EL NIDO

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A trip to The Phillipines with Alisha Tinsley
Alisha wears Gypsy Dancer Boho Mini in Caviar, Olivia Luxe Lace Blouse, Gypsy Dancer Gown in Maple and Oracle Midi Dress in Sage (sold out).
Story by Alisha Tinsley

An archipelago of over 7,000 islands, a tropical fusion of south-east Asian and colonial hispanic culture, and some of the clearest, most biodiverse waters in the world… Welcome to The Philippines. 

Through day dreaming back in Byron and scouring Pinterest for the best Filipino island inspiration I could possibly find, I came up with 3 island destinations for our 3 week trip- Cebu, Palawan, and Siargao. Cebu for it’s whale sharks and waterfalls, Palawan for the incredible town of El Nido with its hundreds of scattered turquoise trimmed islands, and Siargao for its surf. 8 flights, countless bikinis and one hugely oversized woven hat later, I’m so excited to share my Fillipino travel snaps! 

5 days on Cebu consisted of swimming with wild whale sharks (twice because i was so overwhelmed the first time round), exploring local villages and sampling their fresh lychees, and seeking out hidden waterfalls. Dao falls was by far my favourite experience of our whole trip; A tiny unassuming village nestled in the hills, playing secret passage to the most spectacular river hike, lagoons and falls. Not a single other tourist, or person in sight, and tranquil turquoise pools to ourselves; the most incredible reward for those willing to cross the 100m hole-filled shaking bamboo bridge that begins the hike! 

El Nido, Palawan, is known for being the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago, hundreds of tiny islands, hidden lagoons and countless deserted beaches. If there has ever been islands worthy of beach testing my favourite new Oracle pieces, these were most definitely the ones. We took multiple boat trips navigating to secret beaches and swimming through ocean caverns that opened out into magical lagoons. Throwing gypsy dancer pieces over salty, sun kissed skin and pairing them with hand woven goodies that I’d picked up in the local village… forever chasing the Blue Lagoon dream *(snorkel mask imprints and flipper tan need not be mentioned)

Our final stop took us to the island of Siargao, a small tear drop shaped island, famous for its surf. Here we explored local villages, learnt from locals, and rode beautiful warm waves breaking over coral reefs. A small island that was easy to explore by bike, and access many empty surf breaks, this is how I imagine Bali was to those who explored it 30 years ago. I felt like Siargao was built on coconuts, everywhere, for locals weekends here were all about drying coconuts and performing karaoke (from 7am), its no wonder these beautiful people are always so happy, maybe we should all wake up on a Saturday morning and sing Madonna to our neighbourhood? 

Thank you to the Philippines and its beautiful people for sharing your home, making our trip so special, and preserving this countries natural beauty so preciously – I was initially attracted to the Philippines because I didn’t know anyone else who had been there, now I know why; I almost wanted to keep these cherished travel secrets to myself too.