Puerto Princesa often rewards those who know how to look. Some are hidden from the eyes of the world, like the Gems of I found through the years of living here. No, I’m not talking about the shiny precious stones, but the incredible places that you won’t find anywhere else. When you hear ‘Palawan’ I’m sure that the first that came to mind were world famous tourist destinations like the Underground River, El Nido and Coron.
Palawan offers so much more and I’ll take you to the gems that surround the crown— Palawan.
Kicking off my exhilarating adventure is a trip to Nagtabon beach; a preferred location for surfers and those that steer clear from a crowded location. Getting to Nagtabon is a breeze compared to the journey towards El Nido, here are your options;
- Go to San Jose Terminal via tricycle or multicab, the latter option is a lot cheaper.
- At the terminal choose from any of the following bus routes and have them drop you off at Bacungan: Taytay, Roxas, El Nido or Sabang.
- When you reach Bacungan, catch a tricycle that will take you directly to the beach.
- From Robinson’s Mall Palawan, keep right towards the North Road for about 20km.
- Once you catch sight of Bacungan Elementary School, trust me you won’t miss it, turn left and keep going for 8 more kilometers.
- Follow the main road until you reach the section going uphill, from there turn left again.
- The downward passage will take you away from the main road, a kilometer more and you’ll arrive at Nagtabon Beach.
The moment that the sand got between my toes and the unmistakable smell of the ocean was present, the stress of everyday life disappeared even for just a while. Cerulean waters demanded appreciation from the visitors through a quick dip or an afternoon lazing around in the available cottages. A morning of relaxation could still work up an appetite, fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about bringing food; thanks to the eateries available at the beach. Choices may be limited, but beach menu must-haves are in abundance; fried food, liquor, junk food and of course grilled fish and meat. I highly recommend renting a cottage, for only 200-400 pesos you’d have additional space and privacy.
As the afternoon wore on, we traveled to Nagtabon’s View Deck for a different kind of scenery. Offering a bird’s-eye view of Nagtabon cove, watching the sunset from the view deck is an experience worth the additional effort of getting there. The vast blue ocean’s melody plays on the right, meanwhile, mountains and forests display beauty on the left, both connected by the sands of Nagtabon beach in the center. And when the sun slowly sets, everything is tinged in an orange hue to commemorate the moon in the sun’s absence. Just prepare 10 pesos as an entrance fee and do be careful where you step because this is a cliff after all.
Heading back to the beach and deciding to make the most out of Nagtabon, I booked a place at an Airbnb (Playa Paraiso) hosted by Bonivie. The charming 2-storey house is complete with the essential toiletries and cookware. The entire second floor is the sleeping area, which is great if you’re travelling with friends, while the dining area is located on the ground floor. The owner has available gear for surfing, snorkeling, Frisbee and volleyball; but what this Airbnb doesn’t have though are Wi-Fi, TV and air-conditioning. It didn’t prove to be a problem because I came for the opportunity to stargaze comfortably by the beach. Sunsets are one thing, but looking up at the clear sky, under millions of stars evokes an entirely different kind of awe; it was the perfect way to end the day.
Since I was already at Nagtabon and it was my mission to get to as many hidden gems as possible, Talaudyong beach comes next on the list. Located only 8 kilometers from Nagtabon, why not visit? Getting there is fairly easy if you’re coming from Nagtabon. Just head back on the same road until you reach the downward passage and head right, opposite from the road to Nagtabon and follow the road. Talaudyong beach was only recently commercialized and is far less crowded than Nagtabon. The water was surprisingly calm and cold. Another big plus, especially if you’re with friends that don’t know how to swim, it takes a good distance from the beach before the water actually reaches four feet high. Talaudyong is serene and clean but they don’t have any stores or eateries so for those who want to spend a day here, make sure you bring everything you need from food to toiletries.
Palawan is so much more than the Underground River, El Nido and Coron. Don’t get me wrong, these are paradise on earth but if you’ve visited all three there are many more left to experience. All the places I shared is but a glimpse of Palawan’s true features and beauty. As you grab the opportunity to experience it for yourself, I sincerely hope that you leave the place as clean as you found it, if not even cleaner.