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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Palawan Day 2: The Amazing Limestone Cliffs of El Nido and other Island Hopping Tales

There are so many things to love about El Nido, but the thing I fell hard for were the limestone cliffs. Those tall, rugged, majestic awesomeness that proudly display the scars of time on their facade.




I had my first look at them on my first morning in El Nido. I stood in the balcony of the inn I'm staying in, and look to my left while rubbing the sleep off my eyes. The limestone-back dropped town greeted me good morning, and that alone made that moment one of my best mornings ever.

How awesome would it be to grow up in this town, and see that familiar limestone cliff in every snotty-faced childhood pictures?

I want a view like this in my backyard too!
At around 8, Mang Rodrigo took me to Clydenike (a tour agency) for my island tour for the day. There are actually four choices for island hopping tour, and I chose the most recommended one, which was A. We were scheduled to go to five spots that day.  I was sooo excited for more amazing limestone cliffs!

The Lagoons
Our first two stops were the Miniloc Small and Big Lagoon. These two were the most photographed area in the El Nido, and for a good reason: the combination of the turquoise waters and the imposing limestone cliffs was instantaneously wow-inducing.
Near the entrance of Small Lagoon. The water here is very shallow.
Our guide "towed" (I can't swim. haha!) me inside the lagoon and I was able to enjoy floating with my life jacket on. There are fishes in the area, but I don't know if they were interesting as I haven't attempted snorkeling. The limestone cliffs surrounding the lagoon were certainly eye-candy enough.

Inside small lagoon. 
After a while we piled back into the boat to go to the Big Lagoon. We just cruised along Big Lagoon and didn't swim, since the guide said it wasn't recommended. He also mentioned that the film "Bourne Legacy" shot some scenes here.
Interesting rock formation near Big Lagoon. 
Lunch at Zimisu Is
We had our lunch in our third stop, at Zimisu Island. The island was named after the diver who perished while diving nearby. Such a grim etymology for such a sunny and bright place.


Beach lunches are always a yummy affair, and this one's no exception. We were served grilled fish, pork, a well-decorated vegetable salad, and pineapples and bananas for dessert. The sea air had worked me up an enormous appetite, and I ate happily with my hands. After lunch I took a dip in the inviting waters, still swimming with my life-jacket on. Haha. I really must acquire that skill; I just don't know where to find the time to learn.

The Not so Secret Beach
Afterwards we headed to the Secret Beach, so called because it's only accessible by crawling into a narrow entrance. It is totally surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and being there felt like being inside a gigantic tree. The cliffs surrounding the beach looked like gnarled roots. This is my most favorite part of the tour, as I had a lovely time floating on my back and looking at the cliffs stretching into the sky.
Inside the secret beach.

Limestone walls. 
Fish-feeding
We parked in a designated snorkeling area in the ocean. Our guide started throwing our left-over lunch into the sea, and the fishes swarmed near our boat to get to the food. We all jumped into the water for better view. I envy my two companions who were very good swimmer: it was a lovely sight to see them under the water surrounded by schools of fishes. I wanna swim with the fishes too!

And the last stop: Seven Commandos Beach
This one is a long stretch of white sanded beach and dotted with coconut trees. There was a machine parked behind the trees that seemed to be used to level the sand. Our guide said that the sand was being leveled because somebody's going to be building a resort in that beach.

The beach itself was not very interesting, but there were plenty of quite spot to just sit and stare at the distance. It was good for swimming too, and the sand was very fine and pleasant to the feet.

Chilling by the beach.
And back.
It was drizzling by the time we decided to head back. The waves were huge and the rough was ride, but not so scary. We made it back to the wharf a little past four. One of my tourmates, Tina, was also heading to Puerto Princesa at 10pm that night, so we made arrangements to meet at dinner and go together.

I was just a little sad that the rain didn't allow me to roam around the little town on foot, as it would have been very interesting to see how people go about in such a quaint little town. I caught glimpses of the elementary school when I was walking back to the inn, and I also saw the town hall. Nevertheless, I had seen enough prettiness in the day tour to make me want to go back again, this time, with a couple of friends or more.

I want to climb Taraw next time!

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