Thursday, November 17, 2016

El Bohemio in El Nido:
The Island Hopping Adventure

     El Nido, with its towering marble cliffs, enchanting lagoons, charming white-sand beaches, hidden coves, lush forests, breath-taking waterfalls, prehistoric caves, and the clear blue waters that surround its islands, is a Protected Area and is often refereed to as the "Philippines' Last Frontier".

   And to be a Filipino living in the Philippines is really awesome because you don't need a passport or cross an ocean to be in a place that is considered one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world. Truly a must-see. A must-be on a travelers bucket list.

     El Nido has been welcoming tourist from around the globe for many years  and they have established standard island-hopping destinations which is divided into 4 groups. Tour boat companies  follow these standards and some offer fuss-free package deals. You will not have to worry about bringing towels, snorkeling stuff, or even lunch!  If you have booked your stay at Sea Cocoon Hotel you can avail of those fuss-free tour packages from them. A tour package, depending on how far they are from Bacuit Bay, ranges from Php1,200 to Php 1,400 per person.

        One fine morning on September 11, 2016,  my island-hopping
 adventure began on the shores of Bacuit Bay.

     Next to me is Boss Vic, opposite us at front is Eric the famous 
frontman of Sea Cocoon Hotel LOL, and beside him is Boss Benjie, 
together with two personnel from the hotel.

    I spent 3 whole days in El Nido and I've tried the Tours A and B, on separate days, with the main men of Sea Cocoon Hotel hehe. Actually we skipped some destinations in the tours to have more time on more interesting spots, like the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon which are really captivating. I should have brought my old digicam with the waterproof case. If I did I would have a lot of pictures inside these lagoons. But then again, not bringing that camera made me appreciate the place (and the moment) more.

    But one thing that you really must bring to your island hopping tour is a pair of water shoes. You don't want to injure your feet with those barnacle-clad rocks or urchins. Actually I didn't bring my diving booties and scuba fins haha I tried to pack light for this Palawan trip. So many thanks to our tour guide for the spare pair of water shoes lol. By the way, there are shops in town where you can rent scuba stuff - even GoPro cameras!


        I'm guessing that this is Simizu Island... or Matinloc Island. 
I dunno, there are no signage LOL.  

           The entrance to Miniloc Island's infamous Big Lagoon.

      Photo by Eric Sugui. Big Lagoon is a wide and long 
body of water. The depth  varies and  the character of the
 place changes as you kayak towards the dead end.


        The boat ride going these islands reminded me of my Caramoan trip back in 2014. From a distance, seeing the islands and the blue sea, didn't really take my breath away.  But when we got closer to an island, I saw the big difference - the grandiose difference! It's like when God created the Philippine islands He seem to have put  more interesting details in El Nido.

           Our boat approaching the entrance to the Small Lagoon.

       Photo by Eric Sugui. That's Marlin and his son Nemo lol. 
This was taken near the entrance of Small Lagoon  in Miniloc Island.

           Though not as grand as the Big Lagoon,  Small Lagoon, with its narrow passages and turns, clearly has its own charm. I didn't use a kayak this time and instead swam to where my stamina can take me. With a diving mask and snorkel, I very much enjoyed watching the marine life in that lagoon. Why even from your tour boat, you can see colorful fishes under the clear water! All that beauty and yet Small Lagoon is not even a top diving spot in El Nido.


         Exploring one of the beaches of  Entalula Island.

      This tooth shaped rock in Entalula Island is actually as tall
as a 3-storey building.

         Balance is the key to successful grilling. 

        When the tour boat company said that they will provide lunch, 
I kinda  expected that it will be individually served in styrofoam containers. 
But no oh no! ^_^
      Depending on what island you're in on lunch time, you will either eat on the boat or on a beach.  The boat crew will prepare your food while you're out there exploring the island. So yeah, the meats are fresh from the grill and the veggies and fruits are freshly sliced!

       Behind me are steps leading to a viewing gazebo on a hill 
in this island. There you can have a good view of  why this place is 
called Snake Island.

      When the tide is low,  a long and narrow sand bar appears
looking like a white snake crossing from one island to the next.

           This mischievous monkey in Snake Island is known 
for stealing food (or a mobile phone) from picnic tables. 
He's used to seeing humans but not really tame.

      Pinagbuyutan Island is mainly one colossal rock mountain
that emerged from the sea in prehistoric times.


      Have you ever imagined living in an island like this? With white sand and blue waters in front of your hut, surrounded by palm trees and a big rock mountain as a backdrop protecting you and your home from storms?  

Joe Black the Chow dog taking a stroll in the island's Ipil Beach.

        Ipil Beach of Pinagbuyutan Island has a colonnade of 
coconut trees. Having a picnic under those trees is really 
something else, says Boss Benjie.

           Back at Bacuit Bay.  Another day of  island-hopping is over.
          I have friends on Facebook who have been to this place and they usually say like, "I'll see you again, El Nido!" as caption to the last photo they've posted before leaving the town.  Well I also had that feeling, you know, that this wouldn't be the last time I'll see this paradise. Well I think it's mainly because we all didn't get enough of what El Nido has to offer haha!

      Beyond Bacuit Bay, El Nido has more than 20 beautiful places out there. Typically, one would stay in El Nido for just 3 days and two nights because of time (and budget) constraints. And the vacationer would be lucky if he gets to see 10 of those beautiful places in that 3-day stay.  If he gets carried away having fun in an island or two, he'll end up seeing only 7. Well I only get to see 5 but I'm certainly not sad about it! When I come back, I hope to see what I missed in tours A and B. Then it  will be tours C and D on my third visit! =))

     Even the very town of El  Nido is something to explore. I'll tell you about that in my next post.  ^_^

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