Most people prefer not looking at photos of their travel destination so as not to spoil the fun.That can't be helped in my case since I do all the planning in our trips.Fortunately,in most places we visited,there's always the element of surprise.No matter how researched you are,something unexpected always comes up.That's the beauty of life.
With El Nido though, no matter how many good photos you have seen,the actual experience will always go beyond how good you think it is.It will literally blow your mind.This place is definitely my favorite to date!
There are four (4) main tours in El Nido ----A, B, C and D.Arranging for your island hopping is as easy as buying fast food.All you need to do is to drop by one of the travel/tour companies kiosk somewhere in town.Don't worry where to look coz they are scattered everywhere too.
In our case, we had to pick only one (1) tour since we didn't have the luxury of time.Half of our first day was spent on the transfer from PP to El Nido and the sidetrip to Nacpan-Calintang Twin Beach while the third day meant we have to return to PP to catch our flight back to Manila.That leaves us with Day 2 to go island hopping.
Among the four (4) tours, many said Tours A and C are the best. Good thing many tour agencies now offer COMBINATION TOUR A and C.That means you can get a sample of the best of Tour A and the best of Tour C . Hallelujah!
As I said, it's as easy as 1,2,3 in arranging a tour.But if you are sigurista like me, better contact a tour company even before going to El Nido.This is way better coz your contact in El Nido can make life a breeze.They can arrange for everything from van transfer to your hotel accommodation.And don't worry about being overcharged. You even get special discounts!
My Tour Agency of choice of course WHEN IN EL NIDO is Northern Hope Tours.
Ate Neriz: 0939 902 2216 is a superwoman.She is amazing.Actually, tawag ko sa kanya is BDO ----she finds ways .Hehehe
TOUR A: 1,200 Pesos/person
There were only three (3) of us in a boat.Private tour (esp.if you are a couple) costs 3,500php (2013 rates). A little more than the individual rates but at least you have the whole boat by yourself. Walang kaagaw sa mga photo-opts in front of the boat.lols
But if you want a Combination Tour, call Northern Hope Tours for Pricing.
(+63) 939-902-2216 (Smart)
(+63) 927-735-3221 (Globe)
(+63) 942-375-2441 (Sun)
We were assigned three people.One was our driver, an assistant, and another assistant con travel guide.Rickneil, pictured above was the newbie guide who we really liked a lot coz he brings with him the passion for what he is doing and the cleverness of information. Halatang he is enjoying his work.He constantly make kwento so walang dull moments. Wink *****
Our first destination.Only underwater camera inside coz there is no beachfront.One can swim to enter here.In our case,we rented a kayak so it was a lot easier to get inside and explore the place.One has to go through a small opening which would fit a few people at a time when it's not high tide.One can snorkel inside to appreciate how clear the water is.We paddled around to appreciate the karst formation.First destination palang jaw-drop na kami.
It definitely started with a wow,wow,wow!
Probably the spot which gets the most exposure in DOT's promotional posters and travel brochures.Thanks to the photos commissioned by El Nido Resorts.This part of the tour is more on sight seeing as boats are not allowed to dock.For your eyes only to marvel.This is where El Nido Resort's famous weddings are held.Again,water is amazingly clear.I remember what two tourists from Israel mentioned when they compared El Nido to Halong Bay, they said the advantage of El Nido is the torquise water.You can see the seafloor even if you know it's already deep.
This is where we stopped for a while to snorkel.Not much to see underwater except a few fish and a few corals but since the water is soooo clear and the seafloor is characterized by patches of sand and rocks,enjoy parin mag snorkel.Fish feeding in El Nido is already prohibited so don't expect to lure a school of fish around you.
It was here where we took a underwater shots from the waterproof camera I borrowed from Chyng Reyes.At mahirap palang kumuha ng pictures underwater.Na-lowbat na yung camera halos wala pang maayos na shots.hahaha
By this time, mapapa- ---Wow Philippines kana. :)
4.Secret Lagoon + Lunch on the Beach
PS: In El Nido, Hidden Lagoon is different from Secret Lagoon.You will understand when you go there. :)
Finally docked and got to step on the beach.By this time, I realized that the sand in El Nido beaches is not the fine.But it's white just the same.I am not complaining okay.You see, it's difficult to find islands w/ GRAAAAAND limestone formations w/ white sand beaches w/ crystal clear water.We are so lucky to be living in the Philippines.
We found our way to the secret beach which could be accessed by walking through waist-deep water.No the seaside is a bit rocky in some areas leading to the small passage but nothing sharp.Sandal would do just fine for protection just in case you want to be sure.
We had lunch here.....
And what about this for lunch?Tas ganito pa kaganda ang view.Life in paradise!
It would have been nice to rest for a while and laze by the beach (under a coconut) after that hearty lunch but we had to get going.Still overwhelmed by the view, we were fully recharged for the next destination.More front-of-the-boat-with-views-of-the-island photos.
Next up, the Secret Beach!
Ito yung,ma-effort na part.Water leading to the opening of the Secret Beach is deep so you have to swim your way through it.Everybody gets a life vest so no need to fear for those who don't know how to swim.All you need is to wag those legs!
There were already many boats docked near the opening so we were a little far off.That's around five minutes swim.All the effort will be rewarded once you get inside.Ang ganda ng Pilipinas!
This place enticed us when we were on our way to ***Matinloc Shrine.We stopped to snorkel on top the coral shelf.Water is around chest deep so one should be careful not to be on lateral position or else you would step on the corals.I mean,there are not so many corals anymore.The coral bed is basically dead.Saw small blue fishes and believe it or not,blue starfish!First time kong makakita ng Blue Starfish.Parang gummy bear lang.
I have reservations about the concrete structures on the island.This is one classic example of lack of foresight and proper planning of our tourist spots.why was the structure given the go signal to be built jn the first place.the transport of construction materials from Manila to the island for sure had affected the reef system around the island.People didn't realize that it is unsustainable to maintain an edifice in this place.
From this point,the contrast between the shallow and deep sections of the sea separating the two islands is more noticeable.Unfortunately for my photography again,I failed to capture that dramatic effect.
This is one of my favorite destinations in El Nido.I think it was sweeter coz we knew staying here would be another case of limited engagement.I prefer a beach with open space.We kayaked within the hidden beach and into the open sea and back.
Helicopter Island was our last destination.It takes this name because of its shape.Our friend Rupert and I actually thought it looks like "chickenjoy" (drumstick) from afar.Maybe we were already hungry that time.hahaha
It was here where we stayed until sunset.We lazied on the beach.Quiet moments to appreciate the beauty of El Nido.The beach is not that beautiful but as in any spot in the islands the view from there is amazing. Walang pangit na angle sa El Nido.
This particular trip to El Nido was something that came up all of a sudden.I simply felt one day that I want it badly,so badly that we booked tickets less than a month before the flight even if it meant spending around 7,000 pesos for the airfare alone.Darn, kung kelan nauso ang mga seat sale.Don't ask me about the detailed expenses coz I didn't take note.Roughly 17,000-18,000php for me and my wife including pasalubong.
Don't get me wrong.If you are a couple and want to travel on a shoestring, you can bring that figure to even half the total amount.As I said, El Nido is not as expensive as we think it is.Remember that spent 7,000php on airfare alone.
Back to island hopping, I thought it would be better if you could take Tours A,B,C and D on separate days so as to appreciate it more.I honestly felt rushed at times during our Combination A and C tour but for some who don't have the luxury of time, (like us) the combination tour is perfect for you.You get the best of the best and you get a taste of how amazing the islands of El Nido are.I would love to go back and explore the other islands and beaches.I think I wouldn't go tired of Island Hopping here.Bring me back to your arms El Nido!!!!
other posts in my #ElNidoSummer2013 Series
HOW TO GET TO EL NIDO via Puerto Princesa.......in Style!