Wednesday, April 8, 2015

El Nido: Tour A

Posted by Free-Spirited Vixen (Juliefe Cuenca) at 5:20 PM 0 comments
 Tour A includes the ffg spots:

1. Seven Commandos Beach
2. Big Lagoon
3. Shimizu Island
4. Secret Lagoon
5. Small Lagoon

Warning: El Nido is so much more than what you see in the photos. So yeah, a picture paints a thousand words but it will never do justice to the actual feeling of seeing the actual El Nido scenery with its natural ambiance and picturesque scenery. I may not have a 20-20 vision, but I'm sure thankful for not being blind!

1. Seven Commandos Beach
     This is usually the last stop for Tour A but our guides decided that it's best if we make this our first to avoid the crowd. And sure enough, we had the beach to ourselves. The resort with its customized cottage-like hotels were nice too but as they say, it was priced in dollars. So, we just satisfied ourselves with the beauty of the clear waters and white sand.

 Seven Commandos Beach, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
 Seven Commandos Beach, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

 Seven Commandos Beach, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

 Seven Commandos Beach, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

2. Big Lagoon
    We just cruised around the Big Lagoon and we're not given time to take a dip. My guess is that it could be dangerous especially since many boats are coming to and fro. The rock formations were astounding although we had a hard time catching up on our pics as the boat was constantly moving albeit slowly. Perhaps, they're not allowed to park?
Big Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Big Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Big Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Big Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Big Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Big Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Big Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

3. Shimizu Island
   This is usually the spot where the boats take a stop for the guides to prepare for lunch and at the same time, giving the tourist enough time to tour the place, take pictures, and to snorkel.
Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
The view of Shimizu Island upon our approach

Love the trees and its great help in providing shade for us from the SCORCHING heat of the sun!
Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Nothing beats a delicious meal after all those swimming and snorkeling!
Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
     There is a big rock formation on the other side of Shimizu Island. Since it was just a short swim away, we swam towards it to snorkel. I don't know what happened but the corals in the front area were quite dead. It could be from trampling, anchors, dynamite fishing, or the corals could have been taken away to be sold. Such a sad state. So we decided to swim around the other side of the big rock hoping to see corals in good condition. And there were! But the current on the other side was really strong as it was already facing the ocean and since were swimming against the current, it took us quite a while and with great effort in swimming thru the circumference of the rock. But it was nice experience especially for my mom who was a first-timer at snorkeling and swimming in deep waters.
Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Under the rock on the other side of Shimizu Island

Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Shimizu Island, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

 



























4. Secret Lagoon
The reason why it's called Secret Lagoon is because one has to go thru a small hole before one can enter into the lagoon. When inside, you'll feel like you are inside a volcano since the whole place is bounded by the rock formation but you can still see the sky thru a crater. This is one of my favorite places in Tour A. :)
Secret Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Secret Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
The water inside is not as clear as the other lagoons and beaches perhaps because it's not as free flowing being trapped as it is.

Secret Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Secret Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Secret Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Secret Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

5. Small Lagoon
Calling it "small" is a misnomer as it is not really small. It is quite deep in fact reaching approx 15 meters at some points. Banana boats and kayaks are available for rent by visitors.

Small Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Small Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Small Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan
Be careful of the territorial fishes who snapped at my companions who unknowingly swam near their respective nests.
Small Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Small Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan

Small Lagoon, Tour A, El Nido, Palawan 
There's a cave at the end part of the lagoon but only the boys went there while us girls just waited near the entrance and did some formations for fun. Swimming from the entrance to the cave takes some effort as it's quite a distance away. As I said, calling it "small lagoon" is such a misnomer. :D

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Places to Visit in El Nido, Palawan

Posted by Free-Spirited Vixen (Juliefe Cuenca) at 9:15 PM 0 comments
 Where is El Nido, Philippines?
     "El Nido is a municipality situated at the northwestern tip of the province of Palawan, Philippines. It is 430 kilometers southwest of Manila, and 238 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan's capital. El Nido is bordered by the Linapacan Strait in the North, the Sulu Sea in the east, and the South China Sea in the west.

The Municipality of El Nido is composed of 18 barangays (villages) covering a total land area of 50,000 hectares. Its population of 27,000 people is a combination of native Palawe├▒os, with a heavy presence of migrants from other parts of the Philippines. The world's largest pearl was discovered by a Filipino diver in a giant Tridacna (mollusk) under the Palawan Sea in 1934. Known as the "Pearl of Lao-Tzu", the gem weighs 14 pounds and measures 9 1/2 inches long and 5 1/2 inches in diameter. As of May 1984, it was valued at US$42 million. It is believed to be 600 years old.

It is the scenic landscape, crystal clear waters, and relative isolation that attracts and fascinates most travelers to El Nido. The 45 islands and islets and the surrounding sea present endless opportunities for adventure, nature appreciation, and even just simple amusements. El Nido's majestic limestone cliffs are estimated to be 250 million years old. They stand guard over clear waters, with 200species of tropical fishes, more than 100 species of corals, and three species of endangered sea turtles. El Nido's forests are host to more than 100 species of birds, a large number of which are endemic to Palawan. " (http://www.philippinecountry.com//philippine_beach/elnido.html)
Map depicting the tour packages courtesy of www.gopalawan.travel
How to get there?
I've researched that there are now direct flights from Manila to El Nido, although i haven't confirmed this one. 

"The fastest and most direct way to El Nido is from Manila. The flight takes one hour and fifteen minutes, and lands directly at Lio airport, which is located about 4 kilometers from the Poblaci├│n.There are only two airlines that fly to El Nido, namely South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) and Island Transvoyager Inc (ITI). ITI is a charter airline that operates as a sister company to the two main resorts on El Nido. SEAIR is a commercial airline with flights from Manila to El Nido, with a stopover in Busuanga." (http://www.elnidophilippines.com/gettingthere.php )

The usual route is to catch a plane to Puerto Princesa International Airport. In the Philippines, major airlines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, etc. fly from Manila, Davao, Busuanga, Cebu and Clark to Puerto Princesa. From Puerto Princesa, you can opt to take a van with a travel time of approximately 5 hours, or take a bus  (aircon/non-aircon) with a travel time of around 7 hours.
While waiting for our flight from Mactan Cebu Int'l Airport
Upon our arrival in Palawan int'l Airport
      In our case, since we were a group of 14 persons, we chose to rent a van, actually a mini-bus to transport us to EL Nido. It was Sir Rod, the owner of Tatay Miloy's Inn who contacted the vehicle owner for us and we paid only 500 pesos/pax as the rent was for 7,000/van. So from the airport, we were fetched by the minibus and the driver took us to Robinsons in Puerto Princesa, Palawan so we can buy groceries, eat our lunch, and withdraw from the ATM. Take note, there are still no  ATM in El Nido so you have to bring sufficient pocket money for your accommodation, travel packages, meals, and souvenirs.
Robinsons Palawan where we stopped to eat, bought grocery items, used the rest room, etc
 Afterwards, we already started our long trip to the magical El Nido. 

Arrival at Mainland El Nido
   Mainland El Nido is a small coastal town with small stores, and "carenderias" (local term for small eateries). Do not expect malls, fastfoods, ATMs and other places you usually see in cities. Remember, people come here for its natural rock formations, crystalline waters, beautiful islands, and all things God-given. If you want to look for man-made structures, this is not the place! 

Where to Stay 
     Our contact was Sir Rod who is the proprietor of Tay Miloy's Inn, named after his father. We also booked our tour package with him for the 3 tours: A, B, & C. If you have both the time  and budget though, don't just limit yourselves to these 3 tours as there are also Tours D, & E which covers some of the best beaches, diving spots, and waterfalls in El Nido.
With Sir Rod, the proprietor of Tay Miloy's Inn
         We paid only 250/pax for the air-conditioned rooms with a ceiling fan to supplement. The electric fan was not used though as the aircon was already sufficient.  There were 4 of us in our room with 2 double-sharing beds, with one rest room per bedroom. For those of us who stayed in the non-aircon room, they only paid 200 pesos each per day. 

View outside Tay Miloy's Inn
 Other Lodgings near our Place
 
 Where to eat
    It depends upon your preferences, budget, accommodation, and travel packages. In our case, we ask Sir Rod to cook our breakfast for us and we only had to pay him 100 pesos for his labor and gas consumption. We bought canned goods, noodles, rice, and other food items beforehand in Robinsons Palawan, and it was a good decision because the goods in El nido were more costly. I guess it's because the vendors still had to buy them from Puerto Princesa and they had to recover the cost.

    Our Lunch is already part of the tour package. Since we had one tour per day, we didn't have to think about our lunch for our whole 3 day-stay in El Nido. And mind you, the food was really delicious, complete with luscious fruits and my favorite seafoods! 

      The only time we have to worry where to eat is during dinner. we could have asked Sir Rod to cook for us again, but the group decided that it's better if we also take the opportunity to try the offerings of El Nido and how their tastes differ from the other places in the country. 

Tour Packages:
      The rates differ as to what time of the year you visit the place. During slack periods esp during the rainy season, rates ranges from 900-1,000/ pax per tour but can go as high as 1,200-1,400/pax per tour during peak season esp during summertime. 

TOUR A
1. Seven Commandos Beach 
2. Big Lagoon
3. Shimizu Island
4. Secret Lagoon
5. Small Lagoon

TOUR B
1. Entalula
2. Pangalusian Island
3. Vigan and Snake Island
4. Pinasil Island and Cathedral Cave
5. Cadugnon Point and Cave
 
TOUR C:
1. Matinloc Shrine
2. Hidden Beach
3. Helicopter Island
4. Star Beach 
5. Secret Beach

TOUR D:
1. Cadlao Lagoon
2. Pasandigan Beach
3. Nat Nat Beach & Bucal Beach
4. Paradise Beach
5. Ipil beach


      There is also a TOUR E which covers inland beaches and waterfalls and includes in its itinerary a trip to Nacpan and Calitang Beach, Makinit Hotsprings, and Nagkalit-kalit Falls.

El Nido Church

Local Souvenir Shops
   
 Mainland El Nido Coastal Area at Night
     Though still quite far from the bustling night life in Boracay, the El Nido shores offers its own mini-version of dining by the seaside, and a few bars with much less crowd, and spas where one can relax and have more private moments away from the noise and pollution so typical of the cities. 
 

 

 El Nido History

     "El Nido has been inhabited by humans as early 2680 BC, or even up to 22,000 years ago. This was confirmed by the fossils and burial sites, dating back to the Late Neolithic Age, that can be found in many caves and excavation sites surrounding the municipality, particularly the Ille Cave in New Ibajay. Chinese traders had been regularly visiting the area of El Nido for its edible birds' nests during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 BC). In fact, El Nido is specifically mentioned in Chinese records as far back 1225 BC. Caho Ju-Kua, a member of the Chinese Royal Family, Trade Commissioner and Superintendent of Customs of the Port of Chuan How wrote about the island, Pa-Lao-Yu or Land of Beautiful Harbors in his book Chu Fan Chai.
 xxx

 In 1954, the town was finally given its present name, El Nido, after the edible nests of swiftlets, collocalia fuciphaga, found in the crevices of its limestone cliffs. These nests, "nido" in Spanish, the main ingredient for the gourmet nido soup, are being sold at approximately US$ 3,000 per kilogram.


      Because El Nido was quite remote from most of the inhabited islands in the Philippines, its pristine beauty was hidden to the world until 1979 when a sea accident happened in Bacuit Bay. As the story goes, "a tuna line disabled a dive boat's propeller in the middle of the night forcing it to drop anchor in an inlet. The following morning, the divers woke up to an amazing scenery of skyscraping dark cliffs, thick green forest, white sandbeach, sparkling water and, rising above it, a series of magnificently sculpted jade islands." (http://www.elnidophilippines.com/history.php)
 








 

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