Visiting El Nido is not complete without island hopping (based on me). There are variety of tours available from A to D.
P1,200 Tour A: Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Simizu Island, Secret Lagoon and 7 Commandos Beach
P1,300 Tour B: Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave
P1,400 Tour C: Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Star Beach
P1,200 Tour D: Bukal Island, Ipil Beach, Nat-Nat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon and Paradise Beach
I guess if you want that perfect El Nido shot, go for Tour A. If you want that total adventure, go for Tour C as most of the blogs I’ve read, going through hidden and secret beach will require a lot of effort. (Kaya nga sikret at tago, dapat hinahanap pa!) No idead with Tour D though.
JP and I availed Tour B. I know I had a reason (one would be that I don’t like Tour C) but I forgot why I chose it over the other three. We could have done two tours but I really wanted to go to Nacpan/Calitang. (Combination tours can be done through private tours.)
To start the day, we woke up very early as in 5am early. We looked for a place to eat breakfast. Most of the restaurants open at 6am. One of the ladies from Bulskamp Inn suggested a nearby 24/7 diner but reading from online reviews, nah, pass!
Browse, browse, browse. I remembered we passed by Silog Republic the other day and looked it up on the web. Aha, good reviews from TripAdvisor. It was even at the third spot of El Nido’s bests. We rode a tricycle because I thought it was far but no way. It could have been at least 5-7 minutes walk (pasensya, first day pa lang).
Upon arriving, we immediately checked their menu. Opted for -silog meals as these were the only available dishes that time. I’ve had longganisa and JP had corned beef.
Judging from this plate, nothing is extraordinary. Just props for being open 24/7, having okay customer service and ‘affordable’ meals. We paid P165 for two meals plus soda and 3in1 coffee.
Right after breakfast, we went to the shore to just check out the beach. Though hindi ako sure kung pwedeng maligo doon eh. Medyo maraming kalat plus doon nakadaong yung mga bangka.
We headed back to Bulskamp minutes before 7am to prepare for our tour. We confirmed from Northern Hope that we’ll be picked up at 8:30am. We were outside earlier than our call time but no signs of anyone yet. We went to the sari-sari store to buy a cheap waterproof bag but the store was still closed.
We returned to Bulskamp Inn to wait for our tour guide and called our coordinator from Northern Hope. The lady said pick up will be between 8:30am – 9:00am. HUH? Patience, patience.
While waiting, we had a nice chat with Ms. Virgie, the owner of Bulskamp Inn. We knew that she was originally from Bulacan and has relatives in Puerto Princesa, permanently staying in Europe where she met her husband. When they (Virgie and Eddie) visited the municipality of El Nido, they fall in love with it quickly and purchased a house and lot at Osmeña St.. They had the place renovated. They do not permanently stay in El Nido, they fly back and forth to Europe and have her brother manage the place.
Amid our conversation, Kuya Dexter arrived. We walked to the kiosk of Northern Hope Tours to get the rented underwater camera. Supposedly we were to settle our account but because we were pressed for time, Ate said we can do it later after the tour.
We were 8 tourists in the boat, 6 of them were foreigners. From what I heard, 2 were from South Africa, and the other 4 were from Sweden. Without so much arte, JP and I sat on the endmost of the boat. Neither we knew that that was the bad spot.
Tour B boat travel was rough. Water was throwing left and right, back and front… the bad spot. Not wanting to spoil the moment, I just enjoyed every water thrown at me by the sea. And oh boy, the waves (kept asking myself, was it practice for my Calayan trip this Feb?) and the wind. Just crazy.
Kuya Dexter told us Tour B was a good choice since there were very few tourists who avail this package. Was it too bad? Nah. There are two beaches to see and feel~, short hike experience, two snorkeling area and two caves. What else to ask for? I didn’t want to tire myself too much anyway.
We had our lunch on the boat at Snake Island. It was the best lunch ever. JP and I seated at the sides of the boat (or whatever you call that part), it was perfect.
Everyone was raving about the lunch of Norther Hope or how the guide prepares the food. But nothing really is extraordinary. Sorry, I was not just a fan. Plus they were using aluminum cups that tasted rust (uy, rustic feels~). But overall, I was satisfied. Lunch sa boat, ano pa gusto ko?
After lunch, we went to Cudognon Cave. I wish though I didn’t come along because it was the most challenging activity I’ve done in my whole life. Everyone has to go through a hole, good thing there were mats… kung hindi, sugat sugat tuhod. Hahaha. Inaalala ko ngayon, sumasakit ulo ko.
Then we passed by the Cathedral cave. Buti na lang there were no holes to go through. The photo below was taken from the underwater camera. ;)
After passing by the last cave, we went to Pinagbuyutan Island where we spent more than 30 minutes. Our boat couldn’t reach near the sand so if we want to go to the shore, we have to swim. But since it would be a challenge for me (because I don’t know how to swim), I didn’t dare to. Another activity that can be done is snorkeling, which you may guess, I opted to do. However, I wasn’t pleased because there were too many sea grass!!! I panicked twice so ending naka-inom ako ng tubig dagat twice!!! Panic galore e naka-vest naman, say mo? Medyo mataas pa naman yung sea grass, akala ako may humahawak sa paa ko. ):
Inggit ako sa mga kasabay namin sa boat na foreigners. Ang gagaling nila mag swim!!!
When the other 3 foreigners came from the shore, we started our journey back to the port. We finished the tour shortly after 3:00 PM. I headed back to Bulskamp Inn to take a bath and that was when I felt very sick.
Ended the day in the room, sleeping and had JP buy dinner alone.