We were anxious to arrive in Palawan after hearing from just about everyone how beautiful the island is. The Philippine Islands are all so beautiful, I would be hard pressed to say which one was the best we saw but this certainly is a breathtaking place. We booked a hut on a private beach in Ginki beach outside Roxas in the middle of Palawan island. The hut was quite rustic, but charming as well and the private beach was gorgeous with the clear warm water and white sand we love so much. The house came with a wonderful staff, access to the organic farm across the road and even friends for the kids.
Our fist excursion in Palawan was to the famous underground river. It’s the longest cave river system in the world and is accessed by a boat ride to a raft which carries you through the first few kilometers. The cave was full of bats which was cool to see and lots of interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations. Our guide had a great sense of humor, making Mario brother references and whistling funny tunes which kept the kids interested. After leaving the cave we got to Zip line back to the beach over a gorgeous beach with incredible view of the nearby mountains.
Back at the hut we were treated to Filipino “luau” with our host and 20 of her high school girlfriends. We watched the slaughter of the pig peeking through the curtains of our house. It’s a site you can’t help but watch even though it’s terrifying at the same time. Us westerners aren’t used to seeing our food before it hits the table! We looked on intriguingly all day as the feast was prepared step by step, which included turning the pig by hand on a spit for 8 hours until it was finally perfect (which took till 11pm!) The feast was such a special treat, full of foods we’d never tried before (some delicious, some not so much). We really enjoyed chatting with all the women learning about cultural differences, local politics and family life on the island. We ate like royalty into the night on a beach in the middle of paradise…definitely a night we’ll always remember.
After a few days of relaxing at the beach and playing with the locals we were ready to take a break from hut-life and head to a scuba resort. We hitched a ride on the local bus to Charlie’s Beach Resort for some diving in the ocean as well as in the pool. The diving in the area was awesome and we enjoyed making some new German friends at the resort. We were nicknamed the “frog fish family” as we saw more frog fish on our two dives than they usually see in a week of diving! With our bellies full of some great German food and our bodies cooled in the pool, we headed back toward our hut, but not before stopping at a nearby waterfall.
The falls were nothing spectacular but the hike in was beautiful and the water in the pools was cool and refreshing. The main pool was filled with fish that nibble on your feet, or your whole body, depending on how deep you wade in. Michael and the kids found a cliff they could jump off, so all in all, the waterfall expedition was a huge success!
Back at the hut the charm was wearing off. I was COVERED in about 150 bug bites making it clear I could no longer lay on the beach and soak up the sun. The crew seemed to be running low on food and we were longing for AC. We decided to pack it in a bit early and treated ourselves to a 4-star resort in Puerto Princessa. I know we’re spoiled and that the staff and kids at Gingki Beach would kill to live like we were for week (with electricity and a mattress) but we’re soft and week and the resort was only $90 US per night…we had to go.
After some great food, a wonderful massage and a dip in the pool we were back up and running and ready to head off to China. Saying goodbye to SE Asia after being there for the last 3 months was bitter sweet. We were ready for more developed amenities but will sorely miss the beauty of the people and the scenery in the east. We can’t wait to revisit the Philippines! There are so many places we still want to explore there above and below land. Hopefully we’ll be back soon and maybe even with extra family in tow the next time.