The 2nd day of our 3D2N El Nido trip was the actual day dedicated to exploring the beautiful islands surrounding El Nido.
El Nido is situated in Bacuit Bay, in the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan, and is bordered by the Linapacan Strait in the north, the Sulu Sea in the east, and the West Philippine Sea in the west. I was able to explore another municipality in Palawan, Coron, which is found in the Busuanga Island also in the northern part of Palawan province, about 3-4 years ago and I was already amazed by the beauty of Coron. I had my hopes up for El Nido as most people say it is way better than Coron. While I agree with that, I still have to say that Coron has its great points as well. It’s actually unfair to compare them because they have their own beauty. For now, let me tell you about our El Nido adventure. 🙂
There are 4-5 Island Hopping tours you can choose from, and some tour agency can actually combine 2 tours in one day. During my email conversations with Paula, she suggested combining Tour A and C since we will only have one day to have the island hopping. However, since our time of visit was during the rainy season, we just opted to choose Tour A as it is the most famous among tourists. More information about the Tour choices can be found here.
So early next day we leisurely had our breakfast near the beach. Breakfast was provided by Hadefe of course, which was a simple Filipino breakfast of sinangag (fried rice), egg and tapa (cured beef). We were told previously that the boat will fetch us at 9:00 am near our cottage, but they fetched the other family first before they fetched us since the food was still being prepared in their kitchen. Anyways, after finally boarding the boat (we didn’t get the front seats, bummer!), we were off for our Island Hopping Tour A, which was mostly centered around Miniloc Island.
The Big Lagoon, located within Miniloc Island, is a bay carved into the island with impressive limestone cliffs and deep emerald waters. The depth of the waters can be seen by the different shades of blue upon entering the lagoon. We were told that the boat cannot stop and dock there so we just went in and made one big round of the lagoon.
The small lagoon is also situated in Miniloc Island, and like Big Lagoon, is surrounded by amazing limestone cliffs and clear waters. It is perfect for swimming all the way inside (since boats cannot go in), or kayaking if you’re not in the mood to swim. I’d say try swimming one way if you can, then do the kayaking on the way back. It’s a very long distance of swimming and we probably took almost an hour to go inside and come back to the boat. But it was worth it. Be careful of the shallow areas because most of us were cut due to the sharp edges. If you have swimming shoes and waterproof cameras, now is the time to take them out of your closets. 🙂
After that exhausting swim in and out of Small Lagoon, it was time for Lunch. We made our way to the public beach of Entalula Island, on the south east side of Miniloc Island. Amazingly, while we were exploring the small lagoon, our boatmen and tour guides were already grilling and cooking our food on the boat, so upon reaching Entalula, we only waited for a few minutes while they set up the table. While waiting for them to set up, it was time for some photo op! 🙂 We were told that we cannot cross the other side because there was a private beach exclusive to the hotel guests.
Just south of Miniloc Island is Shimizu Island, which is a perfect place for snorkeling. We stopped a few meters away from shore and just swam around the boat with fishes surrounding us. It was crazy. Imagine a school of fish just right beside you. I only regret not being able to bring a waterproof camera to capture the underwater beauty. Anyways, we spent around 30-40 minutes just swimming around with the fishes among us.
After Shimizu Island, we were down to our last stop for the day. By right Tour A should include Secret Lagoon and Seven Commando Beach but because our boatmen said the latter was crowded, we went to Ipil Beach instead. Ipil Beach is along the same island as 7 Commando Beach and we actually had the whole beach to ourselves. One thing though, the beach bed was not all sand, so we were always cautious to step on edgy surfaces. This was our last stop and we would have stayed longer if not for the tiring day taking its toll on us. After about 30 minutes on this beach, we were all ready to call it a day.
After going back we rested for a while and decided to walk to town proper instead of hiring a tricycle. There are a few restaurants and bar near the beach front that offers seafood freshly cooked upon ordering. Since it was still early, we decided to walk around the town proper before deciding on where to eat. We found a shop that sells crepes and I bought the chocolate and banana crepe (Php 100) to share with my sister.
After looking around the shops we went back to the beachfront to look for a place to eat. We settled for dinner at Pukka Resto Bar and ordered cocktail drinks and food (which was good!) while listening to the acoustic band. It was another perfect end to a very wonderful day.
* El Nido electricity is only from 2:00 pm to 6:00 am.
* There are no ATMs around El Nido. And most of the restaurants accept cash only (Philippine Peso).
That’s it for our El Nido adventure. The following day we ate breakfast (sinangag, egg and hotdogs), said our goodbyes to the Hadefe staff and got ready for another looong drive back to Puerto Princesa. It was a satisfying stay, and I vow to return and explore the other different islands and beaches that El Nido has to offer.