Boats and Beaches – El Nido, Philippines

We woke up early to the rain still pouring. But there is something about tropical rain that just makes it more acceptable than the rain anywhere else.

I dozed back off for an hour or so and by the time the knock at the door came with our breakfast, the rain had stopped and we got the go-ahead for our first boat tour to begin.

El Nido has an abundance of pristine islands and beaches to explore. From the towering marble cliffs and enchanting lagoons to its white sandy beaches and lush green jungle, El Nido is one of the top tourist destinations in Palawan. National Geographic Traveler’s magazine, has chosen El Nido Palawan as one of the best travel destinations in the world and in the recent Readers Choice awards 2015 by Conde Nast Traveller, Palawan was voted as No.1 Island in the world. Compared to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam and Krabi in Thailand, El Nido has all the grandeur and spectacle of an island paradise without the crazy crowds (yet!).

There are 3 main tours to choose from and we chose Tour B first because it was the closest to the bay. If the weather had changed again, we could safely get back to El Nido town. It is also the least impressive tour (which is a joke as you’ll see shortly), so better to do that one whilst the sky was grey and keep the best ones for the blue skies and good underwater visibility.

We arranged all the tours via the owner of our resort. A private boat with 3 excellent chaps on board, a captain, a guide and a boat boy, cost around 5000 Peso (£70) for the day, including lunch, which I think is very reasonable. I would really recommend going private. For  a little extra money you will save time and have that extra bit of privacy that will make your day that bit more special. Our boys were excellent at reaching the different sites at different times or earlier than other tour operators which maximised our enjoyment.

We set off, ready to explore the islands we had stared at from our villa.

The moustache has to go.

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We stopped at Pangalusian Island and Pinagbuyutan Island for snorkelling. The beaches and the water are incredible. You know when you see a postcard or a picture and you think, ‘ye someone has done a good job using a filter or tweaking it with Photoshop’… well these are for real. No filters or Photoshop. Just beauty. Raw beauty. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. And remember, this was a grey day!

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We snorkelled and swam, enjoying the abundance of underwater life and healthy coral.

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Next stop was Snake Island. Don’t panic Mum, no snakes there, it’s just the shape the sand makes at low tide.

We were greeted by a little family of dogs who live with the handful of locals who are residents here.

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Mumma and Papa pooch.

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Puppy No.1

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Never one to miss the opportunity of a little petting session.

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After a short hike in entirely inappropriate footwear, we reached the top of the island to enjoy the view.

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Whilst we enjoyed the island, the boys on the boat fired up the BBQ.

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They provided us with a delicious feast.

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After a filling lunch we headed to Cadugnon Point and Cave. Apparently, it is an important anthropological site, where jewellery and pottery dating back to the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 BC) were yielded. A small opening hidden among the rocks near the beach reveals a cathedral-like cave inhabited by sea sparrows.

But first, you have to get in there. It was not my most graceful moment but I did my best!

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The last beach we stopped at was my favourite by far. Coconut trees stood proudly along their white beach and behind them, lay an area of flat soft grass that looked ideal for camping.

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As you can see, I made myself quite at home.

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I even considered making an offer on this.

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We sailed back to El Nido feeling quite tired but so pleased with all we had seen. What a day!

We walked back with huge grins on our faces ready to relax in the pool with a cold beverage.

As the sun fell asleep, the sky lit up in an array of magical colours.

*** sigh ***

*** sip ***

*** smile ***

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***

Having woken up this morning to the breaking news regarding the terror attacks in Paris, I would like to extend my thoughts and best wishes to all the families affected at this difficult and troubling time. I think it’s also important to remember that other countries suffer similar attacks (Beirut this week for example) on a daily basis so please also spare a thought for themThe world is a testing place sometimes and humans can be truly despicable creatures to each other.

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