On our third and last day in El Nido begun with the same ritualistic feat akin to how our first two days begun. We were roused from a deep and hazy slumber by the unfamiliar cacophony of domestic noises emanating from the roosters. For Voltaire and I, however, the day is going to be different. We had an earlier-than-usual wake up call as we planned for an early morning trek to Taraw Cliff. Penny has been there already, hence, she declined and Ziv was simply deflated after two days of exhausting water activities.

Of all the activities in our itinerary, trekking Taraw Cliff was definitely the one that I was looking forward to because of two reasons. The first reason was because, earlier in the year, I started doing climbing and trekking as a means to whip myself back into shape. The second reason why I wanted to climb Taraw Cliff despite the ominous news around it was because of the amazing view of El Nido it offers to those who brave the treacherous climb.

After preparing for the morning climb, Voltaire and I went out to meet our guide. From our accommodation, we wrote his bicycle to the jump off point for the climb. Passing by local houses, the trail starts with a winding village pathway which eventually lead up to a rocky path. Limestone rocks form the trail to the summit. Because of this, do expect sharp rock edges which can easily pierce exposed body parts. I climbed in my flip flops and it was a challenge.

GOPR3547_1487491576001_high-01.jpeg
Is it all about the climb?
GOPR3546_1487491576001_high-01.jpeg
For us to reach the zenith, we must first start.

On the climb up, we had to carefully maneuver around gnarled roots. That was not the toughest challenge, however. There are several steep inclines where one must observe extreme caution. As we slowly gain elevation and the canopy of tall trees surround us, the buzz of the early Sunday morning was replaced by the tweets of birds. The more we go up, the view started to reveal itself. Before we knew it, we already reached the top where some fellow early birds have already finished their photo ops. Now it is our turn!

“To see is to believe” goes the hackneyed phrase. The view reminded me how this phrase is an understatement. I was mesmerized by the pictures of El Nido taken from Taraw Cliff but to finally witness it with my own eyes, a different form of elation took over. It was idyllic! It was made even more vivid by the lovely hue of early morning. The surrounding islands, the deep azure of the bay, the boats docked on the beach, and the houses merge to complete a rich tapestry that is alive with colors.

With an inspiring landscape, Voltaire and I simply couldn’t resist taking pictures of the beauty that was before us. We were in awe.  The summit does offer plenty of space to find that perfect position but one must always be cautious. Do remember the second word in the nomenclature of the rocks we are sitting in – “cliff”. I am not sure if the trail is still open; there are times when the local government closes the trails to ensure everyone’s safety.

Drunk in beauty and awe, we had difficulty going back. If only we could stay there and be stuck in the moment but no, we have to go back down and face reality. Climbers would say going down is easier than it is to go up. However, be reminded that complacency is something that can inflict one with serious injury. Always be cautious when ascending or descending because of the jagged and the loose rocks.

GOPR3775_1487491576001_high-01.jpeg
The reward at the top made up for the hardships.
GOPR3812_1487491576001_high-01.jpeg
I’m loving this view of El Nido.
GOPR3817_1487491576001_high-01.jpeg
Mr. Photogenic himself; barely doing anything yet the pictures always turn well.

Once down, our trio went to a local café to have a breakfast. It was a fitting end to our early morning exertion. It was a sumptuous meal, especially after our excursion. Breakfast done, we went back to our accommodation to meet up with Penny and Ziv in order for us to proceed with the last destination on our itinerary – Nacpan Beach.

Nacpan Beach recently gained some attention because of eye-grabbing pictures that made its round in social media. I know we’ve been beach bumming for two days but the beach feels so promising. The wide stretch of glimmering sand, the cerulean skies, and the azure waters – they combine to complete an idyllic landscape. To get there, however, requires land travel for forty to sixty minute.

We hired a local tricycle to convey us to Nacpan Beach. Rates usually vary but the going rate is about PHP 1,000. There are other ways to get to the beach. One can now ride an airconditioned van (we didn’t have this option back then), or one can also hire a motorcycle and drive all the way out to the beach. For our group of four, hiring a tricycle was the most practical choice.

After nearly an hour of northward travel through a paved highway, our driver turned left to a rough road and before we knew it, we have reached our destination. As we walk towards the beach, my mouth was gaping in wonder. Nacpan Beach reminded me why I have always loved the beachy vibe. It was still February but I am already feeling the summer breeze greeting me with a bravado. I was already reinvigorated.

_DSC3653-01.jpeg
Sand, sea, sky – Nacpan Beach in a nutshell.
_DSC3572-01.jpeg
Why waste the fun? Join and get to know the locals!
GOPR3840_1487491576001_high-01.jpeg
An idyllic stretch.
GOPR3858_1487491576001_high-01.jpeg
No space is a waste.
_DSC3650-01.jpeg
Such a fine sight.

The sand was fine, the sea was great, and the weather was amazing but what really mesmerized me was the long stretch of the beach. It really looked as though the fine sand stretched on and on. Every tourist can have a dedicated space for himself or herself. Virginal, serene, it is a beach that has a lot of potential. Back in 2017, it wasn’t teeming with so much activities and despite some restaurants and sari-sari stores jotting the shoreline, it wasn’t that commercialized.

Because of its untouched quality, Nacpan Beach is the ultimate destination to slow down and just go with the flow. A lot of foreigners are lined up on the beach, earning that tan. It has that restful atmosphere. I heard more establishments were built along the shoreline but I do hope that the seafront is still preserved or at least maintained properly. When we walked around to explore, we barely noticed any garbage or blemish one ordinarily finds in the country’s more popular and overcrowded beaches.

Tired after exploring the beach, we lounged on the shades provided by the tall palm trees. This is the good life, the song goes – just enjoying the moment, the abrupt although short alteration of our routine, the bliss of being enamored by the beauty that is before us. These carefree moments remind us how to live, one that is clouded by the fast paced living in the urban jungles of Manila. How I’d love to simply bask in the tranquility.

Just when I was getting the hang of it, we had to drive back to town. We’re returning to Puerto Princesa later in the day. With heavy heart, we packed our things, cognizant that our three-day respite is coming to an end. On our way to Puerto Princesa, the sunset in a brilliant display of colors, a magnificent way to cap our adventure, a promise for more wonderful experiences.

Next stop: Puerto Princesa City.

_DSC3600-01.jpeg
Jump for joy!
_DSC3598-01.jpeg
Jump for prosperity!
GOPR3847_1487491576001_high-01.jpeg
Then move forward, with a full heart, and a treasure trove of memories.