February 23, 2011
A lot of friends have said that the beauty of El Nido would be best appreciated if you go island hopping. We heeded their advice so that’s what we did!
We checked out of Marikit so that we can stay in Entalula, they had 2 vacant rooms that morning. We (my cousin and I) really like the place and the fact that we’re being treated as family members helped sway us! Our fan room costs 1200php, if you’ll opt to use the air-conditioning unit, be ready to shell out another 600php. The boys were more practical. They decided to stay inland and shared a 700php room at El Nido Inn and Restaurant which included a breakfast for two, not sure if they have wifi though as the 2 guys weren’t keen on it, good deal! However, do take note that there are a lot more options, just be patient and you’ll find one that will suit your taste. After our breakfast, we quickly headed back to the beach to join other people for tour A. We booked with Entalula since theirs is 100php cheaper than the rest. It was supposed to start at 9am but they were waiting for us. It was already past 9, oops!
There are 2 options when doing island hoping. First is to join a tour, fixed price, then you’ll get to meet people and make new friends (hopefully) plus you won’t have to worry about anything like food, where to go, etc because they’ll take care of it but you might not like the people you end up traveling with and you’ll have to adjust to them. They have tours A, B, C and D, a mix of caves, hidden beaches, snorkel sites, etc. OR you can hire your own private boat then you’ll be your own boss, you go wherever you want, you won’t have to adjust to anyone but you have to haggle (boat rental prices start at 3500php)/ make lots of decisions, worry about food. It could be cheaper though if you know what you’re doing. Also, there’s an eco-tourism development fee (ETDF) of 200php that everyone has to pay. The money the municipality collected is meant to maintain and protect the environment. You only have to pay it once and it’s valid for 10days. Local residents are exempted from it though. ;)
I ‘m not exactly in a chatty mood during boat rides because 1. it’s too loud to start a conversation and 2. since I’m really interested at the sights, 3. I just want to absorb it all in. After a while though, it doesn’t matter that it’s loud so I start talking. Can’t keep quiet for so long. hehe
There were 9 of us (not counting our guides): 2 Pinoys, me & Charlie, 1 American, 1 British, 1 French, 1 Brazilian and 3 Estonian. They were all so nice!
Note: No pictures were taken when in “hidden/secret” beaches/ lagoons since my camera isn’t waterproof and I have no intention of getting it wet. ;)
Tour A, according to the tour operators, is the most popular choice. The small and big lagoons are a favorite amongst many visitors. I have several postcards of those places and it’s just so beautiful!
1st stop- Secret beach. :)
2nd stop- Shimizu Island. Very good for snorkeling. It’s just that the waves were a bit strong when we were there so I had a really hard time swimming, seriously thought I was going to drown and no one would have noticed it since they were all busy (sleeping by the beach, swimming, snorkeling, etc). I should have gotten a pair of fins and wore a life jacket! It would have helped a lot since I’m not exactly a good swimmer. Decided to stay on land after this. :)) Got busy taking pictures of the place and of my companions. Lunch was served here. :)
3rd stop- Small and big lagoon, Miniloc Island. Wanted to kayak (800php for a day’s rent) here with my cousin. But then we forgot to tell THAT to our guide so we missed our chance! Ugh! We were just too busy admiring the place and taking shots/videos. :D Even bought a rash guard so I won’t get any darker but then couldn’t find it when I was packing my stuff!
4th stop- Secret lagoon. Had to get off the boat and swim to get inside the secret lagoon. After several minutes, I was just about to follow the others, when Charlie swam back and told me that he thought he saw a sea snake so the coward me didn’t follow the rest. :( Tried to enjoy swimming at the water before the secret lagoon but ended up scraping my foot. It wasn’t just me though. Another also got a wound, on his leg this time, when he was swimming back to the boat. Stones were sharp, be careful!
5th stop- Seven commando. Our last stop for the day. The rest enjoyed their buko juice while relaxing by the beach. My cousin and I kayaked ourselves all over. We had to do it somewhere, we’re paying for the kayak! :D
It felt that it ended all too soon. We’re back in town. Went our separate ways to freshen up and planned to meet by our place after to grab some food and hang out. As we’re walking about town, we (Leandro and I) spotted a fruit shake stand so we zeroed in on it! We’re thirsty and we wanted to drink something refreshing. As we were waiting for our drinks, other visitors passed us by. One of them, Ricardo, started talking to us. He’s so friendly! He was happy to have met Leandro since he now has someone to talk Portuguese with (he’s a Peruvian exchange student in Singapore). He got our numbers and he’d join us later.
We can’t get enough of the water and it’s what we went there for so we hung out by the shore. Relaxation time after swimming all day. Watching the sun set wasn’t bad either. We then had dinner at Blue Azul. It’s located inland, they serve delicious foods plus they have wifi! haha My cousin and I were looking for wifi most of the time. The chicken we ordered was very good, yum! Afterwhich, we went back by the beach and hang out with the (tons of) people we met that day til it was time to go to bed. Good day. :)
El Nido Tour Package Infos (Standard rate):
- Tour A/ Lagoon Tour: Lagoons, Beaches, Snorkeling – 700php/pax
- Tour B/ Cave Tour: Snake Island, Caves, Snorkeling – 800php/pax
- Tour C/ Secret Beach: Matinloc Island, Snorkeling – 900php/pax
*Tours usually start around 9-10am and lasts the whole day. Lunch are included in tours. Do bring plenty of water especially if you get thirsty easily. Besides, you don’t want to get dehydrated. You have to bring your own mask, snorkel and fins, others are rented out for 100php a piece (snorkel set and fins) but try to bargain for 100php for the two. Don’t forget your sunblock and shades.
*There’s no need to book tours way in advance. You can do it once you’re in town so you can compare. We booked with Entalula coz theirs is 100php cheaper than the others. :)