My watery love affair in El Nido

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December 15th 2013
Published: January 15th 2014
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It's all about the company

Despite all the shocks and last minutes changes, my love of El Nido continued to grow. I think that is what they say of all great love affairs. Haha :-D With each passing day, I started to enjoy the place, the food, the fun, and I think most importantly, the company of my friends (^_^)

As mentioned, it is difficult to find friends of the same hobbies - diving, and they also have the same intensity and love for travel. I am very glad to have spread my love of the sea to my gf, SY, and she in turned spread her love of diving to me. It was under her influence and recommendation that I took up diving under Jean, who has now turned into one of my closest dive buddies.

With that, we continued to grow our diving khakis (which means friends in Malay), and I introduced my high school friend, Ed, to the group. I really do hope that we will continue our numerous diving trips, despite our hectic schedule and our distance. Even though most of us are in Singapore / some parts of Asia, like Hong Kong and Malaysia, Ed is on the other side of the world, America. It had been an awesome trip and hope more wonderful memories will continue to be made.

Our deep deep love affairs

Anyway, the main highlight on this leg of the trip is our numerous dives. As usual, all of us clocked about 12 - 15 dives each, a total of about 100++ dives altogether. Ed always said that these are crazy numbers, but we felt that these numbers are pretty normal. As a matter of fact, WS and SY always said that the number of dives were too little.

In El Nido, we had dived mainly with Deep Blue Seafari, while Ed had a night dive with another one dive shop, El-Dive, that was run by a sweet Japanese guy, Yoshi Ohtsuka. We had decided upon Deep Blue Seafari after reading lots of reviews and numerous correspondence, especially those that mentioned about good food on the boat.

As most of us are underwater photographers, our dives were focused mainly on macro photography dive sites. Even though, we were given the opportunity to dive at some adventurous and technical dive sites, such as tunnel diving, cave diving etc.

Similar to Puerto Galera, El Nido is also filled with lots of dive shops and the entire beach is lined with beach resorts too. Hence, it is easy to get around the place and decide on the dive shop or where to stay at the last moment.

However, do take note that Nov - Jan is normally their high seasons. On this trip, it was due to the hurricane that swept through the region in Nov 2013, which resulted in of cancellation of trips. This led to the availability of the rooms at various resorts and hotels, and thus, Ed and I was able to get accommodation on such short notice.


Note: For those going in the high season, it is best to book and reserve all your accommodation before Sep of the year. In my previous entry, you may have read about my misadventure with El Nido Reed Strand Resort. However, we had booked that place due to the fact that most of the resorts nearer to the dive shop had been fully booked when we were still hunting for quotation in Sep 2013.

I will be talking about the 3 accommodations that Ed and I ended up with, towards the end of this post, for now I would like to introduce El Nido, Palawan to you, and show you the beautiful beaches and awesome scenery around.


There is one other thing I like about diving - island hopping. Whenever we have a surface interval, we get to go to some nearby island to have some fun. They are always so beautiful - white sandy beaches, clear waters. It is very nice to play and snorkel too, if you don't know how to dive, or just want to take a break from diving.

During this trips, we did about a total of 15 dives each, Day 1 - 3, Day 2 - 4, Day 3 - 3, Day 4 - 3, Day 5 - 2. You will notice that we did several dives at around the same place, but the dives were made on different days or different time of the day, such as night dives.

Unfortunately, on this trip, we did not take note of the moon cycle, and we encountered full moon towards the last day of our dive. This affected the tides, current and visibility of our dives.

If you were to compare this trip to the one we made in June to Bohol, this dive trip is not as fantastic. The visibility at all the dive site isn't very good. (One of our dive master, Toon, said that Philippines' waters is most beautiful in Jun - Sep). On top of that, all my gadgets seemed to be going on strike - lens error, constantly no batt etc. I ended up only with a few good pictures. The rest were from my friends' cameras - Wei Shing (WS) and Edmund (Ed).

I've included a map from El Nido Marine Diving of the various dive sites around El Nido. We had dived mainly around these dive sites:

• South Miniloc
• Twin Rocks
• Dilumacod Island aka Helicopter Island
• North Rock
• Nat Nat - we did several dives here, even 1 night dive too.
• Tunnel Dive
• Pacanayay
• West Eutalula
• Popolcan Island

As mentioned earlier, Ed did another night dive with another dive shop, El-Dive. He came back raving about how beautiful it was and what he saw, and all the fun he had (much to my envy). After he joined us for the night dive at Nat Nat, he mentioned that the vis was not very good compared to his previous night dive at helicopter island. We realised that it could also be due to the tidal change, as a result of the full moon.

During our dives, we saw alot of beautiful underwater creatures, and I think the most fun part of this dive had to be our sighting of a huge cuttlefish and an octopus. Like the motto of all divers - we take nothing but pictures, and we leave nothing but our fins trail. We do not harm any of these creatures and we go away taking nothing but photos and memories of our awesome dives.

In between dives, we spent alot of time having fun at the beaches of helicopter island, miniloc island, popolcan island. As we had been diving too much, Jean and Anna will spend some time snorkelling, swimming around the boat, or having fun taking pictures.

Places where we rested

El Nido Reef Strand Resort

Even though things did not work out with El Nido Reef Strand Resort, I still felt the need to write about this beautiful place that they have.

When we first entered the place, we thought we have entered someone's private estate. It turned out that the owner had this place built and rented out the rooms to travellers.

The owners still live in the house whenever they are in El Nido, and the caretaker of the place took really good care of the house. For those who do not mind the distance and the fact that you would need to walk constantly to and forth town, you can really consider this beautiful accommodation.

Rovic's Pension House

On my 1st night, Ed and I did not want to travel too far from the dive shop in town, as he was doing a night dive with another dive shop. Hence, we decided on Rovic's Pension House for the first night.

It was a beautiful place, even though it was alot smaller and is more of a hostel style as compared to El Nido Reef Strand Resort.

The best part of this place is the beach view. They have this area at the front of the house, where it is somewhat like the living room of the place, and everyone can sit there to enjoy the view of the beach and free wifi.

Unknown Beach Cottages

On the next day, Ed found a guy who was leaving. Apparently, he was staying at some really cheap beach cottage. When we got there, the place really look rustic, and it kinda make you feel like you are on some castaway island. We really love the look of the cottage and decided to move over.

However, we had several surprises in store for us:

• The place was highly not recommended by any of the dive shops, as there had been several break-ins.
• The place did not have hot water available at all.
• The cottage is not fully sealed, hence mosquitos could come into the room, and we had to sleep in mosquito nets.

Well, since we got back late, and Ed really love the place, we decided to stay for 1 night. Initially, Ed was really worried about our belongings, as we had several gadgety stuffs with us. Fortunately, nothing happened and everything was safe. However, I was spooked when I was taking a bath, and had this weird feeling of being watched.

Nonetheless, we got to know some really nice international people who lived in the cottages next to ours. In fact, I noticed that most of the occupants only stayed for a night or two. None of them stayed really long at this place.

There is also free wifi at this place. However, during the time I was there, I was never able to connect to it.

Rosanna's Pension House

The next day, I quickly went to hunt for our next accommodation, as we needed to move quick so that we can go for our dive. I was fortunate to find that Rosanna's Pension House, which was just down the street, and it had a beautiful beach front room available. I insisted that we stayed there for the rest of our trip, and thus, we spent 4 nights there.

It was really beautiful and they had 2 buildings available - the main house with air-con and the older cottage, without air-con. We took the room with air-con and a common walk-way to the beach front, so that our friends could come over to get us for dinner, or to simply come over to enjoy the beach view.

Although this place doesn't have a website, think you should be able to call them based on the information on this website - Angkulet. The lady at the reception, Beth, was such a sweet and accommodating person. She was willing to cook hot water for me when we got back from our night dives, as they have limited hot water available. There is also free wifi, but you would need to be in the main living room to have any wifi connections.

She was also the one who helped us with our ferry tickets to Coron. It was all thanks to her that we managed to grab a ferry ticket without any disruption to our schedule. I will talk more about the ferry from El Nido to Coron in my next entry.

Coming back...

Like what WS said as we were nearing the end of our dive trip - this place kinda grows on you. It may be a small town with little to offer. To make matters worse, there is no electricity between 6am to 4pm daily, with limited assess to wifi and network. There is also no atm, or banks around, to draw extra cash.

Despite all the inconveniences, this place was very lovely. I enjoyed the slow pace of life and the awesome food there too, which I will be describing of it in my next entry.

I would really like to go back there again (during the period of June to September), and to include some land exploration as well.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 27


16th January 2014

A fellow diver
I enjoyed reading your blog tonight. Great stuff and enjoyed your photos.
16th January 2014

A fellow diver
Hi Dave & Merry, Thank you for your compliment. Love your blogs too. Hope to read more about your trips.
16th January 2014

Looks fun
Yeah, El Nido can be rough without electricity especially at night, but I think that's part of its appeal. It makes you get farther out of your comfort zone and closer with nature. Nice shots!
16th January 2014

Looks fun
Hi Jay, It was lots of fun. Really kinda miss Philippines now. But I won't be back till maybe next year June, as our dive locations are more or less decided. Will you be in Philippines for long? Maybe if you ever make a trip to Singapore, we can meet up. ^_^
16th January 2014

Actually I live in the Philippines so I'll just be around here when you come back. :) Hmm... I don't have specific plans yet because of my work schedule. But I really want to go to a Southeast Asian country before the year is over (I'm thinking of the Floating Lantern Festival in Thailand in November). So maybe I can stop by in Singapore on the way.
17th January 2014

Aww.. That's awesome. No worries. The world is so small. There will always be a chance for a meet-up somewhere in the world. Just drop me a msg if you are in Singapore. Anyway, I would very much like to make a trip to Thailand for one of their festivals too. But, work life in Singapore is not so flexible.

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