Thursday, August 14, 2014

el nido island hopping tour A

El Nido has four island hopping tours A,B,C, and D with each tour going to different islands. Everyone on the web says Tour A and C are the best so for this first time we chose Tour A. Tour A will take you to Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimzu Island where you will have lunch, Secret Lagoon and Seven Commandos Beach. Most tours follow the same itinerary and therefore each area becomes super crowded with people but Alanna and I were being boushy and decided to book a PRIVATE TOUR! This way we could alter the route and go backwards and avoid the crowds. Even though we paid almost double for a private tour it was SO WORTH IT!

limestone cliffs
helicopter island
Look at the amazing views! Breathtaking! First stop on our tour was snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach. The water was so clear that we could see for miles - a watery wonderland!


Lots of different types of coral and a blue starfish! First time I've seen one that color and that big! Our tour guide had a floaty ring and would pull us around. Haha I loved it since that meant I didn't have to struggle to swim. The life jackets were too big for us so they were choking us most of the time. Next stop on the tour was the Big Lagoon which had brilliant turquoise water surrounded by limestone.


My pictures can't do this place justice. I couldn't capture the magnitude of these cliffs towering over us or even the varying shades of water that could be found here. From the brightest turquoise to the deepest emerald color. Supposedly sea turtles swim here but no matter how much I strained my neck trying to find one I didn't see any! You can choose to explore the lagoon in depth by renting a kayak for an additional price.

Both the Big and Small Lagoons are located on Miniloc Island and adjacent to one of the lagoons there was a small beach where we would have our lunch. We saw a lot of boats passing by to enter the lagoons but none of them disturbed our peaceful slice of heaven. While the boat captain and the tour guide made our dinner we went exploring!


The erosion from the water causes these awesome overhangs of limestone to jut out over the sea and it was cool to be able to "walk" and paddle beneath them. In the side of this limestone cliff I found a hole with an underwater entrance!


The entrance to this cave is marked by that rock wedged in behind me, next to the "window." When trying to leave the cave the tide kept pushing me back in so I got smacked around on the sharp stone below and above me. I freaking love having a waterproof camera especially here in the Philippines I feel like its a must have. All that beautiful scenery and water adventures that I wouldn't be able to capture without it.

Back on the beach we stumbled upon this creature...


We had no idea what this was and was afraid to touch it. Finally Alanna got a stick and we poked at it and we didn't see it move. Then we scooped it up with the stick and upon closer inspection we realized it was a creature of some sort and we dropped it back into the sand. Later on at a market I saw it being sold and learned that it was a sea cucumber. Sorry for torturing you sea cucumber, we thought you were a sea snake or something and had to protect ourselves!


Our lunch consisted of chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, a prettily arranged salad, bananas, mangoes and a giant ass coconut! When you arrange the tour they'll ask you what kind of foods you would like to eat and they will buy it and cook it for you on the tour! The food was delicious and there was too much for just the two of us to eat. Eating on the beach I felt so pimp and with such a lovely view...


After lunch we headed to the Small Lagoon which isn't accessible by boat.

entrance to the small lagoon
Now you can see why we had to swim in. Also we had to be careful when entering because there are a lot of sea urchins around with crazy long needles. Don't wanna step on one of those. We had the whole place to ourselves! It was freaking amazing to just float on my back and admire the view. Felt like I was transported back in time into the Jurassic Era with the silence and the moss covered cliffs looming overhead. As you can see the life jacket was definitely chocking me and actually impeded my swimming so I was trailing so far behind the group.


Our tour guide wanted to show us a secret cave all the way at the other end of the lagoon but since I was so slow he just ended dragging me along by my life jacket. Haha. I took a video of myself getting dragged around while Alanna swam in front like a boss!


After the Small Lagoon we did some more snorkeling this time we were out in the open and not next to a nice little beach. We actually snorkeled next to those two giant limestone islands in my first picture. The water was getting a little rough and we had to make sure we didn't wander too far out and get dragged by the current. It's crazy to think that I barely enter the ocean even though I've lived near one my whole life and then find myself just swimming in the middle of it. Of course the water here isn't crazy like the waves back home.

is that Dory with her costars Nemo and dad?!?
Unfortunately this area had a whole bunch of small jellyfish that kept stinging us. When I was swimming I noticed a plastic bag floating pass me and was disgusted with the pollution just to realize it was actually a jellyfish! They were clear palm sized mofos that kept stinging us. We would thrash around to make sure they didn't get us and were shouting at each other that we needed to pee in the water to help with the jellyfish stings. Haha, that's what you do when you get stung right?? Pee on it?

We ended the day with what I believe is Shimzu Island which wasn't that impressive, especially after all the splendid views we've been exposed to that day. Apparently there's a giant lizard that lives in one of the caves here so we even though we wanted to explore them, we were afraid the lizard would get us.


Unfortunately we didn't get to see the Secret Lagoon because our guides told us that due to the weather the past few days a lot of trash had accumulated at the entrance. In order to reach the Secret Lagoon we would have to swim through the trash since you entered through a small hole. Ugh I was so bummed out about that since one of the reasons we went for Tour A was because of secret entrances to places. I still had a great time though and looking at videos of the Secret Lagoon it was just a smaller sized lagoon where people could swim and such - which we got to do in the Small Lagoon with total privacy and on a bigger scale.

The Details
El Nido Island Hopping Tour A
1200 php per person includes lunch - a regular tour where you joined others
We paid 4000 php for a private tour so 2000 php for each of us. If you had a bigger group then the price is cheaper for each person. Lunch was included in our tour. We walked around and looked at all the people offering tours and this was the norm for the November season. A worker at our hostel Hakuna Matata arranged our tour for us. There are so many tour companies online and in town or you can even approach fishermen yourself and try to work out a deal. A lot of the companies I emailed about the tours didn't respond so I guess its better to call them or go to their office in town.
Eco Tourism Development Fee - 200 php (everyone has to pay this fee to do activities in the area - make sure you get a piece of paper proving that you paid - we needed it when we went scuba diving later)
Snorkel Gear - 100 php (a must have for the tour!)
El Nido Tour Map

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