Saturday, August 16, 2014

puerto princesa underground river

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Palawan, out of all the islands in the Philippines, was because of the Puerto Princesa Underground River which is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

In order to access the park we had to take these boats there. The park has a limit of 900 visitors a day in order not to disturb the wildlife too much.

entrance to the underground river
There was a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for the boat to bring us to the park and then more waiting to get onto the boats to actually bring us into the Underground River. While we were waiting we saw monkeys steal snacks from other tourists and we even saw a monitor lizard!

Everyone in front of us on the boat was part of our tour group. Look at our fancy outfits - in case we fall out of the boat or smack our head on low hanging rocks. I enjoyed viewing the Underground River because it was cool sailing on a boat in the dark. However because it was dark it was also very frustrating not to be able to see anything since only the person in the front controlled the flashlight. I couldn't see how grand of a scale the cave was while inside or even take any decent photos. The whole place smelled like bat guano and the tour guide even said if something cold dropped on you then it was probably water but if it was warm then you were lucky because a bat pooped on you! There were so many freaking bats and they kept swooping everywhere. I had an irrational fear they would hit me. Because we were so far back I couldn't hear the description of the different rocks or stories the tour guide was saying so that was a bummer. All in all in comparison to other caves I've been to I would say this was pretty disappointing. I would love it if they had lights and such in the cave so that we could view the stuff but then of course that would disturb the ecosystem of the cave and all the animals living within.

Our tour included a buffet lunch at this restaurant that every tour group seemed to stop at.

the first plate of many: lumpia and roast pork!
Right outside the restaurant a little girl was selling tamilok, a wood worm found in rotten mangroves.

Some people in the tour group tried it and it looked so disgusting especially since its super long and they just ate it like this. Bleugh can't give eating bugs a try though actually tamilok is a mollusk and not actually a worm...but too slimey and gross looking! As part of the tour there were side excursions we could have done like zip-lining or spelunking but because it was raining while we were there we didn't get to do them. Sometimes it feels like my rain curse will never truly leave me...

The best food I've had so far here has been the endless amounts of fruit. Granted I've had way better fruit back in America because my grandma and mom actually know how to pick the ripe ones but I've been deprived of fruit for so long that I went slightly insane at the market. This small selection was only the tip of the iceberg.

Here were have black and red rambutan which taste like lychee, though harder to get to with its tougher skin. So many mangoes. Mangoes in Japan sell for $5-6 for ONE! Though in one of my mangoes there was a freaking bug. The sad part was that I had already eaten one half of the mango just to cut the other side to find bugs in it! Ugh so disgusting. These bugs were a reason why mangoes can't be transported outside of Puerto Princesa, they want to keep it from spreading. Our bus was actually stopped on the way to Port Barton so that military personnel could do a check. The last but not least in the picture above are some green mangoes. Unfortunately they were very sour. So difficult to find sweet green mango like the ones I had in Taiwan.

The Details
Isla de Puerto Underground River Tour
I really enjoyed the tour guide who showed us around. He had amusing stories and cracked dumb jokes on the ride there. The tour includes transportation, entrance fee and lunch. If you go to the Underground River yourself you will have to register for a permit yourself in the city and then find your own transportation there. There are so many tour groups we reached out to but unfortunately a lot of them didn't respond which was super frustrating. Also many places required a deposit to be transferred. Because sending money over international waters carried such a hefty fee it was not a feasible option for us. Luckily this company was fine with collecting the money when we landed in Puerto Princesa. However a worker of theirs drove us to the bus terminal when we first arrived to catch the bus to Port Barton and overcharged us by a lot for the ride - now that I know how cheap it actually was. I would suggest meeting them to pay for the tour and then just hiring a trike outside the airport to bring you into the city.
Tour Price: 1500 php per person

Lakas ng Trip - a do-it-yourself guide to visiting the Underground River

Puerto Princesa Underground River Official website

Friday, August 15, 2014

under the sea, under the sea

Sing the title of this post. OK so we went scuba diving today - my first time! It was awesome! What wasn't awesome was getting to the scuba diving place and realizing that whilst I had brought my waterproof camera there wasn't a battery inside it. Where was it? Being charged back at the hostel. Sad thing was that I had two extra batteries...Where were they? Yup you guessed it, not being useful at all, back in the hostel. The town was small enough that I could have ran back and gotten it if it wasn't for the fact that we were already late. We had woken up at the crack of dawn, sweating - another city that only has electricity at certain times, to make it to the scuba diving center. However we needed to get the paper that proved we paid the environmental fee mentioned in my previous post. The guy working at the hostel said a guy was bringing it over in the morning and of course running on island time the guy is late. Then when he comes he brings the WRONG freaking slips, they had the wrong names on them. It's like REALLY?! How hard is it to get the names correct?!? So then again we had to wait for him to come back so we were super super late by the time we left. Being late makes me super anxious. Fking hate it. Thankfully the dive instructor wasn't super angry but there was no way I could be like "Please wait longer while I run back and grab my camera." So that day I didn't have any freaking pictures of my experience down in the water.

I was freaking out a bit just because I don't have the best swimming abilities so I was afraid I would drown or fail the test and not be able to scuba dive. Entering the water with all the gear I felt calmer and it was such a marvelous experience. You forget you're underwater. So surreal. I had to remind myself many times to actively breathe and as for swimming that wasn't a problem at all. One of the first things we had to do to enter the water was to wear all the gear and then flip backwards into the water - that freaked me out but it was actually very fun. What's not fun is having to pull the goggles away from your face to clear it because man trying to get rid of the water in the mask is a pain. If not done properly water leaked in and you basically was snorting in water. That and retrieving your regulator were part of the mini test to see if we could even scuba dive. Is it weird to say I was a little anxious I wouldn't pass the "test?" I' haven't had to take any tests or exams in so long that the pressure to pass one was getting to me!

I highly recommend going scuba diving even if you can't swim that well. It's such an amazing experience. There are no words that can describe it accurately. YOU JUST HAVE TO TRY IT! What about getting certified before you can scuba dive? No worries a lot of dive centers off Discovery Scuba for people who aren't certified but want to experience it! We saw so many fish down in the water that you can't possibly see while just skimming the surface snorkeling. I wanted to freaking punch myself in the face for not being able to use my camera especially when we saw these giant Bumphead Fish.

Unfortunately that's not me but a picture I got off Google but yah these fish were huge! Their teeth were particularly creepy since it looked like it belong to a human. They have these huge bumps on their head, hence their name, which they use to bash coral to eat. We saw them doing that and I just thought they were angry but turns out these fish that eat coral, they actually poop out sand. So sand is fish poop. Awesome to know.

We walked all the streets of El Nido to find the perfect dive center. A lot of the places offered discounts for two people so that was excellent. Unfortunately time was against us as a lot of dives were longer than the amount of time we had before catching a bus down to Puerto Princesa. We wanted to be able to do at least two dives since one dive wasn't worth the price. The guy we finally went with was Yoshi who turned out to be a Japanese guy whose been living in El Nido for years! Haha I guess it was serendipitous that he was our dive instructor. Now I need to get scuba certified!

Now back to us trying to catch a bus back to Puerto Princesa. As usual we were running late and we made it to the bus stop just at the scheduled time a bus was to depart. Unfortunately we didn't see any bus and when we made inquires if a bus was leaving anytime soon we got a no. Ugh the unreliability of transportation here drives me bonkers. We couldn't wait to take the bus at a later time because we were already arriving in the city at 10pm and we hadn't booked a hostel yet. So then I noticed that a Lexus Van was leaving soon and we managed to get the last two stops on the van. The Lexus Van was super crowded but it had the luxury of not stopping along the route which meant it was faster. It also dropped us off  directly in front a hostel we wanted to stay at which thankfully was still open!

Actually managed to find an ATM and grab some food at a really local local place. This restaurant had a bunch of different food in pans and you point to what you wanted and they scooped it into a bowl for you. We had a difficult time trying to order since we didn't know what kind of ingredients were in the dishes and they couldn't describe it to us. So it was a surprise in what we got. One of my dishes was just liver. Bleugh. Alanna did not like her meal at all. I was ok with mine a lot of it tasted very Chinesey.

The Details
El - Dive
Instructor: Yoshi Ohstuka
Discovery Dive - 2500 php for 2 dives (do some haggling for that good price :D)

El Nido to Puerto Princesa - Lexus Van
Cost: 500 php but the driver quoted me 600 php until I mentioned that another passenger had said she was paying 500! Ugh always the scheming and trying to make more money off of us. So annoying.
Travel time: 5 hours

Tree House Inn
400 php per person (haggled with them and got this price because we stayed 2 nights)
close to markets and an ATM
Apparently Puerto Princesa has electricity 24 hours! Finally got a decent shower!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

el nido island hopping tour A

El Nido has four island hopping tours A,B,C, and D with each tour going to different islands. Everyone on the web says Tour A and C are the best so for this first time we chose Tour A. Tour A will take you to Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimzu Island where you will have lunch, Secret Lagoon and Seven Commandos Beach. Most tours follow the same itinerary and therefore each area becomes super crowded with people but Alanna and I were being boushy and decided to book a PRIVATE TOUR! This way we could alter the route and go backwards and avoid the crowds. Even though we paid almost double for a private tour it was SO WORTH IT!

limestone cliffs
helicopter island
Look at the amazing views! Breathtaking! First stop on our tour was snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach. The water was so clear that we could see for miles - a watery wonderland!

Lots of different types of coral and a blue starfish! First time I've seen one that color and that big! Our tour guide had a floaty ring and would pull us around. Haha I loved it since that meant I didn't have to struggle to swim. The life jackets were too big for us so they were choking us most of the time. Next stop on the tour was the Big Lagoon which had brilliant turquoise water surrounded by limestone.

My pictures can't do this place justice. I couldn't capture the magnitude of these cliffs towering over us or even the varying shades of water that could be found here. From the brightest turquoise to the deepest emerald color. Supposedly sea turtles swim here but no matter how much I strained my neck trying to find one I didn't see any! You can choose to explore the lagoon in depth by renting a kayak for an additional price.

Both the Big and Small Lagoons are located on Miniloc Island and adjacent to one of the lagoons there was a small beach where we would have our lunch. We saw a lot of boats passing by to enter the lagoons but none of them disturbed our peaceful slice of heaven. While the boat captain and the tour guide made our dinner we went exploring!

The erosion from the water causes these awesome overhangs of limestone to jut out over the sea and it was cool to be able to "walk" and paddle beneath them. In the side of this limestone cliff I found a hole with an underwater entrance!

The entrance to this cave is marked by that rock wedged in behind me, next to the "window." When trying to leave the cave the tide kept pushing me back in so I got smacked around on the sharp stone below and above me. I freaking love having a waterproof camera especially here in the Philippines I feel like its a must have. All that beautiful scenery and water adventures that I wouldn't be able to capture without it.

Back on the beach we stumbled upon this creature...

We had no idea what this was and was afraid to touch it. Finally Alanna got a stick and we poked at it and we didn't see it move. Then we scooped it up with the stick and upon closer inspection we realized it was a creature of some sort and we dropped it back into the sand. Later on at a market I saw it being sold and learned that it was a sea cucumber. Sorry for torturing you sea cucumber, we thought you were a sea snake or something and had to protect ourselves!

Our lunch consisted of chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, a prettily arranged salad, bananas, mangoes and a giant ass coconut! When you arrange the tour they'll ask you what kind of foods you would like to eat and they will buy it and cook it for you on the tour! The food was delicious and there was too much for just the two of us to eat. Eating on the beach I felt so pimp and with such a lovely view...

After lunch we headed to the Small Lagoon which isn't accessible by boat.

entrance to the small lagoon
Now you can see why we had to swim in. Also we had to be careful when entering because there are a lot of sea urchins around with crazy long needles. Don't wanna step on one of those. We had the whole place to ourselves! It was freaking amazing to just float on my back and admire the view. Felt like I was transported back in time into the Jurassic Era with the silence and the moss covered cliffs looming overhead. As you can see the life jacket was definitely chocking me and actually impeded my swimming so I was trailing so far behind the group.

Our tour guide wanted to show us a secret cave all the way at the other end of the lagoon but since I was so slow he just ended dragging me along by my life jacket. Haha. I took a video of myself getting dragged around while Alanna swam in front like a boss!

After the Small Lagoon we did some more snorkeling this time we were out in the open and not next to a nice little beach. We actually snorkeled next to those two giant limestone islands in my first picture. The water was getting a little rough and we had to make sure we didn't wander too far out and get dragged by the current. It's crazy to think that I barely enter the ocean even though I've lived near one my whole life and then find myself just swimming in the middle of it. Of course the water here isn't crazy like the waves back home.

is that Dory with her costars Nemo and dad?!?
Unfortunately this area had a whole bunch of small jellyfish that kept stinging us. When I was swimming I noticed a plastic bag floating pass me and was disgusted with the pollution just to realize it was actually a jellyfish! They were clear palm sized mofos that kept stinging us. We would thrash around to make sure they didn't get us and were shouting at each other that we needed to pee in the water to help with the jellyfish stings. Haha, that's what you do when you get stung right?? Pee on it?

We ended the day with what I believe is Shimzu Island which wasn't that impressive, especially after all the splendid views we've been exposed to that day. Apparently there's a giant lizard that lives in one of the caves here so we even though we wanted to explore them, we were afraid the lizard would get us.

Unfortunately we didn't get to see the Secret Lagoon because our guides told us that due to the weather the past few days a lot of trash had accumulated at the entrance. In order to reach the Secret Lagoon we would have to swim through the trash since you entered through a small hole. Ugh I was so bummed out about that since one of the reasons we went for Tour A was because of secret entrances to places. I still had a great time though and looking at videos of the Secret Lagoon it was just a smaller sized lagoon where people could swim and such - which we got to do in the Small Lagoon with total privacy and on a bigger scale.

The Details
El Nido Island Hopping Tour A
1200 php per person includes lunch - a regular tour where you joined others
We paid 4000 php for a private tour so 2000 php for each of us. If you had a bigger group then the price is cheaper for each person. Lunch was included in our tour. We walked around and looked at all the people offering tours and this was the norm for the November season. A worker at our hostel Hakuna Matata arranged our tour for us. There are so many tour companies online and in town or you can even approach fishermen yourself and try to work out a deal. A lot of the companies I emailed about the tours didn't respond so I guess its better to call them or go to their office in town.
Eco Tourism Development Fee - 200 php (everyone has to pay this fee to do activities in the area - make sure you get a piece of paper proving that you paid - we needed it when we went scuba diving later)
Snorkel Gear - 100 php (a must have for the tour!)
El Nido Tour Map

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

hello el nido!

Today was another day spent traveling. This time we are heading to El Nido in Northern Palawan. We had to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch a jeepney bus that supposedly left at 8am.

jeepney bus
When we arrived we found out we were one of the last ones on the bus, good thing our hotel had made a reservation for us. Somehow though I found myself sandwiched between Alanna and this really big dude on a seat that was barely made for two people. Other people were luckier in that they just had two people per bench. Can you say uncomfortable?!?

on the jeepney bus before the 3rd guy squeezes in
Man all the rides prior to this felt like luxury. It was so hard to sit between two people all squeezed in like that. We had to put our hair up so that when we got covered in dust it wouldn't be going all over the place. We arrived at Roxas where we had to transfer to another bus to El Nido, at first we couldn't see any of the buses just signs advertising Lexus vans that cost a fortune. A couple we had met at the resort were also going in the same direction so we could have split the van but we decided to find the bus because I had done my research and I knew there were buses somewhere. We finally found them and Alanna had to run back and grab the couple, who stayed behind about to take the more expensive van.

The bus wasn't air-conditioned but we had big wide benches all to ourselves so we got to spread out a bit. Good thing too since the next part of our journey was going to take 4-5 hours!

en route scenery
Upon arriving in El Nido we went to a hostel and tried to a get a cheaper room. For most of this trip none of our rooms or anything were booked before. We did some research and then we would go to the hostel we had in mind and try to get them to lower the price of whatever they stated. Usually this works if we are actually willing to move on to another hostel if the price is too high but we tend to just stay at the hostel we found. Being a huge planner I am not a fan of this method but it worked out for us during low season since prices quoted on their website were generally more expensive.

view from el nido
As you can tell the sky is looking pretty ominous so my first impression of El Nido wasn't the best. The contrast between the green islands and blue water were astonishing but not living up to all the pictures and such I've heard about this place. The beach near El Nido is actually just where all the tour boats docked their boats so it wasn't an ideal location for water activities. I had nothing to worry about since the best views were to be found on the island tours. The main attraction of El Nido are the island tours, to come here and not do an island tour is super foolish and a waste of the time spent to reach this small town. We planned to do the island tour the next day so we spent the rest of the day exploring the several small streets that comprised this "town" and ate some lunch!

If anyone does any research on El Nido they will come across the El Nido Boutique & Artcafe which is the main tourist center in El Nido. We decided to eat lunch at the Art Cafe and get some information about different tour packages and prices at the same time. The tour prices at Art Cafe are pretty pricey I would just use it as a guideline of deals you can find at your accommodation or just walking around town.

pancit canton - filipino noodle dish, spinach quiche & fresh lumpia - vegetable spring roll
The meal was delicious! Actually the best we've had so far. I realized after being in the Philippines for a few days that a lot of Filipino food is very similar to Chinese food. As we were eating those ominous clouds opened up and let down a torrent of rain. This was that monsoon weather we were expecting but it was amazing that even though the rain was super heavy it only lasted for a couple minutes. After that we went and got some cheap massages, Alanna a body massage and mine a pedicure and foot massage. We ended the night with some dinner at a place called Elsa.

native vegetables with coconut milk - 150 php
crab with garlic and butter - 180 php ~4 USD
 mango juice for lunch & pineapple juice for dinner
OMG freaking crab for $4!! So delicious. I wish I could go back and buy some more especially considering food in Japan is so expensive. Real fruit juice is actually pretty pricey so after this day of indulgence I had to resist.

The Details
Jeepney from Port Barton to Roxas
leaves from 8am daily from the Tourist Assistance Center, all buses drop off here too - however we left closer to 9am
cost: 150 php ~3 USD - ask your hotel to help you make a reservation beforehand
travel time: 2 hours

Bus from Roxas to El Nido - Cherry Bus
cost: 180 php ~4 USD
travel time: 4-5 hours
website - you can now book tickets online 3 days in advance but only from Puerto Princesa to El Nido or vice versa

There is no direct bus from Port Barton to El Nido so you have to transfer at Roxas. There are multiple buses that depart from Roxas to El Nido. Besides Cherry you can also take Roro Bus.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

port barton island hopping & waterfall tour

Woke up super early in the morning to this view.

sunset beach - right outside our bungalow
so many hammocks everywhere - love that giant tree!
Went snorkeling to try to find some sea turtles - did not see them. The water is a little too murky to see clearly. Apparently they stay near the floor to eat the sea grass and the only real good opportunity to see them is when they come up for air. I saw something moving on the ground floor but couldn't see what it was. The owner said that could have been a turtle! I'm dying to freakin' swim with some turtles. Will this wish ever get fulfilled?!?

Breakfast is included and unfortunately I didn't know that we could have ordered a Filipino breakfast so I got the continental. Breakfast was ok but the view was amazing.

from our table in the open air dining area
We booked an island and waterfall tour with four other guests from the resort. First up was some snorkeling - not much to see but coral and small fish.

bigaho waterfall
This waterfall wasn't impressive in height or looks but I loved how it had a pool below it. We swam in the pool and took model shots under the waterfall. Most of the shots in the water were of me nearly drowning since I'm not a great swimmer and as I tried to get close to the waterfall I kept getting pushed under by the current. Alanna managed to swim right under the waterfall and got pounded by the water. Those shots of girls underneath waterfalls must be rigged somehow cause water falling down like that makes horrible looking photos. Haha.

exotic island
nemo and his dad
We stopped at Exotic Island for lunch where I drank from a coconut that was bigger than my head. There were a lot of stray dogs here that would come around begging for scraps. Another group was also eating lunch there and they had a baby monkey! The monkey would sit on their shoulder and eat jelly cups. So adorable! But it wouldn't let us pet him - apparently he hates girls. They had caught some clown fish, the ones above, and released it near the shore. It was really sad cause the tide kept pounding them and pushing them inland so they had to hide around this giant piece of wood that I was standing on to take pics of them.

The last stop of the day was German Island so named due to the owner being German. There wasn't anything spectacular about the view here. However what was funny was that the caretaker/security people here approached us and asked us to hang out at their shack. We declined cause it was a little weird but they approached again with a little half naked child. They had a litter of dog pups and it was so adorable. Unfortunately my camera died and so I couldn't take any cute pictures of the puppies. They were so small they fit in the palm of my hand! I had fun playing with the pups while the men tried hitting on Alanna. Haha so uncomfortable for her but so hilarious for me since I just watch her try to steer the conversation to more neutral territory. I'm horrible for finding enjoyment in that :P

After the tour we headed back to Port Barton and went around looking for a hostel. August is low season in the Philippines so you can haggle the price. After finding one we went and got some food. At this point there weren't many options that were still open. It was thrilling and a little creepy to be riding a bangka in the darkness.

pork adobe
yellow curry
The food was delicious! Apparently on a lot of these smaller islands electricity only works at specific times of the day, Port Barton only has it from 6pm to midnight. Oh man the lack of electricity at night meant that the singular fan in our room stopped working which made sleeping so horrendous - especially with how humid it was. After this trip I'm starting to appreciate the fact that I live in a first world country so much more! Electricity 24/7 and decent water pressure in the showers - so far showers have been really horrible with water trickling out and barely being able to wash our hair.

The Details
Secret Paradise Resort - Islands and Waterfall Tour
Cost: 2300 php per person
There is a discount of 10% if there are 5 people or more on the tour. Lunch is included but alcohol costs extra. Water is free! You can pay for the tour at the resort or book online via their website.

port barton island tours
You can also book island hopping tours from Port Barton. For boat tour prices and packages enlarge the above photo.

We stayed at the Beach Front Cottage at Ausan Beach Front for 300 php . Originally this room went for 1250 php for two people, according to their website.

Monday, August 11, 2014

a day spent traveling to secret paradise resort

The first full day in the Philippines was spent traveling by tricycle, plane, bus, and bangka (outrigger canoe). In total it took 10 hours to reach our destination, Secret Paradise Resort on Palawan Island.

first glance of palawan - water bungalows!
Alanna and I wanted to live in style and stay at a water bungalow, those fancy places located right over the water. However upon further research we found that all these water bungalow places were not only expensive, which we expected, but they were all located on their own private islands which we had to pay for the transportation to get it. Also the timing of the boats to the island weren't ideal as we were left with half a day and just a night there with an early departure the next day. Most people stayed more than a night but we weren't so ballin' that we wanted to spend more than a night there, at $400+ a night! Since a water bungalow wasn't gonna work out we expanded our search to resorts, we still wanted a night living in luxury!

Alanna found Secret Paradise Resort which in addition to being a resort was also a turtle sanctuary, a huge reason we chose this place, that had bungalows right on their own private beaches. However to get to Port Barton, where we needed to catch a bangka to the resort, it was going to be a lonnnnnnng trek from Puerto Princesa, where the airport is located.

bus from puerto princesa to port barton
We were on this bus for four hours with no air con in super humid weather. However we managed to get a row of seats to ourselves. When I say row I really mean two cramped little seats that wouldn't fit two regular sized humans. The workers would sit on the roof because there inside and outside was crammed with passengers and supplies. Sometimes the bus would stop and people would just load their supplies and not get on the bus. Really cool how this bus acted as a delivery vehicle too, look at that trust! When we finally arrived in Port Barton we were covered head to toe in a dust, my hair was stiff with it!

port barton - bangkas ready for island tours

We caught a private bangka to reach Secret Paradise Resort. In the picture above, the cloud is sitting right over the private beach where our bungalows are located. Freaking loved how blue the water was!

our cute little bungalow
our posh ass room - alanna won rock, paper, scissors so she got the big bed
got to hold some recently saved baby turtles who are recovering before being released into the wild!
We went snorkeling to try to find some turtles only to find out after we were finished that the turtles are usually only in the area early in the morning to feed. Did see a lot of other fishes but the water was a little murky for clear pictures. After that we headed up to Turtle Bay View Point to see the sunset.

There was this really precarious perch made of hammered wood we could sit on to admire the view. What a cute place for lovers to sit! Don't know if they can both fit on this branch without falling. It looks like the ground is right below it but you were literally just hanging over treetops.

sunset at turtle bay view point
Climbing up to the point was pretty difficult due to the lack of a proper path, the crazy humidity, and the fact that I was wearing some cheap sandals. Going back down without light was harrowing. I kept sliding on all the wet leaves and pretty sure I fell down at one point! The view was breathtaking tho so all worth it!

special menu dinner - 650 php or ~14 USD; upper right hand corner: lunch
Dinner consisted of mushroom soup, vegetable spring rolls with garlic rice and graham balls for dessert. Since there are no stores on this island you had to buy all meals from the resort. Thankfully meals here were delicious and weren't super expensive. I enjoyed my time at the resort even though all the other guests were coupled off. You can tell resorts are meant for couples since all prices are quoted for two people. Good thing I had Alanna with me or it would have been super awkward...

The Details
San Isidro Express Bus from Puerto Princesa to Port Barton
leaves at 9am daily from San Jose Terminal - to get to the terminal from the airport take a tricycle for 15-20 php
cost: 250 php ~5.50 USD (they tried quoting a higher price point but when I said I saw it for cheaper they relented - always haggle first!)
travel time: 4 hours
Lakas ng Trip - great blog about the Philippines and alternative methods of reaching Port Barton

Secret Paradise Resort - the costs below are what we paid for our stay
Orchid Cottage for 2 people - 4950 php
Round trip boat ride from Port Barton to the resort for 2 people - 3240 php (trip takes over an hour)
Prices fluctuate depending on the season and I always see them have sales!
Food here cost between 180-400 php & alcohol cost between 60-100 php