TRAVEL | PHILIPPINES | PUERTO PRINCESA
Lazy afternoon at Pristine Beach
It was 10am, and we arrived on time at Puerto Princesa from Manila. We headed straight to our hotel, trying our luck to see if we could check in early. However, the friendly staff informed us that our room would only be ready by 1pm… So, what now?
Not wanting to waste any time waiting, we left our backpacks at the hotel reception, and hopped on a tricycle to look for a place to rent a scooter for the day. Our driver took us to Myke’s Bike Rental at Rizal Avenue, and we got a scooter for P500 for the whole day.
Once we were on the scooter, we traveled around Puerto Princesa, to see what we could discover on our own and to see more of the land and the town. Traffic was not too bad, though the locals were complaining that it seemed to be a lot more congested now than what it used to be. (The months of Dec to Mar are also the peak season for holiday-goers, so that explained a lot!)
Since it was the first time for both of us to be in the Philippines, we didn’t know what to really expect. While we rode around near our hotel, without the help of Google Map, we hoped to find something to do. Something like a beach or some nice street food or anything that could get us closer to getting to know a bit more about Puerto Princesa.
The first thing that caught our attention was a pier filled with local fishing boats and with houses lining its way out into the ocean. We decided to check it out and got both a tiny glimpse into the fishermen’s lives as well as a nice view of the coast. We even overheard a lady enthusiastically singing karaoke in an attap house! (Her song of choice was “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, no less.)
While admiring the view, we both saw it at the same time – “Beach!!” Getting some time on the beach and soak in the sun and properly relax from our long journey became our top priority and we couldn’t wait to let our toes sink into the warm sand.
After a bit of riding back and forth, we finally found our way down a gravel road. The beach had a gantry and we had to pay P40 for the entrance fee to get inside. We had to give our tickets to yet another guard closer to the beach and finally(!) we got to our first, of what would become many, beach experience in Palawan Island.
Being excited, we ran through the gates to get a feel of the white sand and blue waters that we dreamt of, only to find our toes sinking in a mush of seaweed and mud filled with small crabs. After a second look around, we saw the tide was low, explaining the lack of lapping water
Luckily for us, there was a small bar that served drinks and a limited menu of grilled food items for very affordable prices. Instinctively, we got ourselves a big bottle of San Miguel (P105) to quench our thirst and celebrate our arrival to Palawan. Please note that plastic cups, are sold separately at P5 each!
It is every beer lover’s wish that their beer supply will never dry up, but our big bottle soon got empty. The weather was very good and in spite of the scorching sun, we ventured out in the shallows to get into some water and look around. The friendly local teenagers we had been watching from the beach were still playing around with their waterboard. It was quite evident that they practiced their craft a whole lot; we saw an older white guy attempting to do the same thing and failing miserably. It did provide us with plenty of laughs and entertainment though!
The beach is not big. After walking out into the end of the shallows, and looking back in, we decided to check out the fishing boats there were hauled up, awaiting the high tide and the next journey out to sea to capture more fish.
At one of the boats, we found a kid casually playing around with the boat. It was quite obvious after watching him for some time that he wanted to follow the older fishermen out to sea, where all the colourful, delicious fish came from. For now, he just had to be contented with getting to know the waves and the boat better until he was deemed ready to be taken along for the journey to sea.
Walking back to the beach made us check the time and saw that it was well into the afternoon already. We decided to go back to our hotel to get some quality time by the pool and enjoy the duty free booze that we had purchased from the airport.
Compared to the other beaches that we discovered in the Philippines throughout our vacation, this would not be the most memorable one. If your time is limited in Puerto Princesa, this would be the easiest beach to get to without having to travel too far out to find another beach. (Although Nagtabon was the best beach in Puerto Princesa, in our opinion, it takes at least an hour to get there from the hotel.) Not sure if Pristine Beach lives up to its name, but we left the beach feeling relaxed and it was a great easy start to our first-ever beach discovery trip in the Philippines!