Everybody had their own version of paradise.

And we were of different nationality sitting on a boat towards the so called Bacuit Archipelago in El Nino.

Smiling fashionably, our boatman said, “WELCOME TO PARADISE!’ with his arms wide open. He must had done this a dozen times.

We looked at each other with a knowing smile — we are surely on the same boat at this moment!

It felt surreal. Like a dream that I rather not to wake up.

El Nino Philippines blur island hopping tourism travel natureisland pier palawan hilly stone landscape sea blue nature beautiful green crystal clear water

Things to do in paradise? Snorkelling in and out of the lagoons. Chasing after Nemos. Or do nothing.

Philippines clear sky travel tourism sightseeing popular attraction island hopping trip El NinoPhilippines clear sky travel tourism sightseeing popular attraction island hopping trip El Nino

While I was swimming in the calm ocean, a dog swam past me to the other island. I followed her. Only when the water became shallow I saw the whole of her. A dog with 3 legs.

I was stunned. My mind was blank standing in the beautiful ocean.

Hey let me continue to be in this dream. After all she was a happy dog.

food Philippines boat sky travel tourism sightseeing popular attraction island hopping tripbeachside island food Philippines travel tourism sightseeing

The lunch experience was truly awesome. The boatman was also a cook. He chatted with us while doing food sculpting.

It was like an eat-all-you-can style. Otherwise the food will go to the dogs. We were very kind. We offered some to our friends!

Philippines clear sky travel tourism sightseeing popular attraction island hopping trip El Nino

On board there were a Chinese couple from Shanghai (the reason why I spoke Mandarin in Philippines), an Indian from Bangalore (his nerd look that made me said Silicone Valley and bingo my guessing was right), a young Filipino couple (as shown in photos) and a Filipino girl from Manila (which I always spoke to because she was solo as well).

The Manila girl was a writer that looking for an angle to write about El Nino. I assumed she’s doing it by singing her lung out along the journey. She sang pretty well. Luckily.

The fact was, there’s always music as background everywhere you go in Philippines. The girl performed her songs merely because the boatman didn’t turn on the radio.

At the end, I requested the boatman to get music going so she can look for her nemo peacefully.

To El Nino

Considering that El Nino is one of the Philippines’ prime tourist destination, it’s difficult to reach by air.

There’s a flight straight to Lio Airport in El Nino. But I read it caters for guests of luxury resorts and sometimes booked far advance.

I took a flight to Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan. Then a midnight bus to El Nino. The Puerto — El Nino route generally considered to be a budget option.

It was dawn when my bus reached El Nino terminal. I flagged down a tricycle towards town for room. Staying in town means being close to restaurants and beachside shops. Also close to everyday sights and sounds, whether you like it or not.

Another popular access point to El Nino is Coron on Busuanga Island at its north.

Palawan has boat connections with Manila, Iloilo (Panay) and Mindoro. Consider them if you have plenty time to kill.

Have you discovered any paradise?

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