Monday, May 03, 2010

Day 4: Island hopping Tour C

Tour C is adventure day! We went to Hidden Beach where we saw an anemone where some clownfish live, Matinloc Shrine, a deserted beach for lunch, Secret Beach and Helicopter island where the waves were unusually strong but Pa and the family enjoyed facing the crashing waves

But first we attended mass at the town church which curiously had electricity! Or maybe they had a generator...

Anyway, Tour C is further away but we got a good deal of P650 per person. Most other tour operators were charging at leat P700. We first went to Hidden Beach which is protected from the waves by 2 limestone walls. The best thing about it is that just a few meters from shore, there is great snorkelling or fish feeding in shallow water. We found clownfish and large coral in waist-deep water! Please be careful not to step on the corals, though.

Tip: Watch out for occasional jellyfish. While none of us got stung, I felt safer that I had a sunscreen with anti-jellyfish sting protection.

We passed on the chance to see sea turtles because it was in very, very deep water and the waves were too scary.

We proceeded to Matinloc Shrine which is a deserted pilgrimage site. It does have a sort of viewing deck from which you can see the exact point where the sea turns from varying tints of aquamarine to deep blue.


Ok, this is the part of the blog where I don't know where we went. All I know is that it was another snorkeler's paradise as we again swam all around to see all sorts of fish, eels, corals, sea cucumber and huge blue starfish!
But I felt so bad that we kept stepping on corals in the shallow area. Sorry!

The boatmen also caught an eel and a parrot fish. We were having so much fun we didn't notice that it was already 1pm, way past lunch time!

We were brought to another deserted beach (probably Tapiutan)which had a small cave for shade while the crew cooked lunch. They were even able to catch lapu-lapu for an impromptu sinigang soup.

Meanwhile, we took pictures

Twinx tried to confront her fear of jellyfish by gathering the ones that drifted to shore and baking them under the hot sun.

After our stomachs had settled, we headed to Secret Beach which was the most exciting part of our trip. To get to the beach we had to jump into deep water and pass through a small hole surrounded by sharp shells and stone. The sea was moody and at while we were about to enter, a large wave pulled us back and some of our tour mates panicked and left a long scratch on my shoulder. Ouch! Inside, the place was packed though I don't know why. The water was shallow and filled with floating masses of moss! We only stayed long enough to catch our breath before heading out again because our guide Mike said low tide was coming and that meant bigger waves!

The ragged cliffs reminded me or The Lord of the Rings movies....

We went to our final stop, Helicopter island, which from afar looks like a half-submerged chopper. This is an absolutely magnificent beach with a wiiiide stretch of sand and a towering cliff that provided us with a vast shade where the rest of the tourists played kickball or just chilled out.

The island also has turtle nests which are protected by the town.

Too bad the waves were too strong for swimming but we were told that normally the waves are gentle on this island. But it's okay, it's like how I imagine Hawaii looks like without the surfers.

I wanted to call this blog post "Don't tell anyone about El Nido" because I feel fiercely protective of this beautiful string of islands. I don't want it to turn into another Boracay, which is polluted and overcrowded. I can already see some signs. Plastic bags and bottles carelessly left behind, non-stop construction of resorts, warnings against theft... I hope El Nido gets its act together before we lose this most beautiful treasure.

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