It was nearly sunset when we reached El Nido. But the last half hour driving before reaching our destination, we have been awestruck by the looming limestone cliffs jutting out from Bacuit Bay. It was a good intro to what lay at the end of this butt-numbing road trip. The boats are back from their rounds, as the generators roar to a hum and establishments lining the shore start switching on their lights.





Bacuit Bay with its many limestock cliffs jutting out of the waters.


The shoreline is not as long as that in Boracay, but has the same white sandy shore.



The long drive didn’t dampen our spirit. But the power failures nearly did. City people like us felt threatened whenever the power was turned off and the generators failed to switch on soon after. The “gap” gave us anxiety attacks. We had mixed emotions listening to the murmurs of the sea as the waves came rushing to shore, and the erratic hums of the gas-fed generators. We braced ourselves for the worst just as we observed there weren’t too many local tourists in El Nido. Perhaps many cancelled their holidays because of the typhoon. The foreign visitors seem to have been long time guests, completely familiar with El Nido “living conditions”. We hardly heard a complaint whenever the power shuts off, even when the “gap” stretches to more than half an hour. By nightfall, I took out my bottle of sleeping pills and popped one into my mouth. I didn’t wish to take any chances. It would be a full day of island-hopping the day after and sleep-deprived that I already was, I needed the energy for the next day’s adventure.




Vista at 5 am. The lights lining the shore reflected off the waters of Bacuit Bay.


By 6am, the entire shoreline is bathed in sunlight. From our beach cottages, we are treated to this view 24/7.



Because I slept extraordinarily early, I was up even before sunrise. From our beach cottage, I watched the lights lining the shore till it was bright and boatmen got ready to do their island tours. The hotel restaurant didn’t open till past 7 am. I was getting grumpier by the minute, missing my favorite brew. I watched men, women and dogs frolicking by the shore. These views are the types that would make me dawdle over my coffee. Except that there was no coffee. 😦




Our teenage girl is ready to island hop, snorkel, swim and laze under the sun.


And our pre-teen boy is ready too!



By half past 8, we were boarding our small boat to do Tours A and B. That’s right, we are doing both in a single day. We expected to be hopping from island to island the entire day while there was still light! It wouldn’t allow us the luxury to linger in each island, but it would save us quite a bit by combining the 2 tours covering some 10 islands. The idea was we’d only get off in a few islands and just sightsee the rest. For 900 pesos (about US$22) for Tours A and B, we were happy.




10 islands to cover under Tours A and B. Our favorites are Miniloc Island’s Small and Big Lagoons, Shimizu, Entalula and Snake Island.


It’s waist deep getting into that small opening to the Small Lagoon. Then it gets deeper.



We enjoyed the 1st island most of all. Small Lagoon of  Miniloc Island would have taken up our entire morning until we reminded ourselves there were still 9 or so islands to cover. The Big Lagoon was awesome too but quite crowded with people and sea urchins! In Shimizu and Entalula Islands, the kids enjoyed the beach and engaged in fish feeding. The waves were fierce too as we struggled against the current while feeding the fish. Lunch was served in Entalula Island, where we enjoyed a simple meal of barbecued chicken, grilled squid and steamed vegetables.




Sea Urchins in Miniloc Island’s Big Lagoon.


Aaaahhhh……. El Nido Islands will certainly charm you!


Low tide in the Big Lagoon?


Busy feeding the fish!



By the time we we were sailing towards Snake Island, the waters became choppy. We could see the swells and felt the rolling waves off  Bacuit Bay and in our minds, crossed off some islands in our itinerary. The sandbar we found connected 2 islands, one of which must be Snake Island. There must be people residing here as we found a dog crossing the sandbar, oblivious to the tourists descending on their tiny paradise.




Just passing through…………


Snake Island’s Resident Canine



As we sailed over the rolling waves, we momentarily longed to head back to Entalula or Shimizu Island to simply enjoy the beach and feed the fish. But there was Cudugnon Cave to explore. Not much of an adventure, really, but there was this thrill of squeezing one’s self through a hole before emerging in this small atrium inside the cave. So…. alright, maybe the kids would like it.




Cudognon Cave


I can sip coffee and read a book here to while away the afternoon.



The next cave was strictly for strong swimmers. You swim towards the mouth of Cathedral Cave and pray those swells won’t lift you towards the rocks and against the corals….. Or away in open sea! We passed it of course and here began our “sightseeing”. No more stops. We were all eager to get back. The boatmen pointed out and sailed nearer the islands but without stopping to let us off.




Cathedral Cave. Looks massive!


You have to be a strong swimmer to swim against the current towards the mouth of Cathedral Cave.



If you ask me, one need not check out each and very island. We didn’t want to do that just to keep count. Tours A and B offer many islands but I would have been happy with just 5. I wouldn’t miss the Small and Big Lagoons of Miniloc Island, the fish feeding and beach bumming in Shimizu and Entalula Islands, and walking on the sandbar in Snake Island. Sure, you may want to get off and wait for the sunset in Seven Commandos Beach. Perhaps with bottles of beer and some pica picas. But I wouldn’t want to be sailing in the dark after sunset even if I were confident about my swimming. As we passed Seven Commandos and viewed Helicopter Island not too far away, we felt secure that we were near our beach cottages already. We had enough adventures for the day. No need to be “thorough”…… Life is a beach, after all.  By the time the island is blanketed by night, it’s time for some stargazing!




By 5 pm, we were rushing to get back to base.


Spotting Helicopter Island, we knew our beach cottages are somewhere off the bend.


Back to the base now. One of our beach cottages is right up front , with this view!