds but without the seaview.  At first glance, we felt it wasn't worth the premium compared to Garnet Hotel unless you upgrade to the seaview room.  At the end of the day, I appreciated the incredibly sound proof room that kept me sound asleep inspite of the noise on the road outside.  Electricity is available only between 2pm to 6am like the rest of the town.
  • Marina Garden Beachfront Inn,, +63917624 7722 or +63908884 3711

Marina Garden Beachfront Inn is located in the middle of El Nido Town on the beachfront, they probably have the widest frontage.  They have quite modest rooms, country villas are newer and airconditioned while native cottages are rustic and fan cooled.  We opted for standard rooms of the country villa since these looked more modern, cleaner and fairly new.  The best thing about them is, there is no payment required to reserve a room.  Electricity is available only between 2pm to 6am like the rest of the town.

NATIVE COTTAGES (fan cooled, breakfast at P120/pax) 
Cottage                    PHP990/night for double occupancy, Triple sharing P1,140   /   Quad sharing P1,290
Family Cottage       PHP730/night for double occupancy, Triple sharing P880

COUNTRY VILLA (airconditioned, with free breakfast)
Maximum capacity: 4 adults. Recommended capacity: 2 to 3 adults.
Townside Room                      PHP1,580/night for double occupancy, Triple sharing P1,900   /   Quad sharing P2,220
Standard Room                        PHP2,110/night for double occupancy, Triple sharing P2,480   /   Quad sharing P2,850
Deluxe Room                            PHP2,490/night for double occupancy, Triple sharing P2,860   /   Quad sharing P3,230

What to do:

Island Hopping

El Nido Town may have a stretch of white sand beach, but it is not ideal for swimming.  Quite a number of outrigger boats dock on the shore and noticeably waste water is thrown into the sea in some areas.

Island Hopping is definitely a must.  Tourists need not worry how to book a tour.  As soon as you get into town, there are quite a number of stalls offering tours and these stalls offers fairly the same program.  For us, we opted to book through the hotel, I would assume, the hotel knows the service provider better.  Booking through the hotel offer pretty much the same service and rate and they will take care of logistics and the bill is usually charged to the room whether it is a private tour or not.

The most common tours being offered are tagged as Tour A, B, C and D.  If there is anything you should not miss, is Big Lagoon and the Small Lagoon which is part of Tour A.  Tour A is best, then tour C, then tour B.  The tour normally comes with lunch which your boatman will prepare and cook on one of your stops.  If you want to own your time, itinerary and some space on the boat, you may opt to hire a private boat like we did otherwise, you may opt to join scheduled departures with other tourists, at 9 in the morning and ends by 4 to 5 in the afternoon.

The best time to visit El Nido is during the height of summer, between February to May when the sea is calm and less chances of rain.  El Nido is famous for its lovely landscape of the numerous karst around, unspoiled marine life, sunny days and white sand beaches.  Altogether, El Nido island hopping experience deserves a separate post.  Here's my tips on the best island hopping tour in El Nido.

If you insist on booking on your own, you may inquire at

Where to eat:
  • Sea Slug
    • This is probably my favorite place to hangout in El Nido Town. It is located on the beachfront, at night, tables are set up by the beach. They serve great seafood at reasonable prices.  Crabs were billed at 350/order (for 3 pcs medium sized)! Drinks such as the margarita and daquiri were good as well. They have great singers that play good music all night long. If you opt for a more quiet escape, go dine at El Nido Corner Beach Restaurant.
  • (El Nido) Corner Beach Restaurant
    • Located on a more quite part on one end of the beachfront of El Nido Town. The candle light setup sets the mood. They serve great seafood, do order the prawns in lemon butter sauce.  The pizza (filipino style), chicken curry and crepe was also good. It takes a while for food to be served, come when you can leisurely wait. Otherwise head to Sea Slugs.
  • Alternative Restaurant
    • Their specialty is the banana heart curry. It was great but i'm not a fan.  On its menu, you practically have the option to say how you want your food cooked.  The restaurant is on the 2nd floor on the sea side, the view is best enjoyed during day time. 
  • Habibi Restaurant and Sisha Cafe
    • We had breakfast in this restaurant (complimentary from Garnet Hotel).. The food was average but who would complain when you can sip a cup of coffee with a view of the beach and limestone cliffs (karst).  It is more popular for its Sisha at night.
  • Altrove
    • This restaurant serves brick-oven baked pizza, owned and operated by a Slovinian national for the past 8 months.  One has to go up barefoot on the 2nd floor where ambiance is great and food was particularly good.  Order the pasta with fungi (mushroom), any flavor of the pizza, and the gelato ice cream was also great.
  • ArtCafe
    • Food choices was limited. Taste wise, Nothing great, nothing bad, just average.  Being one of the first decent restaurants in town, it has remained as an icon.
  • Squidoo
    • An interesting cozy restaurant (not on the seaside) owned by a French guy.  We didn't get to try this but they also got good reviews online.
Now, you have enough information to experience El Nido like we did. Go!