If the idyllic photos of crystal blue waters and immaculate beaches on ‘The_Philippines’ Instagram don’t have you searching Skyscanner immediately for cheap flights then hopefully this blog might.
Composed of 7000 picturesque islands, it can be hard to decide where to visit during a trip to this incredible country. As a rule of thumb, we usually stay no more than 3 days in one spot, which gave us roughly 3 places to visit in 10 days, excluding our 1 night in Manila. And after many tense discussions, we choose El Nido over the chocolate mountains of Bohol which meant our plan shaped up to look like this: Coron Island (3 nights), El Nido (3 nights), beautiful Boracay (3 nights) and Manila (1 night).
Starting off with reason #1545 to visit the Philippines, I have to begin with the beautiful Philippino people who radiate sheer happiness and beauty, well certainly the ones on the island do. I suppose if I could live in Boracay every day then I would be smiling from ear to ear also, but I found everyone we encountered to be incredibly helpful and kind. Another reason would be the price; life on the islands is cheap. At roughly 60 cents for a rum and coke and around £20 a night for a 3* hotel, if you book in advance, you can travel around the Philippines and not worry about taking out a loan once your bank statement comes in at the end of the month.
Photo: Coron Island
Arriving into Manila, we planned to get the once a week ferry for 16 hours to Coron Island. I realise that you could fly, which would be much more time efficient, but the boat was only €9 including dinner and breakfast, which is a steal when you’re living life on the edge.
I would, however, recommend getting the ‘upgrade’ for an extra €5 to an 8-bed or double cabin or else you’ll be in the tourist class with 300 other locals and travellers hugging your personal possessions as you sleep.
At around 9am, we arrived in Coron Island and took a 40 cent bike taxi to our Coron Ecolodge Hotel. It was perfectly clean and well priced at €20 a night. I think prices may have increased slightly due to the Tripadvisor awards they keep receiving but the staff are incredibly helpful and the breakfast is more than enough.
Photo: Somewhere in the deep, deep blue.
Coron Island isn’t the most beautiful island in the Philippines but if you take the day trip boats out to the surrounding islands, you’ll be blown away. Boat trips cost around €13 per person including a fresh BBQ lunch, island hopping and snorkelling.
Fresh off the boat seafood is available at most of the restaurant in Coron. La Sirenetta Seafood Restaurant & Bar at the end of the pier is great for a sunset dinner and cocktails, Altrove Coron is a cosy pizza restaurant where diners can sit on the cushion on the floor and enjoy the candlelight atmosphere.
The Concepcion Waterfalls are an hour away on a motorbike, however, I didn’t think they were particularly special, especially compared to the sights you’ll see on the boat tours. The local kids also would tag along with you and tell us their harrowing stories and ask for money…. it’s hard to say no so be aware.
We ended up at the popular travellers ‘No Name Bar’ in the town a good few nights and were convinced by the local lads to go to the one ‘nightclub’ in the middle of Coron called ‘Hard Rock’… It was basically a tin shack with Shaggy on repeat so we downed the 60p rums, mixed with the locals (shout out to Kevin!) and had thee best night.
Photo: Chilling in the middle of the sea near Coron.
After 3 days on Coron Island, we took the early morning ferry, hungover from all the dancing with Philippino Kevin, and headed to El Nido to meet some friends. I’d also book accommodation in advance as its quite busy and since we were there just after New Year, it was slim pickings.
We spent 3 days here, mostly on boat tours diving, canoeing and visiting the neighbouring islands, which were stunning.
Photo: Possibly Banana Island on the boat tour.
For dinner, we ate at Mezzanine El Nido for Pizza and a terrible restaurant which I can’t remember the name of to warn you, sorry. If I went back I’d definitely go to the new Vegetarian burger restaurant, Vegetarian Burger El Nido.
Then we moved onto meet more friends in Boracay, my favourite spot on our 10 day Philippino tour.
Photo: Boracay Station 3.
From El Nido, we flew to Kalibo airport which cost around £100 (€110). Flying straight to Boracay/Caticlan Airport can be slightly pricier than flying into Kalibo as its next to the island and saves you the 90-minute minibus trip to the ferry port. The minibus costs 200 pesos (£3/€3.30) and the ferry from the port to Boracay takes around 30 minutes and costs the same including your taxes.
The island is divided into stations, 1, 2 and 3. Station 1 is where you arrive into on boat, Station 2 is more touristy and has some fast food chains which I didn’t like. We opted to stay in the quiet yoga, hippie part of the island in Station 3. You can walk to station 2 in less than 20 minutes.
The boat tours aren’t as good as El Nido, but the island itself has a lot to offer, not only for its beauty but also things to do.
We rented a boat for half a day and went to a Crystal Cove to jump off the planks, or to watch the boys jump off the planks more like. For sunset drinks, head to Diniwin Beach. It’s a great chill out spot with ambient tunes, great happy hour cocktails and an amazing view of the sunset.
Also if you’re feeling adventurous, rent a parasailing boat. Only when you’re 50 metres above water tied to the boat by a string (it is a rope, I’m over exaggerating) do you realise it’s terrifying!!
Photo: Wee Gypsy Girl and Wee Gypsy Boy Boracay sunset sailing.
During the day, book yourself in for a massage or a yoga class on the beach in the morning or just generally chill out. BLISS. Enjoy!