The Perfect Beach
Finding the PERFECT BEACH…
Firstly, everyone’s definition of ‘THE’ perfect beach is very different: some may want complete solitude; others may want loud music and the chance to dance in the sand with water washing up between their toes; whilst some may want the pleasant sound of Bob in the background and a nice cold drink to watch the sky turn pink and the sea a deep blue! What’s your definition of the perfect beach?
So, where is the perfect beach?
After 9hours on a bus I arrive to a small coastal town in the north of Palawan. It’s 1030pm, there’s a torrential down poor, also known as ‘queenie’, its pitch black, and everything is closed or full. My friendly tricycle driver, Alan, takes me around to at least five places before I find a small little dark hole to rest my head. It has a bed and a fan so after the day I’ve had, to see the Puerto Princesa Underground River which I don’t recommend, that was all I needed, even if it was a little damp. The rain was crazy and I could barely hear myself think, then the dogs started barking and the toads started croaking and all I could do was laugh. This is the Curious Columbus way 😉 – and you know what – I actually enjoyed it. I was in a tiny room with barely enough space for a single bed and my case, the rain was hitting the tin roof and the wind was screeching through the glass panes and paper thin walls, as if I was driving 100mph in a tropical storm, but for £8.50 I couldn’t complain – I was pretty happy with my little, cosy, damp, smelly, noisy room. It’s amazing how content you are with basic things in life on your travels, as it all comes down to the simple life and I had it – a bed and shelter.
TIP: Always book your first night accommodation and try not to arrive to late, especially during bad weather conditions.
Obviously the only noise missing aside from the dogs, frogs, wind, rain, fan, bugs, birds and bikes were the cockerels which started around 5am. It sounded like I was in some kind of zoo and when I opened the window I realised why? I was backing onto a swamp.
As soon as I woke I went for my little orientation walk around El Nido, poncho in hand of course which I hate with a passion as in tropical places, with heavy rain, you sweat inside so get wet anyway, so it’s all a pretty pointless exercise really.
TIP: Always carry a waterproof jacket and rain-cover for your backpack, as conditions can change very quickly and you don’t want electronic or sentimental items getting wet.
A few little streets run parallel to the bay, which I can’t quite see yet but you know it’s there and I can feel it. Its like when you’re driving to the coast and even though you can’t see the water you know it’s on the horizon as you hit that last open stretch of road that takes you there. The streets are made up of dive shops, hostels, guest houses, souvenir shops and small independent travel operators that offer everything from airfares, boat excursions, motorbike hire and taxi fares. As you walk behind the last street you discover the bay which is everything you expect it to be: limestone cliffs cutting into the skyline; boats lining the water; fisherman returning from their overnight catch at one end and boat excursions beginning at the other; clusters of tourists and backpackers strolling along with no place to be and local children playing on the water’s edge – I already know I’ll be back here some day.
The storm was still passing so after I escaped from my swamp nestled tin/paper room I found myself a new bed at a lovely little guest house right on the water. I chilled at what seemed to be the busiest place there, going by the number of flip flops that were parked outside, and sat at the bar. I met some cool guys from San Fran, ordered a tuna steak and a Clemenson, basically a local OJ, and prepared myself for a productive afternoon of planning itineraries, writing blogs and editing videos.
After a solid days work I went for a run, winding through the slightly unkept back streets of El Nido, passing through the local working communities, that keep the town running, hidden from the perfect beach. I got to check out the other end of the bay which has a small cooperative community and gorgeous views of El Nido. You really get to see the size of it, only a few km long, hugged by limestone cliffs and surrounded by 1780 islands, which is where you’ll find the perfect beach whatever your style.
TIP: For Organised trips, you can use local operators and guides for around 1200 – 1500 pesos or you can get together and organise it yourself for around 500 each, but be prepared to negotiate. Alternatively you can hire a kayak and do it yourself for the same, 500 pesos, just like we did…
TIP: know your limits. Its tough kayaking out here and the sea can be quite rough so make sure you give yourself enough time to rest and get back to El Nido bay.
I’m not sure if it was due to the long day we’d had or it was just a great spot, but the sun was setting and as Bob Marley echoed around the bay, from the one and only reggae bar, with fires lining the shore I knew this was the perfect beach for me!
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