The film That Thing Called Tadhana has pegged Sagada as the place where broken hearts go, but with over 7,107 islands, there are so many other places in the Philippines where you can temporarily run away from it all.
One such spot is Inaladelan, an island located between Port Barton and El Nido in Palawan. Surrounded by clear blue shores and bordered by white sand and greenery, Inaladelan is a small but cozy paradise for those thinking of leaving creature comforts behind and roughing it out in a camp by the sea.
How to get there
Be prepared for a bit of a journey. You can fly directly from Manila to Puerto Princesa, or you can catch an Air Asia flight from Clark to Puerto Princesa. (A one-way trip from Clark would cost an average of P3,000.) If you’re looking for a bit of a side adventure, hop on a P2P bus to Clark, Pampanga (one ride from specific points in Metro Manila will cost you anywhere between P250 to P350) and spend a day there to explore the museums and go-kart tracks.
Once you reach Puerto Princesa, it’s highly suggested that you book accommodations you can spend the night in and contact the folks at Inaladelan or Amika Travel and Tours to arrange your stay (of course, you can do this prior to heading to Palawan). Getting to Inaladelan can and will take an entire morning, so best to rest up the evening before.
The trip to the island is almost a pilgrimage in itself. You’ll need to either rent your own vehicle (which Amika Travel and Tours can do for you) or commute (there are public jeeps vans at San Jose New Market that charge anywhere between P200 to P500) from the heart of Puerto Princesa to Barangay San Vicente, where Port Barton is located. It’s a three-hour trip punctuated by rough and roadless terrain, so be ready for a bumpy trip. Mid-way, you’ll find a traveler’s stop which is a small sari-sari store with clean restrooms and everything you’ll need to stock up on before you continue your journey—water, tissue paper, and yes, even meds for headaches and tummy aches. You’ll have another stop upon entering San Vicente where you’ll have to sign a tourists’ manifest before moving on.
Once you reach Port Barton, you’ll be greeted by a small seaside town that’s teeming with tourists who seem to have stayed longer in Palawan than their hometowns. You can arrange for a boat then and there, or if you’ve contacted Inaladelan prior to your trip, you’ll have a boat waiting for you. You’ll reach the island after a 20- to 30-minute ride.
The Inaladelan life
The first thing you should do once you get there is to congratulate yourself. It’s not easy getting to that beautiful locale, after all. Next on the agenda is to change into your bathing suit (if you haven’t yet) and chill. There are spartan, public restrooms and shower stalls on the island that you can use.
Inaladelan is all about going back to the basics: There’s no electricity during daylight and the generators only run from 5:00 p. m. to midnight so that means you’ll have to let go of your electronic devices for a while unless you bring several power banks with you. Seriously though, you’d want to give your phones and tablets a rest—there’s so much of the island that needs appreciating.
Winds continuously blow through Inaladelan. The fine, white sand is comfortably warm and the waters are temptingly cool. Spend the entire day just jumping in and out of the water, or if you’ve got snorkeling gear, you can try looking for pawikan that frequent the area.
There’s no lack of trees that offer shade as you finish your afternoon dip. Lay in one of the many hammocks and catch up on a bit of reading if you wish. You can also chill in the common pavilion which has several throw pillows you can borrow for naps.
Inaladelan offers another kind of beauty once the sun sets. As the sea calms and recedes, you can hang out with your co-travelers around a bonfire and exchange stories. If you’re lucky, there will be poi and fire dances as well. But probably the best advice one can give is to look up and just stare at the thousands of stars dotting the sky. You don’t see that often in the city, after all.
Be prepared for a windy night—it blows through the island in gusts, so you’ll probably be woken up at odd hours by the flapping of your tent. If you’re a camping newbie, it’s recommended to bring your own sleeping bag, a small pillow, and a blanket to supplement the pillow and foam mat that's provided for you. Bring a headlamp, too, as you’ll need it for those midnight bathroom trips.
Come morning, the winds die down and you’re greeted by a quiet beach as you crawl out of your tent.
FN Tip: Wake up at 6 a. m. and go for a swim as the sun rises. With most of the island still asleep, those few moments on your own can definitely make you feel like all’s right with the world, heartbroken or not.
Inaladelan’s overnight camping rate is at P2,500 for one person (minimum of two persons) and is inclusive of a 2-day, 1-night stay on the island, roundtrip boat transfers, a camping tent, a foam mat and pillow, and dinner and breakfast meals. For more details, visit InaladelanIsland.com or inquire through Amika Travel and Tours on Facebook.