Palawan, Philippines

Life is a beach


Life is a beach - or at least it should be, right? The beach demands optimism and promises happiness. The tropical island of Palawan has the most beautiful specimens to offer.

I am not a beach person. One could assume physical reasons: fair skin type, no defined muscles. An enviable beach figure costs a lot of time. My body is rather built to march for twelve hours without any effort than to make an impressive figure in swimming trunks. Is that why I like the mountains better? Perhaps. I believe, above all, happiness comes from activity. In the mountains you have to walk a good while to reach the most sublime places. The beach on the other hand invites you to lie down immediately. Beach umbrella, deck chair, towel. Delirium.

The images of palm-fringed Asian beaches have never triggered a longing in me. When others raved about Thailand , it kept me cold. I find beaches somehow cheesy and flat. The beach vacation concept always seemed puzzling. Nevertheless, it was a long winter on an island, which has little more to offer than sun, palm trees and great beaches - but all in perfect execution.

Palawan in the Philippines was named the most beautiful island in the world by readers of the magazine Condé Nast Traveler in 2014. Such rankings are always a bit dubious, but of course that was already an announcement. Palawan is known as the dream island, there is little to discuss. Sights of format do not exist on the island. You can pay a visit to the local people of the Batak, paddle a kayak through an underwater river and dive.

Palawan's promise is the idea of beach life: sleeping in a wooden hut, awakening to the sound of the sea, walking barefoot, not wanting anything of the day. And in this simplicity of things between crooked palms and candy-colored sunsets, then something like casual satisfaction sets in. An acquaintance also spoke of a "couple island". That too is clear: Palawan is the perfect backdrop for romance.

The writer Leif Randt wrote in a story about the Bondi Beach , in sunny places, positive vibes are more important than content, and that he actually thinks that's good. But probably it describes my problem with the beach: I distrust its luck-inducing and positive positivity . On the beach people are always in a good mood because they have internalized that this should be the case on the beach.

Nevertheless, we flew to Palawan. I even suggested the destination. So we were looking for the beach life. Here is the result:


Green Karst Rocks, turquoise water: These are the iconic landscapes of Palawan that are shared on Instagram especially often. The tropical paradise can be reached in the Bacuit Archipelago in the north of the island amazingly easy by organized boat tour. The starting point is the former fishing village of El Nido, today a bustling traveler hotspot. Not to confuse the tourists, the day trips are called A, B, C and D. We chose Route A, because it is supposed to be the most beautiful.

The four boat tours are bookable in every hostel in El Nido, which you will see later on the islands: tourists everywhere. Off Shimizu Island, the boats lined up tightly. The Big Lagoon would of course look better without people, but we were part of this organized spectacle ourselves. So good with the kayak and snorkeling. The Seven Commandos Beach with its white sand and palm trees was perfect, but just overcrowded. All this did not surprise us. We were happy. Anyone who still expects Robinson Crueso atmosphere, however, comes twenty years too late.

Wow effect: 6/10
Robinson Crueso Feeling: 3/10
Romance factor: 3/10


Lio Beach is less than half an hour north of El Nido. The beach is not visible from the main road and virtually deserted. There are no cheap backpacker cabins, rather resorts where the night in a double room costs 80 Euros. We stayed at the Balai Adlao to make up for the previous 10-euro nights in soundproof hostels. Otherwise couples descended here, who arrived by direct flight to El Nido and with a private airport transfer. We bought exclusivity, without guilty conscience.

The newly built resort was very clean, a break with the negligently sprawling tropical vegetation. The restaurants were reminiscent of fast food outlets. The well lit surf and beach shop could have been in a shopping center in the Ruhr area. Strangely out of place. But then we went to the beach and saw the tropical panorama of the lonely bay: designed for us alone. We enjoyed Chinese cuisine to the sound of the waves, a dramatic sunset, air conditioning, crisp white sheets and finally hot water in the shower. We arrived now.

Wow effect: 6/10
Robinson Crueso Feeling: 4/10
Romance factor: 8/10


To Twin Beach you drive from El Nido about an hour to the north, first on a paved road, then on earth. The twin beach is so called because there are two beaches in a narrow headland converge: Calitang Beach and the about four kilometers long and shapely Nacpan Beach. Several snack bars and beach cottages stand under the palm trees by the water. You can eat chicken adobo, sip coconut milk, stick your feet in the sand and occasionally go into the sea. It is not really empty on Nacpan Beach, but people are scattered. In the hinterland is a sleepy village with church and sports field. Pleasant nonsense.

We moved into a cabin in the garden of a family pension on Calitang Beach. In the evening we ate on plastic chairs sweet-spicy fish, prepared by the women of the hostel. A somewhat sickly dog ​​puppy woke our sympathy. If it was sunny on the first day, clouds started to rise on the second day, and the wind started to close. On the horizon the palms were bobbing. Fishing boats lay morbid in the meadow. In the village one met cows, pigs and chickens.

At least at night, the Nacpan Beach presented itself as a cliché of a dreamlike tropical beach, at the same time everything seemed a bit careless and dilapidated. Even the stormy weather persistently worked against the beauty of the landscape. Many beaches fear that their own emotional world can not compete with the perfection of the scenery. Here things were different. We were very happy in this place.

Wow effect: 7/10
Robinson Crueso Feeling: 6/10
Romance factor: 7/10


If you are looking for solitude on Palawan, Prince John Lodging is highly recommended. The hostel is located north of Port Barton and is accessible by boat. The beach is not very good for swimming because of the stones, but that does not matter. Host John, a young Filipino, welcomes all guests personally. That is a serious concern for him. The wooden huts are pleasantly Spartan. In the evening you can dine on a terrace by candlelight, in a pleasant distance to the next settlement and other travel plans. At this place, the beach life is adapted almost automatically.

Wow effect: 4/10
Robinson Crueso Feeling: 8/10
Romance factor: 7/10


Inoladoan Island off Port Barton is home to a single resort that does not hermetically shield itself from other day visitors. Many excursion boats stop for lunch on the island. Not the perfect white sand is the top sight here, it's the sea turtles in the turquoise waters. We were very excited and burned our snorkeling right back (which unfortunately we noticed only in the evening). Otherwise, the island is the appropriate place to lose yourself in the shade under the palm trees in frugality. The view is impeccable. The heat forces inertia. The thoughts turn more slowly. Life is a beach, for two hours.

Wow effect: 8/10
Robinson Crueso Feeling: 3/10
Romance factor: 4/10


Sabang is a city beach and therefore deterrent. If you reach the holiday village at noon, is a little disappointed: Even the two best resorts on the square - Sheridan and Daluyon - are crowded on the sea ​​side and have no private beach. The reconciliation takes place in the evening: When the sun goes down over the mountains and there is haze over the bay, you want to get back into the tides. The sea appears wild in the dark, the mood is mystical. Also in the morning at six o'clock you have the surf for yourself and can not start the day actually better than a dip in the waves. Sabang is beautiful at dusk.

Wow effect: 4/10
Robinson Crueso Feeling: 2/10
Romantic factor: 5/10

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