Beach Struck in El Nido, Palawan

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January 12th 2013
Published: January 13th 2013
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Entalula IslandEntalula IslandEntalula Island

Lunch was served here.
At the outset, I thought it would be a nightmare of a holiday. We booked cheap airline tickets for our family (and friends) of 9 pax early on. Then I spent a whole week scouring for lodgings. I was on my 10th already as the previous 9 hotels, B&Bs, hostels, inns were all fully booked! Finally found 3 beachfront cottages but they didn't come cheap for an otherwise unremarkable beach hotel. Well, it's that time of the year when everyone's on a holiday mood and have Christmas bonuses to burn!

Then when all's set, a typhoon threatened to hit Palawan. In fact it did, on the eve of our arrival. That day weather authorities announced the typhoon is moving out of Palawan and Philippine territory, we were at the airport waiting for our flight. Nine souls praying hard the skies would clear for a long dreamed vacation in El Nido. Mercifully, we were allowed to fly and land safely in Puerto Princesa after a 2 hour delay. The scheduled Underground River Tour --- one of the New 7 Wonders of the World --- was cancelled. We promptly rebooked the tour for the day of our return flight to Manila.
From our beachfront cottage.....From our beachfront cottage.....From our beachfront cottage.....

Aren't we glad the typhoon moved out in time to make this a wonderful family vacay!
Instead, we boarded our private van and drove straight on to El Nido. Not a drop of rain, thank God!

Island Hopping In El Nido

There were choices. Tours A, B, C and D, priced at an average of P700 per pax. Our group combined Tour A and B for the price of P900 (about US $22) covering some 10 islands. That meant spending the WHOLE DAY hopping from island to island. Fine. We slept early after that 6 hour butt-numbing ride from Puerto Princesa Airport to El Nido to prep for the next day's adventure.

First off was Miniloc Island's Small Lagoon. Big pleasant surprise. If we didn't remind ourselves there were 9 more islands in our paid boat tour, we could have stayed here the whole day! My only regret was forgetting to rent kayaks. I'm not a swimmer, but my grandchildren are. Imagine us getting off the boat in waist deep waters, walking through a hole, then feeling insecure upon losing connection between the sand and your soles, swimming towards the small lagoon and an equally small cave. I had my life vest on. My granddaughter took hers off, donned her goggles,
Fish FeedingFish FeedingFish Feeding

Both kids and adults enjoyed feeding the fish.
threw her vest and snorkeling stuff towards us, and swam excitedly towards the cave. Poor grandma left behind, with flailing arms and legs. Who cares if we lost one of the rented snorkeling tubes? I forced my body to float and back stroked my way towards the kids. 😊

Getting into the cave was another ordeal. I gashed my knee while my friend had cuts on her hand gripping those sHarp rocks. Oh my. We're hopeless. But it was fun, scars, cuts and all. And it was just as much fun in the same island's Big Lagoon. More boat traffic though as the low tide forced many to moor near the mouth of the lagoon. As we waded in, we took care avoiding sea urchins embedded on the sand. This was also where the tip of our boat's outrigger broke as it crashed against another boat. Our boatman, clearly sleep-deprived, was red-eyed with anger. All facial sharp angles displayed. For a moment, we worried he'd get into a fight as he lectured other boatmen about "proper boat parking". Well, the younger boatmen gave him a lot of respect. More senior, more experienced, must be the
The Limestone Cliffs of El NidoThe Limestone Cliffs of El NidoThe Limestone Cliffs of El Nido

Beauty everywhere you look!
veteran among them. His assistant told me he's also the best swimmer, so that's some assurance.

Because we spent too much time in Small and Big Lagoon, it was nearly lunchtime when we reached Shimizu Island. Too crowded though. Our boatman decided instead on lunch in the even lovelier Entalula Island. It was likewise crowded but who'd mind? Both kids and adults enjoyed feeding the fish, rolling with the waves, building sand castles, rolling in the sand, and gorging on a barbeque and seafood lunch. Aaahhhh, life is a beach indeed. We refused to be rushed and simply enjoyed ourselves here.

By the time we reached Snake Island, the tide has risen and the waters choppier. The sandbar connecting the 2 islands was midcalf-deep in water. There was a resident canine crossing the sandbar and welcoming those getting off the boat to climb the small hill for a better view. Us? We were too lazy after that sumptuous lunch. Besides, the water's far from calm now and we were eager to cover as many islands while there's still light.

But there's Cudognon Cave to
The Waters look calm...The Waters look calm...The Waters look calm...

....but not for long.
explore. I was not into it anymore but the kids may like it. A good intro before their Underground River Tour in Puerto Princesa a couple of days from now. They explored the cave while me and my friends basked in the sun and sand. Indeed, we were lucky the typhoon moved out of the country to let us enjoy this family vacay. After this cave, it was more like a boating-sightseeing trip for us. We approached the rest of the islands but decided not to get off anymore. Besides, who'd dare swim against the current towards Cathedral Cave? That one's only for strong swimmers and there's none in our group. We clutched our life vests closer to our bodies as our boat sailed over the swells and rolling waves, careful not to be lifted towards the limestone rocks.

There was a chance to wait for sunset in Seven Commandos Island. But we were eager to get back to base. We can always have our sunset view from our beach cottages. Better, with a piña colada or a cold bottle of beer. We did this every night we were there. From our beach cottage, or
I Should Have Kayak'ed My Way In!I Should Have Kayak'ed My Way In!I Should Have Kayak'ed My Way In!

My one and only regret. Felt hopeless clutching my life vest the whole time while my granddaughter excitedly swam around the lagoon!
from Bacuit Grill Restobar beside El Nido Corner or up from the 2nd floor of El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe or from Aplaya Restaurant. We tried all 3, each time amazed that we were the only locals dining in those places. We feasted on seafood while my elves stuck to their pizza and pasta and frothy fruit shakes. Me? I never grew tired of grilled stuffed squid every single day! 😊

Additional photos below
Photos: 28, Displayed: 26


Low Tide In Big LagoonLow Tide In Big Lagoon
Low Tide In Big Lagoon

No chance to swim for dear Patricia!
Sea Urchins Sea Urchins
Sea Urchins

.... In Big Lagoon
This teenage girl is busy!This teenage girl is busy!
This teenage girl is busy!

Feeding the fish off Shimizu Island
The Resident Canine of Snake IslandThe Resident Canine of Snake Island
The Resident Canine of Snake Island

The Welcoming Committee as you get off the boat to walk on the sandbar connecting the 2 islands.
Off Cudugnon CaveOff Cudugnon Cave
Off Cudugnon Cave

While the young 'uns explored the cave, I enjoyed the view from a swing here.
Ten Islands To Cover Ten Islands To Cover
Ten Islands To Cover

We combined Tours A and B to cover Miniloc Island's Small & Big Lagoons, Shimizu, Entalula, Snake Island, Cathedral and Cudognon Caves, 7 Commandos, Pinagbuyutan and Pangalusian Islands.
Martin At PlayMartin At Play
Martin At Play

Hard to peel this pre-teen boy off his sand and beach.
Cathedral CaveCathedral Cave
Cathedral Cave

Only for strong swimmers!
We only got this close to Cathedral CaveWe only got this close to Cathedral Cave
We only got this close to Cathedral Cave

The strong swimmers have to swim their way in!
Sightseeing On Our Way BackSightseeing On Our Way Back
Sightseeing On Our Way Back

No more stops. No more getting off an island.
Nearly There....Nearly There....
Nearly There....

As soon as we see Helicopter Island, we knew our beach cottages are just around the bend.
Rushing home now....Rushing home now....
Rushing home now....

No more sunset views in 7 Commandos Island.
The View From Our CottageThe View From Our Cottage
The View From Our Cottage

We stayed in 3 beach cottages with a grand view of Bacuit Bay.

13th January 2013

Beach struck!
Sounds heavenly! One day, maybe.
14th January 2013

Make it one day soon!
You'd like the islands in El Nido. Easy to feel lazy there ;-)
13th January 2013

still remember this beautiful place like it was yesterday:-) it is unforgettable, no doubt. Beata
14th January 2013

Couldn't agree more
And I pray it won't turn into another Boracay. I do wish though that they'd have a more steady power source [:)]
14th January 2013
Entalula Island

postcard perfect...
love the colours!
16th January 2013

Making me excited!
Off to Palawan in just over two weeks! Got 4 nights booked in El Nido, so hopefully do tours A, B and C over three days. Visiting Puerta Princessa and Port Barton too. What's the 'must eat' food then?
16th January 2013

Hi Kris and Kate
I combined Tours A & B (700 pesos, about US$22) to free up a day to check out this remote beach ( -- you can arrange with Lally & Abet Beach Cottages. As for food, local food should definitely be the fresh seafood-- crabs (from Bacuit Sea Grill), grilled fish & stuffed squid ( Aplaya Resto Bar), pizza and crepes from stalls off the streets! Enjoy. (Btw, I sent u a msg Nov 2011 -- yeah, a long time ago -- while I was in HCM. Thought I saw you in the condo bldg where I stayed! Did u get that?)

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