Pinoy At Heart
Traveling Gay Couple Shares the Ultimate Guide to (Falling in Love with) Palawan
Stefan Arestis | Apr 20, 2016
Palawan Island is the perfect romantic getaway for gay couples in the Philippines. It is surrounded by some of the most beautiful untouched beaches, undiscovered islands and also has one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
PUERTO PRINCESA AND THE UNDERGROUND RIVER
Puerto Princesa is the main transport hub into Palawan and the base for onward travel to El Nido. It's also where the tours start for the famous Underground River, which was voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature by a global poll in 2012.
PHOTO: Nomadic Boys at the Underground River
1. GAY FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION IN PUERTO PRINCESA
Puerto Princesa is small and easy to get around in. There is a wide variety of good quality gay friendly home-stays and guesthouses which we recommend:
- A homely inn, good for those on a budget.
- They can arrange tours to the Undergroud River.
- Prices start from $35 / £20 for a double room with breakfast.
- Close to restaurants with a nice atmosphere, spacious room and a good sized swimming pool.
- Offers a great range of Spa treatments.
- Prices start from $50 / £35 for a double room.
- Pleasant stay in the heart of Puerto Princessa.
- Very friendly staff, live music performance every evening.
- Prices start from $70 / £50 for a double room with breakfast.
2. ORGANISING YOUR UNDERGROUND RIVER TOUR
The Underground River is 80 km (50m) North from Puerto Princesa and usually visited as part of tour. The easiest way to book a tour is through your guest house. We did ours via the Purple Fountain Courtyard Inn, paying 1,500 pesos ($33 / $22) per person.
Our tour to the Underground River also included a visit to the Ulong Caves with some excellent views across the Ulugan Bay:
3. FAVOURITE PLACES TO EAT IN PUERTO PRINCESA
PP is considered the culinary capital of Palawan with many decent restaurants. Some of our favourites we tried out:
- KaLui: famous for their delicious fish platter amongst other things. It gets very busy as a result of enjoying the #1 Tripadvisor positiong, so best book ahead.
- Marbers Beergarden: great place for international food and of course for traditional Filipino foods like pork sinigang and pancit noodles.
EXPLORING EL NIDO
El Nido is in the Northern end of Palawan island and the perfect base to enjoy the surrounding islands and beaches.
1. GAY FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION IN EL NIDO
- Very welcoming gay friendly hostel for those who want to camp underneath the stars in Nacpan, away from all the noise in El Nido town.
- Prices start from $10 / £7 for a bed.
- Family run home stay ideal for budget travellers, located right in the heart of El Nido town.
- Prices start from $40 / £23 for a double bed, which includes breakfast.
- High end gay friendly option, located on nearby Las Cabanas beach. Ideal if you want a romantic setting away from the El Nido party crowds but close enough to be near the main amenities.
- Those sunset views, every evening...just wow!
- Prices start from $190 / £125 for a double bed.
2. ACTIVITIES TO DO IN EL NIDO
Whether you want to lie back and enjoy paradise on an isolated beach or do some adventure activities, there's plenty to keep you happy here.
- Island tours: there are 4 main government controlled tours called A, B, C and D to the surrounding islands and beaches. They are fun day trips and a great way to start out when you arrive to get a feel of the islands. We booked Tour A and C with the gay friendly El Nido Boutique ArtCafé.
- Snorkelling: the island tours (particularly Tour C) is ideal for snorkelling in El Nido by some stunning coral life particularly around the Tapiutan and Matinloc islands.
- Kayaking: the island tours also include some kayaking around some of the islands, particularly Tour A which goes to the Big and Small Lagoons of Miniloc Island.
- Luxury tailored tours: for those wanting a bit of luxury in a romantic setting, we recommend the gay owned Isla Expeditions who take tours to more remote and untouched locations, like Ginto Island over several days.
- Scuba diving: the diving here is world class and some of the best you'll experience. For us it was on par with our experience diving in the Maldives and scuba diving in the Komodo National Park in Indonesia.
- Keeping fit: the beaches around El Nido main town are ideal for morning jogs but gym bunnies will want to check out Peak Corner Gym, which charges 100 pesos (£1.50 / $2.20) entry (as at June 2015).
3. GAY FRIENDLY BARS AND RESTAURANTS IN EL NIDO
El Nido is very touristy but on the plus side this means it has lots of excellent dining options, which also make good hangouts. Note there's no real gay scene here but savvy use of gay travel apps like Grindr, you'll quickly meet with fellow gay travellers and locals. A few of our favourites included:
- Artcafe Restaurant: an institution on the island and known and loved by everyone. They do the best breakfast in El Nido and for dinner their pizzas will blow you away. They have their own organic garden so everything is fresh.
- Atmosphere: located on the beach and very romantic. Their special is the yummy hand pulled noodles. This is also a bar open till late.
AN ULTIMATE ROMANTIC EXPERIENCE: FLOWER ISLAND
For a romantic getaway holiday, consider spending a few nights at the gay friendly remote Flower Island Resort.
This tropical paradise is located around 45 minutes boat ride from Taytay. When we visited Flower Island Resort. we were the only ones on the entire island.
The staff were extremely open to us as a gay couple and delighted to show us the surrounding area, which included a visit to the nearby pearl farm. The island is also surrounded by completely untouched coral, so prepare for the ultimate snorkelling experience.
RELAX AND TAKE IT ALL IN AT SIBALTAN VILLAGE
Sibaltan is a peaceful village by the sea, located around 1.5 - 4 hours from El Nido (depending on the road conditions). It can be reached via minivan, jeepney (the distinct Filipino public bus) or by tricycle.
Sibaltan is another gem for avoiding the tourist crowds of El Nido. Ursula Beach Club is a gay friendly guest house by the beach owned by the Dennis, who will make you feel like you are in a 5* hotel.
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