What an exciting second day we had! If you read my previous post, I described how the beauty of El Nido captivated me so much. We felt blessed because God has literally placed us in the middle of paradise to experience its magnificence and appreciate His amazing works.
The first time I watched the film "The Beach" starred by Leonardo DiCaprio, it became an instant favorite. I just couldn't help myself wishing I could see the place at least once in my life! This made our decision to choose Tour C over B for our second island hopping day tour. The tour includes the visit to a secret beach which is said to be one of Alex Garland's inspirations for his novel "The Beach". It may not be the "beach" featured in the movie but the idea excited us!
Day 3 - Island Hopping Tour C
Just like on second day, the third day started with heavy rain. Our excitement meter was absolutely pretty high so the weather failed to dampen our desire to see the islands waiting for us. The family of 19 members who was with us the previous day was scheduled for tour B. We were supposed to go with them but since we chose tour C, our guide from Hadefe had to look for another boat operator where we could join.
Kuya Loloy, our tour guide since day one, actually tried to convince us the day before to go with them on tour B. The reason was that he can personally watch us over. He had to be with the family because the children needed more attention in terms of safety. We appreciate their concern for us but we insisted on going on with tour C. We thought we're fine without him. So he booked us to another boat scheduled for tour C the next day, and even made assurance that we're gonna be safe with our new guide. The boat that picked us up that morning was a small one and aboard it was a couple who eventually became our friends.
1. Hidden Beach
Our first destination was the Hidden Beach. The passage of the beach is not visible from any great distance and the beach itself is hidden behind the large piles of limestone rocks forming as walls. That's why it was named as such.
The beach cove is just small but it is blessed with blazing white sand. Coconut trees and other tropical plants occupy most of the shore. What's amazing about this beach is the stillness and tranquility of its surroundings. Silence will greet you as you enter the area. A true oasis of peace, Hidden Beach is such a beautiful haven where you can swim in its refreshing water and surrender yourself to its serenity.
2. Tapiutan Island
Tapiutan Island was our second stop. The island is marked by the big tree that serves as shade from the sun. Well, in our case, it served as shade from the rain. While our tour guides/boat men were preparing the food for our lunch, we explored the water off its coast. We got caught by astonishment. The marine life in the island is purely amazing.
After our lunch, we explored the other side of the water off the shore. Once again, we were awestruck by the wonderful underwater scenery. Live corals and colorful fishes were an awesome visual treat. We couldn't have enough of snorkeling here. No wonder this island is known as one of the best snorkeling spots in El Nido.
3. Secret Beach
Our third and the most anticipated destination was the Secret Beach. At first, our guides advised the possibility that we may not make it to the beach if the waves are too strong. Secret Beach is found in Matinloc Island, a long, thin island that's almost facing the open sea. In order to get inside the beach, you have to swim through the small hole on the island's limestone wall.
Thankfully, the tides were better as expected on our way to the Secret Beach. The biggest challenge, however, was breaking through the opening. The currents were strong enough to smash you on the rocks if you get unlucky on timing. Adding to the difficulty were the heavy rain and wind. One of our guides jumped into the water and instructed as to swim through the hole one at a time. He hung to the wall near the entrance and waited for us one by one to assist us. Upon reaching the hole, he grabbed us by our life vest and pushed us as hard as he can to keep us from being stuck anywhere near the rocks. The waves were a little savage so we had to stay away from the hole as fast as we could.
It was a challenging task but soon we were rewarded by the ravishing view of the Secret Beach. It's a small secluded cove surrounded by the soaring cliffs of limes. The water is glowing and it was magical. It's peaceful, placid and pristine I felt like I was in a different world. It isn't surprising why Alex Garland was so inspired by this beautiful discovery. It's one of El Nido's precious gems.
4. Matinloc Shrine
We moved on to our forth destination where a shrine in Matinloc Island is located. Surprisingly there is a big retreat house with a bell on top in this island. However, no one is living there now and it has been abandoned for a few years. We went to the top where you get to see the panoramic view of aquamarine water and nearby islands.
According to our guide, the shrine was built after the owner dreamed of finding treasures hidden in a heart shaped island. Their search stopped after they discovered Matinloc Island in El Nido. The shrine was built as a form of thanksgiving by the owner. However, a friend of mine who used to be employed by the owner said the company went bankrupt which led to the abandonment of the whole place.
Locals would usually flock to the shrine to pray. It's just sad that no one is taking care of the place now.
5. Helicopter Island
Our final destination for the day was the Helicopter Island. From Calaan and El Nido town beach, the island is shaped as a helicopter. The island is graced by a lush tropical forest that complements the beauty of the coastline. This is yet another beautiful beach with powdery white sand that stretches a few kilometers.
We noticed some wood structures as we docked at the beach. Our guides told us these were used by Survivor Sweden who just finished filming in the island about 3 weeks ago. In fact, there's a lone guard watching over the island and making sure nobody enters the off-limit zones. Surprisingly, the water off the island is an excellent spot for diving and snorkeling.
El Nido is indeed a paradise on earth. It exceeds my expectation in all aspect as a usual vacation destination. Staying in El Nido was like a dream I didn't want to be woken up from. Visiting El Nido was a great chance to discover these incredible places in our own country. This is the best destination I've been so far.
"If you're an atheist, with a beauty like this, how could you not believe that there is a God who created this?" said by one of my friends. Surely, the story of my love affair with El Nido doesn't end here. I will keep coming back to this paradise.
Read more about my El Nido and Puerto Princesa series:
- Part 1 - Palawan: A Gateway to Paradise
- Part 2 - Falling in Love with the Islands of El Nido (Part 1)
- Part 3 - El Nido: Fish Feeding at Simizu Island
- Part 4 - Falling in Love with the Islands of El Nido (Part 2)
- Part 5 - Discovering Palawan's Jewel: The Puerto Princesa Underground River
- Part 6 - Puerto Princesa City Tour