From day one we knew fully planning our trip to the Philippines during rainy season was a little risky. I mean, we knew it would rain, but we didn’t realise how much it could disrupt plans.
When we arrived in El Nido, we booked our boat to Coron for a few days later. I’ve heard some pretty bad things about this boat! From people saying nearly everyone on the boat was severely seasick, to people saying the boat they were on actually broke down and everyone was told to “rescue themselves”, I wasn’t exactly filled with confidence about taking this route from the get go. However, it was the cheapest and most convenient. Plus, if the boat is running, how bad could it be? (There are good reviews, too… These are just the ones that stuck in my head during that situation!)
Actually, we never found out. To say our time in El Nido was wet is an understatement! When we returned from our time Sibaltan to El Nido, we were told that the boat had been cancelled for a few days due to the bad weather and there was no way of knowing if it’d be running or not the next day. We decided to enjoy our potential last night in El Nido and see what happened in the morning. Of course, it was cancelled.
What to do when your boat is cancelled
By this point, I’d already convinced myself that I didn’t want to take the El Nido – Coron boat even if it was running the next day. 6 – 10 hours (the time seems to vary depending on who you ask) in rough sea conditions isn’t my idea of fun. Surely the sea conditions wouldn’t get much better overnight. So, we started looking at alternative options.
Ferry from Puerto Princesa
A ferry runs twice a week from Puerto Princesa. Had we realised our boat would be cancelled sooner, we would have made our way straight to Puerto Princesa to get the ferry that night. The boat is much bigger, but also longer (about 15hours).
However, we found out our boat was cancelled too late and would have to wait another 4 days in El Nido / Puerto Princesa to get the next ferry.
Fly – El Nido – Manila – Coron / Puerto Princesa – Manila – Coron
Anyone we asked told us there were no flights to Coron (Busuanga) from El Nido or Puerto Princesa. This meant we would have had to take a very long winded (and expensive) route just to get to our final destination of the trip. As much as we wanted to get to Coron, this did not seem worth it.
HOWEVER, after tediously searching alternative routes in one of the few places with “working” internet in El Nido, we stumbled across our chosen route!
Fly – Puerto Princesa – Coron (Busuanga)
How so little people know about this is beyond me. Air Juan is an airline with a difference. We thought our plane from Cebu to El Nido with Air Swift was small! Air Juan uses tiny sea planes and land planes (our plane could seat up to 9 passengers and 2 members of cabin crew!).
From the Air Juan website, we got their number and managed to book a flight for the next morning. By this time it was already 8pm so once our booking was confirmed we rushed to pack up our room, take a tricycle to bus station and board the 9pm plane to Puerto Princesa. We knew we were going to be in for a pretty sleepless night so we used the bus as an opportunity to at least get a little rest.
By the time we arrived at Puerto Princesa it was 3 or 4am. We took another tricycle from the bus station to the airport, only to find the airport didn’t open for another hour or so! Then, when the airport did open its gates we couldn’t actually go inside for another half hour.
As our plane wasn’t due to take off until 10am so we had a bit of a wait at the airport. Once we checked in we were concerned our luggage would be overweight as the extra luggage fee is quite costly. However, our two carry on bags and one checked back didn’t cause a problem.
Now, this flight was quite an experience. I’ve never looked out of the front window when flying (except when I went skying diving in Australia, but I was pretty preoccupied with other thoughts then!). We watched the pilot and co-pilot fly in the smallest plane ever! It was incredible. We had amazing views. Although, because of the small plane, the turbulence was very… turbulent-y.
All in all, it’s good to have a plan, but do allow for some freedom when going away. And, don’t stress, even if you miss a night or two in a different destination, everything will work out!
Have you travelled from El Nido to Coron? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments below.