El Nido Festival

Every March the town of El Nido hosts a festival with a farmer’s market, foot races, pig catching, and carabao racing.

This year each barangay (district) created a float made entirely out of natural materials.

IMG_4919

IMG_4917

IMG_4965

Fresh produce was sold by each barangay. We picked up some green lettuce and star apples.

IMG_4920

There were foot races for locals and for foreigners, followed by pig catching. Last year they oiled the pigs to make them harder to catch, and I think they should have done it again this year because the pigs were caught pretty easily!

IMG_4932

The foreigner winner (a photographer at Fish Eye Productions) had no place for a pig, so he sold it to a local.

IMG_4933

Then it was time for the highlight of the event – carabao races!

carabao
Left: My son sat on a carabao! Right: The carabao from New Ibajay that won the most races.

IMG_4948

IMG_4954

There were races riding forwards, backwards, relays, standing, pulling carts…

IMG_4964

My kids even got pulled by a carabao when the races were over.

If you’re in El Nido in early March, this is definitely a fun event to catch at the local elementary school field. Keep in mind that most events in El Nido start late, so it’s always a good idea to arrive at least an hour later than the start time.

Happiness Beach Bar

Ethnic food is hard to find in El Nido, so I was excited to try the Mediterranean restaurant, Happiness Beach Bar. Located in Corong Corong just down the hill from Republica, it’s currently the #2 restaurant on Tripadvisor. This is one of the most laid back spots in El Nido to enjoy dinner, drinks and the sunset.

IMG_5288

IMG_5291

I asked for a recommendation, and the owner suggested the fish balls. My husband had the hummus and falafel. The food was wonderfully flavorful and spicy, and spicy food is hard to come by in El Nido! Their Kahlua banana shake was also delicious!

happiness beach bar

IMG_5289

IMG_5298

There are swings and a hammock for you to lounge and enjoy the beautiful sunset.

IMG_5311

IMG_5317

Located 15 minutes from downtown El Nido, it’s a 150 peso tricycle ride.

IMG_5283

Bald Guy Grill

Clive, a British ex-pat, runs a hot dog food cart on Hama Street across the street from Squidos. As an American ex-pat, hot dogs are one of my favorite foods. Clive’s hot dogs are delicious, filling, and the perfect thing to eat after a couple of drinks. I seriously crave them all the time! Check out more rave reviews on his Tripadvisor page!

baldguy1

I mean come on… Tabasco? Only my favorite condiment of all time!

baldguy3

With all the toppings for me and my husband, and plain for my kids!

baldguy2

Hiking Taraw Cliff – The Safe Way

There is a safe way to climb Taraw Cliff through Ferrata Nature’s stairs and bridge that traverse up the mountain. You don’t go all the way to the peak, but you still get a spectacular view from the safety of a platform about halfway up the mountainside. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the top, and even my 4 and 6 year old were able to do it with some help from the 2 guides that accompanied us. That isn’t to say we were tired and completely drenched in sweat once we reached the top, as we went mid-afternoon. Aim for first thing in the morning to take advantage of cooler weather.

taraw5

You can find Ferrata Nature through this pathway on Rizal Street, just past the Bazaar.

taraw14

taraw15

All of us were fitted with a climbing belt and a helmet.

taraw13

The only climbing we had to do was at the entrance, but it was a relatively easy climb and the two guides that came with us were extremely helpful with the kids.

taraw12

From then on it was a series of metal stairs…

taraw11

And a suspension bridge. They attach you to a cable overhead to make sure you’re steady.

taraw10Looking up the bridge

taraw9Looking down the bridge

Once we got to the viewing platform, the kids’ ropes were clipped onto the platform so they could enjoy the view safely.

taraw3

The view of downtown El Nido and Bacuit Bay!

taraw6
taraw7

We could see the peak of Taraw Cliff.

taraw2

taraw1

It costs 400 pesos per person and is about a 45-minute roundtrip trek. Open 8 am – 5 pm daily (you have to arrive by 4:30 pm though, in order to be allowed to start hiking). Cool off with a refreshing drink afterward at the nearby Bazaar! My kids loved it and have been asking to go up again!

Guide in Coma After Falling Off Taraw Cliff

I attempted to climb Taraw Cliff in August 2015 and about 15 minutes into the hike, I quit. I kept thinking to myself, “I have two young children. I can’t die like this!” I’ve always been a thrill seeker — scuba diving, bungee jumping, skydiving… I was there! But this was the first time I quit something because it was just too dangerous (admittedly having children affected this!). Although many people have made it to the peak of Taraw Cliff successfully, no ropes or safety precautions are used, and one wrong slip can have catastrophic consequences.

Last week a tour guide fell off the peak of Taraw Cliff trying to save the lives of a European couple who slipped just before they were about to be engaged. The guide is currently in a coma in a hospital in Puerto Princesa, and his family is requesting monetary assistance for his ongoing treatment. He is 22 years old and was married just last year. This is not the first Taraw Cliff injury, and there have been tourist fatalities in the past.

We’ve always been very wary of this hike, and definitely cannot recommend it to anyone henceforth. We’ve donated money to his family and if you can help in any way, please text the number below to contact his wife Mary Joice Agosto.

tour guide

taraw2

This is the story posted on TV Patrol Palawan (a local television station) in Tagalog, translated into English using Google Translator:

Deliberate Mary Joice office ABS-CBN Palawan to call on the assistance of the good within. She is married to vehicular tour guide Taraw the town of El Nido that Neler August, twenty two years old.

A uno late February to talk to his wife, he allegedly told himself here with a tour but he did not think that it is the last day that she met her husband.

Right now because it is still confined to the Intensive Care Unit or ICU. Because not yet awake, continues the evolution of the costs of her husband.

According to the Municipal Tourism Officer of El Nido, said they advised the family to come to the August municipal DSWD for further financial assistance.

But since it still has sufficient allegedly solicited donations of its fellow tour guide in El Nido.

For any help on the Family August, may contact Mary Joice August number 0946-5500-005.

They also request prayer that Neler wake up and continue that support from it.

Our hearts go out to the to the tour guide’s family and hope that he is able to make a full recovery.

The Bazaar/Kalabar/Lolo Banana Bar

Our favorite bar in downtown El Nido is The Bazaar, which is what the locals call it, but you can also find it online under Kalabar and Lolo Banana Bar. The Bazaar is a curated mixed concept space with an open layout, consisting of 3 restaurants, 3 shops, an island hopping tour booking office, a spa, and some games like darts and ping pong.

bazaar5

bazaar4

This is where the local ex-pats hang out. It has a cool vibe, sand floors, and perfectly laid back decor. This is where we like to bring friends and shop for ourselves for locally made handicrafts! The last time we were here we had a foot massage and foot spa right in the garden, which was heavenly.

bazaar3

bazaar2

bazaar1

You can order seafood from Kalabar and paninis and tapas from Lolo Banana Bar, but you can place one order for both places.

bazaar7

There is also a new Chinese, Japanese, Thai restaurant called Yama that just opened, and it’s a nice addition to the space. We had the chicken teriyaki and a side of vermicelli noodles the last time we went.

yama3

yama1

yama2

The Bazaar hosts lots of fun events.

bazaar8

bazaar9

If you’re looking for one of the coolest bar scenes in El Nido, The Bazaar is your best bet!

La Plage Beach Bar and Restaurant

La Plage Beach Bar and Restaurant in Corong Corong is one of our favorite spots to enjoy a drink, meal and beautiful sunset. We enjoy the more laid back atmosphere of Corong Corong than Las Cabanas (which is more lively) since we’re residents. We also always go at sunset and never had any niknik bites there (though we definitely have at Las Cabanas)!

Head out of El Nido town on a tricycle (50 pesos) and look for this sign on your right. Then it’s a short walk down a hill to the shore.

IMG_4651

la plage6

There is ample seating with a bar and plenty of tables around the pool and right on the beach. And yes you can swim in this pool!

la plage5

On Wednesdays they feature the same DJ that spins at The Bazaar.

IMG_4653

You’ll be greeted by this gentle giant — the only Great Dane in town.

la plage3

This is the standard menu…

la plage2

But specials change daily depending on what’s at the market and that’s what we usually opt to order.

la plage4

The special this day was homemade sausage with mashed potatoes… and it was absolutely delicious!

la plage3

Seafood tapas off their regular menu.

la plage

Corong Corong faces directly west so you’ll be able to watch the sun dip down over the horizon during the dry season. The sun moves more towards Caalan Beach during the wet season.

la plage2

corong corong sunset

laplage5

Artcafe

Artcafe is an El Nido institution and one of the oldest businesses in downtown El Nido. They’re a one stop shop for eating, booking tours, renting kayaks and paddleboards, and shopping. They have an outdoor restaurant right beside the ocean, a souvenir shop across the street, and a spacious restaurant above the shop that plays live music in the evenings.

artcafe2

artcafe6

artcafe2

Artcafe bakes their own bread and they’re one of the few places you can get wheat bread. They also grow all their greens on their own organic farm, so if you’re looking for a salad fix, this is the place to go! Their menu features classic American fare like salads, pizzas, and sandwiches, as well as a couple of Filipino dishes.

artcafe

artcafe3

artcafe4
They’re also one of the few places that serve craft beers from Palaweno Brewery.

artcafe5

We find ourselves coming here regularly to buy things like electronics, toiletries, and snacks. Plus they’re one of the very few establishments in all of El Nido that accepts credit cards!

Makulay Beach Bar & Restaurant Review

We pass by the Makulay Beach Bar every time we head into town and back, and we couldn’t help but notice all the upgrades they’ve been making over the past couple of months. I think it’s probably the prettiest bar in El Nido!

makulay2

makulay1

We enjoyed sangria and dinner there one recent evening.

IMG_2094

I wasn’t a big fan of the chicken skewer dinner, although my shrimp skewers were delicious, and they have the best fries in town. Olive particularly enjoyed their ham and cheese croquettes.

IMG_2095

I always wonder why this place isn’t more packed because it is so charming. But because it’s not in El Nido downtown, I think it just may not have been discovered yet. They light tiki torches and you sit right on the beach. They even play movies in the evening!

makulay3

This is one place we’ll definitely be back!

L’Assiette Review

The restaurant landscape in El Nido has certainly changed in the past 10 years! Downtown used to be filled with little hole in the wall places, but in the past couple of years many higher end restaurants have opened. Among them is L’Assiette, a French/Asian restaurant currently rated #8 on Tripadvisor.

lassiette

L’Assiette’s restaurant is located on the second and third floor, and they sell ice cream in front of the restaurant as well.

lassiette6

It features beautiful views of Bacuit Bay on one side and downtown’s limestone cliffs on the other.

lassiette5

I had mussels which were a special of the day, and the Risotto al Tinta with Calamares for 485 PHP. The risotto was rich and cheesy and filling.

lassiette2

My husband opted for the fish Thai curry for 485 PHP, and I think it’s pretty hard to mess up curry, so it’s usually a safe bet at most places.

lassiette4

lassiette3

On another trip my husband had the tanigue (my favorite local fish) with creamy dill sauce and curry vegetable rice, and it was absolutely delicious. This is definitely the thing to order at L’Assiette!

IMG_5175

I had the spicy Thai beef salad and while the beef was good, I wasn’t too big a fan of the salad as a lover of extremely spicy authentic Thai cuisine. The calamares all Aglio I had on another day was very good though.

IMG_5176

They have the yummiest desserts in town like this mango cheesecake!

IMG_5177

L’Assiette is pricier than most restaurants in El Nido (most main dishes ~450PHP), but still relatively affordable compared to Western prices. (click on images to enlarge menus)

IMG_5181

IMG_5180

IMG_5178