Two weeks ago we headed west as we visited the beautiful island of Palawan, however planning the trip took a lot more time than we had anticipated. If you Google Palawan many of the stunning images that first appear belong to the area known as El Nido, one of the more northern areas. Upon searching for flights we discovered that the trek up to El Nido is approximately 6 hours by van from Puerto Princesa, where Palawan’s major airport is located. Now, we could fly into El Nido’s airport, but this would more than triple the price of airfare, or we could suck it up and take the van.
As we were looking to land at around 11am on Monday, this meant we wouldn’t arrive in El Nido until approximately 5pm, spending the entirety of our first day in a car. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fair share of long car rides and it’s not a problem. However, when I have to be back by Wednesday night at the latest, it only really leaves one full day before I’m back doing that 6 hour ride again. We weighed the pros and cons, and decided to leave El Nido for a future trip. As much as I’m dying to get there, we opted for a little island paradise a bit closer, Dos Palmas!
Dos Palmas is located on the beautiful island of Arreceffi located within Honda Bay, about 30min by car and then an hour ride by banca. This little slice of paradise was just what we were looking for! Welcomed by wonderful staff, we immediately felt right at home. The resort is absolutely beautiful with tons of space and great facilities including a pool, spa, restaurant, sports center and dive shop. We made our way over to our second-storey room, which had a stellar view of beach as far as you could see. After quickly getting settled, Robin insisted we go snorkelling, and so it was off to the dive shop with us!
Now I’m not a strong swimmer, so I was a little nervous rushing right off into the water. Although once we got in there – and I stopped choking on the water in my snorkel – I could see why he was so excited. There was tons of various species of coral, and so many fish that would swim right up to you! I’ve only been snorkelling once before this in Australia, so I couldn’t believe when the fish wanted to be (almost) friends! Luckily I brought with me a waterproof bag for my phone, so I could snag a few photos below the water.
One word of advice however – DON’T sit on the ledges of the platform that go into the water. I don’t know if my skin had an allergic reaction to the algae or I sat on some jellyfish, but I had lines of stinging red bumps across my butt that were incredibly itchy!! In summary: watch where you sit, and if you question it at all, just stand for fear of a constantly itchy behind!
Despite this minor setback, our stay was incredible. The food at the restaurant was absolutely delicious as we indulged in a variety of dishes like the Filipino Kare-Kare (big enough for two with rice and great for peanut lovers!), seafood like fresh mud crabs, and the more typical vegetarian pizza. All of these dishes are reasonably priced, with the most expensive thing being 420PHP if my memory serves me right (about $12CDN). Every dish was filling and we couldn’t be disappointed with anything! Did I mention a buffet breakfast was included each morning? Yep, we were spoiled!
Each day, Dos Palmas organizes a short 2 hour trip to a small local island where you can enjoy the crystal clear blue water and explore just a little more of what this beautiful country has to offer. Robin and I spent most of it running around taking pictures and enjoying the view, but if you stay here this is a must-do! Be sure to bring flip flops though, there’s a lot of broken coral which is brutal on the feet!
Taking full advantage of the aquatic activities, we also did some kayaking to check out more of the natural beauty around the island. As snorkelling was confined to one area, we decided to venture a little further out to see what critters we could find. I was startled when I looked up to see this crazy little creature flying across the top of the water like a skipping rock only to jump back in the water again. Apparently this is known as a flying fish, and it’s (to quote myself) “the derpiest thing I’ve ever seen.” After clearing the tears from my eyes due to laughing so hard, we managed to find some awesome areas of coral… and even a blue star fish!
However, I think I’d have to say the highlight of the trip for me was on our first night, Robin decided to take me for a walk to work off some of the food baby I had accumulated. We wandered along the beach towards the pier and managed to make our way to where the boat was to take us snorkelling. At this small dock we sat down and looked up to see what is the biggest concentration of stars I’ve ever seen. Since Dos Palmas is a fair trek from the main island, it meant little to no light pollution. I didn’t bring my phone and it would have been to hard to get photos anyway, so you’ll just have to take my word for it or go see for yourself!
We didn’t want to leave this quiet little paradise, which was apparent as we almost missed the last banca back to the mainland after a day of relaxing by the pool. Dos Palmas is a perfect place to hide away from real life and enjoy some peace and quiet. Honestly, unless you’re near the pool or the restaurant, you rarely see a soul. It feels like you have the entire island to yourself!
Am I sad I didn’t go to El Nido? Nope, because sometimes it’s okay to save things for later. If we didn’t, we’d have never ended up at the picture perfect Dos Palmas!