El Nido: Day trip to Nacpan Beach

  • Nacpan Beach, often regarded as being one of the best beaches in all of Asia, is an easy day trip away from El Nido. 

    Once just a desolate stretch of untouched golden sand it is now quite popular, with several bars and restaurants around. There is a Mad Monkey Hostel here also, providing budget accommodation and nightly beach parties.

Getting to Nacpan Beach

A boat ashore at Nacpan Beach
  • What was once a bumpy, uncomfortable motorbike ride from El Nido town has become much more convenient in recent years. There are now several more options to get to Nacpan Beach:
  • By shuttle bus: This is what we did. Comfortable and stress-free ride in an air-conditioned shuttle bus. The only negative is that you have to leave and arrive according to their schedule. Bookings can be made here.
  • By tricycle: Every tricycle driver in El Nido will offer you a roundtrip tour to Nacpan Beach. Cheaper than the shuttle with the options to stop at some places on the way and dictate the times you leave and arrive. 
  • By motorbike/scooter: This will take you 45 minutes to an hour. The road deteriorates quite badly towards the end of the ride so extra care is required. The cheapest option.

Exploring Nacpan Beach

I 'Heart' Nacpan Sign

We were dropped off at Sunmai Bar, a beach club-style bar & restaurant that serves as a symbol of the changing times that are happening at Nacpan Beach. Just outside it lies an Instagram-worthy ‘I Heart Nacpan’ sign placed in the sand.

This area is the main hub and where you will find a few restaurants and basic shops. Further down along the beach is Mad Monkey Hostel where you can sip on cocktails, eat ice cream and play beach volleyball with other travellers.

Locals at Nacpan Beach

Past here you will be free to explore the beach paradise that is Nacpan Beach. There is a viewpoint that gives you a view of Nacpan’s distinct twin beaches. Nacpan Beach refers to the wider stretch of sand whilst Calitang Beach is the other side.

Nacpan Beach has 4km of perfect sand so you’ll surely be able to find a slice of paradise for yourself to relax and unwind for the day.

Last Thoughts

An idle boat on Nacpan Beach

If you have over 4 days to spend in El Nido (or you are obsessed with long stretches of sand) the trip out to Nacpan Beach is worthwhile. 

We personally weren’t blown away and wouldn’t prioritise it over a couple of Island-Hopping Tours.

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El Nido: Tour D — Why you should try the least popular tour


Tour D is often left off travellers itineraries for El Nido. There are a few reasons for that:

  • Cadlao Island, where the tour is based, is located very close to the main area of El Nido. This causes travellers to wonder whether or not it’s good value to pay for a boat to take them to an island that looks so close by
  • The main draw, Cadlao Lagoon, isn’t as famous as the Big and Small Lagoons. How many lagoons are travellers expected to visit?
  • After Cadlao Lagoon, the rest of the stops are just various beaches around the island
  • Lastly, it’s not always economical. It’s quite hard to find a group tour for Tour D. Even in high season, we struggled to find anything going and ended up paying for a private tour.
  • All these points are valid, but allow us to inspire you and let you know why you should consider this tour.


Why you should try it

Our sailors for the day, experiencing pure bliss in perfect water and Natnat Beach

We’d heard from a few sources that Cadlao Lagoon is arguably the most beautiful in El Nido. So, we decided to see it when we’d heard that Tour A’s at that time would be skipping either the Big or Small Lagoon due to congestion.

No matter how beautiful something is, it’s hard to appreciate it when you’re surrounded by people in fluoro-orange life jackets. It ruins the mood a bit, you know?

We ended up having our favourite boat tour of the Phillippines with Tour D as we were treated to a stunning lagoon and deserted beaches all day. The atmosphere in each stop was calm and chilled out, which was exactly what we needed at that time during our trip.

The beaches themselves were the best we’d ever visited (partly due to having them all to ourselves).

Cadlao Lagoon

Perfect emerald water

The absolute highlight of this tour for us. We arrived early in the morning and shared the entire area with just 4 or 5 other people. The limestone karts surround and tower over you as you enter the lagoon. The emerald water dazzles and invites you to jump in for a swim.

Limestone karsts from Cadlao Lagoons beach

There is a beach that you’ll find through some rocks as well. You’ll be free to hang out here to swim, jump off rocks and explore as long as you’d like.

The rest of the stops on the tour are beaches, all with their own distinct character. The following were our favourites:

Natnat Beach

Approaching Natnat Beach

Natnat Beach was easily our favourite beach on our tour. The limestone karsts, palm trees and soft sand all come together in a way that captures everything distinct about El Nido, creating an iconic environment thats perfect for photography and relaxing.

Picture perfect Natnat Beach

The beach stretches quite far and you’ll find rope swings and local’s boats docked as you walk across it. We ended up having this beach all to ourselves for an hour or so and enjoyed wandering aimlessly and floating in the warm water with all the natural beauty surrounding us.

Paradise Beach

Exploring the rocks at the end of Paradise Beach

Next was Paradise Beach. This is also where we stopped for lunch. The beach is great to explore and there are some rocks to explore and walk through that lead to another smaller beach.

Bukal Beach

Boats docked at Bukal beach

Our last stop was Bukal Beach, a relatively simple beach with some rocks to climb nearby. There isn’t anything particularly special about this beach but its a great place to relax (from all your relaxing you’ve done all day) before heading back to the El Nido town.

Last Thoughts

Tour D ended up being our most enjoyable island hopping tour we did in Palawan, and we went on several from Port Barton, El Nido and Coron. The lesser crowds definitely added to this, but there was a certain charm to each place we visited as well.

Cadlao Lagoon was absolutely stunning and we shared it with just a few other people. Natnat Beach was simply beautiful.

Overall, Tour D makes a perfect pairing with Tour A or C. You will see the vast majority of what makes El Nido special with a combination of these.

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Florence: Our Favourite Experiences

Tips & Articles

Florence is one of the most romantic, artistic and historically rich cities in Italy and all of Europe. Immerse yourself in the city where the renaissance was born. Here are our top experiences to be had.

Explore Florence on foot

Beautiful architecture and art awaits you as you explore the streets of Florence

The streets of Florence has a timeless beauty to it and you’ll find yourself admiring the beautiful streetscapes, picturesque views and incredible architecture all around you. Once you’ve shared your appreciation of the main remarkable attractions with other tourists, you can easily slip off onto a side street to escape the crowds and explore other beautiful finds.  Florence somewhat feels like a work of art in itself and you’ll sense this as you aimlessly wander around this sophisticated city.

Get a true taste of Florentine & Tuscan cuisine

You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the cuisine in Florence

Go on a food excursion and try all sorts of Florentine and Tuscan cuisine. Tuscan food is famous for its local produce and meats, traditionally cooked based on the Italian concept of “cucina povera” or  “poor cooking”. You’ll find the dishes here are hearty and high quality, made with simple ingredients that bring out the natural flavours. Some Tuscan foods you must try include affettati misti (antipasto of cured sliced meats and cheese), woodfired pizza, Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak), Paparedelle al Cinghiale (long flat pasta with wild boar) and Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo (pasta with truffle mushrooms and procini mushrooms).

See Ponte Vecchio bridge

Ponte Vecchio bridge

Go for a stroll and see one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Ponte Vecchio. The name translates as ‘old bridge’ as it is literally the oldest standing bridge in Florence. Clinging to the bridge are jewellery shops, art stores and antique boutiques. This enchanting bridge truly makes you feel curious about the history of it, so perhaps organise a walking tour and learn about it’s impressive history. The view of the bridge along the river bank is most spectacular during sunset, as the sky lights up and the whole surrounding looks like a painting.

Admire the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Duomo

The interior and exterior of The Pantheon

The Duomo (the iconic dome attached to Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral) is located in the Piazza del Duomo, surrounded by traditional Tuscan buildings, however it is unmissable. The architecture, details and colours of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Duomo are as grand in real life. The exterior of the church is an impressive piece of architecture, and you’ll want to walk around and step back to take it all in from all angles. Entrance to the cathedral is free however, you'll need to plan and book tickets ahead if you want to climb 463 steps to the top of the dome.

Visit the Uffizi Gallery

The cathedral and Duomo is beautiful from all angles

Go on an art journey at one of the top art museums in the world, the Uffizi Gallery. The collection is extensive so it is best to plan at least half a day to view and admire the  thousands of unique paintings. The gallery showcases some of the most important and famous works by Italian Renaissance artists Botticelli, Caravaggio, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello. Organise tickets and plan your visit/viewings ahead for a smooth and unforgettable visit.

Watch the Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo

Michelangelo statue and Ponte Vecchio in the distance from atop

Head to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a terrace situated on a hill south of the Arno River where the third (bronze) version of Michelangelo’s David is displayed. The Piazzale Michelangelo offers magnificent panoramic views of the city and is best experienced at sunset. Sunset viewing is popular here so ensure to get to the terrace early and beat the crowds. Grab a beverage, pick your viewing spot and take it all in. You won’t be disappointed!

Have dinner at Mercato Centrale

Evening at the Mercato Centrale

On the ground floor of Mercato Centrale, you’ll find a market of fresh produce and meats. Above that is a huge food court, which is open until midnight and was a great dinner experience we had in Florence. The atmosphere at Mercato Centrale is vibrant and the aroma coming from traditional and modern food stands smells delicious. We enjoyed dinner at the food court (there are plenty of tables and seats) however if you want to soak in the afternoon sun and local ambience, you can take away your food and enjoy it outside in the Piazza di San Lorenzo (across from the market) or Piazza di Santa Maria Novella (a short walk away).

Enjoy gelato at one of many gelaterias

Gelato from perché no!

Gelato is a classic Italian sweet treat and Florence is one of the best places to try the creamiest and rich-flavoured gelatos. Some gelaterias specialise in unique flavours, some are known for flavoured cones and others offer classic traditionally made gelato. Enjoying a gelato whilst watching the sunset behind the Ponte Vecchio became a late afternoon tradition for us. We recommend Gelateria Perche, however we’re sure most gelaterias in Italy would be pretty good anyway!

Wander around Boboli Gardens

Overlooking Florence from Boboli Gardens

If you have time and prefer to spend it away from the crowds, wander around and explore the Boboli Gardens located behind the Pitti Palace. The garden is a huge open air museum with beautiful landscaping, significant fountains and historical sculptures on display. Follow the path and find yourself at peace while being surrounded by lush greenery. As you climb to the top and reach the terrace, you’ll be able to take in the stunning panoramic views of this incredible city and the countryside in the background. Tickets can be purchased at the site.

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Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park: Getting There and What to Expect

Tips & Articles

We first saw Japanese macaques (also known as snow monkeys) on the BBC series Life. We loved the idea of their unique way of life. Centred around their habitat of natural hot springs. Though there is a darker side to this considering the monkeys in a troop of low status, left outside the hot spring to freeze during the winter time.

The Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park offers an opportunity to see these animals in their natural habitat. Although be warned, getting here can be quite the trek and is worth devoting an overnight stay nearby.

Getting there from Nagano

It was surprisingly complicated to reach this park, and if you search online you will find loads of articles dedicated just to getting here and detailing the various options.

We had dedicated a night in Nagano for the sole purpose of getting up early the next day to head to the park. The park is just a 1 hour bus ride from central Nagano. This article from The Travel Mentor does an amazing job of detailing all the different ways to get here and the pros and cons of each way.

To summarise, the best way to get here from Nagano is to get the Snow Monkey 1-day pass. With this, take the express bus as early as you’re able to and hopefully time your trip well enough to get an express bus back. The train takes longer (and too many transport changes tends to lead to delays).

We were on a tight schedule as we had seats reserved on a Shinkansen to Tokyo that afternoon, so we had to be quite cautious of time. This is why we recommend spending a night. Doing it on a day trip from Tokyo or Nagoya means you really have to time everything perfectly and you’ll also be looking at 7 to 8 hours of transit time just to spend an hour or 2 in the park.

However, its still possible to do if you are committed to seeing them and don’t have the time to spend a night in order to do so.

The walk to the park

The picturesque trail that leads to the park entrance

One of the bonuses of visiting the park is the walk up the winding road to the entrance. The trail gets slippery in parts so decent shoes are recommended (The park itself also has some particularly slippery areas).

The trail is surrounded by woodlands and there are some onsens on the way. We didn’t stop at any, but if you had some time in the day it would surely be nice to spend a bit of time in one of these bath houses after you are done with the park.

The trail can be completed in 25–40 minutes, depending on your walking speed.

The snow monkeys

Snow monkeys hanging around their onsen

Finally, after your long journey full of complicated timetables and forest trekking you have arrived! Now you get the joy of watching the snow monkeys in their park.

The park itself is all centred around one hot spring that the majority of visitors group around with their cameras out. It can be hard to get in there and get a photo, so putting away the camera and just appreciating this unique moment is a good course of action.

The park itself is quite big, and has a few areas to explore, including a visitor centre that sells some nice souvenirs (all monkey themed of course).

There are other parts to explore in the park where you can see the snow monkeys. For example, there is a river that runs through the middle of the park that the monkeys relax and play around, and you will see them climbing up the steep rock walls.

Final Thoughts

We had a great time seeing the snow monkeys, but wish we had the option of arriving a little bit earlier so we could beat some of the crowds. Despite visiting during the low season, the park was still packed with visitors.

If you opt for the public transport and don’t mind a longer journey, you can catch the local train for most of the distance early in the morning.

You could also get a taxi or rent a car and be able to arrive when it first open. We think you would get a lot more out of it doing it this way.

More from Japan

Last Thoughts

Port Barton is a charming town to visit. The calmness and understated beauty of the area make it a great stop off point on the way to the more hectic destinations of Palawan, such as El Nido or Coron.

What we would have done differently

  • Spent a couple more nights in the main town
  • Trekked out to and explored the famous waterfalls in the area
  • Tried out another island hopping tour
  • Made the trip out to Mojitos Restobar

Osaka: Blade Runner Cityscapes and Foodie Heaven

Tips & Articles

Having not known much about Osaka when I visited on a day trip a few years ago, I knew I had to come back one day and spend a little bit more time here. The first time I came I checked out the Umeda Sky Building (A futuristic building with an impressive observatory) and the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (One of the best aquariums in the world). Both are great places to visit but to experience the best of the food and nightlife culture in Osaka you need to head to Namba for at least a couple of nights.

We recommend staying in Namba as you have easy access to the rest of the city thanks to the well connected subway stations. Namba offers great shopping and restaurants and you can get around easily by walking. Places like the river in Dotonbori, the shopping street Shinsaibashi and the over 170 year old Kuromon Ichiba Market.

Neon Cityscapes

The Japan you've imagined in your dreams can be found in and around Dotonbori

If you’ve ever watched Blade Runner you’ve likely wanted to visit one of the metropolises of Asia to see the inspiration behind that films iconic art direction.

Osaka majorly delivers on that front and boasts some incredible architecture and cityscapes. In this regard it’s a photographers paradise and the most fun we had in this city was just walking around at night bathing underneath the electric neon glow.

The lights and neon signs around Dotonbori are surely some of the city’s best, and there is a great sense of energy in the air at all times of the day. At night, however, the neon glow paints the river and transforms the area into something else.

We stayed in an Airbnb a short short walk away from the east end of the river, and it was easy to walk to wherever we needed to get to.

Food & Restaurants

Takoyaki in the making, Melon bread with ice cream and Kushiage (Deep fried meats and vegetables)

Osaka is a foodies heaven and Namba is a touristy yet accessible part of the city to try all sorts of street foods. You will find plenty of street food vendors selling the ultra popular local dish Takoyaki (Octopus balls grilled in batter), often with massive queues attached to them at all times of the day. Watching the chefs make the balls themselves is part of the fun, and makes the wait a little more bearable.

Kushiage is another popular food to try here. Kushiage is essentially deep fried meats and vegetables served on a stick. Its that simple. You’ll have a shared container with dipping sauce, but be warned, do not double dip! Your enjoyment will be come down to perfecting your sauce dipping technique.

You’ll have to be prepared to arrive early at any of the popular restaurants or expect to queue for a long time. We arrived at the Michelin starred Ajinoya for lunch at 11:45am and waited over an hour to try their okonomiyaki. It was totally worth it, but you don’t want to spend all your precious time in Osaka waiting in a line!

Creative decor for eateries in Namba

When it comes to food in Osaka (and Japan in general) you will likely leave feeling like you have barely scratched the surface. Our 2 days here were enough for just a little taste and to learn that Osaka takes their food very seriously! This article from Migrationology is a great reference if you want to dig deeper into the food culture of Osaka.

Getting Here & Onward Travel

Osaka is Japans second most populated city and is extremely well connected to the rest of the country. Most people arrive here by the Shinkansen in Shin-Osaka JR Station if its not their first stop, otherwise Osaka International Airport if they are flying into Osaka. Check out the the Wikitravel page for a comprehensive list of options.

We travelled to Takayama after Osaka by train, which involved a couple of changes on the way and took close to 4 hours. If you are heading towards the Japan Alps you can get to Kanazawa quicker as the Shinkansen links directly to the city.

Kyoto can be reached in 15 minutes by Shinkansen, Hiroshima in 2 and a half hours and Tokyo in under 3 hours. All incredible cities to visit and surely ones that are already on your list if you’re a first time traveller to Japan.

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Last Thoughts

Port Barton is a charming town to visit. The calmness and understated beauty of the area make it a great stop off point on the way to the more hectic destinations of Palawan, such as El Nido or Coron.

What we would have done differently

  • Spent a couple more nights in the main town
  • Trekked out to and explored the famous waterfalls in the area
  • Tried out another island hopping tour
  • Made the trip out to Mojitos Restobar

The Japanese Alps: Takayama, Folk Villages & Outdoor Onsens in Winter

Tips & Articles

The Northern Japan Alps of Central Honshū is a region that can be enjoyed throughout the entire year. We arrived during Winter and were lucky enough to see this beautiful area covered in snow, which added so much to the experience. There are trade-offs to make though, for example, Kamikochi was off limits to us during that time, as the snow makes getting the area very difficult.

However, sitting in an outdoor onsen (also known as a ‘rotenburo’) with white-capped mountains surrounding you and the snow falling on your face is an unforgettable experience that we will always remember.


A local man walking his dog, a water purification basin and the road to the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall

Takayama is a town famed for its old and traditional feel. Sometimes referred to as Little Kyoto, Takayama is a great city to explore by foot or bicycle. The best way to spend time here is to simply walk around the historic old town and try some of the regional specialties.

Takayama makes a great base or starting point for venturing out towards other areas in the Northern Japan Alps. An economical way to explore this area (without a car) is a multi-day ticket from Nohi Bus, a transport company that links up all the major spots in the region. You can make good use of this ticket by travelling onwards to Kanazawa or Matsumoto to continue on your journey across Japan (Both well connected cities with JR stations.)

A snow covered bridge in Takayama

We stayed a 5 minute walk from the train and bus stations at the Spa Hotel Alpina. There are plenty of restaurants a short walk into town away.


The main outdoor onsen, a smaller outdoor onsen and the interior of the hotel restaurant

Okuhida is famous for it’s open air onsens and mountain ropeway. This onsen village is popular with local tourists and feels a world away from the busy cities.

A lot of the hotels here offer stunning views of the mountains with outdoor pools. We stayed at the Yamano Hotel in a traditional Japanese style room (known as a ryokan) and enjoyed a fantastic dinner and breakfast that were included in the room price.

Their outdoor onsen was breathtaking, and our first time stepping foot in it may have been our number one highlight of our entire trip to Japan.

It can be slightly difficult to find hotels in the area if you are searching in English and you may have an easier time using JAPANiCAN as we noticed there were a lot more results (with better prices too) during our search.


Traditional houses in Ogimachi Village and a nearby river

This area can be reached by bus in under 90 minutes from Takayama. The main attraction here is Ogimachi Village, a quaint little town thats easy to get around by foot. There are a few small museums scattered across town and some eateries. You can walk up to Shiroyama Viewpoint in around 20 minutes if the path isn’t blocked by snow. Otherwise, there is a shuttle bus that runs every 30 minutes from the town center.

We didn’t get a chance to, but you can stay overnight in one of these farmhouses. Seems like this would be a great experience as you would get the town to yourself after all the day trippers leave.

Restaurants & Food

Views from Double Island

If the pristine natural beauty, excellently preserved towns and glorious outdoor onsens aren’t enough for you, you’ll be happy to know that the food in this region is varied and incredibly delicious.

Takayama continues the trend of offering fabulous beef. Hida beef is especially popular here, and you can find it in all forms such as burgers, croquettes, beef buns, gyozas and sushi. The most popular ways to enjoy Hida beef, however, is to simply grill it (2 minutes on each side) and eat it with some vegetables and dipping sauces. We ate at Suzuya Restaurant and accompanied it with some Shabu Shabu. Hida beef isn’t cheap, but worth the splurge if you’re in the area.

Another regional specialty that’s offered here is their Takayama Ramen, a deceptively simple shoyu broth with thin noodles, locally grown green onions and 2 slices of pork. We loved the simplicity of this ramen and tried it a couple of times while we were here. Tenaga Ashinaga and Menya Shirakawa, the latter which had a lengthy line full of locals (always a good sign!).

Here are some more great articles that expand on some of the food offerings in Takayama: A Gourmet Food tour of Takayama — JAPANiCAN9 Delicious Local Meals in Hida Takayama You Must Try — Tsunagu Japanand Stroll The Streets Of Hida Takayama With Delicacies In Both Hands! — Matcha.

The restaurant in the Yamano Hotel, Okuhida

Getting Here

After getting used to Japans amazing transportation, Takayama can take a surprisingly long time to reach. We came in from Osaka and it took us close to 4 hours with a couple of changes along the way.

Takayama, as we have mentioned previously, makes a great base to explore this region however. By combining your JR Pass and Nohi Bus ticket you can hop around to a lot of different cities.

You can reach Matsumoto in 2 hours, Kanazawa in 2 hours, Nagoya in 2 and a half hours and Tokyo in 4 and a half hours.

We continued on to Matsumoto for a quick stop over to see the famous Matsumoto Castle on route to Nagano, where we were spending thenight before getting up early to see the snow monkeys at Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.

More from Japan

Last Thoughts

Port Barton is a charming town to visit. The calmness and understated beauty of the area make it a great stop off point on the way to the more hectic destinations of Palawan, such as El Nido or Coron.

What we would have done differently

  • Spent a couple more nights in the main town
  • Trekked out to and explored the famous waterfalls in the area
  • Tried out another island hopping tour
  • Made the trip out to Mojitos Restobar

Port Barton: Island Hopping

Tips & Articles

The most popular activity to do across Palawan is island-hopping tours. Some of the coastal towns are beautiful in their own right, but the true beauty of this region lies in the thousands of small islands that scatter across the bays, which you can’t see without a boat.

Port Barton is no exception. When in the town, you will see plenty of these tours advertised. Similar to El Nido, they are advertised as Tour A, Tour B, etc. These all include buffet lunches, life jackets, and mask & snorkels (depending on the locations).

We booked our group tour with our guesthouse, Sunset Colours, as we had read reviews stating theirs was excellent. Their tour takes just one route, which they believe showcases the best that Port Barton has to offer.

On the day, we got very lucky and discovered that it would just be the 2 of us on the tour. Essentially getting a private tour for the cost of a group one! This would be the first island-hopping tour of our trip, so we were ecstatic that it was off to such a good start.

After stepping through the water, avoiding numerous large rocks and climbing up onto the boat, we were on our way. We would get quite familiar with this feeling of being out on sea. Sailing past unbelievable natural beauty at every moment. To finally be doing it for our first time felt amazing and set the tone for what the rest of our trip would look like.

German Island

German Island

We hadn’t asked about our itinerary. So weren’t quite sure what we were going to be seeing on the day. This added a nice element of surprise to each destination.

Our first stop was at a coral reef for a brief stint of snorkelling. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much fish here (just lots of coral).

Next, we were on route to German Island. We were supposed to stop for more snorkelling just outside the island, but our guide said we should come back after lunch as there were a lot of boats in the area, and that the turtles and fish would be scared away.

Approaching German Island

We spent the next couple of hours on German Island. Part of the island has been turned into a resort where you can camp overnight. There is also a small bar where you can buy drinks. The beach and views here are beautiful, and we had a great time swimming and wandering around. However, it was soon overrun with other happy visitors ready to enjoy the small island.

Our lunch during the tour

Our boat crew prepared a delicious lunch for us including rice, grilled chicken, Filipino eggplant and salad. With the tastiest pineapple I’ve ever eaten for afterwards.

Next, it was off to enjoy the snorkelling while everyone else who came enjoyed their lunch. (The benefits of not being in a massive group!)

Snorkelling (Round 2)

Sea turtle spotted just off German Island

Our boat crew had the right idea beforehand, and we ended up having the area to ourselves. We were lucky enough to see this sea turtle casually swimming around. It’s certainly special seeing animals in their natural habitats!

Double Island

Views from Double Island

As the name suggests, our next destination was famous for being two islands connected by a narrow stretch of sand. Here too, there was opportunity to camp overnight. Plenty of seating areas too. I suspect this is a popular place to come for lunch for other group tours if German Island is too busy.

The part that connects the islands was quite rocky. Shoes were needed. Nearby though, there was a beautiful stretch of sand just inches under water that was fun to walk out on and sit in.

We were fairly exhausted by the sun at this point in time, so enjoyed a break of saying nothing to each other and resting our eyes in one of the beach huts. Until our crew came over and let us know it was time for our last stop for the day.

Sand Bar

On the sand bar, surrounded by islands

Our luck for the day continued and we were the only ones here when we first arrived. On arrival, we weren’t quite sure what the fuss was all about. It just looked like a patch of sand in the middle of the ocean. ‘What were we meant to do here?’ we thought to ourselves as we jumped off the boat.

We soon realised that it extended out more than 100 metres (Wouldn’t be able tell you the exact amount as we turned back at a certain point.).

It’s quite a feeling to be able to keep walking out and feeling like you’re standing on top of the ocean. Being surrounded by such natural beauty with such beautiful, colourful tones of turquoise and emerald was the highlight of the day.

Walking on the sand bar

Last Thoughts

No one will regret doing an island hopping tour in Port Barton. Our only fault was not spending more time in this charming town and getting out on the boat for one more day.

More from Philippines

Port Barton: A Quiet Town in Palawan


We arrived in Port Barton after 2 delayed flights and a tightly-packed, cosy van ride from Puerto Princesa. After hopping out of the van we put on our backpacks and began what was a “10–15 minute walk” towards our guesthouse. Weary from our long journey and after having to pay a 50 peso environmental fee for entrance, we felt underwhelmed as we walked past the rather unattractive part of town surround the bus station into town.

This feeling turned swiftly to excitement as we hit the coastline. That feeling of finally arriving to the destination set in. We stumbled along the beach past very relaxed looking beachgoers, local beach touts and smiling, curious and welcoming school kids.

Also dogs. Lots of dogs roaming around and sleeping along the beach. We’d later see that this is part of the charm of beaches in the Philippines.

Setting the vibe

Sunset at Ishtaytay Beach

Our first night was naturally spent sipping on San Miguel’s on the beach whilst watching the sunset. Looking back, that sunset was a strong contender for top place during our trip.

Port Barton is a great place to people-watch. As we enjoyed our beers we watched groups of school children playing along the beach. A group of older boys taunted a pack of dogs by waving at them with an umbrella. They proudly declared “bye-bye!” as they ran off from the frustrated, barking dogs after successfully winding them up.

Every now and then a scooter would cruise by along the beach. The iconic pump boats, that I will forever associate with the Philippines, would pull up with Filipino boatmen hopping off. Finished for the day.

We finished an early night with a meal at Kusinero Del Barrio, an unpretentious little Filipino restaurant in the main town.

It was the perfect introduction to what would be 2 weeks of adventure in Palawan, the most beautiful of the Philippine Islands.

Sunset Colours: Our hidden away guesthouse

Admiring the beautiful colours on our morning boat ride, View from our room at Sunset Colours

After an early morning dip in the water, we made our move to where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. Sunset Colours was located outside the main town and required a short boat ride to get to.

Low tide in the early morning at Ishtaytay Beach

Upon arrival, we were treated to a chilled iced tea and showed to our rooms. The area was beautiful. Essentially, we were on a secluded beach. Sharing only with the guesthouse staff and other visitors.

Our day was spent lazing around the area, sorting out an island hopping trip for the next day and eating a couple of delicious meals at the on-site restaurant (there aren’t a lot of food options in such a secluded area.)

Power was only available during set times. 8 am — 11 am and 7 pm — 9 pm. So phones, laptops and cameras were to be charged during these hours only!

Red Horses and sunsets became a staple during our trip

Each day as the sun would begin to set, the area transformed into a dreamy beach with glowing orange and blue hues across the landscape. Having this area to ourselves during this time of day was special.

I’ll take a moment here to talk about the beer options you’ll usually have. San Miguel, the famous Filipino brewery, offers a nice choice of beers that will become familiar with when you visit. San Miguel Light and Pale Pilsens are your standard fare, whilst Red Horses are more potent in terms of alcohol percentage. Occasionally, you’d see the Apple and Lemon flavoured variants of San Miguel Light too. 2 or 3 Red Horses did the trick for us most nights.

Island Hopping around Port Barton

Our boat for the day, anchored outside German Island

We had booked a group tour with our guesthouse for the following morning. We had read in the reviews that theirs were excellent. They offer only 1 route, which they believe offers the best that Port Barton has to offer.

We were very lucky and discovered that it would just be the 2 of us for that day. Essentially getting a private tour for the cost of a group one!

We lazed around and had lunch on a beautiful island. Snorkelled with turtles. Explored 2 islands joined by a thin stretch of sand. And walked a couple of hundred metres out into the sea on a sand bar, surrounded by picture-perfect beaches and islands.

German Island
Our lunch during the tour
Snorkelling with turtles
Walking on the sand bar

Last Thoughts

Port Barton is a charming town to visit. The calmness and understated beauty of the area make it a great stop off point on the way to the more hectic destinations of Palawan, such as El Nido or Coron.

What we would have done differently

  • Spent a couple more nights in the main town
  • Trekked out to and explored the famous waterfalls in the area
  • Tried out another island hopping tour
  • Made the trip out to Mojitos Restobar

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Rome: Our Top 10 Things to Do

Tips & Articles

Rome, the Eternal City, needs no introduction. The cultural capital and an essential stop for anyone visiting Italy. These our are top 10 things to do:

Go on a free walking tour

The Colosseum in the distance and street signage in the Monti area

Find your bearings and get immersed in this incredible, historic city by going on a free walking tour. We recommend: Rome’s Ultimate Free Walking Tour

The Colosseum

The exterior of the Colosseum from a different angle and the interior

See one of the new seven wonders of the world, the Colosseum. Two thousand years on and this ancient gladiatorial arena is one of the world’s most recognisable buildings in the world and Italy’s top tourist attraction.

Vatican City

A Vatican City guard and the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica

Visit the smallest independent state in the world, the Vatican City. Vatican City is best known as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It is free to visit, however, there is an entrance fee for certain buildings. Check out the following places in the Vatican City: St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and Apostolic Palace.

The Pantheon

The interior and exterior of The Pantheon

See the former ancient temple and now a church, the Pantheon. This cherished monument holds a fascinating history, art and architecture, which you can learn more about through a guided tour.

Castel Sant’Angelo

The Castel Sant’Angelo in the distance beyond the bridge

See the Castel Sant’Angelo, which is located on the banks of the Tiber River beside the Vatican City. The thick and round structure of the castle is instantly recognisable and impressive from afar. This old fortress offers interesting history and spectacular views of Rome as you climb to the top.

Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese)

Admiring the artwork at the Borghese Gallery

Admire art in a beautiful space without the crowds at the Borghese Gallery. The gallery features one of the world’s greatest private art collections by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in his former 17th-century garden villa. Ensure you organise reservations and tickets beforehand as it runs on a timed reservation system.

Roman Forum

The remnants of what once was at the Roman Forum

Wander around and admire the ancient ruins at the Roman Forum. This historic site is where several temples, memorials, civic buildings and public spaces were once situated during different times in history. Some highlights include the Arco di Settimio Severo, the Curia, the Tempio di Saturno and the Arco di Tito.

Palatine Hill

Ancient ruins at Palatine Hill

Visit one of the most ancient parts of Rome, Palatine Hill, located at the centre of the Seven Hills of Rome. Discover Rome’s ancient history and take in the spectacular views while walking through this beautifully atmospheric landmark. Some highlights include the Stadio (stadium), the Domus Flavia (imperial palace) and the Orti Farnesiani.

Quartiere Coppede

The distinctive architecture of Quartiere Coppede

Escape the crowds and explore one of Rome’s most enchanting neighbourhoods, Quartiere Coppede. Discover unique architectures, artistic details and visual treats designed by Gino Coppede. Keep an eye out for the impressive entrance archway, an intricate outdoor chandelier, the golden spider on the Palazzo del Ragno, the Fontana delle Rane (Fountain of the Frogs) and the Villini delle Fate (little houses of the fairies).

Explore Trastavere

Locals enjoying an evening drink at Bar San Calisto and Pasta at Da Enzo Al 29

People watch and soak up the ambience in Trastavere whilst trying the many restaurants and bars the area is famous for. A few of our favourites are:


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