Cacnipa Island is where those in the know go to escape the dusty streets and new glut of soulless travellers lodges that suddenly hip, overcrowded Port Barton has built to accommodate daily numbers of mainly young European (especially Spanish) travellers who have descended on the once-peaceful village in droves, buying up land and quickly gentrifying parcels of the village so that the intrepid explorers don’t go without their croque monsieurs, skinny soy lattes, and wifi to spend their days updating Instagram and Facebook accounts. As Veronica and I sat on this tranquil little island at night, listening to the sound of the ocean, gazing up at a galaxy of stars and dreaming of nothing but where we currently were….we knew we’d made the right choice to get straight out of Porto Barton as soon as we’d arrived.
That morning we were having breakfast in Sabang watching the pet wild boar chasing itself around like a lunatic. We sat enjoying the simple affair: a pot of ‘tea lipton’ – the classic traveller’s breakfast tea – three slices of toast, jam, butter. It was all we could have wanted. The little kid of the owner, Philip, walked us from here to the van area, and we were also accompanied part of the way by the wild boar. We met a stereotypically tall Dutch couple. Nice. Friendly. Bloody tall. How do they get so big, the Dutch? We all hopped into the van to Port Barton, in time for the eight thirty set off, except we didn’t actually get out of Sabang until nine thirtyish, as we encountered the typical delays; people not turning up, others sleeping in so missing the bus, some arranging to be picked up on the side of the road en route out of Sabang, doubling back to pick up a late-comer (a Filipina –it’s always the locals that are late, I’ve noticed). The driver went hell for leather after that, and somehow made the transfer van time (vans don’t go all the way from Sabang, there is a transfer point at some roadside shack where people are directed to different minivans bound for El Nido, Port Barton, and Puerto Princesa). This was despite a further delay to let a procession of Elementary school kids past who were all wearing beautiful costumes to celebrate a festival I never learnt the name or meaning of.
The second van was nicer, the driver slightly more sane, not reeking of Red Horse, and he drove slightly slower. He also seemed to be the postman, stopping at various places to deliver various things. A kind of Postman Pat for the Sabang-Port Barton route. We arrived in Port Barton after an uneventful couple of hours. It was eleven thirty, so we had arrived ahead of schedule. We registered at a desk set up outside, paid forty pesos between us, and then we took a trike for forty pesos to ‘coastguard’ – to the place where we would take the ferry to our resort on Cacnipa Island, Coconut Garden Island Resort. The boat left at 1pm, so we had time to see the pretty beach, framed by hills and mountains, and full of bobbing bankas. We had a mediocre lunch, then hopped on the boat for the forty five minute ride to the island.
The island is beautiful. A tastefully designed resort, integrated with nature, loads of coconut trees, hammocks strung between them, and a small beach. We hopped off the boat and checked into our private bungalow, number sixteen. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the beautiful beach, drinking rum and coke, and chilling some more.
Day became night. We had ordered our evening meal before three pm, as is the rule of the house, and we were in the restaurant at six. I knocked back a Red Horse, and ate delicious shrimp with garlic and curry sauce linguini, while Vero had a tender pork steak. Another Red Horse, then the beach for the star show, and finally back to our bungalow. We were already in love with Cacnipa Island.