We were scheduled for island hopping on our second day in El Nido.
Knowing that power will be out by 6:00 am and that we will be picked up by the tour guide and boatman by 7:00 am, I got up early. I inquired with the staff if they were already there to pick us up but apparently the tour will start around 8:00 am – 9:00 am. -_-
My friend booked the tour for us so it was also only then that I found out we’d be doing Tour C: Secret Beach, Talisay Beach, Matinloc Island, Hidden Beach, and Helicopter Island. Told you I didn’t bother asking about our itinerary so we were that clueless.
Finally at around 9:30 am, the guide came and together with a couple staying at Og’s Pension House, we started with the tour.
Good morning El Nido!
Our guide and boatman’s strategy was to go to the farthest island/beach first and work our way back so we could also avoid the influx of tourists. Good call I’d say!
After around 40 minutes boat ride, we arrived at our first destination.
We have arrived! But where’s the beach you ask? Well, it’s on the other side of the karst, and the only way to get there is through that tiny opening.
One must be very careful entering as there are sharp rocks, and as soon as you get to the other side, you will be welcomed by a huge rock/coral.
The water inside is actually quite shallow.
Look at how crystal clear the water is!
On one end is a pocket of very fine white sand, thus the name ‘Secret Beach’. There are also rumors that this place was Alex Garland’s inspiration for the novel “The Beach”. I bet you’re singing ‘Pure Shores’ right now. :p
NOTE: It would be nice if you could bring underwater camera or at least one with waterproof casing to be able to capture the beauty of this place. Otherwise, you’re going to kick yourself for failing to do so. :p And oh, aqua shoes will come handy too.
Other boats were starting to arrive so the guide called our attention. It was time to go to our next destination.
Talisay Beach became our own little paradise for almost two hours! We were frolicking like little kids, taking pictures here and there, and just soaking in the beauty and serenity of the place. At one point I stayed in one spot while the others were snorkeling. I was alone but not in a melancholic way. I was actually at peace.
My moment was interrupted when the guide said that lunch was ready. haha
Lunch included in the tour: grilled pork and chicken, shrimp, cucumber and tomato salad, pineapple, and rice! 😀
NOTE: Bring your own bottled water. I don’t know why it’s not included with the picnic lunch. We actually didn’t know this beforehand but I just thought of bringing our own before we left the pension house. Whew!
After lunch came the sad part; we had to leave and head to the next spot. 🙁 As soon as our boat turned, we were surprised to see that a couple of boats had to share a beach on the other side. We felt doubly lucky! 😀
A few minutes later and we already reached Matinloc Island. This is different from the previous spots we visited in that it has a dock and several structures. It actually has a shrine. I wasn’t really paying much attention to what the guide was saying because my eyes were so busy wandering, but all I could remember was that the island is heart-shaped. Thus the heart in the shrine below.
So worth the tricycle-jeep-bus-car-plane-van-boat rides I took to get to this place. 😀
Now this one…will literally take your breath away so be extra careful!
You must not also miss the spectacular view from the cliff – if you’re not afraid of heights that is.
Of course I did not pass up the chance to have a photo op before we left the island! :p
Our second to the last stop was Hidden Beach. Now don’t ask me what’s the difference of a ‘secret beach’ from a ‘hidden beach’ because I wouldn’t know either. :p Kidding aside, while we reached Secret Beach through a small opening, this time there was no crevice to be entered. Rather, this beach was concealed behind limestones. The tide was quite high so it was time to put on our life vests again, but shallow waters soon welcomed us again.
Just like in Secret Beach, water is shallow. For some reason, other boats were able to get inside while ours waited ‘outside’.
And finally, our last stop for this tour was Helicopter Island. It was already late afternoon so the waves were getting bigger and smashing against our boat giving us a hefty dose of saltwater.
A funny scene we saw upon arriving at the island: while the Caucasians were sunbathing, the Asians were ‘hiding’ in the shadow cast by the cliffs haha
It was almost 5:00 pm so it was time to head back to Bacuit Bay. 🙁
I wish we had more time to explore the other islands for another day. Oh well, at least we have a good excuse to come back. 😉