Tag Archive: El Nido


I’m on a REVIEW MODE. I always tell my family that when I grow too old to be able to travel without breaking any bones or being a burden to my travel companions, I’d be quite content in a lazy boy watching my OWN MOVIES and photo albums. It’s my MEMORY AIDE these “memory catchers”. I want to remember all the happy moments!







The Safari videos certainly rank up there in my collection of memories. How else can you replay those moments when you’re just a few feet from a rhino or a pride of lions? It’s a miracle my hands stopped shaking to capture these moments in video. But my Zambian adventure tops the list too. Aaah….. Zambia. It’s everything I did not expect!







My first helicopter ride didn’t happen in Zambia. My first heliflight was back in 2007 in Alaska. Setting foot on Mendenhall Glacier was a top thrill too. That’s when I knew I can give up shopping anytime to blow dollars on these expensive adventures. But there were also happy moments where I didn’t have to burn a hole in my pocket. Times with family. Adventures with my “elves”. *Happiness*






You don’t need to be a swimmer to enjoy the beaches. I’m NOT. But I do enjoy the feel of sand between my toes. The sun doesn’t scare me — sunscreen lotions are my allies. And I don’t mind bad hair days as sea breeze salt and dry my hair. My “elves” remind me I am starting to look like a starfish, drawing laughter from the rest of the brats. So you can say I don’t mind being a laughingstock too during my “sun and sand” adventures.



No crowds. No touts. Just the sun, sand and the waves rushing to shore.



It took us a whole hour from El Nido town proper to get here. Unpaved roads, no directional signs, remote to a point you get a sense you’re lost if not for our van driver who claims to know the place. No establishments here. No crowds. No touts. Just a lone stone rest house reportedly owned by a German married to a Filipina. White sandy beach stretching some 4 or so kilometers. At one end, one can cross over to another beach where the water is calmer. Climb up a hill and you get the entire panorama of the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang.




Check out that lone stone resthouse behind the coconut trees.


Behind these coconut trees is another beach.



Except for 3 pairs of motorcycling tourists  (how did they get here?), we “owned” the beach! We have arranged with a B & B in El Nido for this private tour. They have a hut here and so the package included van transfers and a good lunch of grilled fish, chicken barbecue and a generous serving of fried noodles sautéed in shrimps, pork bits and veggies. We watched the waves while enjoying our watermelons and pineapples. For 700 pesos per pax, it’s a good deal.




Barbecued chicken, grilled fish, fried noodles with lotsa shrimps, pork bits and veggies. Onion and Soy Sauce to go with the dishes.


Fresh watermelons, pineapples and coconuts.



And there’s the local flavor. Every now and then, a carabao (water buffalo) would pass by as our van driver harvest some coconuts for us. The crab “box” nets fronting the native huts and the boats resting by the shoreline evoke images of simple lives. I can’t help thinking how urbanites work like horses, save like a Scrooge and then blow away their savings just to experience island life. What irony!




Crab catchers?


The Island Life?



What a wonderful day spent here! I can’t say I can live here. We’re city people who love Internet connections (how else do i blog without it?), going to the movies and dining out. But we also love the beach life from time to time. If only to break the routine, nourish the soul, and simply bond together. After all, aside from “playing together”, vacations meant eating ALL meals together. A luxury we hardly enjoy back in the urban jungle where everyone is rushing to work or school, or too tired for an evening chat after school and work. I should know. I’m HOME ALONE most times, unless my itchy feet take me somewhere more exciting 😉







Truly. Paraiso (Paradise) in El Nido!




We’re back from a wonderful family vacay in El Nido. We bucked the typhoon, clutched our life vests tight, sailed on rolling waves and island hopped the whole day. But for one regret, everything was fine…… power failures notwithstanding.




That crack in the limestone wall is the opening to the Small Lagoon. Either you swim through it (water gets deeper as you approach) or kayak your way in.

Miniloc Island’s Small Lagoon was such a pleasant surprise. Off the boat, we waded in waist-deep waters to get through a small opening — where it gets deeper –through which Kayakers breezed through and into the small lagoon. Past this opening, it gets shallower, and then deeper once more and one needs to swim all the way in. Easy to spot the non-swimmers at this point. Life vests identify them. Spot me in my orange vest!




Spot the non-swimmers!



It was delightful to see our teenage girl swimming around the lagoon. While we struggled getting into a tiny cave within the lagoon, she confidently did away with her life vest and had a time of her life. Too bad the low tide and the numerous sea urchins in the Big Lagoon didn’t promise to be another swimming episode for her.




Low Tide in Big Lagoon


Sea Urchins galore!



We waded in knee-deep waters while dragging the boat deeper into the lagoon. Looking back, we were awed by the amazing sight of limestone walls and cliffs through which the waters flowed, calmed down, and sort of settled. Paradise!




Time enough to look back where we passed between 2 cliffs to get inside Big Lagoon.



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!