El Nido.. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Island hopping – I was reserving Tour A (supposedly the best one) for a sunnier day, but I ended up doing only 1 tour and I did Tour C. 🙂 We started on a gloomy morning, so we were just so happy when the sun finally came out around lunch time.
Tour C was supposedly the 2nd best and it included stops at the Hidden beach, the Secret beach, Matinloc Island / shrine and Helicopter Island. Each stop was more beautiful than the previous one, the water came in all shades of blue. I personally loved Helicopter Island the most. I guess partly because the sun was out by this time (it was our last stop). The beach here had smooth golden sand. The other islands had huge rocks and corals so it’s best to wear feet protection.
We skipped Secret beach (one where you had to swim under the rocks) because of the weather, so that remains a secret… ha ha. The tour also had several stops for snorkeling aside from the islands which was fun. 🙂 I like how island hopping here is charged per person – very friendly for backpackers and solo travelers!
Taraw Cliff Climbing – I came to El Nido prepared for the beach but definitely not for this. They said it was possible to climb with flip flops but I didn’t want to risk it. So when I was invited to join, we scoured the town for some shoes and I got a fake pair of rubber Nikes for only PHP 200. It was the best we could find, and it survived this:
The trek takes an hour per way. Taraw cliff towers above the entire town. From the ground, I was so sure there was no ‘trail’, as in typical mountains, and I was right. It was literally rock climbing, with sharp rocks and vertical walls and steep ascents. The reward at the top though is just wow. We had a 360-degree view of El Nido and I wished we didn’t have to go back down.
Corong-Corong beach – When you ask around where the best sunset is, everyone points to this one. A 15-minute ride from town, it’s actually a long stretch lined with coconut trees and resorts, but the best view is right in front of Las Cabanas resort. Perfect for beach bumming after a morning hike. 🙂
Local life – El Nido’s islands have this otherworldly feel, but right in town life is so relaxed and simple. The town is small and easy to navigate. My hostel was a 2-minute walk to the beach front. At night, the place is alive with performers and bars. We sampled the reggae bar and even took the Westerners for a round of karaoke! I traveled solo to El Nido but I felt at home – everyone I met here was so friendly and helpful, and it made my stay more memorable. 🙂
There are 3 more tour routes, some diving, more beaches and deserted islands to discover… I’m only saying goodbye for now.