El Nido Bangka and White Sand Beach

Exploring El Nido: Daily Life in Palawan’s Biggest Small Town



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My brother Preston came to visit the Philippines this February, and I decided that a nice introduction to the country would be a trip to the legendary El Nido in Palawan. Kris and Kristen Kerecman from my Peace Corps group are in the enviable position of being assigned there, and rolled out the red carpet for our visit. This photo section has photos around the town of El Nido to give you an idea of what the place is like.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    The trip to El Nido started out for us in the very posh pre-flight waiting area of ITI Airlines. The monkey on the wall watched Preston curiously while he drank his jet lag cup of coffee. After all, he had only been in the country for about 5 hours.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Departures get coffee, arrivals get tea. No formal waiting area at the El Nido airport.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Baggage claim was also very informal, just pick your luggage up in the little hut.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Before long our tricycle to El Nido rolled in.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    The tricycle ride was short, and in no time we were in El Nido and checking in to our bungalow on the beach. This boat was just a short walk from where we stayed.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    I like the fact that the alleys in El Nido aren't filled with trash dumpsters and stray cats, but are beaches themselves. I think I may have read somewhere that this is illegal though.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Preston pointed out the street signs in El Nido had a New Orleans French Quarter-style look.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Fresh fish is pretty much always on sale in El Nido from street vendors like these women.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Fresh produce is also easy to find here.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    I couldn't resist taking yet a few more photos of colorful peppers.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Old Mick, the scary monkey who lived beside our bungalow is in need of a jail break, and maybe a pair of monkey boxer shorts.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Just a short walk outside the ITI pre-flight area, the small charter plane warms up on the runway.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Roosters here also have their internal alarm clocks set to 4 a.m..

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    The first place we stayed in El Nido (for only one night) was guarded by odd bow-legged dogs like this one. They might have resembled old West gunslingers if it weren't for the scabies and limited range of motion.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    We moved down the beach to the next night to Dara Fernandez cottages where they didn't have wretched dogs, but they did have this nice rattan hammock that Preston always snagged first dibs on.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    They did have a pair of young cats that usually wanted to be included on our adventures. We didn't spend much time naming them, this is a photo of "Gray".

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    And here's his friend "Orange".

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    The entrance to Dara Fernandez is lined with bird of paradise flowers like this one that is covered in stinging ants.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    A lot of the activity in El Nido happens around the beach; especially at sunset a lot of the kids from the town come out to play by the water. Not a bad place to grow up!

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Sunsets over Cadlao Island and El Nido bay are usually great.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    The bay is pretty sheltered so there are only small waves lapping at the shores of the beach.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    El Nido may be small, but it does have a bit of a nightlife before the town electricity generator shuts down at 1 a.m.. Squidos Restaurant has good food and is a popular hangout especially for visitors from out of town.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    No concourse ride to hitch a flight on this jobber, just climb up the small retractable stairway.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    After dinner at Squidos, we made a trip to this local hangout where musicians played some local songs mixed in with the U2 and R.E.M. covers.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Gambling sometimes begins at an early age here.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Our bungalow at Dara Fernandez cost about $8 a night and had a nice porch for hanging out and eating Cloud 9 candy bars.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Preston manned the kerosene lantern.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    The next morning Preston and I had some mango pancakes, though this stray dog wanted to join in for some eats.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Here's something you don't see everyday in the Philippines. Preston had a quarter left in his pocket from his trip from San Francisco so he put it down as a tip for the mango pancakes.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Inside the plane it is only one seat on either side of the aisle and you can even see the pilots in the cockpit in front of you.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    After about an hour of flying, we began our descent past El Nido's most visible landmark: Cadlao Island.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    What a welcome! An oxcart, five singers and a guitarist were standing at the edge of the El Nido runway when our plane landed.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    Manila to El Nido in one hour, I think Preston appreciated skipping the harrowing ten hour bus ride that was Plan B.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    I think this is the first dirt runway that I've landed on, but probably not the last.

  • El Nido, Palawan - February 2005

    El Nido, Palawan - February 2005
    This jeepney provided a very distinct local brand of curb service for some of the arriving passengers.