My entire article can be summed up as follows: "If you want an adventurous vacation, go to Palawan; If you want a relaxing vacation go to Boracay and no matter what you want, avoid Manila at all cost." I know, I know, Palawan is a pristine ecological environment barely untouched by modern man. That’s what attracted me to spend my money visiting, but here it is August (three months later) and I still have scars on me from the scabies and gargantuan mosquitoes.
To get to Palawan required a short flight from Manila in which we landed at the Puerto Princessa airport in the capital city. That was our first mistake. The capital is about seven hours from El Nido where the vacation spots and beautiful beaches are located. There was nothing to see or do in Puerto Princessa except hundreds of t-shirt shops and hustlers on the street. We spent a good three hours trying to find a decent hotel and after much searching finally found one that didn’t have paint peeling from the walls and ceiling (and had air conditioning). If you travel to Palawan, one of the first things you will discover is that most establishments do not have air conditioning. This made for quite an uncomfortable stay since the temp rarely dropped below 95 degrees Fahrenheit with 90%+ humidity day and night.
If you are lucky enough to find a place with a/c be ready to pay BIG bucks. It doesn’t come cheap. We left Puerto Princessa the next morning and took a private car to the Coco Loco Resort which was about two hours north. It was a totally private island with just a handful of staff working it. Again, no a/c but we did have a fan in our grass hut (when the electricity was on). Very Spartan living conditions but tranquil and the staff were extremely helpful and friendly. We had a nice time even though our clothes were soaking wet the entire three days because there was no way to dry them. As it turned out, we had to wear wet clothes for the next week of our stay on Palawan because no one had dryers. This may sound minor, but I challenge you to try it. It helped push us to the decision of leaving the island and trying Boracay.
I spent years in the military training in the steamy leech-infested jungles of Thailand and the Philippines and just couldn’t stomach paying top dollar to be wet and miserable. Think about it. Anyway, Cindy and I headed north once again in search of the perfect resort when we stopped at the quaint town of Tay Tay where we discovered the Casa Rosa guest house. Immediately we were greeting by Thierry the owner and his very large family. They were very warm and inviting. They were without question the nicest people we met along our journey. His children were absolutely adorable! My wife even got into the kitchen and learned how to make pizza from the chief. The accommodations were very clean and well maintained. The only limitation is that the entire northern portion of Palawan is without electricity until evening. No fan and no a/c. Aside from the breath taking view of Tay Tay bay, there wasn’t much else to see. We ventured off into the town but didn’t find anything of interest.
The next day we left for El Nido where we stayed for several days before giving up and heading to Boracay. It was much of the same. The decent hotel/resorts were all well over $450 per person per night so we roughed it again until we finally stopped asking ourselves why we were paying to be miserable and just left. Don’t get me wrong, the islands and water were spectacular, but living conditions were horrible. If you like paying for pain, then go for it.