Ever since I moved here in Palawan, I’ve done the Island Hopping Tours of El Nido for as many times as I can remember. Different dates with different sets of people and friends. But with the same excitement for me to be able to visit and see the beauty of El Nido.
What’s different now?
Ever since November 2013, there had been a lot of changes from what I experienced on my first visit here.
Though I’m happy for the increase because the guides and boat staff would get a better pay, what I did not like was the steep increase in prices and the abrupt increase without proper information dissemination. Thinking back on my very first Island Hopping Tour in El Nido, I did thought that even if the price of the island hopping tours will be around 1,500 Pesos/person, the beauty of El Nido is definitely worth it.
Also, Combination Tours are no longer available if you are availing this with other groups.
But just to be sure that my trip would not drill a hole on my pocket I booked in advance with Northern Hope Tours which gave us a discount since we were many in our group (8 persons).
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On July 18, 2014, I woke up at around 4AM in Roxas, Palawan and we quickly had breakfast and rode our hired van to El Nido, leaving Roxas a little past 5:00 AM. We arrived at El Nido around 8:30 AM. Went to the booking office to confirm that we were safely there. And at around 9:00 AM, we were all set to go and start our Island Hopping Tour with Kuya Ricnel and Kuya Gabby as our guides.
One of my personal goals of this Island Hopping Tours was to strike a balance between me as a person who has a blog and me as a person who gets to enjoy the islands of El Nido. During my first few visits here I was in blogger mode and looking back, I limited myself by focusing more on taking pictures and writing details of the place. I was tied to my camera and most of the time I was not able to swim. On the other times that I visited El Nido and did not write about it, I was really enjoying myself. I was trying not to be the Anti-Social.
Our first stop was Small Lagoon. It was as amazingly beautiful as I remember. The waters are still strikingly clear and torquoise. The only difference now was that I have more resistance to the water. Yes, my first visit here was 40 pounds ago.
We swam going to the entrance which we needed to go under the rock and kept swimming over waters with walls of limestone cliffs. And since it was low tide, we were able to swim to the place I call “The Swimmig Pool”.
When we got back into the boat, we realized that we stayed more than an hour in Small Lagoon.
The next stop was Simizu Island where we had our lunch. We got to stay there long and since I only took a few shots with my camera, I was able to swim around the snorkeling area before our lunch. The kids with us even challenged me to do a flip by hanging on the boats katig, to which I miserably failed. But I did show them my whale swim, complete with a vertical blast of water. When lunch was served with all that swimming, and all that playing with the kids made me really hungry. It was a good thing that the food was generously served with water and a 1.5L Coca Cola. But I’ve parted ways with Coke about a year ago.
The plan was to visit Secret Lagoon but the waves just got bigger, so the guides asked us if it’s okay with us if we could skip Secret Lagoon and they would just swap Secret Lagoon with another island. We all agreed as we all have been to Secret Lagoon and we all experienced getting battered going to the entrance of Secret Lagoon. The next stop would be Big Lagoon.
We were able to enter Big Lagoon since the tide was now going up. On my first visit here, I didn’t get to appreciate Big Lagoon much because there was nothing to do there. When I availed of the Combination Tour (no longer available), we were able to walk inside the Big Lagoon. This time, we were able to swim inside the Big Lagoon.
The next stop should be Seven Commandos, but ever since Seven Commandos was “developed” with cottages, accommodations and barb wires, I do not like to visit there anymore. I have this bias on places that are undeveloped. I wasn’t there for the cottages, I was there for the beach. And during one of my Island Hopping Tours, I told the people in the boat how I did not like Seven Commandos’ development and one of them said that there was less freedom there because of the barb wires. This is my personal preference.
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So we went to Papaya Beach, which was a beach next to Seven Commandos but with sands like powder and undeveloped.
We stayed there for a long time enjoying the sand and making balls out of the sand and trying to out-roll each other by measuring the distance that our sand balls would roll without breaking and stopping. There was a time that the waves came up too high and disintegrated our work with the sand balls.
Kuya Ricnel then approached us and said that it was time for us to move to the other island, we all looked at each other and agreed that we would like to stay in Papaya Beach and just enjoy the place than to move to another place. A good thing when you are on a Exclusive Tour.
We stayed at Papaya Beach until one of us looked at their watch and said that it was almost 4PM. We quickly decided to pack up and go back to town as we still have to travel back to Roxas.
We arrived at the town proper at around 4:30 PM, took a bath and started our travel back to Roxas. We arrived at Roxas a little past 8PM.
Overall, El Nido is still as beautiful as my first visit there, except for Seven Commandos, and even if there was a price increase El Nido was still worth it.
Northern Hope Tours Details
- 0939-902-2216 (Smart)
- 0927-735-3221 (Globe)
E-mail: [email protected]
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