There was one thing and one thing alone listed on our ‘to-do’ list for El Nido. Island Hopping. After I recovered from the demon that was food poisoning we booked a trip for the next sunny day and got ready to enjoy a day of sight seeing.
In El Nido the government has formed four routes that tourists can travel. These are called A,B, C and D. I had heard really good things about tour C so we signed up for it and before we knew it we were wadding through the sea at waist level to get to our boat.
Each tour costs around the same price no matter where you go and every tourist is required to pay an environmental tax before doing a tour. The tax is only 200 pesos. This money is then spent keeping El Nido’s beaching and water clean. Since the island is quite new to tourism it is trying it’s best to combat the mess that goes with having hundreds of foreigners suddenly attacking your beaches.
As soon as we were all seated and in our stylish life jackets we hit the high seas. It was nice just to be sailing out on the water we’d been staring at for a few days. The islands towered around us and we took in the view.
We made 5 stops in all. Each stop was about 40 minutes and allowed us to try out our snorkeling skills. Tour C is a little quieter than the rest so the coral and sea life are still abundant. I have mentioned before that I have a fear of being in the sea but I was determined to throw myself in the deep end (so to speak) and snorkel.
At first it was terrifying just to be waist high but once I got the mask on and saw how the fish were happily carrying on with their day despite us being there, I relaxed. I unfortunately (due to my sea fear) don’t have a go-pro but we saw rainbow fish, angel fish, neon specimens and even a mummy clown fish and her babies swimming through the coral. It was spectacular. I was instantly addicted.
We stopped on the second beach for lunch where we were treated to a feast of grilled fish, shrimp,rice,pork and fresh mangoes. It was delicious.
With full bellies we headed to our next destination. Secret beach. As we approached a rock with no beach the boat passengers glanced at each other. All of us a little confused. That was when our guide pointed to a tiny hole in the rock and instructed us to jump in and swim through it. I had only just managed to handle being waist deep in the sea and now I was swimming through a hole with ten feet of water below me. Despite the dread that was knotted in my stomach I swallowed my fear and dove into the water. We swam through and we were rewarded with a beautiful lagoon filled with fish. We had to avoid a few tiny jellies but other than that it was fantastic. I was starting to like this sea faring life style.
We sailed on to an island that had a large abandoned church and shrine. It had be left to gather moss but had still retained it’s beauty. We climbed the treacherous rocks and were rewarded with a view of the surrounding area. It was breath taking. El Nido is definitely one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. It is like living in a screensaver.
As we headed to our last destination everyone on the boat was in good spirits. That was until the was a clunk, a ‘thunk’ and silence. The boats motor had died. We all let out a embarrassed giggle since none of the passages knew what was happening or what was to be done. It turns out that the protocol in these situations is for the youngest member of the boat crew to get on the roof with a towel and wave it like his life depends on it at every passing boat….even if they are miles away, until someone see’s us. It turns out that the quietest tour isn’t the one you want to break down on. An hour later and a passing boat tugged us to our last destination. Hidden beach. Hidden around the corner of a large rocky wall is a small lagoon and beach. This is a much more popular spot that other tours also visit so unfortunately the coral had mostly died and there weren’t many fish. But the beach was beautiful and peaceful. We both sat and took in the surrounds. It was a great day.
Our day ended by being towed back to El Nido and being thrown around a bit on the choppy waters. This ended up triggering a seasickness effect that had many guest throwing up over the sides…It is high praise for the trip that not even a broken boat and a line of hurling passengers could detract from the day. But maybe the passengers with their heads hanging over the side of the boat would disagree. I would recommend tour C if you do visit El Nido which cost 1400 pesos and i’d also pay the extra 100 pesos to hire a snorkle. Happy Island hopping everybody.