On the biologically diverse island of Palawan, Donald and I fell in love with the natural tropical scenery. The island is the most westerly island in the Philippines and it has the greatest vibe. We were volunteering at a laid-back hostel called Bamboo Hostel in Puerto Princesa. Bamboo Hostel is owned by two native Filipinos, Rye and Christine (along with their adorable baby girl!). We had the pleasure of working with the amazing staff (shout out to Rosie, Richelle, and Jocelyn!) and another inspiring volunteer, Diana.
When we weren’t helping out with tasks and duties, we were napping in the hammocks that would rock us to sleep. Or grabbing local dishes at Paras Plaza. Or drinking Red Horse beer at the hostel bar. We hardly left Bamboo, it was that comfortable! We even slept on small comfy mattresses surrounded by mosquito netting inside an all-natural, handmade bamboo gazebo. It almost made me think we were camping again. The cool night breeze would drift through our gazebo hut whispering lullabies on our skin.
Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan, and for it to be the capital city, it feels more like a small town. There is a touristy pier at the far end of the city and only one bar that acts like a club called Tiki Resto Bar. There are plenty of other fun bars too. We watched free comedy with drag queens at E-Republic and sang karaoke at a local bar near the town center. We would try street food and local joints that were delicious. I even tried balut! It was really tasty. 🙂
On our day off, we decided to check out a hidden beach that only locals go to called Nagtabon Beach. The ride to the beach from Puerto Princesa was absolutely stunning. Donald and I rented a motor scooter for a day since it’s the fastest and easiest way to get to Nagtabon beach.
Along our way, we kept getting distracted by the lush scenery of untouched tropical trees and foliage. We passed through a local village and waved to all the Palawenos as they stood by their various shops and food stands. We ended up getting lost and completely passing the road we needed to turn onto that leads you straight to the beach!
It was a fun adventure and our prize at the end of our trek was a beautiful hidden beach. The ocean water looked bright aquamarine, with shades of turquoise and jade blending into each other as the arcing waves collapsed onto the golden sands. This beach was missing the touristic and popular atmosphere in the sense that there weren’t many sun addicts hogging the beach or splashing in the water. In fact, when we went there it seemed as though there were less than 20 people. There was no entrance fee for entering the beach, which is fairly common at most beaches around the island.
The beach is pretty spacious yet still small and quaint. There are plenty of bamboo huts you can rent if you’re looking to hangout and a couple stands that sell reviving beverages such as soda, juice, and beer. It felt like I spent over an hour jumping over the massive waves. The water was warm enough to jump in yet still refreshing during a bright sunny day.
Another gorgeous feature about the beach is that there are ginormous rocks and cliffs surrounding the beach area. The only way to access the beach is through the road we originally missed. The road is now being reconstructed and is becoming a paved pathway, making it easier for cars and motorbikes to drive on. I wonder if this beach will still remain a beautiful secret or turn into a hideous publicized Western getaway. Only time will tell…
How to Get to Nagtabon Beach
If you’re looking for a great beach to adventure to while relaxing in Puerto Princesa or heading to Port Barton, follow these directions from the city center of Puerto:
Be sure to turn left before Bacungan and then a slight left onto a street where there will be a slender brown sign saying Nagtabon. If you start seeing signs for other beaches, you’ll know you’ve passed the street. Even if you get lost like we did, don’t worry! The search for this secluded paradise is well worth the trek.