Let’s do this!

When you type in Philippines into Google image search you are shown countless pictures of stunning islands and crystal waters. Cruising around on a boat stopping off at some of the 7000 islands that make up the archipelago is for many the highlight of their time here. I completely fall into that category. The waters are beautiful and the boat trips a nice mix between time on the boat, time under the water and time relaxing on the beaches or trekking up in search of a lookout point.

I did a few boat trips whilst on vacation, two which were your standard book onto the tour for the day. One out to Apo Island to swim with a lot of turtles and the mandatory El Nido tour A to all the main sights around this particular point of paradise. Both great days out, that normally would receive their own blogs, but just imagine beautiful lagoons, swimming with giant turtles, kayaking around – in fact here’s a few pictures – but that’s not the focus of this post. There was one particular trip that deserves the focus.

A small packed minivan with questionable air conditioning and a bumpy several hour journey ahead. A group of 6 travelers meet for what will be an adventure changing journey. It will change their lives for the foreseeable future (about 98 hours) and shape their Facebook photo album.

Although jokes aside we did meet some awesome people in our van, who we then ended getting a family sized room with then meeting an amazing Dutch couple in the process and going out and chartering our own boat.

It’s not exactly Monaco, but Port Barton was one of my favourite spots in the Philippines. Billed as El Nido, before anyone knew El Nido was there, it lived up to expectations. A long crescent beach with evening bonfires and a small, yet bustling, town behind it. There were boat packages offered to an itinerary of stops around the nearby islands, but we had grander ideas. I say we, I was hardly the instigator the mission. The girls went off wandering down the beach one morning as I lay reading my book and came back saying they’d found a guy who owned a boat and for a (heavily discounted) price we could do whatever we wanted for 24 hours; including choosing an island and just pitching up camp for the night.

So the next morning we emptied the local store of beer and rum and hauled it down to the beach where extra coolers were sourced to keep our stock cool. The day was beautiful; sunny, but with some cloud cover. I found it so difficult not to burn in the Philippines, the UV was so strong, so days that had occasional cloud were a blessing. We had our boat crew of two, Winwin and Jib, and the 10 of us, cheesily named the Palawan Pals. The morning beers were cracked around 10 and the music playing as we cruised around the islands diving in when we saw turtles or were checking out some of the coral reefs. Lunch was BBQ on the beach side before we found a nice beach area for some sunset Frisbee.

As darkness was falling our little boat zoomed us across the waves towards an island where we’d be the only visitors. Our basic tents went up just above the high tide mark and more BBQ was cooked up. An evening of drinking games followed, amplified when our guide Jib brought out a handle of Whisky as we were starting to run dry saying he knew we’d run out and didn’t want the party to end.

My morning swim as the sun came up and coffee on the beach staved off my hangover somewhat the next morning. We had two more stops that morning – heading back to turtle area where they are most active in the mornings and then to the starfish sand bank. Where this patch of sand is covered in starfishes. More beautifulness.

Getting back to the mainland meant my hangover/lack of sleep was ready to hit me and for the van ride up to El Nido I was in a semi-comatose state.

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