My Monkey Prize: Free Accommodation and Tour to El Nido!

I recently won in a blogging contest by Two Monkeys Travel from which I was entitled to a trip to El Nido, Palawan: Free 3 days & 2 nights stay at the Ocean Vista Inn and free Island Hopping tours (A & C) courtesy of Sealand Venture. If you would like to check my winning piece, (shameless plug he he) here's the link.

Anyway, the free accommodation and tour package is good for two persons only while we were three who traveled just 2 weeks ago to claim the prize. So, we paid the extra person for the accommodation and tour. This post will also provide you the itinerary and costs breakdown if you're planning to visit El Nido soon. :) 

If you're coming from Manila, the most common way to El Nido is to book flight going to Puerto Princesa. There exists an airport in El Nido but it's privately run.You can do other options on how to get there as well based on this site. We arrived in Puerto Princesa Airport on Thursday, we don't have contacts on any van or even on our accommodation that night, luckily, the tricycle driver was really kind to help us find a cheaper deal going to El Nido and that's by a van which would usually would cost around 550-600 pesos but we we're able to get it for 500 php per head. 

If you're a type of person who doesn't like to travel for loooooong hours, I think this would be the downside for you when you go to El Nido for it would usually take 5-6 hours before you get a glimpse of the beauty of the place. Please take note that the last trip of the van is 7:00 pm so be sure that you already have a place to sleep when you arrived late in the afternoon in Puerto Princesa. 

Our receipt for PPC-EL Nido van transport 

Our van left Puerto Princesa at around 4:00 pm and arrived in El Nido Town Proper at 10:41 pm. We then checked in at Gemini Lodge for 500 php per head with breakfast included.

Our room in Gemini Lodge, I think this is good for solo or if you're 2-3 persons as it costs 500 php per head with breakfast. aircon and wifi included. 
We checked out at Gemini Lodge at around 10 am the next day then checked in to Ocean Vista inn. Since the tours in El Nido starts at 09:00 am, we just decided to visit the famous Nacpan Beach. We also dropped by at corong-corong view deck for the sunset watching but it started to rain, so yeah, it was a failed attempt.

Our Deluxe room in Ocean Vista Inn. Since the room is good for two persons only, we paid the extra bed 500 php for the extra person. 
Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach 

 Corong-corong viewdeck

We got back at 6:30 pm then had our dinner at Jarace grill. The food was okay, it was too pricey for me. I think this again is one of the downside of El Nido. The place is already overcrowded with foreigners, prices of goods and services went up. It's a good news for locals, of course, but for us backpackers who doesn't want to spend too much on a vacation, it's a drawback. Please take note also that the water in the whole town proper is not safe to drink, so expect that a 500 ml of mineral water costs at 40 php. My piece of advice is if you could buy at least 3 liters of mineral water in Puerto Princesa, then do it as it's cheaper there compare in El Nido. If you would also like to save more money and you're not a picky eater then bring some canned foods, trust me, we've tried looking for cheaper restaurants there but foods really costs around 250 php and up. There are carinderias, but don't expect too much. 

Jarace Grill Restaurant

We started our tour A the next day, Saturday. Please be reminded that tour rates in El Nido are standard for all operators. But you can still haggle for the price. Just try to negotiate with the tour operator.

The standard rates: Tour A: 1200 php, Tour B: 1,300 php, Tour C: 1,400 php, Tour D: 1,200 php


Our first stop for Tour A: Small lagoon
 Having fun in Small lagoon!  

Our 2nd Stop: Shimizu Island! We also had our sumptuous lunch here.

3rd stop was in secret lagoon. It's not as enthralling as the other tourist spots. 

Our 4th stop. Since big lagoon is really that BIG, we just took pictures and passed through it.

Playing around in 7 Commandos Beach

Loving the clear waters of Seven Commandos Beach! 

Our last destination was in 7 Commandos beach. It was named as such because of the seven soldiers who were trapped and lived in the island.


Our tour the next day started with snorkeling and swimming in Helicopter Island.

Fair enough to call it Helicopter Island, eh? :)

Mermaid look? he he.

Our 2nd stop for tour B and my favorite spot! the Hidden Beach. It's really hidden when you passed by the nearby area, but there's a hidden passage where you can see the beauty of this island! 

Isn't it amazing???? LOL 

Taking some photos in Hidden Beach.

Our 3rd stop for Tour B was star beach, BUT there is a 100 php entrance fee for the island and since majority from our boat didn't want to pay extra charges for the entrance fee, our boat did not go near the island. Instead, they just let us snorkel around the area. I  think it's kinda unfair for the tourists paying 1,400 for tour C.

snorkeling around star beach island.

Staring the starry star beach from afar. huhu.

Secret beach was our 4th stop for tour B. I dd not try to go inside as it was like a "buwis buhay" thing to do. (WOW, so conyo LOL).  There was a really tiny hole where you should go through. But the problem is if there's a high tide, you need to chance upon the tide where you can swim under the hole and finally go through inside the island.

It looks awesome inside. :) 

We were supposed to visit for our last stop the Matinloc Shrine, but yeah, there's also an entrance fee of 100 so they just brought us again to the snorkeling area. 

Overall, the experience was really great! Though, in my personal opinion, they should just exclude or substitute the private islands with entrance fees if their visitors doesn't want to pay extra charges. I think it's fair enough since 1,400 php is still a big amount for just a couple of islands that can be visited for free.

Since we still have a day remaining before going home, we stroll around Puerto Princesa.

We dropped by at Baker's Hill to eat our lunch.

Playground inside Baker's hill

Inside Mitra's ranch which is just a few walk near Baker's hill. There's an entrance fee of 20 php per head.

Our last DIY tourist destination! Iwahig firefly watching! this place was really great! I just don't have a good photo for the fireflies, but one of the best things in this place aside from the fireflies are its people, they are well trained. They don't just discuss about the fireflies and mangroves, they also have the laser for teaching us a bit about the constellations! awesome, right? It's a must visit for me in Puerto Princesa.

Here's our Itinerary 

4:40 pm etd puerto princesa
6:40 pm stop over at rexa's restaurant
8:41 pm stop over at taytay palawan
10:41 pm check in at gemini lodge

June 10

10:50am check out at gemi lodge
11 am check in at ocean vista inn
1pm lunch
1:30 pm etd going to nacpan beach
2:30 pm eta nacpan beach
4:30 pm etd nacpan
5:10 pm eta corong corong viewdeck
5:45 pm etd corong corong viewdeck
7:00 pm dinner at jarace grill (too pricey)

June 11

9:18 am start of island hopping tour A
9:48 am eta small lagoon
10:53 am etd small lagoon
11:01 am shimizu island
11:53 am etd shimizu island
12:03 pm secret lagoon
12:41 pm big lagoon
1:00 pm etd big lagoon
1:20 pm 7 commando beach

June 12

09:30 am etd el nido town proper
10:01 am eta helicopter island
10:47 am etd helicopter island
11:16 am eta hidden beach
12:01 pm etd hidden beach
12:20 pm eta star beach
1:30 pm etd star beach
1:38 pm eta secret beach
2:10 pm etd secret beach
2:28 pm eta snorkeling area
3:00 pm etd snorkelig area
4:00 pm eta el nido town
6:20pm etd el nido going to pps
11:36 pm eta baywalk inn puerto princesa

June 13

08:00 am wake up call going to bakers hill
8:18 am boarded jeep ppc proper (blue) going to baker's hill ( can also ride jeep with signage sta. Monica or irawan)  15 php each
8:48 am eta tricycle terminal going to baker's hill 10 php each
11:08 lunch at baker's kitchen (260 php supreme pizza)
1:11 pm eta Baywalk-inn
7:15 pm eta going to iwahig firefly
7:57 pm eta iwahig firefly
8:58 etd iwahig firefly

Here's the breakdown of our expenses:
3000-back and forth van transfer from pps to el nido
100 meryenda sandwhich
200 dinner (rexa's)
1500 php for gemini lodge
2300 php for 500 php extra person per night and (900 tour c, 700 tour a + 200 environmental fee)
250 lunch
100 entrance fee nacpan  beach
1500 tricycle tour to nacpan beach
755 dinner at jarace grill
300 kayak
100 souvenir
120 shakes for 2
415 dinner at maa's grill
610 dinner at altrove pizza
950 check in at baywalk inn puerto princesa
190 foods souvenir baker's hill + 25 water
20 php each entrance to mitras ranch
260 pizza + 242 carbonara and palabok
150 tricycle going back to lodge 
600 boat rental at iwahig firefly watching
700 tricycle going to iwahig
950 accomodation again for extension stay im Baywalk-inn
15, 070 for 3 persons 

Important Contacts:
Baywalk-inn Puerto Princesa: 09175444695
Van from PPS to El Nido: 09051415370
Ocean Vista Inn and Sealand Venture El Nido (look for sir philip): 09175616080
Iwahig Firefly watching: 09167809118