We started our adventure in Cebu! What a beautiful city, I should say that from the moment we landed we were amazed with how clean it was! Coming from Singapore we had low expectations but Cebu surprised us. Upon arrival, we got our SIM cards with data for a week right outside the airport and it cost us 500 pesos for about 7GB data (this information may be important for those of us who need to make calls home, especially since we were going to the islands with poor connection). But, if you are adventurous and want no connection, by all means do it!
In Cebu, we stayed in an airbnb "Myra's bedsit" in Horizons 101 condominium for 3 nights. This cost us 47 SGD each person which was really cheap considering it was clean and at a great location! We would definitely recommend it to anyone planning a few nights in Cebu.
Osmena peak and Kawasan falls
We booked our tour about a month earlier just because we were on a tight schedule and wanted to be prepared. We booked with Cebu tours and it cost us 61 SGD each person. This tour included the driver and lunch. The journey to osmena peak took us 3 hours by car depending on traffic as sometimes it could be longer! Osmena peak is worth the journey and money! The view was magnificent! The trek up takes about 20 minutes but be warned it could be slippery with loose rocks. It is considered a beginners route but we did find out that there is a harder route that takes about 2 hours so you may consider that if you like. We had a guide who was very kind and patient! He spent quite some time taking pictures of us and even climbed higher peaks to help us take the perfect picture! Tip here would be remember to bring a jacket, it gets a little cold up at the peak.
After the peak, it takes about an hour to get to Kawasan falls. When you get there you will need to walk for about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the falls. It is required that everyone wears a life jacket as the locals say the water is very deep and can be rough from the falls. When we took our first dip we were freezing! The water was very cold, we could not sit there for long. Maybe it was just the cloudy day? As we know this time of the year it gets chilly and rainy. One tip here would be to know if you take a picture with the "I love kawasan falls" be prepared to pay 50 pesos! There will be an angry guy standing there demanding for the money. Overall, we were underwhelmed with the falls, I would suggest you do canyoneering if you did Kawasan falls!
El nido island hopping
The journey here took us ages! We flew into Puerto Princessa airport from Cebu and had to get a 6 hour van ride to el nido. It costs 450 pesos per person which was a really good price. Despite the time it took us, el nido was our favourite! it was raw and beautiful with very few tourists (but this could be due to the low season). We stayed at spin designer hostel and we gave it a high rating as it was very clean and breakfast was nice! One of the nights there was a black out in el nido but our hostel had a back up generator and we were fine. The only negative would be poor wifi (but you are in paradise, don't think you will need it!).
Island hopping is a must! We decided to go on a private tour as we read blogs about how crowded the boats get and we wanted to have the freedom over our trip. We booked with el nido paradise tours and it cost us 55 SGD each person with lunch included. We chose tour A which included the small lagoon, big lagoon, secret beach and seven commando beach.
We did some kayaking in the small lagoon, which cost about 400 pesos. It was worth it except be warned that it gets crowded with lots of other boats and people kayaking. The big lagoon is protected so you can only pass through it and they will not allow you to go into the water. The seven commando beach was a a white sand turquoise water beach for swimming and lots of picture spots. Lunch on the boat had a good variety- it included freshly made (they cook it on the boat) BBQ prawns, chicken wings and eggplant salad and lots of fruits. We told our guide that we wished to get down at las cabanas beach to watch the sunset and it was doable! So, we ended our evening with a bottle of wine watching the sunset- perfect end to the day!
Nacpan beach, el nido
You will need to book a shuttle van to take you to the beach. It costs 600 pesos each person. The beach was pretty empty! you will get vouchers for welcome drinks and a free drink at mad monkey hostel. We did try to get a seat there but it was packed and so hot! eventually we paid 200 pesos and rented a bamboo hut from the locals- best decision ever! It was cooling and it fit us all.
The water was clear and wavy! Don't think it is particularly ideal for swimmers but its great for surfers. We enjoyed jumping around in the waves and we were doing this all day. The only downside at this beach are the stray dogs. There is a pack of them and the moment you take any food out, they will jump at you. It got a little scary at times. One of the dogs jumped at my friends chicken on the table (while she was still eating).
Last night in Puerto Princessa
Our last night was simply for food and karoake! we stayed at the acacia hotel and resort and they served us the best lunch! it was huge with several grilled seafood options not forgetting the eggplant salad we loved. I wish to dedicate a whole post for food in the Philippines! One paragraph is not enough! So stay tuned for my foodie post! For now, our final verdict is we would definitely return to the Philippines! There is so much more to explore!