Two “Secret” Destinations - Palawan & Cebu Philippines
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Wondering what I mean by “secret”?
I am about to share with you two destinations, one in Cebu and the other in Palawan, that are COMPLETELY tourist free.
That's right, tourist-free. The dream. So untouched and pure with not a soul in sight.
On our recent trip to the Philippines, we took the pace down a notch and really spent time exploring around the islands. Entirely by accident, my boyfriend and I managed to stumble across TWO different places which completely took our breath away.
Now, in a way, I am taking advantage of these early stages of Redhead Round The World, as I don't want EVERYONE knowing these secrets (I would love for these places to remain tourist-free). So, if you are reading this now, consider yourself a lucky one. These are just too marvellous to keep all to myself.
Every second we spent at both these destinations, we were completely alone. Now, obviously I cannot promise the same for you, but it is VERY likely you will also experience your time here alone (literally not another soul in sight).
Lapus Lapus Beach - El Nido - Palawan
Initially, when we had arrived in the Philippines, we were planning on visiting both Coron and El Nido. After two blissful days spent in El Nido, we decided we wanted to stay for a whole week instead.
We stayed at a beautiful hotel next to Corong Corong beach.
One day we decided to go down to the beach and saw a man renting out kayaks. He gave us a steal of a deal (500 Philippine Pesos for the whole day). We hopped into the kayak and just went paddling not really acknowledging where we were going. We were just in complete awe of the water, the warm sun beating down on us, the massive limestone above us, and the pleasure of being on a beautiful adventure.
We stuck along the limestone cliff, following all the way around the bay. As soon as we passed the corner, we saw the most glorious, empty, sunny beach.
We pulled up the kayak and were just in complete shock of our sudden discovery. This beach is the epitome of paradise. When I dream about a far away, luxurious, secluded beach, this one embodied everything I had always imagined.
Crystal clear blue water (perfect for snorkelling), swaying palm tree’s above, golden soft warm sand, everything you could visualize in paradise.
We spent hours at this beach, enjoying everything it had to offer. We just couldn't believe we were the ONLY ones there the whole day, it was genuinely too good to be true.
We looked at our location on the map and realized that it is only accessible by boat, and also one of the only beaches around that isn't on ANY tour.
We paddled back and returned the kayak.
For the rest of the day, we were in this utterly blissful state reminiscing on what a beautiful day we spent at our new found “secret” beach.
For all of you travellers out there, I know you can appreciate how WONDERFUL it is to arrive somewhere and be the only one there. I know some girls that wake up at 4 am while travelling just to capture the perfect photo with no one else in the shot. This beach is a travellers dream. Well, anyone's dream beach actually.
The whole day we just couldn't believe a place like this was so untouched and so empty because it was genuinely too beautiful to be true. We definitely were not complaining.
The next day we had signed up for the Island Hopping Tour A. On tour A, the final stop is at Seven Commandos Beach. We realized when we were there that our new “secret” beach is about a 10-minute boat ride around the bay. We spoke with a local, and he informed us that Lapus Lapus (our secret beach) is ONLY accessible by small boats (mostly kayaks).
For most travellers, when they arrive in El Nido, they stick to the guided Island Hopping Tours. There are hundreds of little unique islands around El Nido and doing these guided tours are indeed the only way to see so much in such a short time. This all worked great in our favour as all the others were busing doing the tours, we got to enjoy Lapus Lapus all to ourselves.
We had a great time during the tour, however, following a peaceful day spent just the two of us at our fantasy beach, it was hard to beat.
We just couldn't get Lapus Lapus off our minds. We changed our plans completely and ended up spending two more days there.
Both days to much of our surprise, we had the whole entire beach ALL to ourselves to soak it all in.
HOW TO GET THERE
Here in the photo, you can see Corong-Corong beach. To access Corong-Corong beach, you take the sand path down from Taytay highway. I recommend entering the path across the street from El Nido One Hostel.
Once you make your way down, turn left towards the beach, and you will see a man renting red & yellow kayaks.
Once you have your kayak, you just follow along with the limestone on your right and curve around the bend.
It is not a long trip! Maybe 15-20 minutes paddling at the very most, super easy.
On our first day renting the kayak, we paid 500 Philippine Pesos (we had the kayak for around 6 hours). The other two days he only charged us 300 Philippine Pesos (he liked us).
BEST TIME TO GO
Honestly, anytime. We loved watching the sunset at Lapus Lapus. However, we would always start paddling back during the sunset, so we weren't caught in the dark.
I would recommend planning to spend many hours here. There is SO much you can do (photos, snorkelling, siesta, you name it!).
WHAT TO BRING
Everything you would usually pack for the beach! Because you will be the only ones there, you may want to consider bringing some snacks and drinks (no one is there selling anything). You could even get a little cooler and pack some cold beverages.
If you have snorkelling gear, I highly suggest bringing it. The water is so astonishingly clear, and you can see some fantastic life under the water.
If you have any questions regarding Lapus Lapus or how to get there, please let me know.
Inambaken Falls - Ginatilan - Cebu
After spending 10 amazing days in El Nido, we decided to head over to Cebu. We were based in Moalboal for 3 nights.
If you are heading to Cebu, I am sure you have intentions of visiting Kawasan Falls.
With its picturesque scenery and gorgeous waterfalls, it is every Instagrammers dream.
We also had all intentions of going to visit Kawasan Falls.
We woke up, rented a bike for the whole day (only 500 Philippine Pesos), and began our journey to Kawasan.
It is an INCREDIBLE ride from Moalboal. Right along the coast almost the whole way, sun shining on your face, hair blowing in the wind. It is about a 40-minute ride to get there (I highly suggest renting a bike).
About 10 minutes before arriving at the falls, there were tons of people on the sides of the road calling at us trying to get us to sign up for a tour. The tours are great for if you want to go canyoneering.
Once we arrived, we quickly realized how insanely busy it was and how FULL of tourists the whole entire area was. There was a ridiculous lineup, you had to pay to park your bike, and we were not in the mood to wait for hours just to see the falls.
Up ahead we could see a sign indicating there was another waterfall 35 km's away. We did a quick look online and decided we would continue riding and check out these falls and hoped it wouldn't be nearly as busy.
You ride through a beautiful town, through the lush green trees above, along with the water, it is all incredible.
We had our GPS and were following a winding road that eventually turned to dirt. There was NO one else in sight, and we were beginning to wonder if we had gone the wrong way.
Finally, after 25 minutes on a deserted dirt road, we saw some children playing up ahead and a sign indicating we had arrived at the falls.
We were the first visitors of the day (it was 1:30 pm or so), and we had to pay 50 Philippine Pesos for the entry. We had a young guide take us up. His name was Clifford. He was a great guide, and his English was excellent.
You will have the option for a guide. I suggest taking a guide with you. There are actually FIVE levels to the falls, so it is great having someone walk you through. Clifford was incredibly helpful showing us where it is safe to jump and all the best areas to enjoy.
As soon as we entered the falls, we were quickly blown away.
I have NEVER witnessed something some magical, powerful, and beautiful.
The main fall is a constant flow of water falling 100 ft right in front of your eyes, unbelievable.
I suddenly felt so connected with my surroundings and with the nature around me.
The impressive limestone rock, the lush greenery, the crystal clear blue water, and of course all the gorgeous colours above and around you.
It was a sensory overload, and we were standing there in awe of everything around us.
And, to top it all off… we were the ONLY ones there for 5 hours.
Clifford walked us through, showed us all the different levels, then he went on his way. We gave him a tip (there is no set amount - we tipped him 100 pesos).
The whole afternoon was spent soaking in every single bit the falls had to offer. The time flew by. It is not hard to spend the entire day here considering there are 5 different levels, there is a lot to explore. Each level is unique and different offering you an entirely distinct adventure with every turn.
We jumped off the rocks into the falls, we swam and indulged in the clear blue water, we sat in the sun and listened to the water falling below us. We even took a rest and enjoyed a beautiful lunch we had brought along.
Inambaken is just incredible. After spending a whole day at the impressive falls having it all to ourselves, we had zero desire to go to Kawasan Falls. Inambaken is indeed a site to see, and the chances of you being there all by yourself are VERY likely.
HOW TO GET TO INAMBAKEN
If you are coming from Moalboal, I highly suggest renting a bike for the day. There are many rentals available on Panagsama Road.
Once you have your bike, put Inambaken Falls into your GSP. I would even recommend loading it on your maps before you depart, then you can continue to use it offline.
You will be driving all along Santander - Barilli - Toledo Road. From Moalboal to the falls it should not take you longer than an hour on the bike. You will also see signs indicating where to turn for the falls and if all else fails, just ask a local. At one point you may think you've taken a wrong turn (dirt road, kinda looks abandoned), but you are going the right way.
The whole drive there is dreamy. You will want to take a few stops along to way to take some photos
COST TO VISIT INAMBAKEN
We paid 500 Philippine Pesos for the bike rental for the whole day! (we had it for around 10 hours).
To enter the falls we paid 50 Philippine Pesos. After our tour around the five levels with our guide Clifford we paid him 100 Philippine Pesos (the tip amount is up to you).
BEST TIME TO GO
We arrived late in the afternoon as we had initially planned to visit only Kawasan. I would recommend leaving Moalboal in the morning so you can reach Inambaken with plenty of time to enjoy. We spent almost 6 hours at the falls enjoying every single second. There is NO time limit - so feel free to savour the beautiful site for as long as you like. The ride back to Moalboal will definitely take around an hour - so I would recommend leaving in time to catch the sunset somewhere along the way.
WHAT TO PACK
Everything you would usually pack to visit waterfalls!
I highly recommend wearing a pair of water shoes, helpful for around the rocks.
Lunch, some drinks. You have all the time in the world and will most likely be the ONLY ones there. We were very thankful we packed a light lunch. It was insanely beautiful sitting in the sun on the rocks surrounded by the flowing water enjoying a nice meal.
I would also bring a dry change of clothes for afterwards. It's a long ride back in a wet swimsuit.
Make sure your cameras and phones are FULLY charged as you will be mesmerized by what you are seeing and will definitely want to capture the moment.
Both these destinations MADE our trip. We felt so lucky to stumble across both Lapus Lapus and Inambaken. When we arrived in the Philippines, we had NOTHING planned, and this made me feel a little uneasy as I am a massive planner.
In the end, I was so thankful for following my boyfriend's flow as it allowed us to have all the free time to take it easy & explore and soak in every moment with no rush.
Both of these places are breathtaking. I can't even put into words how impressive they are. We grew such a special connection with the Philippines. Mother nature has so much to offer you and moments like these are impossible to forget.
I have been travelling almost full time for the past five years. Both these destinations were out of this world beautiful, and it was the FIRST time in the last 5 years where we were alone and able to enjoy such a spectacular place all to ourselves.
I am sure you can all appreciate an experience like this. In today's society, it is unheard of to come across a place so picturesque and stunning and be the only one there to enjoy it. After speaking with a few locals, it became clear that these two spots are still "undiscovered" by tourists and they were impressed we found them. We felt so overwhelmed with love and appreciative for these experiences.
A once in a lifetime adventure.
I hope that this post was helpful in sharing our "secret" destination information with you.
Have you been to Lapus Lapus beach or Inambaken Falls before? I would love to hear about your experience.
If you have any questions regarding these two destinations, please send me a message HERE.
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