Glamp in style at Nacpan Beach Glamping, El Nido

Glamp in style at Nacpan Beach Glamping, El Nido

Top tier camping facility Nacpan Beach Glamping opened its doors in one of El Nido’s quieter areas, Nacpan, about an hour’s ride from the main town—a thumbs up to those wanting to camp but with creature comforts at bay.

Isn’t it grand?

In a one-hectare land now sits nine luxe tents surrounded by palm trees and shrubbery, mere steps away from what The Telegraph has described as one of the “29 dreamiest beaches on Earth.” Nine more tents are set to open in October.

Here’s how it looks from the outside.

The tents made from canvas with heavy-duty cotton built to withstand the El Nido weather, come with a zipped mesh and PVC windows, and view of either the beach or the mountains. The interiors are set in earthen tones furnished with queen bed set on top of a native-style sisal rug, has thoughtful touches like a Japanese pendant light, and airconditioning, which you don’t really need if you’re breathing pristine sea breeze.

This is how it looks inside.

Food at Nacpan Beach Glamping is part of the stay you pay for and you get it from the Nacpan Sunmai Restaurant located right beside the campsite. It features an international menu with local favorites like sisig and grilled tanigue mixed with Japanese katsu, Italian pizza, and smoothie bowls. Other exciting stay inclusions guests get to experience are a one-hour sunset sail, and origami classes using coconut leaves.

Visit between December and May and you may get the chance to see turtle hatchlings being released.

The basics
Php7,500 per night for two; however, a tent can fit up to four
Nacpanbeachglamping.com
Tel: +63956 234 0162

Get there. SkyJet Airlines (skyjetairlines.com) has regular flights from San Vicente, Palawan where a van can take you to El Nido. Get off at Discover El Nido office on Amboy Street in El Nido town and hop on the Nacpan Shuttle Service.

Stars for Christmas: the Philippine parol

Stars for Christmas: the Philippine parol

Christmas maybe from the West, but the parol is truly Filipino.

The West may have developed the idea of Christmas, but the Filipinos have embraced it possibly more than the rest of the world. Case in point: the Philippines having the “longest Christmas” in the world, with decor and the holiday spirit kicking in as early as September.

A quintessential part and perhaps the most unique symbol of Christmas in the Philippines is the ever-present parol, a five-point-star-shaped lantern usually made of bamboo sticks and colored paper.

Taken from the Spanish word farol (meaning lantern or street light), its origins are said to date back to the early 1900s in Pampanga. First made by Francisco Estanislao, its base design, a five-point star pretty much stay unchanged since its inception.

Materials used vary from simple—bamboo sticks for the frame covered by papel de hapon or colored cellophane—to complex—steel, white or stained capiz shells, and a bunch of wires and circuitry. You can find at least one parol by the façade of Filipino home, or as part of the holiday decor beautifying streets of busier metropolises like Makati.

If you’re looking for the best designs, look no further than San Fernando City in the province of Pampanga. Lantern making in this city is an art and a livelihood, and is best embodied in the annual Giant Lantern Festival, held a couple of weeks before Christmas in December annually.

The basics
Get there. Take a Partas or a Victory Liner bus from these transport companies’ terminal in Cubao to get to San Fernando, Pampanga. Travel time is about one hour.

Tagaytay favorites without the hassle at D’Banquet

Tagaytay favorites without the hassle at D’Banquet

If you’ve ever wanted to avoid the crowd but enjoy the food of Tagaytay—hot bowl of bulalo and all—we’ve found the place to be.

Dining in Tagaytay usually includes experiencing a cool summer breeze with heart-warming food and (hopefully) a view of the Taal Lake so it’s no surprise that the two primary roads leading to Tagaytay along with every single restaurant are packed during weekends.

It’s a sign that might be hard to see, but once you remember it’s there it’s hard to miss. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Good thing there’s a place in Tagaytay that satisfies my cravings for a good bowl of bulalo (beef shank stew) and Tagaytay’s cool breeze: D’ Banquet. Located along Aguinaldo Highway, it’s ideal if you’re looking to head home after a few hours in Tagaytay or are looking for a good place to start an afternoon in the country’s second Summer Capital.

And then there’s this cute cafe. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

The restaurant has near-all-wood interiors and greenery wrapped around it. It’s quite a spacious restaurant, able to sit around 100 people with ease.

Adding to the rustic charm is a small cafe that serves specialty coffee from Benguet and treats you can purchase from the One Town, One Product shop they operate, which includes pastries from the famous Amira’s Buco Tarts.

Food

One of the crowd favorites: crispy pata. Photo from D’Banquet

They’re known for their boneless crispy pata (deep fried pork thigh) and their roasted native chicken, though the buffet offers much more than those. They’ve got a pot of hearty bulalo, which you can get on small soup bowls along with a myriad of Filipino dishes.

Try their balut a la pobre, a dish that gives the humble but exotic balut egg a salty, savory spin. Leave some room for dessert with pastries made from popular Amira’s Buco Tarts smack in the middle of the restaurant.

Drink

You can always ask for sodas at D’Banquet, but there’s a better, healthier option that’s right at the buffet: freshly squeezed fruit juices. They usually have at least four varieties available.

They also have simple lattes, still made with beans sourced from Benguet. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

If you want to discover something different, try the specialty coffee they serve at the cafe. They use Arabica beans from Benguet in hot lattés, Thai Coffee, and something you don’t see too often in Manila: cafe naranja, which is coffee mixed with orange fruit.

The basics
Php800 (about USD15) for two people, Php599 per person for the weekend buffet
Aguinaldo Highway corner Arnoulduz Road, Tagaytay City
Fb.com/dbanquettagaytay

Get there
Ride a DLTB Bus from Pasay that’s headed for Nasugbu and ask the driver to drop you off at Pink Sister’s Convent. D’ Banquet is located across the street from where you will be dropped off.

Where in the world is San Vicente?

Where in the world is San Vicente?

You can say San Vicente is the Philippines’ last frontier’s last frontier. If this doesn’t sound right, this report will.

Palawan’s open secret might probably be the best thing to ever happen to local tourism, and it’s not hard to see why: sustainable tourism practices are at the heart of what drives the once sleepy fishing town of San Vicente.

The teeny spotlight lit on San Vicente’s two attractions: Long Beach and Port Barton. But the fact is there are more to the town than lounging around these breathtaking shores.

Cove hop on Boayan Island

Boayan Island, the largest island off the coast of San Vicente, boasts some of the most pristine beaches in the province. Most of the beaches on Boayan are within private property, but island hoppers can stop by it. Coves like Kalipay, Evergreen, and Kambingan are great if you want a beach to yourself.

Daplac Cove is for those who want to be away from the crowd. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Ask your boatman to bring you to Daplac Cove, one of the more pristine beaches on Boayan Island. It’s a 300-meter cove with powdery white sand that’s a host to a few sea turtles and if the conditions are right you may spot them in your visit.
Boayan Island is about 30 minutes by boat from the San Vicente Port. St. Vincent Travel and Tours has this in their tours.

Photo Op at Bato ni Ningning

Introducing Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Bato ni Ningning, named after a drama series that aired on local TV in 2015, gives you a view of Erawan Beach as well as a near-360-degree view of the surrounding area.

Stand atop the rock and bust out your selfie stick to get Erawan Beach in the photo, or go down a bit from the top of the hill and have a cleaner shot of the beach.
Bato ni Ningning is a 45-minute drive from the airport, and best reached on a motorbike. Bike rental is around Php600 (USD12) per bike. Entrance to Bato ni Ningning is Php20 per person.

Bar hop in Port Barton

The crowd in San Vicente will always gravitate towards Port Barton. It’s the first area of San Vicente to be explored by tourists and a welcome alternative to those who have been to El Nido.

Two of the top bars in Port Barton are Moon Bar and Mojitos Restobar. Mojitos was once named as Palawan’s best resto-bar on TripAdvisor and is known for its nine variations on the classic mojito. Moon Bar alternately is a beachfront bar that serves smoothies, beer, wines, and cocktails with a view of San Vicente’s cotton candy-colored sunset. It’s hard to miss since it looks like a gigantic two-storey beach hut.
Drinks at Moon Bar start at Php200. Moon Bar is a five-minute walk from the center of Port Barton.

Chase waterfalls

It’s not as tall as other waterfalls in the country, but Pamoayan Falls is quite scenic. Photo by Harvey Tapan

To date, there are only two waterfalls known to people who have been to San Vicente: Bigaho and Pamoayan. Bigaho Falls, a 10-minute walk from the beach where your boat will dock, is pretty accessible and often the final stop on your Port Barton Island Hopping tour. It has a small pool at the bottom of the falls for taking a leisurely dip.

Pamoayan Falls, 10 minutes by motorbike on paved and dirt roads from Port Barton beach, calls the adventurous. From the entrance, it’s a five-minute trek including wading on a creek to get to the waterfall. Compared to Bigaho, Pamoayan is more majestic in terms of size and features. Its dipping pool is larger than Bigaho too.
Bigaho and Pamoayan both have a sari-sari store where you can buy snacks and drinks, and where there’s a donation box for those who wish to donate cash.

Spend the afternoon (or the night) at Inaladelan Island

It’s quite the experience staying at an island for a night. Photo by Harvey Tapan

It’s a tongue-twister of a name, but Inaladelan Island (or German Island) is one of the best islands to spend a night on in San Vicente. It has tents, a 300-meter white-sand beach on one side, a small bar that serves cocktails, and a small pavilion where you can have your lunch. You’ll love the trees giving you shelter when it’s a tad too sunny. Inaladelan is often a lunch stop for island hopping tours, but we recommend actually spending a night here for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.

Less than a kilometer from its shore is where you’ll find what people visit San Vicente for: sea turtles. There’s a huge patch of seagrass below the waves that sea turtles love to graze in, and they’re more than happy to let people snorkel or swim with them while they feed. Note: This phenomenon is year-round.
Overnight stays at Inaladelan are at Php2,500 per person (minimum of two) with roundtrip transfers from either Port Barton or San Vicente, a camping tent with foam bed and pillows, dinner, and breakfast. Book at Inaladelanisland.com

Explore Port Barton’s reefs

Port Barton is home to some of the more thriving coral reefs in Palawan. The islands in Port Barton Bay like Inaladelan and Exotic have some of the clearest waters, making them a playground for snorkelers.

Some of the more popular reefs are Twin Reef and Wide Reef. Twin Reef is a shallow dive (less than 15 feet) and home to large table corals and schools of fish. It’s a small area that’s easily explored even by those who don’t dare dive beneath the waves. Wide Reef is a wider reef area, hence the name, and deeper than Twin Reef, with similar coral formations and species of fish. If you’re looking for larger schools of fish, have your boatman take you to Small Lagoon Reef, located close to Exotic Island; for and to Fantastic Reef, close to Double Island, for a look-see of green corals.
Snorkeling in Port Barton Bay is a part of the tours provided by St. Vincent Travel and Tours.

Laze on Long Beach and forget time exists

This one you can do at any of the beaches you’ll visit, but Long Beach gives you the best opportunity to enjoy a legitimately long walk on the beach or do nothing at all.

This is only halfway. Let that sink in for a second. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Long Beach is a 14.7-kilometer, cream-colored sandy beach that has got one of the most colorful sunsets you’d evert see. There aren’t many establishments on Long Beach yet, which means a visit this early will give you a good chance of taking those beach photos without people and manmade structures in the background.
Put on loads of insect repellent before you and within your visit to keep you from being bit by sand flies.

Watch sea turtle hatchlings go to the sea

Another unique way of enjoying a stay in San Vicente joining the locals and taking part in releasing sea turtle hatchlings on Long Beach.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Photo from Club Agutaya/Dixie Mariñas

Backed by a municipal ordinance, the residents (especially school kids) and officials of the three barangays that share Long Beach walk on their portion of the beach either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to look for sea turtle nests. Tourists can join in on the fun by simply walking with them or visiting Club Agutaya, where they release hatchlings within 24 hours of finding them. Turtle hatching season is from October to April.
Register for free at Club Agutaya’s front desk when you visit San Vicente to join locals in looking for sea turtle nests.

Visit Dumaran Island

It’s not exactly on every tour operator’s itinerary and it’s not exactly in San Vicente, but Dumaran Island is the definition of an unknown tourist destination in Palawan. The island is three hours away from San Vicente and will have you take dirt roads and a boat ride to get to it. It’s not a touristy place, with no proper resorts, restaurants, and other tourist establishments but it does have spots you can check out like Isla Pugon, Encantasia Island, Renambacan Island, Maruyug-ruyog Island, Calampuan Island, and the Dumaran Spanish Fort.
Tours at Dumaran Island can be arranged with either the local tourism office or Isla Pugod Eco Resort (@DumaranPalawanDiscoveryOfficialPage on Facebook).

The basics
Get there: SkyJet Airlines flies direct from Manila to San Vicente four times weekly. Motorbikes are the preferred way of getting around San Vicente, with rentals priced around Php600 (USD12) per bike.

The story of the most popular boulder in San Vicente, Palawan

The story of the most popular boulder in San Vicente, Palawan

What was once a hangout of a child is now the most famous view deck in Palawan’s growing hotspot, frequented by tourists

Whenever you search for photos of San Vicente, Palawan, chances are you’ll find this photo:

The photo that pops up the most when you search for San Vicente, Palawan on Google. Photo from SkyJet Airlines

It’s often mistaken for Long Beach, but it’s actually called Irawan Beach. The place where this quintessential San Vicente photo is taken from? It’s on top of a boulder that’s up a short hill… and it’s called Bato ni Ningning.

This is the view from Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Named after a television show it was in, Bato ni Ningning is perched on top of a hill in Brgy. Alimanguan, the northernmost barangay of San Vicente.

Getting to Bato ni Ning is a 47-minute drive from the airport or a 22-kilometer drive through paved and dirt roads. It’s best to take a guide with you and rent a motorbike to get to the hotspot.

Introducing Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan
Irawan Beach from the air. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Once there, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Brgy. Alimanguan, with Irawan Beach right in the middle. Simply pay the Php20 entrance fee, stand atop the boulder, whip out your camera, and either take a selfie or replicate that photo of San Vicente you always see online.

Get there
SkyJet Airlines (Flyskyjetair.com) flies direct from Manila to San Vicente four times weekly. Flights are to increase to six times weekly beginning October 27, 2019.

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