Now that we’re done with the first half of the quarantine period here in the Philippines, I’m now starting to feel monotonous. I’m currently stuck here in Pampanga so apparently I can’t do some of my usual stuff. And I’m already missing my fam, my 4-month old niece, and my messy room.
But instead of focusing on the struggles, I decided to take this opportunity to write about the major Philippine destinations that we have visited long before I’ve put up a blog site. So yeah, it should appear like a huge list of backlogs eventhough I haven’t traveled recently. For now, let me begin with El Nido, Palawan.
El Nido is an archipelago of 45 islands and islets at the Northern Palawan. Such number is too many that even a full week would not suffice to visit them all. Hence, the locals of El Nido distinguished the best islands to narrow it down into 20+ islands and grouped them into four tours: Tours A, B, C, & D. Each tour comprises at least 5 islands grouped based on their location.
Here’s a standard coverage of each tour, but route may still vary depending on the tide and availability. And some islands might be swarmed by tourists in certain instances that the tour guide might suggest another spot.
- Tour A: Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, 7 Commandos Beach
- Tour B: Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave
- Tour C: Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Star Beach
- Tour D: Paradise Beach, Nat Nat Beach, Bukal Island, Pasandigan Cove, Cadlao Lagoon
Since we only had 3 days in El Nido, of course we cannot choose all tours. So we decided to have two island hopping tours, and one day allotted for Nacpan Beach and travel time to Puerto Princesa for other tours. We chose Island Hopping Tours A & C.
In this post, let me share you first our Tour A experience.
El Nido Island Hopping Tour A
As much as I wanted to DIY everything but we tagged along our mom and we can’t let her experience the hassle. So we availed a tour package via Hadefe Travel & Tours. It’s actually an all-in tour package for El Nido & Puerto Princesa. So it’s totally a hassle-free journey.
Before starting the island hopping tour, we first had our free breakfast served at Hadefe’s dining area fronting the sea. We could see Cadlao Island in the distance, such a majestic beauty. Then we headed to our boat for the much awaited island hopping tour!
1st Stop: Big Lagoon
Big Lagoon is one of the most-photographed main attractions in El Nido. Massive limestone cliff walls and deep blue lagoon water are its main characteristics. However it was low tide during our time so we had to walk our way to get inside the lagoon. The extremely clear knee-deep water was such a pleasure to walk into. It took us around 10 minutes to reach the deeper parts.
There’s an option to rent a kayak to get inside the lagoon. But we opted to walk and save the kayaking for Small Lagoon later because I heard it’s the best spot for kayaking. We just did a bit of swimming and picture taking then went back to our boat and headed to our next destination.
2nd Stop: Secret Lagoon
Secret Lagoon is a not-so-secret attraction that’s always been swarmed by tourists. Interestingly, the lagoon is entirely sealed off by limestone walls, save for the small opening near a gorgeous white sand beach.
There were literally a huge crowd of tourists awaiting for their turn to enter the small opening. And it actually looked like we were the foreigner ones as everyone else looked non-Asian.
I honestly didn’t enjoy our time inside the lagoon as there were looots of people and I can’t find a chance to swim as it was low tide. We actually went back out after a couple of minutes.
I personally liked this beach and hoping that it could stay as it is. Stunning places such as this doesn’t actually need commercialization. It only needs people’s respect and discipline.
It was time for lunch so we went back to our boat and decided to have our lunch at Shimizu Island.
3rd Stop: Shimizu Island
A great place for snorkeling, Shimizu Island is known for having exquisite corals and colorful marine life. It also boasts limestone cliffs and gorgeous white sand beach where people could sit back and relax.
However, the beach was too crowded that we couldn’t dock our boat. We just settled by the side under limestone walls and had our lunch on board.
While our guides were preparing our food, we tried to snorkel just beside our boat. The water was so deep so corals are too distant but we were greeted by small fishes like they were expecting something from us. Unfortunately, we didn’t have some biscuits.
While eating I was still hoping that the crowd may subside so I could experience the beach. But it didn’t. Though I understand the situation since it was a day after the holiday so it’s kinda expected.
As for the food, mostly are seafood with fruits and side dishes. It was good. Such a pleasurable way to end the first half of the day. It’s nice that we didn’t need to prepare our food. I realized it also feels great to experience a little luxury from time to time. Though I still love the backpacker way.
Fully energized, it’s finally time for our much awaited activity: Kayaking at Small Lagoon.
4th Stop: Small Lagoon
Just like Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon is also characterized by fascinating limestone rock formations. The water here is in the shades of turquoise, deep blue, and emerald green depending on depth.
Best thing do do here is kayaking as there are narrow passageways that cannot be penetrated by regular boats. It’s also a fun thing since you get a chance to roam around freely on your own!
It was high tide by that time so it was quite a challenge to enter through the small limestone arch at the lagoon entrance. We had to bow our heads down so as not to get it hit on the rock. Since I was at the front, Jeric paddled while I bow and cover my head. And once I got in, I paddled while Jeric covers his head.
Once we successfully entered the lagoon, our adventurous souls immediately looked for an interesting spot. We paddled and paddled until we reached several dead ends, with no other people! That may sound a bit scary but it’s actually a beautiful thing that we could only hear the birds chirping and not people chatting. Such a breath of fresh air. It’s absolutely my favorite destination for this tour!
For our next stop, it’s supposedly 7 Commandos Beach. But our guide suggested another beach because according to him, it has finer and cleaner beach sands and lesser crowd. We agreed to sail to Papaya Beach which is just also near 7 Commandos Beach.
5th Stop: Papaya Beach
A beach with gently curving coast line adorned with towering coconut trees and powdery white sands, there was no regret in agreeing to Papaya Beach. No huge limestone rocks so it’s quite fresh to the eyes since we’ve been seeing a lot of that the whole day.
It’s also a great spot for snorkeling and the reefs are literally few feet away from the shore. We tried to snorkel but we haven’t reached the reef area. Maybe we were tired already. We just walked around the beach and got entertained by the coconut trees swaying by the wind.
It was just a chill moment for us. We finally had a time to pause for a while and watch the sun starting to settle down. But before we forget, we still have one destination left so we have to arrive there before the sun completely goes down.
Our next stop is actually not a part of the tour. I just requested to our guides if they could drop us at Corong-corong as I’m quite intrigued. I just want to have at least a glimpse of what people have been raving about. Marimegmeg & Las Cabanas Beaches in Brgy. Corong Corong are quite famous and I wanna find out why.
Side Trip: Marimegmeg & Las Cabanas Beach at Brgy. Corong-corong
Marimegmeg Beach is a pristine long stretch of white sand beach backed by coconut trees lining up like an army. It’s a great place for swimming, beach bumming, and sunset viewing. The sands here are similar to that in Nacpan Beach which is also beautiful in its own way.
It was golden hour and I’m deeply grateful that we were given a chance to spend our sunset here. It’s easy to turn down my request since it’s not part of the tour anymore and quite out of way, but they were just lenient like that. And as reasonable citizens of the Philippines, we did not require them to wait for us and take us back to our hotel. The beach is in the mainland so we could just take a tricycle to our hotel. And they agreed since it’s already getting late.
Just meters from Marimegmeg Beach is the Las Cabanas where you can find many eateries and bars. There’s a rocky part of the beach with Marimegmeg Beach at the background. A beautiful view of limestone rock formations where the sun hides during sundown is also something worth the wait. There’s a zipline that you can try if you’re feeling adventurous. It was late already so we just savored the sunset.
We went back to our hotel after the sun had completely hidden its glory. We just tried to find a way out from the beach until we reach a street where tricycles pass by.
We’ve been here year 2016 so some other details are a little blurry now. But I hope it’s good enough to inspire you to continue to look forward despite the challenges we are facing right now.
Nonetheless, no matter what happens or no matter how long this trial may take place, we may never forget that hope will never be cancelled. Everything in this world is temporal so let us put our hope and trust in God who is eternal.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.“
“while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
2 Corinthians 5:1
- El Nido Island Hopping Tour C
- Puerto Princesa City Tour
- Nacpan Beach Sunset
- Underground River of Puerto Princesa
- 5D4N El Nido + Puerto Princesa Itinerary