Tour C Itinerary
* Hidden Beach
* Matinloc Shrine
* Talisay Island (lunch area)
* Secret Beach
* Helicopter Island
One day in paradise, I woke up wanting to see more, experience more. So I signed myself up for the most basic of activities that you do when in El Nido: island hopping tours. Sans my British travel companion, I boarded the boat with a liter of water, a tube of sunscreen, a blanket of Bonamine and my trusty Canon D10. Today’s mission was El Nido Tour C Island Hopping.
Anxious that I’d be sharing a 15-person capacity tour boat with some 7-lovey dovey couples, the universe decided to plop me down in a 5-person tour that consisted of a spontaneous-traveler Malaysian girl, a he-doesn’t-know-how-sexy-he-is man from Bangalore and a couple of China who, honestly, could not have been there and I wouldn’t have noticed.
In any case, we were off. First stop, paradise to the 2nd power.
45 minutes from town, the boat finally switches off the engines. We park at the edge of a limestone cliff. It opens up to this hidden corridor with limestone walls and a clear and shallow passageway good enough to snorkel in. In the middle of the corridor, it turns left and into the hull of the bigger limestone island. As you wade into the water, the beach reveals itself: a perfectly quaint strip of sand out of nowhere. To its left, you see an odd patch of water and a small opening to a cavern. You enter it with the fervor of a Harry Potter character only to find yourself where you started – at the beginning of the same corridor.
Nothing much to do really, than to strike them poses and make it werk. Based on the amount of photos our guide took of me, I really should’ve paid him an little extra. And I did intend to that day. It’s just that when you end the day with a lazy 30-minute chug along calm waters, you end up lethargic and forgetful.
<Kaboom! Awesome background I’ve got there.>
<This little entrance is off to the left of the beach>
<View towards the beach inside>
<View towards the outside>
<Back to where we started. Or as Brian McKnight would say, “Then I start back at 1 — yeeeaaah!”>
10 minutes from Hidden Beach, we dock unto the shores of Matinloc Shrine- an abandoned man-made shrine. There’s nothing much to do but walk around and take photos. Take the time to climb up the man-etched stairs to the top for a better view.
Ummm… my life wasn’t shaken at its foundation however seeing the water from the dock area was just spectacular.
Across from where Matinloc is sits Talisay Island. Our boatman tiptoes among the several pockets of sand all over the island before finally taking anchor on a beach, which we had to ourselves. This beach most likely had no name – but the snorkeling was fantastic. Just a few paddles from shore and you have a whole new world spread out in front of you. One particular sea anemone was teeming with clownfish and I spent an entire 5 minutes or so just hovering over it, watching the lunch time routine for the resident Nemos.
Three-quarters of an hour later lunch is served. And nothing is better served with grilled fish, grilled squid and eggplant salad than the salty after taste on your lips. Top it all off with some mango and the best damn pineapple of the effing planet. I swear, I could have made sweet, SWEEEEEEEET love to that plate of pineapple right there.
Another 15 minutes, which some people used to snorkel IMMEDIATELY after eating and some people used to just lay around and digest. I was part of the latter group. After a quick wash-away, we were off to our next destination.
If there was a Leo diCaprio moment, I swear, it was this very spot right here. Disregard the few other boats floating around this tiny whole in this huge limestone formation. Disregard the fact that the waves are actually a tad bit strong that they can wrestle you to the jagged, black walls. After jumping into the water, as you slowly inch your way to the entrance, you will hear it. That late 90’s hit, “Pure Shores” by All Saints. It goes on Auto Play immediately.
Disregard the mild cursing you make as you grab your footing on the shallow rocks inside this roofless cavern. Majestically, sunshine casts a God ray down to where the patch of isolated sand is. Your jaw drops and as you inch your way through the rocks and into the sandy area, you hear the lyrics make love to your ears:
Can you hear what I hear
It’s calling you, my dear
Out of reeeeeaaach
Take me to my beach
I can hear it calling you
Swimming closer to you
NOTE: If you happen to be too damn young to remember this song, EFF you and your lavish youth. Tatanda ka rin.
Then you sit there, a foot of water, surrounded by black rock with a tiny hole at the edge of it, giving birth to life-vest clad Filipino tourists. As you sit there, enjoying the sun, sand and sea, you notice that the incoming noise is overpowering your inner playlist. You head back out of Secret Beach, earworm-less – if only you could bring that moment back – and maybe an appropriate version of Leonardo diCaprio as well.
As the boat shoved its bow unto the sand, you can see that there are a large number of stones and rocks on the shore. However, as I gingerly approached the shore from the boat ladder expecting to shred my feet to slivers, a startling discovery reveals itself –all the rocks and stones are smoothed out much like river stones. Walking on them is actually quite the pleasant experience – despite it being too loose for my liking.
It was said that the snorkeling was amazing in one part of the island. Honestly, though, as we were all keeling over from our food coma and resistance to siestas, I just wanted to lay out and swim a bit. I walked to the far end of the beach, laid my sarong out on a fallen tree trunk and swam for a bit. The water was ridiculously clear and the view of the adjacent island was commanding. I just floated there in the middle of it all and I was happily content.
Until Mr. Guide Person decided to show up and ruin my afternoon moment. He just wouldn’t leave. I appreciate the small talk and the effort, but really, it’s very easy to tell when someone NEEDS, nay, DEMANDS space – when you make the effort to walk all the way to the other end of the beach to have a swim. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo.
The day ended on a melancholic note, as we all lazily crept back up on the boat, retreated to our own section of seats and watched the town come into view as we took that last turn.
Other than thoughts of going back to home, where Coral Bay was, I was electrified by the thought of one solitary thought – freshly baked bread from the Midtown Bakery. So thus, I ended my first bout of island hopping in El Nido with a camera-full of wondrous you-can’t-get-this-wrong landscape photos and a tummy-full of siopao, piaya, blueberry muffin and giant P5 pandesal – carbs and the need to do this again tomorrow. Don’t tell anyone I ate all of that in the 5-minute tricycle ride it takes to get back to Corong-corong.
- AT LEAST 1-Liter of Water
- Sarong or Towel
- Optional: Appropriate amounts of Bonamine Chewable Anti-Motion Sickness Tablets
- Optional: Some kind of bar food like peanuts, cornick, chips and biscuits to literally just pass the time. Yes, I am a big, fat seacow because of that tip right there.
DISCLAIMER: This post is unofficially sponsored by Bonamine. Not that they sponsored, not that they cared but I’ve consumed enough amounts of it during the trip that I was not only able to fully enjoy the full day out in the boat but also be willing to disclose product placement/advertisement for nothing. I love Bonamine although it was on the 2nd day that I realized that they were chewable.