• Palawan- getting here and away
• Coron- getting here and away
• El Nido- getting here and away
• Connection between El Nido and Coron
• Meeting place and Check-in
• Planning your itinerary
• Accommodation Recommendations
• Packing list
• Electricity and Charging Batteries
• Cash and Payments
• Health and Safety
• Safety and Security in the Region
• Cancellation and Refund Policy
• Traveling with Children
• Snorkeling & Swimming Advice
• Diving Options
• Toilet and Shower
• Sleeping Arrangements
• Food and Diet Requirements
Palawan Getting Here and Away
First, you will need to book your international flights to Manila [Capital of the Philippines]. International flights to Cebu are also available.
From Manila you will have to travel at least the day prior to the expedition to Palawan, either El Nido or Busuanga [Coron].
From Cebu you can fly to Puerto Princessa [7h by road south of El Nido] but not Busuanga [Coron]
Coron- Getting Here and Away
Infomation updated September 2012-->
MANILA-CORON flight CEBU PACIFIC, PAL EXPRESS
CEBU-CORON flight CEBU PACIFIC
If you are joining us from Coron or flying out of Coron, look for a flight to Busuanga airport (Coron).
There are regular flights 5 to 6 times a day with Cebu Pacific or PAL express .
Zestair is another airline that fly to Palawan but try not to book with them as most of their flights are cancelled or seriously delayed.
From Busuanga airport it's a 40min transfer to Coron town. There are shuttle vans operating outside the terminal and cost 150pesos per person.
Our Office in Coron is in Don Pedro St. Centre of town. Its easy to find us- just ask the driver for directions.
There many accommodation options in town if you are staying just one night. If you are staying longer there are resorts in the islands which will arrange transportation to and from town.
If you will be finishing your expedition in Coron then you will need to book a flight from Busuanga the following day. The expeditions arrive in Coron at around 5pm. This is too late to catch a flight out, however not too late to transfer to an island resort. Just inform the resort that you will arrive in Coron with Tao by 5pm. If you are traveling on a Private Expedition then you can arrange to be dropped of at resorts en-route, this can be arranged at check in.
El Nido- Getting Here and Away
To get to El Nido from/to Manila: You have 2 options: a) the expensive direct flight or b)+c) the cheaper but not direct
They are available with charter planes from the private airport owned by El Nido Resort. ITI is the company that service the charter. 6,500 to 7,500pesos per person. EL Nido to Manila flights Contact El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe. Manila to EL Nido contact ITI AIRWAYS. Seair is also another airline that fly direct in and out of El Nido but seasonal so check if they are running...
MANILA- PUERTO PRINCESA flights CEBU PACIFIC, PAL EXPRESS, PHILIPPINE AIRLINES
CEBU- PUERTO PRINCESA flights CEBU PACIFIC
Cebu Pacific also fly to Puerto Princessa from Cebu.
FERRY ---> Connection between El Nido and Coron
There are several Bangka ferry company that services Coron- EL NIdo vice versa- 4-5 times a week.
Bangka ferry can take upto 7-10 hour journey. Booking can be done only when you are in Coron or El Nido.
Expedition Departure... Meeting Place & Check-in
TAO EL NIDO OFFICE: Serena St. centre of town.
TAO CORON OFFICE: Don Pedro St. Centre of town.
Both of our offices are easy to find and both of the town is not that big that you cannot find us.
We will be expecting you to 'check in' at our base in the town of your departure when you arrive in EL Nido or Coron.
Here you will be able to pay your remaining 50% balance which is due before your board the boat.
Please read our advice below about getting cash and using credit cards in Palawan.
Bring a print out or electronic copy of your deposit confirmation with you when you Check-in with us. There is often no electricity for us to verify payments at check in.
The night before the expedition you will need to attend a briefing to meet your Expedition Leader for a quick chat. You will be given the time of the briefing when you check-in.
Please inform us if you will not be able to check in the night before and plan to turn up in the morning of the expedition.
If you are staying out of town at a resort, you do not have to meet us the day before, you can check in the morning of departure, but please inform us in advance.
On the morning of the Expedition everybody meets at the office at about 8:30am. There is always time to pick up last minute essentials and Alcohol.
Anyone who misses the departure of the expedition can catch up with a private transfer boat. Boat hire costs from 1,500 -3,500pesos depends on how far you need to travel. This can be arranged by our office.
Private Expeditions will depart when you and your group are ready.
Expedition Arrival in Destination Town.
17:00h all expeditions arrive.
We arrive at the end of the trip in the destination port at about 5:00pm so there is time to transfer to you accommodation before it gets dark if you are staying on the mainland.
Anyone who needs to leave the expedition earlier can hire their own boat to catch the expedition. Boat hire costs from 1,500 -3,500pesos depends on how far you need to travel. This does not need to be arranged in advance. Please arrange this when you check in before the trip begins.
We strongly recommend you follow these suggestions to prepare for your trip.
Below is a list of essentials you will need to pack in a Waterproof Day Pack [aprox 25-35liters].
You have access this bag during the day and take it down to the base-camps at night.
The rest of your stuff will be packed out of the way in the hold of the boat and can be accessed every now and again to replenish your day pack.
In your waterproof day pack you will need:
• Sun hat or cap, sunscreen, and sun glasses.
• Sarong (for boys and girls...All around use - day towel, sun protection, beach loungers)
• A refillable water bottle (its important to keep hydrated)
• A small towel, shower gel, tooth brush. [WE DO NOT PROVIDE TOWELS]
• Flashlight or Headtorch (to find your way around in the dark)
• Change of clothes, shorts and t shirts/vests for the day.
• Swimwear during the days because you will be in and out of the water.
• A rash guard [optional- but very advisable]
• In the evening you can shower and put on some very light weight trousers and a long sleeve top or shirt to minimize insect bites.
• Insect Repellent.
• Sandals or reef shoes.
• Camera, a good book, ipod.
• A lightweight, very thin Rain Jacket- just in case you get a rainy day!
Baggage Restrictions, Safety and Storage
There are no baggage restrictions on the boats.
We recommend that you store your valuables such as passports and wallets deep inside your large bag which will be stored inside the luggage room or out of the way inside the hull.
The baggage will be kept dry at all times, however if you are traveling with a laptop we suggest to store it in a waterproof dry bag to avoid accidents.
Electricity and Charging Batteries
is no electricity on the Islands. However we have generators in some of
the base-camps so you will be able to charge batteries on some of the
nights. We recommend that you fully charge your batteries the night
before you board the boat. Remember to pack a Flashlight or Head-torch.
Emergency Contact Number
We will not entertain inquiries or follow up booking on phone.. this number is for emergency contacts only.
TAO CORON OFFICE: 0063 907 7096342
Please also consider the time difference as midnight or very early morning calls are definitely unacceptable.
All regular enquiries by e-mail please. E-mails can take up 3 days to receive a response so please be patient.- electricity and internet is not always available.
Planning Your Itinerary
The minimum number of days you can book a Tao Expedition for is 5 days and 4 nights.
This is the ideal amount of time to fully appreciate the island experience that is offered by Tao.
Palawan is a remote region to access and less than 5 days will feel too rushed and will not allow the disregard for time that island life requires. 10 days is the recommended amount of time we suggest you stay in the Palawan including a Tao Trip. Try not to take on too much destination as traveling in the Philippine islands takes time and you don’t want to spend half your trip on a bus or waiting in an airport, most destinations will take a day journey. If there are several provinces you would like to visit try to plan to spend a week in each, enough time to take it all in and at the same time get as much as possible out of your trip.
Spending time in EL NIDO and CORON
The areas around El Nido and Coron offer plenty of island hopping, diving and exploring. Some of these destinations include Coron Island, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Beach etc. Many guests ask whether we will visit these places on the expedition....
On a Private Expedition you can help plan your route so you can visit the tourist highlights of both towns if you like.
However we specialize in avoiding the tourist crowds, so for example; in a small group we can take you into the Big lagoon just after sunrise and you will have the place to yourselves before the day-trippers start hording in from 9am onwards.
On Open Expeditions we tend to stay away from these destinations altogether. So if you can a few days available either side of the Tao trip we recommend that you
see these destinations in the smaller island hopping boats available
for hire in town. Our expedition boats can be too large to take to
these ofter crowded areas and we prefer to head straight out into the remote islands where no other tourists go.
We recommend that you research in online forums such as 'tripadvisor.com' and 'virtualtourist.com' for accommodation recommendations. Here you will find other travelers personal reviews and recommendations for places to stay to suit every budget and time scale whether you are looking for a convenient place to stay for a night or a chilled out place on the beach to relax for a week after your expedition with us.
Cash and Payments
Tao unfortunately does not accept credit card payments and access to cash is limited in Palawan.
The banking infrastructure is undeveloped as it is one of the most remote part of the Philippines.
We require a 50% deposit to confirm your reservation. This is payable by Paypal or Bank Transfer.
Please be advised that there is a 3.9% charge for paypal payments.
You do not need to be registered with PayPal to pay you deposit. Instructions of how to pay can be found in your booking e-mail.
Your balance is due before you board the boat so you can pay this at check-in. Please be advised that there are only cash machines in Puerto Princessa and Coron, but not in El Nido.
You will need to withdraw sufficient cash to travel through Palawan.
You can pay your balance before you come to Palawan through Paypal or bank transfer. Please inform us at least one week before your departure so that the transfer is processed before your board the boat.
For card security reasons Paypal can sometimes block you if you are traveling. International bank transfers can take up to 5 days to appear in our account.
Some businesses offer cash advances at a charge or 6%-10%. You can change foreign currencies in both El Nido and Coron, USD, GBP, EUR, the exchange rate in Palawan is significantly lower than that of international currency sites.
You do not need cash on board!
Visa requirements vary. Please contact the Philippine Embassy in your country. 21 days free for most passports so you can arrive in the country with no visa. An extension is available in Immigration Offices in Manila, Cebu, Puerto Princesa, 60 to 90 days extension cost 3000-4000pesos (up to 6,500pesos if you do it with agencies) Do not turn up with flip flops, shorts or vest. Make sure you dress up appropriately to see immigration officers.
Health and Safety
We are an adventure company traveling in a very remote area of the Philippines so we do as much as we can to avoid accidents. Most of our crew are trained to response on emergency situation and look out for dangers but no matter how much we take care, it is still up to our travelers incentives to look after themselves and avoid mishaps.
When you first board the boat you will be given a Safety Orientation by your expedition leader.
This will include Water Safety as you will be spending a lot of time getting in and out of the water. Please notify the crew if you are not a strong swimmer and they will keep an extra eye on you.
You will be shown the location of life preserving equipment onboard [such as lifevests, buoyancy aids, life rafts and medical kit] that we must carry as part of the stringent Marina Requirements.
There are small critters in the tropical water that can sting you. A rashguard top whilst swimming can protect you from some of these. The worst are things living on the reef so never stand, touch or pick up anything from the reef and you should be fine. Reef shoes are also a good idea.
Dehydration is a common cause of accidents and feeling unwell. You will be required to bring your own refillable water bottle and drink lots of water. There are large containers of purified drinking water onboard for you to keep you bottle topped up.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Of course you will want to enjoy a few beers and sample some of the local rum around the fir at night, however don't make yourself a liability. Nobody want to have to look after the drunk guy. Tropical hangovers are a nightmare and you don't want to miss out on the day activities if you are trying to recover from the night before!
Your skin will burn easily in the tropics especially if you are coming from winter in Europe. Pac plenty of sunscreen [SPF 30 or higher] and apply liberally during the day. A sun hat and sunglasses are essential. If you are a keen snorkeler we recommend that you bring a Lycra wetshirt or rashguard. You will get burnt on your back if you do not wear a top when snorkeling. Our crew keep an eye out for guests being exposed to too much sun and may recommend you cover up if they think you are at risk.
All travelers must have their own Travel Insurance.
Safety and Security in the Region
We often get questions regarding safety in the islands, kidnapping, trouble from militants, pirates and other concern that you might have researched before flying into a foreign third world country.
Some areas of the Philippines have a red mark for many Government Travel Foreign Offices advice because of the separatist problem of the extreme south. But Palawan, Luzon, Visayas and the rest of the northern islands are far away from the southern Mindanao region. Unfortunately the Philippines government, unlike other Asian tourist destinations, have no say or control over these red warnings.
The story of the islands with 'pirates' is as old as the Ming dynasty merchant sailing this part of the world.
We work in partnership with the communities all along our route. They know what we do, who is travelling on board and they provide us with more security more than the Coastguard or Navy who are always present in the area (securing the Shell/Chevron gas/oil platform rigs).
We may ask ' how safe is your hometown/city?' which often puts into perspective the perceived risks of exploring less familiar parts of the world.
Up to date and accurate information about all aspects of malaria, including risks and prevention, is readily available to you from travel health clinics, travel healthiness and via the web.
Because it is a complex and rapidly changing issue, we do not want to recommend whether or not to take malaria medication.
Northern Palawan is generally a low risk area. Occasionally it comes in small outbreaks and consequentially the local health office will have warning, we will be advised and pass on the warning to our travelers. It is not that very common for an outbreak during our season November to end of May. Be more cautious on Dengue fever which is more common and can be contracted anywhere in southeast Asia, especially in town and cities. There are no medicine to prevent catching Dengue so be always cautious.
Dengue and Malaria normally appears mid monsoon season which is July-September.
It is advised to minimize the risk of Malaria and Dengue through bit avoidance. Bring lots of mosquito repellant and long sleeve clothing, it also advisable that when with children, in town it is better to get Aircon rooms because mosquito are most active early in the morning/ late afternoon.
Town and larger population have more disease carrying mosquitos than those of small islands and villages.
Our sleeping in the islands are set up near the beach where we get a breeze thus reduce mosquitos, we always have nets setup for sleeping.
Traveling in South Palawan needs extra precaution any time of the year.
Our expeditions put you close to nature, this includes the tropical weather.
There are 2 seasons in the Philippines. The Dry season is the high season and runs from October to May. The Monsoon season is the low season and runs from June to September.
High season is mostly dry but with strong NE winds. Monsoon season is generally calmer water for sailing but can also be strong winds.
During the wet season it does not mean it rains all through out the months, sometimes long undisrupted sunshine for weeks and sometimes lots of rain. But for most it will be sunny in the morning and heavy rain in the afternoon.
Palawan is a long stretch of land dotted with hundreds of islands with its own microclimates.
If its raining heavily in EL Nido town then it doesn't mean its the same 1 hour away in another island.
Mainland mostly holds the heavy clouds and the far islands easily clears out.
Just to be sure we suggest packing a light rain jacket. This will
protect you from wind-chill and keep you warm if there is any rain
during your expedition.
Typhoon is not the same as monsoon and can come any time of the year- Wet or Dry Season.
We postpone schedule or totally cancel the trip only if there are typhoon or strong wind forecast.
Our procedure incase of bad weather (continuous rain forecast or rough sea) is to find a more sheltered route mostly in the bay of Coron or El nido, then we monitor the conditions in the open passages to.
We never have a set itinerary for any of our trips. The weather can changed overnight or within the day and we select our destinations in the islands to best suit this. We discovered many villages and coves by looking for shelter and to most travelers this is the essence of exploration.
We refund the paid deposit in case of cancellation due to weather condition, but we can not refund if individual decide not to continue the journey with us.
PAGASA is the center of meteorology, operational hydrology, climatology, astronomy and other allied sciences in the Philippines; They monitor and forecasting of tropical weather systems. Visit their website for up to date weather information.
Snorkeling & Swimming
Swimming and snorkeling area big part of Tao Expeditions. To make the most of your Tao experience it is recommended that you feel comfortable in water. If you are not a strong swimmer then tell us and we will make sure the guide takes extra care of you and we have swimming buoyancy aids onboard. There will lots of opportunities to explore the pristine reefs we have discovered throughout the islands. Snorkels and masks are provided on all of our boats. There are fins available if you wish to use them, but although there is a range of sizes there may not be a pair to fit everyone. You can bring your own equipment if you wish. If you are a keen snorkeler and plan to spend lots of time in the water, it is a good idea to bring a long-sleeved rash-guard to protect you from the strong tropical sun and annoying jellyfish stings.
Toilet and Shower
The boats have basic toilets and we keep it clean- we use bucket flush.
Our base camps have toilets but no plumbing in the islands so we only use bucket flush.
It is always kept clean and we have toilet papers which we advice not to flush but put it in the trash.
The toilet bowl are always clean but no toilet seats- this is more hygienic if using bucket flush.
There are fresh water shower in our base camps either by the well or filled up water drums. You will be advised if you are camping in a remote island or beach with no toilet or fresh water source- but this only happens when a group is up for it.
Our sleeping arrangements are camping in open native beach huts . Each night we find a safe anchor for the boat and spend the night on an island. We have 11 different base-camps throughout the islands, all are in different types of locations. Some are on their own private island, or within a traditional village or a secluded beach. At the base-camp you can shower with fresh water, grill some fish for supper and enjoy a few rums around a fire. Our sleeping will be mostly shared under one roof, but there are also opportunities to sleep in separate huts. We can sleep on the roof deck of the boat if the weather is clear and calm but not with large groups, it all depends where we end up- everyone gets a mattress, pillow, mosquito net and fresh bedding set. We recommend that you bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper. Couples usually sleep together. If you have any special sleeping requirements or a tendency to snore, please tell us at the start of the trip and we will plan sleeping arrangements accordingly.
Our menu is based on traditional filipino cooking using Fresh seafood, vegetables, fruit and rice. The seafood in Palawan is first class and we serve lots of it onboard Tao. We buy our fish direct from the fisherman as we travel through the islands. You can also fish from the boat to catch your own supper! We do not generally serve meat because we use ice boxes and we do not have refrigeration for storage on the boats. Sometimes we will buy livestock in the islands such as chickens or pigs. We stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables before we leave port. Vegetarians will enjoy the numerous healthy dishes cooked up onboard. For any other diet requirements please inform us when you check in.
Alcohol is not included in the price of the Open Expeditions or Safaris so if you wish to bring something to drink, we have ice boxes to keep it cold. Alcohol, [spirits and beer] and mixers are included in the price of the Bespoke Expeditions. The only products available locally are various rhums and San Miguel beer, and mixers of coke, sprite or pineapple juice or tonic water. If you prefer something specific then its a good idea to pick up a bottle when you pass through duty free on your flight here.
Sangat Island Dive Resort (09192050198)- Located on its own island of the same name, Sangat is 45min from town. Its one of the few places you can stay in the Coron area with its own white beach. Its the perfect place to spend a few days before the expedition or after to rest and recouperate. They also have a dive shop on-site so you can enjoy the world class diving around the Coron area.
This is probably the best place to stay in El Nido.
Please email: email@example.com for availability of the villas.
For general information about El Nido visit the
El Nido Art Cafe and Boutique. They can book flights and onwards travel from El Nido and organize group day trips into the Bacuit bay. The Boutique sells everything you need, from sun cream to traditional wooden carvings. Local musicians play acoustic sets nightly.