I woke up at 5:30 AM. The morning started out fine, though cloudy. We have a free breakfast at the lodge but it won’t be served until 7 AM. Shiela (I’ll mention her name from here on since typing “my girlfriend” is kinda lengthy) couldn’t wait until 7 so we walked around town to look for a store and buy food. We ended up buying instant noodle from an inn that was just a few steps from our lodge because all the stores were still closed. What costs P20-30 in Manila is P80 here. Wow.
After getting back to the lodge, we just stayed in the dining area and waited until 7 AM for the complimentary breakfast. Although it’s been raining during the night, it was at this time when we felt the storm hitting hard. Then, a few minutes later, we received the bad news that was just as bad as the weather. Our island hopping tour is cancelled.
There’s no point in mentioning our itinerary so I’ll just talk about the little adventure we’ve made for ourselves. The tour may have been cancelled, but not our day. We didn’t travel for a whole eight hours just to spend the next day hiding from the rain.
A Risky, Yet Rewarding Choice
When we arrived in El Nido, many locals recommended going to Nacpan beach, which is 45 minutes to 1 hour away if you ride via motor yourself or a tricycle. It was mentioned by the shuttle van driver who drove us to El Nido, as well as the tricycle driver who drove us to the lodge and offered a ride to Nacpan Beach and back for P1000 which we declined. It was only 4 PM then and they said we could still make it if we decided to go right away.
After today’s journey, I realized how stupid an idea it would’ve been had we decided to go on the first day by riding a rented scooter when it was already past 4 in the afternoon, which means we’d be going back at night. Not to mention the storm that arrived that evening. Read on because here’s the story.
Scooter Ride to Nacpan Beach
We paid another P500 to rent the scooter to use for our second day in El Nido. This is after we were informed about the cancellation of our island tour. As I handed the money to Mr. Rodriguez(lodge owner), the rain still showed no signs of stopping anytime soon. The guy at the front desk also told us about the muddy and slippery road going to Nacpan Beach, though he explained it with a tone of excitement in his voice. I took a minute to re-evaluate my decision to rent a scooter as if it’s one of those big life choices that’s gonna make or break my future as a human being.
I’ll never forget what Mr. Rodriguez said when we told him that we’re heading to Nacpan Beach today. I thought he was worried when, with a bit of a surprised tone in his voice, he asked, “Are you going there now using the scooter?” but when I said that we were, he smiled and said, “That’s nice. It’s gonna be more exciting because of the rain.” I didn’t expect to hear some words of encouragement, but it did help. We left the lodge at around 8:45 AM.
The Three Stages To Nacpan Beach
If I would describe the journey to Nacpan Beach by riding a scooter, it’s like a game with three difficulty levels. The first one is the longest but the easiest stage because it’s the highway and we’re all used to that even if it’s raining. The rain also settled down a bit a when we headed out.
I’d also like to share that we were carrying a 2-liter water jug which we bought in Manila, since we were informed that one-time use plastic bottles were prohibited in Palawan’s beaches. More about that little water jug later on.
Here’s a time-lapse video of our ride. I had to use Youtube since WP restricts mp4 files from uploading and it seems a lot of work to fix it.
The above photo was taken when we took a break at a bread store that also sells gas. The gas costs P60 per liter, and we bought two to make sure we had enough on the way and back. We’ve actually passed several stores that sell gas before this because I thought three bars on the engine gauge is still plenty, but Shiela insisted we have it refilled.
Luckily, we happened to stop at the best moment because another downpour happened right after we did. After ten minutes of waiting and a couple of pan de coco breads, the rain had settled down again. We didn’t wait for it to stop completely and decided to continue on our ride.
Second Stage: The Dirt Road
After hitting the road for maybe another ten minutes, we turned left to a bridge where there’s a tarpaulin that says “To Nacpan Beach” or something like that. The route is pretty straightforward on the way to the beach and if there is an intersection, we’d just turn left as Mr. Rodriguez told us. It would drizzle, then rain, and then stop, and then drizzle again. The weather went on a loop like that as we drove along farms and mountains until we got past a shed on the left, from the other side of the road.
Shiela had a hunch that that might be where we turn left, going down the dirt road on the way to the beach. A local who was walking by confirmed it so we turned back to the little shed. We had no idea what kind of a challenge the dirt road had prepared for us so we stopped by the shed and waited for the rain to stop. There were three other people, who were also riding motorbikes, sitting there. When the rain calmed a little, we hurriedly went back to our scooter and started to drive down the dirt road.
This road was only challenging because of the puddles of water that I had to avoid as much as possible. There are several downward and upward slopes so you’d wanna make sure to take extra care if you’re riding around here. This dirt road isn’t too long, though. There’s only one T-road along the way and, as advised, we turned left. A few more dirt roads, and we reached the cemented road… finally.
Farewell, Our 2-Liter Water Jug
More farms and mountain views to see on this cement road. It was at this part when a local rider, who was one of the three people waiting in the shed caught up to us and said that we left our water jug in the shed. Did we totally forget about that! We were both so immersed and focused on getting past the dirt road that we didn’t even realize we were missing something.
If the guy knew the water jug belonged to us and was going the same direction as us, he could’ve just brought it for us. Nah, why am I even blaming him. We’ve struggled enough on the dirt road so we just pushed forward and decided to check the jug on our way back which, of course, was already gone by then.
Stage Three: The Muddy Road
Man, I wish I could share more photos or videos when we took this final stage of our journey to Nacpan Beach, but I told Shiela to hold on to the phone just to avoid any risk of it falling on the mud.
I thought it was all gonna be just cement road until we reach the beach, but we soon found out that it was just a breather for what would test my off-road riding skills later on. It was probably just a couple hundred more meters before we reached the checkpoint to Nacpan Beach, when the cement road ended again, and we were met with another dirt road which was way worse than the previous one.
It was really muddy and very slippery. It was actually 100% mud. A slight turn to either side makes the back of the scooter slide that we almost fell down several times. I slight mistake on turning the throttle makes us run too fast and lose balance so I had to put my feet down and let it sink in the mud to save us from falling. Luckily, and thanks to my riding skills I didn’t even know I had, we survived the challenge. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining while we were on that part, otherwise, it would be even more difficult. We arrived at Nacpan Beach at around 10:15 AM. The ride took longer than expected.
And the reward for all that hustle? Watch the video to see.
Was it worth the one hour and a half life-taxing scooter ride? Well, yeah, sure it is. I mean, the beach was absolutely fantastic. The clean sands, cool winds, and the sound of waves were refreshing. Maybe I just wasn’t feeling it because of the gloomy weather. We only found a few small food shacks and basic cottages, but we just stayed in one spot so I’m pretty sure we haven’t explored all of it. And that was fine since my eyes have already enjoyed the wonderful combined view of the sea, sands, skies, and the nearby islands. We stayed here only for over an hour because we were planning visit Lio Beach next.
At the checkpoint, we were advised to not go any deeper than above the knee level at sea due to the weather. Of course, I didn’t miss the opportunity to swim after all that exhausting ride. What I loved about Nacpan Beach are the strong waves, and it’s very clean. There were no sea leaves- whatever they’re called- floating which is common in most beaches. I just don’t like getting disturbed by those things while I swim.
I loved going against the huge waves to get slammed down by it and drown for a couple of seconds while struggling to get back up for air, while Shiela just watches me while sitting on the sand and wondering what the hell I was doing.
After about an hour, it started raining again. I went out of the water and we tried to look somewhere for food, but there didn’t seem to be anything that would fill our hungry bellies. And we were both thirsty, too, which made us remember the sad fate of our precious 2-liter water jug.
On the way back, it was much easier since I was already familiar with the road. Though we still stumbled a couple times, we went over the muddy road just fine and much faster this time.
Overall, I’m quite happy with our unexpected adventure on the way to Nacpan Beach and I’m glad to have decided to ride a scooter there despite the weather. It was risky, but that’s what adds to the thrill and excitement. The unexpected or the unplanned things, as long as they end well, often end up being our greatest experiences and most fun memories.
Well, this post had gone too long so I’ll save our visit to Lio Beach for my next post. I didn’t mean for it to be this lengthy but if you put up to read all that, thanks a lot!