Our little family spent 7 days in Palawan from May 8-14 for Sancho's 1st birthday celebration. We couldn't have it any other way. Why spend so much money on a birthday party (obviously intended) for other people when you can spend it on the people that truly matter the most? Naks. The beach bum family conquers Palawan! We took Cebu Pacific because it is the cheapest option. The flight was an hour delayed though. That's the service you get for the price tag :P
Right when we arrived, we stayed in Casa Linda at Puerto Princesa. This is a clean and cheap pension only 2 minutes away from the airport via tricycle. Our bamboo inspired, air-conditioned room costs under P1,000 per night. M calls it 'spartan-like' amenities. Very basic. No wonder this place is famous within the backpacker community.
5 am the next day, we headed out to San Vicente via an uncomfortable, sardine-packed shuttle ride which lasted 6-hours because of all the stops (think jeepney ride). I can't complain because this is the cheaper way (P250 per head) as compared to renting a van which would cost about P3,500. San Vicente is the jump off point for several islands. There we took a 2-hour boat ride (should've been 1 hour but the waves were not cooperating).
We finally reached our destination- Coconut Garden, Cacnipa Island way past noon. It's a beautiful *super secret* beach resort with dormitory type rooms as well as private huts (no aircon here, just fan or none at all! Go au naturelle like we did, relying on the beachside breeze. An almost perfect island except for the food. Their menu consists of pasta, pork, beef, or canned tuna. You're in an island with no available fresh seafood except when there's catch which is rare I think. Strange. M says Palawan probably exports most of their seafood. We were supposed to stay for 4 days but we cut it to 3 days due to poor food selection. Sorry, can't live without glorious food! But I highly recommend this place for people who aren't so picky with food.
Nipa Huts with solar fan P860 per night only. For reservations text 09183702395. They have limited rooms / huts so best to call months ahead.
This is my favorite photo of the whole trip. We were low on diaper supply so M created a makeshift from his shirt! So fitting with Sancho's 100% organic top!
Sancho and mummy enjoying the only day the sun shined! Yes, I wasn't even able to swim because later that day it began to drizzle. Bummer. We made a mental note to travel in March or April and never in May because of the capricious weather.
Back in Puerto Princesa we stayed in Puerto Pension, another decent place made out of 'natural materials' for that exotic feel. Our small room costs P1,200- had air-condition and cable tv (yey!) plus free breakfast. It had better amenities than Casa Linda but we weren't so happy about the size of the room and location of the place. This is why we moved back to Casa Linda the very next day. Ha!
Culinary musts in Puerto Princesa
1. Kalui for their reasonable local food presented in an upscale manner. Reservation here is a must as they are always full for dinner. (369 Rizal Avenue, Tel. 933 2580)
2. Kinabuch, a stone throw away from Kalui, for the bar & grill type but very good food esp. their Pinakbet!
*Important fact: both Kalui and Kinabuch, a 2 minute walk away from Casa Linda! How convenient!
3. Vietville (I don't know why everyone was raving about it. They use Star Margarine for their french bread..yuck. Pho Hoa is heaps better!) just because it's a destination with a history.
4. Badjao Seafront - Sadly, I didn't get to try this but we hear they have good seafood.
5. Hainz Chicken Inato - Palawan's version of the Chicken Inasal. Take a 3-minute trike to this place from Rizal Ave.
I noticed trike drivers ask an average of P20 - P35 if you are Filipino but are not from the area. Locals pay only P6 per km :P I wonder how much foreigners end up paying?!
Places of Interests around Puerto Princesa
People ask us why bother visiting Puerto Princesa? Because it's the cleanest and greenest city in the whole Philippines! Also, it is the capital city of the world's last frontier! There is so much potential and we even are thinking of moving here in a few years!
Aloha House is an orphanage built by an American who is funded by an organization. To help raise money, they grow organic vegetables and even have organic farm animals. Have you ever tried organic bacon??? Interesting place. M went nuts and is now growing his own organic garden in our backyard because of this field trip.
Iwatig Prison Colony - There is a souvenir shop located inside their massive compound. M was able to buy and sneak out one of their orange prison shirts for P250. They warned him not to wear it in Palawan OR ELSE!
Kamarikutan Art Cafe - We enjoyed our quiet lunch here amidst trees and fish in the pond. Tip : wear insect repellent because there were tons of mosquitoes prowling about.
We skipped the Crocodile and Butterfly Farm because it was raining. My only regret is not being able to go to Honda Bay. We were looking forward to spending a whole afternoon at Dos Palmas (apparently the only resort at Honda Bay) for P1,800 lunch included. Sadly, the weather did not permit it. But I am hopeful there will be a next time :)