Friday, October 24, 2014

A Taste of Paradise in El Nido (Day 2 – Island Hopping C)

Summarize Tour C in 3 words: Captivating, Charming and Catching

Waking up in Paradise on your special day is something I will never trade for anything.  The feeling up of wanting to see more, experience more is fueling me to get up that day.  I wanted to catch the serenity and relaxing ambiance of the place so I woke up early. This view welcomed me on my 30th birthday!


After that “catching the sunrise” moment, me and my travel companion went out for breakfast. We got one at Silog Republic along the main road.  The back view offers an awesome sight of the cliff so we crashed the place and got some photos taken with it as a background.


One of the most basic activities you can do when in El Nido is Island Hopping.  Belle, my travel companion and I boarded the boat with a liter of water, sunscreen, my trusted Camera and of course tons of excitement. Today’s mission was El Nido Tour C Island Hopping. Unlimited glance of paradise, here we come! Oh, by the way, if ever you find yourself in El Nido, take Tour C first as this is the farthest and frequently cancelled tour when bad weather strikes.




45 minutes from town, the boat finally switches off the engines. We park at the edge of a limestone cliff. It opens up to this hidden corridor with limestone walls and a clear and shallow passageway good enough to snorkel in. In the middle of the corridor, it turns left and into the hull of the bigger limestone island. As you wade into the water, the beach reveals itself: a perfectly quaint strip of sand out of nowhere. To its left, you see an odd patch of water and a small opening to a cavern. You enter it with the fervor of a Harry Potter character only to find yourself where you started – at the beginning of the same corridor.  I had a grand time taking photos underwater, this tested my newly bought camera :)

Nothing much to do really, than to strike poses and make it work. Based on the amount of photos our guide took of is, we really should’ve paid him a little extra, but we didn't.  It’s just that when you end the day with a lazy 30-minute chug along calm waters, you end up lethargic and forgetful.


 Welcome to the Hidden Beach


Striking a pose and enjoying the clear waters



10 minutes from Hidden Beach, we dock unto the shores of Matinloc Shrine- an abandoned man-made shrine. There’s nothing much to do but walk around and take photos. Take the time to climb up the man-etched stairs to the top for a better view.  Thanks to my strong knees and legs, I was able to climb the upper part of the stones to get a spectacular sight.

As per our guide, Matinloc Shrine came from missionaries that developed this place. According to the pictures at the basement it was because the island is heart shape when you look at it from the sky.  After that the task of taking care of the shrine was given to local supporters and the missionaries went away.


Matinloc Shrine from the Top


It’s beautiful up here

Sadly, those that have been entrusted to care for the place wasn’t able to maintain, making it an abandoned one. Thieves went inside and ransacked the things and left it almost totally ruined.  Hopefully they can still restore this one in the future.


Inside the Photo Gallery




Our boatman tiptoed among the several pockets of sand all over the island before finally taking anchor on a beach, which we had to ourselves. This beach most likely had no name – but the snorkeling was fantastic. Just a few paddles from shore and you have a whole new world spread out in front of you. One particular sea anemone was teeming with clownfish and I spent an entire 5 minutes or so just hovering over it, watching the lunch time routine for the resident Nemos.

Three-quarters of an hour later lunch is served. And nothing is better served with grilled fish, grilled squid and eggplant salad than the salty after taste on your lips.

Another 15 minutes, which some people used to snorkel IMMEDIATELY after eating and some people used to just lay around and digest.  After a quick wash-away, we were off to our next destination.



It’s Lunchie Time (slurp)


Feels like heaven chasing these fishes down there. I didn’t even realized I am swimming into the deeper part of the sea :)



If there was a Leo di Caprio moment, I swear, it was this very spot right here. Disregard the few other boats floating around this tiny whole in this huge limestone formation. Disregard the fact that the waves are actually a tad bit strong that they can wrestle you to the jagged, black walls. After jumping into the water, as you slowly inch your way to the entrance, you will hear it.



Disregard the mild cursing you make as you grab your footing on the shallow rocks inside this roofless cavern. Majestically, sunshine casts a God ray down to where the patch of isolated sand is. Your jaw drops and as you inch your way through the rocks and into the sandy area. Swimming into the deeper part is challenging because of the sharp rocks but when you get down there, it’s pretty amazing!



The island derived its name from the its shape from afar. Indeed it looks like a helicopter.


As the boat shoved its bow unto the sand, you can see that there are a large number of stones and rocks on the shore. However, as I gingerly approached the shore from the boat ladder expecting to shred my feet to slivers, a startling discovery reveals itself –all the rocks and stones are smoothed out much like river stones. Walking on them is actually quite the pleasant experience – despite it being too loose for my liking.




It was said that the snorkeling was amazing in one part of the island. Honestly, though, as we were all keeling over from our food coma and resistance to siestas, I just wanted to lay out and swim a bit. I walked to the far end of the beach, and did some crazy jump shots. The water was ridiculously clear and the view of the adjacent island was commanding. I just floated there in the middle of it all and I was happily content.

The day ended on a melancholic note, as we all lazily crept back up on the boat, retreated to our own section of seats and watched the town come into view as we took that last turn.




We call it a night after a healthy-not-so healthy dinner at Art Cafe. We got Pesto and ArtCafe Pizza. Yummy :)  Happy 30th Birthday to Me! Cheers

WALLET DAMAGE: Php 1,000.00 (Tour C)   Art Cafe Php 350.00

If you want to avail the services of our guides you may contact Kuya Nelson Fernandez at 09073271050. In case you will avail of Kuya Nelson’s services, please extend my regards to him.

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