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If there’s one place I could suggest to my friends on where to go on their next travel adventures, it would be El Nido. Ranked as the most beautiful beach in the world for two consecutive years, beating Bora Bora and Koh Phi Phi, El Nido will engrave itself to your heart and mind, making sure you can never get enough of the place.

There are many options on how to get to El Nido. The most common is to book a ticket from PAL or Cebu Pacific Airline (MNL-PPS), then rent a private van (takes about 5-6 hours to arrive in El Nido), or commute riding a bus (6-8 hours). Another option is to fly directly to El Nido. There’s a chartered plane by AirSWIFT that offers daily trip. This is the fastest (travel time is less than an hour from Manila), and most expensive option (~PHP 7,000 per way).

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Many travel agencies offer tour in El Nido, but Kat, a fellow traveler, suggested that I contact Pawikan Hostel for accommodation and island tour. Our trip to El Nido wouldn’t be amazing, and smooth sailing if it weren’t for Bryan Batac, the owner / manager of the hostel. He arranged the land transfer, and contacted boatmen and tricycle drivers for our private and public island tours, also including our Puerto Princesa tour.

Pawikan Hostel is a perfect place to stay for travellers who are looking for a budget-type accommodation.  There are two types of rooms available: private room (good for 2-3 pax), and dorm room (good for 4 pax). For solo travellers, you can avail a bed on their mixed dorm room. Accommodation is inclusive of breakfast, and rooms are all air-conditioned.

Honestly, the price we paid was worth it. Like I said, the service was great. Although, there was a minor issue, Bryan was able to settle it quickly. The people in the hostel were very kind, and accommodating. And did I mention they offer free coffee? Seriously, it was god-sent. LOL

The place is also accessible from restaurants, and souvenir shops. There are no banks, but there are ATMs at the municipal hall. Bring enough cash just in case the machines become offline.

There are five tours offered in El Nido: Tours A-D, and inland tour. The town proper is swarming with local agencies that offer island tours. The prices are standardised for all agencies, so it doesn’t matter which one you pick. In our case, it was included on the package we availed in Pawikan Hostel. The rates for each tour are the following:

  • Tour A (PHP 1,200 / person): Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Secret Lagoon, 7 Commandos Beach
  • Tour B (PHP 1,300 / person): Entalula Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave, Pinagbuyutan Island
  • Tour C (PHP 1,400 / person): Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Star Beach, Helicopter Beach
  • Tour D (PHP 1,200 / person): Cadlao Lagoon, Nat-Nat Beach, Paradise Beach, Bukal Island, Pasandigan Beach
  • Inland Tour (PHP 1,500/ person +PHP 500 if going to Taraw Cliff): Nacpan Twin Beach, Las Cabañas Beach, Nagkalit-kalit Falls, Bulalacao Falls

I recommend that you allot one day per tour to enjoy the island hopping activity. Since tours are usually public or shared with other travellers, you can opt to avail a private tour (charged differently than public tour) if you want to do two tours in one day (i.e. Tour A & B for one day).

As of January 2016, the price offered for the Underground River Tour in Puerto Princesa is PHP 1,800.00, including the boat, licensed guide, buffet lunch,  and transfers.

Other services offered by Pawikan Hostel are: ferry transfer to Coron, van transfer to Puerto Princesa or Port Barton, and laundry service.

Pawikan Hostel is located at 119 San Joaquin Street, Puting Bato, Zone 2, Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan. For more information visit the Pawikan Hostel website, and like their facebook fanpage.