Most tourists head for two distinct places in the Philippines: First, they party hard in the island of Boracay and next, they relax their head and indulge in nature in El Nido, Palawan. You’d think there would be a direct way to get from one place to the other (although there is, unfortunately it’s for those that have a much, MUCH higher budget range) but there really aren’t any that is easily accessible.
Most of the tourists who come to the Philippines make for a stop in Boracay, go back to Manila, stay a night and then head for Puerto Prinsesa. I say, you do it the hardcore way. Suck it up and take our tried and tested “How to get from Boracay to El Nido” trip. It’s completely doable and no, you DO NOT end up like looking and feeling a zombie, just a tiny bit.
Honestly, for me though, this one time suffering of being in transit is much better than to spend a day in Manila. You can always enjoy Manila and everything in it during thelatter part of your trip, when you’d be in the city where your departing airport should be, just to be on the safe side.
Here’s how we survived, errr, managed to do it:
Day 1 7:00pm
Pack up the deck of cards and bags and off to Cagban Jetty
Day 1 7:45pm
Van for Kalibo Airport leaves Caticlan Jetty. Fall asleep and possibly drool on your travel buddy’s shoulder.
Day 1 9:15pm
Van arrives in Kalibo. Proceed to head for an about-to-close restaurant for dinner.
Day 1 10:45pm
After eating and hanging out for a bit, walk out of the already closed restaurant and walk to the nearest transient house.
Day 1 11:00pm
Check in at Airport Lane for a 3-hour stay in an air conditioned room. Going price is at P300. Huge-ass cockroach in the bathroom, completely optional.
Optional Route: Camp out on the open-air airport grounds. If you can find a spot where you can lay your head or perhaps in one of the 24-hour restaurants around the airport perimeter, go right ahead.
Day 2 2:00am
Check out of Airport Lane and take a lazy tricycle back to the airport. Or you can walk. We were lazy. And very sleepy. Like, pass out right on the street kind of sleepy. As soon as you walk into the airport, wait for the check in counters to open.
Day 2 2:30am
After waiting for the check in counters to open, and passing through airport security and paying for terminal fees, finally park your butt on the pre-departure area and wait for your boarding announcement.
Day 2 3:30am
Board your aircraft and pass out on the seats immediately
Day 2 5:00am
Land in NAIA Terminal 3. After a long and still-lazy bathroom break by the baggage claim, go directly to the check in counters for check in for the flight bound for Puerto Prinsesa.
Day 2 6:00am
Go through an extra busy Departure Area, finally get through the check in process and start to make your way to your gate. Pass by a quick but hot breakfast consisting of a tuna sandwich and cup noodles. Burning your tongue, completely optional.
Day 2 7:30am
Board your 2nd flight of the day bound for Puerto Princesa. At this time, be completely oblivious to anything surrounding you. Pass out on the chairs immediately. Do not even wait to recline your seat when the seatbelt sign comes off.
Day 2 9:30am
Land in Puerto Prinsesa and board the next available van heading for El Nido. Try not to completely forget to bring a bottle of water and something to eat along the way.
Day 2 12:30pm
Your first decent stopover. Eat. Have a passionate whirlwind relationship with a few scoops of ice cream in a bread bun. This time definitely do not forget about buying water.
Day 2 4:00pm
Finally arrive in El Nido Public Market. If you have reservations, have a tricycle take you there. If you don’t, like some people, ask the driver to drop you off somewhere where they have a fan room that costs between P500 and P600.
Day 2 4:30pm
Drop your bags and immediately take a shower and/or take a dump if you haven’t already.
Day 2 5:00m
Celebrate with a beer and the view of Bacuit Bay.
Boracay-Kalibo-Manila-Puerto Prinsesa-El Nido in one sweep and we only needed 21.5 hours. Take that bitches!
For those who want to do the same route that we took, here are the flights that we booked to make all that dizzying goodness happen.
5J 354 – Kalibo to Manila, Departs at 4:15am
5J 637 – Manila to Puerto Prinsesa, Departs at 8:10am