Raw & Wild – El Nido, Philippines

We set off on Tour C with high expectations. It was our last tour before we moved onto Coron so I was hoping for another amazing day and hopefully more turtles.

We sailed past more amazing rock formations and hidden beaches. Apparently Alex Garland, the author of the novel “The Beach”, was inspired to write the book whilst living in El Nido. After my last few posts, you can see why!

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I have called this post ‘Raw & Wild’ because I can’t think of a better way to describe Palawan. It is still blissfully untouched in comparison to others places with similar scenery. It’s still rugged and unspoilt. Not yet a tourist trap for the masses probably because it’s not easy to get to, although development and construction in the region is planned, so I can imagine that changing. If you haven’t already booked a trip here or even thought about, do it now, or at least start saving and thinking now, whilst you can see it in all its glory, not tampered with and ruined.

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We began with a snorkelling stop at Dilumacad and Helicopter Island, a spot that was recently used as a filming location for ‘Bourne Legacy’. The water was beautiful at around 28/29 degrees and the visibility was some of the best we had experienced.

By the 3rd day, getting ‘geared up’ was becoming more easy. I had snorkel issues for the first few days, it was rubbing my mouth and giving me little ulcers. If it wasn’t the snorkel then I couldn’t get my fins on and if it wasn’t either of these, then my mask would fog up. I found it frustrating to always be last off the boat. Ask me to get myself ready in the dark to go riding and I could but all this gear had irritated me at times. Just a bikini would be ideal but it’s easier to swim in the sea with fins. By the way, I can’t just wear fins because of course my ankles are too precious. I have to wear booties and fins. I also wish I had a boy cut because my hair was constantly getting in the way or being ripped out. Most importantly, it was getting easier.

Back to the snorkelling…Max managed to film a notoriously highly venomous sea snake called a Laticauda Colubrina. We believe it was the Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait one. However, their jaws don’t open very wide at all so they can really only bite you between your thumb and index finger.

We sailed onto Matinloc Island, the longest slim island in El Nido which is home to Secret Beach, a pocket of white sand at the corner of a sinkhole that is inaccessible by boat and surrounded by steep rock walls. To reach it, we had to swim through a narrow crevice in a rock wall.

We snorkelled around and enjoyed the small beach before moving onto the next destination.

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I really can’t emphasise just how amazing the visibility was. Max still looks crystal clear at around 6 metres!

Next up was Tapiutan Island, where we relaxed and enjoyed the view from the beach after the morning activities. The water was really shallow so snorkelling became more like crawling, but it was still fun.

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We hopped back on the boat and pulled into a secluded bay for the 5* lunch the boys had prepared.

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LOOK at that pork belly.

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Wow! My favourite lunch so far.

We then pulled up in an area between some rocks and a beach. The boat captain explained that we should snorkel and meet them round the other side of the rocks.

The water was reasonably choppy and swimming against it was actually quite tiring. Bernard was ahead of me and Max and Christina were quite far behind me snorkelling over a reef. I was swimming towards the boat, which had moved to beyond the rocks, seeing trumpet fish along the way and then suddenly, in the distance ahead of me, I spotted her. A turtle. No one else was with me and they were too far behind me for me to call them.

So I had her all to myself.

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This time, I didn’t get over excited and scare her. I just allowed myself to float in the water. She was within touching distance beneath me, not bothered by my company at all. Minutes ticked away and she just swam round underneath me as though she was dancing for me. I can still see the imprint of her shell in my eyes.

After 5 or 6 minutes, Max and Christina joined me.

Max, Go-Pro in hand, got some awesome footage. We were even lucky enough to watch her surface for air.

It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to swim with this turtle. I felt like she wanted to be my pet turtle. She chose to stay near me. I would have accepted of course.

Our time with her was up and she swam off into the distance. We went on to see another 2 or 3 turtles in the same area. None of them captured quite like her though. They were incredible all the same.

We sailed home for the last time and into the bay at El Nido.

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Walking home we admired the locals at work. They are so lucky to live here!

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I honestly can’t recommend Palawan enough, particularly El Nido. I am pleased with our collection of pictures but you really have to go their to appreciate the scale of the rock formations and the beauty of the blue ocean against the lush jungle. The ocean looks healthy and its brimming with life of all kinds, the coral is stunning. The town itself has some well designed, attractive restaurants selling fresh, delicious food and its much more spacious and clean than Boracay, which has unfortunately been ruined in parts by greed. The journey from Puerto Princesa was long, so in hindsight I would do it more slowly and see more of Palawan on the journey up to El Nido perhaps stopping 2 or 3 times along the way for a night or two. I have heard lots of amazing things about Port Barton for example which lies between the airport and El Nido.

 

Thank you El Nido for being so splendid. Next stop, Bamboo Island.

 

 

 

 

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