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The Philippines – El Nido

Sunday, April 27th

This morning we had nice leisurely wake up with time to catch up on a few things and pack up.  The trip north was quite beautiful with rural areas, mountains and small villages. The road was concrete for the most part with a few dirt sections.  There was a lunch stop and a bathroom break on the six hour journey.

The town of El Nido is smaller than we have experienced thus far and very much a laid back almost backpacker tourist destination with lots of small cottages, hotels and pensions.   Our ‘home’ here was a cottage on the beach with a small deck out front where breakfast was served.  El Nido is situated on the Bacuit Archipelago with many limestone islands and outcroppings.  The town has no ATM’s or landlines and wifi is hard to come by except at hotels and some restaurants, some of which are better than others but all are slow.  The other unique part of this town is that power is off from 6am to 2pm every day.  It gets mighty hot and the only places with AC seem to be certain hotel rooms and then of course not all day.

The big feature here is again, island hopping tours.  There are a standard four tours to choose from, each offering its own highlights.  We tried to see about getting a combo tour of just the better spots but although available it was super pricey for just two of us.  So we opted for two different day tours on two days:  tour A for Monday and tour C for Tuesday.

Tour A

First stop was Big Lagoon which was spectacular.  After dropping those that wanted to kayak off (we opted not to do this because sitting above the water in this heat and humidity seemed crazy when you could be in the water!). The rocky outcroppings here are huge and quite jagged; all black with various sheer sections and many with trees and bushes managing to hang on for dear life.  We got off the boat here and snorkeled and it was quite good despite a good deal of damaged coral.

Stop two, took us to Small Lagoon where you had to swim under a rock bridge to enter the jaw dropping lagoon area.  Crystal clear water surrounded by black craggy cliffs.

The next stop on this tour was 7 Commando Beach where we had lunch and guess what? Snorkelled!  Lunch was BBQ’d pork and red snapper. Doug loves fish and enjoyed the fresh caught snapper so much he ate 3!  This beach had more than its fair share of jellyfish and again, we both got stung.  Ouch!

Secret Lagoon was ‘found’ by climbing through a hole in the rocks; while the rock walls were amazing, the water, not so much.  It wasn’t really deep enough to benefit from flowing through from the sea over the rocks so it was stirred up by the people.

Simizu Island was really a stop between the island and a large rock. The snorkeling here was great with the clear water and the sun.

Tour C

Today four of the people on the yesterday’s tour joined us for this one as well. We set out for about a half hour on the water before docking at Matinloc Shrine – built here because the island is heart shaped. This is a shrine to the Virgin Mary and people come here by boat monthly and annually to worship and ask for healing.  After viewing the shrine and the tiny museum we went for a cooling dip in the sea.   The best part for us was a small climb to a precarious perch for a fantastic view of awesome limestone weathered formations.

Secret Beach was a neat little stop.  You got off the boat and swan under a little rock bridge to reach a small body of water with a white sandy beach.  There was lots of fish in there as well.

Talisay Beach had great snorkeling on a reef with a huge drop off.  Again the coral here as everywhere is partially damaged but still plenty of fish to watch.  After getting water logged we had a lunch of BBQ’d chicken and fresh mackerel.  To all our surprise an ice cream man showed up on a boat and brought Nestle drumsticks for only a dollar each!!!!

We ‘found’ Hidden Beach next by walking through a rock tunnel.  The rocks and cliffs here were especially sharp and it was fun using your imagination to pick out images.

Our last stop was Helicopter Island which is a nesting home to three types of turtles but we were not lucky enough to see any BUT the abundance of fish and coral made up for it.

Wednesday April 30th

Today was a travel day – back to Puerto Princesa by shuttle van and back to Subli Guest House.