grub + travels + perspectives

El Nido Adventures: Part Three

Day Three

The (shy) sun and clear sea worshiping continues! Tour A consisted of island hopping (or should I say, lagoon hopping) through 3 different lagoons and 2 beaches. During our stay there, pouring rain kept happening every night so we're always apprehensive if a new day of exploring would push through. We woke up to just light drizzle again, thankfully, which means it's a go. Three days into this, I have been completely taken by this paradise. 

Big Lagoon

Prior to our trip, I didn't bother researching about the places we will go to. Usually, I do. But because this travel was mostly involving water, I just took comfort in the fact that everything's going to be fine because I'm surrounded by friends that can swim. Hehe. And that became a good thing because I never knew what to expect and I kept getting surprised and mesmerized by these amazing natural formations.

I've read on other blogs that when the water gets shallow enough during low tide, boats can't pass the lagoon so there's an option for people to rent a kayak instead. But since it was high tide when we visited, our boat just made a pass and turned around when we reached the end. We're not allowed to get off our boat as well because apparently, there's a lot of sea urchins here.

We each took turns taking photos with the towering rock formations and cliffs and emerald green waters as our background then went ahead to our next destination.

Secret Lagoon

Aside from the Secret Beach, El Nido also has a Secret Lagoon. Before getting there, we caught a glimpse from afar of the Miniloc Island Resort. One of those exclusive resorts that gave El Nido that upscale reputation. Our boatmen told us that accommodation there costs PhP 20,000 minimum per night. I could just imagine what kinds of amenities and services they offer there. That's what you call ~really~ living the life!

As our boat made a halt, this is what we saw. Walls and walls of rock formations and cliffs. There was a tiny beach in the middle but wasn't quite visible from afar because it's high tide. I really thought there's a way there to the secret lagoon. But surprise! We had to swim through a small hole. My swimming skills were really put to the test!

This is what the hole looked like from inside the lagoon. I saw in other blogs that it's a pretty easy crawl inside during low tide. Actually, the entirety of the hole is exposed during low tide. The water inside the lagoon is also murky because of the non-stop rains the past few days.

The water was cool and the scenery was indeed picture perfect. It's a bit like the Secret Beach but I liked this one better because there were less fewer people and it didn't take me all my might to avoid slipping my foot into crevices. Since there was no snorkeling involved, we spent our time here taking more group GoPro vids!

Miniloc Beach

Lunch time! We were supposed to go to Shimizu Island but there were already lots of people there so our guides decided we dock here at Miniloc Beach (not to be confused with the island). It's a tiny stretch of sand in between two enormous rock croppings. I think only a small group of people would fit in here. And since our guides will take time to prepare the food, it's time to snorkel again!

The only thing scary about this area is that there's an abrupt drop in the sea shelf. After the bed of corals, there was nothing but the dark waters. The clear blue green sea is replaced by infinite deep. You can't see anything anymore. It's really kind of eerie looking over it. It's like you're going to be swallowed by the nothingness. 

Lunch is served! Look at those big crabs! Yum~
Small Lagoon

After feasting on grilled fish, crabs, veggies and fruits, and a few minutes of rest, we headed to the next majestic location.

Just look at how clear the water is. It's like peering through glass! We were again reminded to wear proper swimming footwear as there might be sea urchins here and there. From our boat, we had to swim towards Small Lagoon's little opening. I honestly thought I could swim all the way there. Haha! But I was so wrong. Halfway through, I've given up and asked Kuya Elfer, our guide, to ~drag~ me again. Hehehe. What opening am I talking about?

This one!

We just snorkeled and swam with stingless jellyfishes of all sizes and even saw sand dollars! I learned that sand dollars are actually a certain specie of sea urchins. They are not fossilized sea stars! LOL.

Seven Commandos Beach

Before reaching our concluding stop, the rain began to pour. Dark clouds and big drops of rain accompanied us the whole boat ride. Suddenly, one of boatmen started singing Rivermaya's Umaaraw, Umuulan until everyone sang along. 

At last, the perfect way to end the final leg of this island hopping tour: chilling at Seven Commandos Beach (named after seven lost soldiers who previously inhabited the island). It was a bit like coming home after a long day as tall coconut trees waved at us from afar and welcomed us as we approach the shore. There's a row of huts where you can stay (free of charge) and there's available refreshments on the island: there's even halo-halo, beer and coconut juice! You can choose to play volleyball, lay on the sand or spend your time swimming!

Our obvious choice: Beer!

We spent an hour and a half sitting on the fine white sand, updating our social media accounts (they all had signal, finally!), toasting to Honey's birthday and occasionally dipping in the water. No crawling through holes, swimming relentlessly and tall cliffs -- just pure relaxation.

We were later called by Kuya Ryan, telling us that it's time to go back. And as much as the 3 days of adventure seemed too long before, here it is now coming to a close. And as I took one last look at the beach getting smaller and smaller from the horizon, I silently thanked the heavens for the chance to experience all of this. This is certainly the best trip I've had so far.

Back to mainland: one last photo with our funny boatmen before hopping off the boat! A big thanks to all of you! :)
But the adventure isn't quite over! Hahaha. On our fourth day in El Nido, we went to the twin beach of Nacpan and Calitang! I hope you stick around for that final El Nido post! :)

More information and tips:
          Ask for Kuya Elfer or Kuya Ryan as your tour guide! They're the best!
          Tour A costs PhP 1,200/person.
          Snorkeling gear and fins were provided as well as lunch.
          They also have underwater cameras for rent. (PhP 700/day; best to bring your own SD card.)
  • We booked our accommodation ourselves. For reservations at El Nido Sands Inn (they have Wi-Fi), you may contact them through the following numbers:
          Landline: (048) 723-1916
          Mobile Nos.: 0917 773-3324 / 0999 452-5843
          Address: Serena Street, Brgy. Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan
  • Please bring cash. I don't recall seeing any ATMs there. For emergency situations, there are pawnshops that offer money transfer services.
  • Power interruptions are frequent during day time.
  • Smart and Globe networks have strong signal there. As for Sun, nada.
  • If you could bring a dry bag to store all your gadgets, that would be perfect.
  • It's best to wear aqua shoes/sandals during the tour.
  • Bring a towel or malong.
  • Food, overall, is affordable. For our first night, we had dinner at Angel Wish, located right beside El Nido Sands Inn, and we had a set meal for PhP 950 which was good enough for 6 people. There's also a lot of eateries you can find on most streets. We frequented Silog Republic for breakfast and dinner.
(Photos by me, Honey Ramos, Charmilyn Mamaradlo and Ian Manzon.)