December 10, 2010
Senne’s Summary: We went on another tour which included swimming, snorkeling, fun… and then rain!!! Lots of it!
This morning we headed out on Tour C. Our first stop was a snorkeling spot. They basically drop you off in the water and then move the boat further away and then you snorkel your way back to the boat. It kind of reminded me of the game you play with little kids first learning to walk…”ahhh, you’re just about here, come on, a little further….hahahah, didn’t think I was gonna move further away did you…ok try it again, this time I won’t move, really”, you get the idea. This made me a bit anxious (I couldn’t touch the bottom, it was a bit windy… therefore wavy, and I don’t think I’ve ever swam that far!). Nevertheless, in we went and snorkeled (saw more fish and stuff) our way back to the boat. Steve is very patient and will snorkel with me the whole time so I don’t worry about drowning (well I still worry, but at least I go :)).
Our next stop was the “Secret Beach”. This was our favourite! When you pull up in the boat all you see is the rock wall of the island you just approached and a little hole to swim through.
Steve and I both thought Mark was joking when he said we were going to swim through there to the beach… but he wasn’t! We put back on the snorkel and mask and headed in. It was actually very cool to swim through the little hole into the area where the beach was.
Once you swam through, right away there was a shallow area that you could climb up on and walk to the beach.
When we swam back out to get to the boat Steve took one of my favourite pictures of me swimming through the hole. I kind of look like I’m dancing… maybe I’m just happy?!? 🙂
After this, our next stop was our lunch stop. We all hung out at the beach and did a little snorkeling, while Mark (tour guide) and June (boat captain) cooked our lunch in a cave.
While we were waiting we even saw some monkeys high above us on the cliffs! Lunch was delicious again.
There’s something very yummy about having fresh fish BBQ’ed on the beach. Just as we were finishing our lunch it started to sprinkle… then it started to really rain. We hid under the rock outcropping for a while, but then realized it wasn’t going to stop raining so we all headed back to the boat.
You might think that this pouring rain would signal the end of our day trip… but no… Mark doesn’t let a little rain stop him. We headed to our next stop… the Shrine Island. I believe this island is called that because some lady had a dream about an island in the shape of a heart with the face of Jesus on it… then she searched the world for it until she found this island in El Nido. So the people built a church and shrine to mark this very holy place. I think I might have appreciated it more if it wasn’t pouring cats and dogs the entire time we were there.
At one point after we’d climbed these very sketchy (and slippery) natural stairs to the viewpoint Mark said, “It’s very pretty when it’s sunny!” Ok then. Back to the boat we go 🙂
We drive through the blistering rain to our next stop… seriously… sometimes it felt like little needles of rain were zinging us in the face! At this point the waves are bigger than I’m prepared to swim in… so while the rest of them swam to the hidden beach entrance, I stayed on the boat. It’s too bad because Steve really liked the hidden beach. We are definitely going to have to go on this tour again when it is sunny! (Now I have a definite reason to come back to El Nido… although just because I want to IS reason enough!)
So you think that Mark would cut the tour short after this stop…but no…this guy’s persistent… we head off for our next stop which is Helicopter Beach. We’re all strangely silent (as we shiver in the rain). I luckily had a windguard to protect me from the driving rain (you might know him as Steve :)). Not only is Steve an excellent windguard… he took the initiative and asked the others if they wanted to go to the beach in the pouring rain, and then asked Mark if we could just head back to El Nido.
Mark and June both looked relieved (especially June, our boat captain…he had no windguard from the driving rain and was shivering as he piloted the boat). I suspect it’s kind of like “the show must go on”. They’re probably told that the tour continues no matter what the weather!
Even though we got rained out in the afternoon it was still an enjoyable day. The secret beach was definitely the highlight!
In case you are reading this because you are wondering about tours in El Nido, I’m just going to add that we booked all of our tours at Ricson’s (on the beach close to Sea Slugs restaurant). We loved the tours. The lunch was good, the tour guides were excellent (we talked to others who had Rocky as their tour guide and they liked him a lot… we, of course, think Mark is the best :)), and the prices were competitive with other tour operators. I would highly recommend booking through this company… and as a sidenote… the guys working the boat do NOT expect any sort of tip at the end and we noticed most people didn’t tip them… BUT… please think about how much even a small tip means to them…and how little it costs you in the big scheme of things.
Final thoughts about El Nido…
Electricity – I wasn’t sure how weird it would be to not have electricity for 8 hours a day… but it actually didn’t really affect us. It turned off at 6 AM, so if you wanted a hot shower in the morning you needed to get up before 6! Keeping in mind that hardly anyone has hot water in El Nido at all (we were very lucky). We had a few cold showers, but usually waited and showered in the afternoon or evening. Other than that you didn’t really miss the electricity. I think maybe it’s something we should think about more in North America… even if we turned off the electricity for an hour a day we could save so many resources (and money!).
Christmas Trees – Philippinos love Christmas! There are a lot of lights and decorations and a lot of people saying Merry Christmas already in early December. They have Christmas trees… just not the kind of trees we are used to.
I took pictures of three of my favourites. My very favourite being the one decorated with the unfrozen freezies!
Post office – Okay… I’m not really sure what the post office purpose is. We went in several times over our two weeks in El Nido to try to buy stamps so I could mail my postcards. Not once did they have stamps. This is what they said to me every time, “No stamps today. Maybe tomorrow.” The times I went in I never saw any other customers. Does the post office have a different purpose here??? Going to the Post Office became entertainment for us…and probably to the staff as well… “Oh look there comes those Canadians again, quick hide all the stamps and pretend to just sit here…this is so fun…do you think they’ll come back tomorrow?”
Chocolate – we noticed that chocolate tastes different here… it’s still good… don’t get me wrong… it just tastes different. Even when you are eating the same bars as we have at home they don’t taste quite the same. One day in El Nido we found a Kit Kat with a little message in English that basically said the company uses a slightly different recipe for their products in tropical countries to withstand the high temperatures. Mystery solved.
We both loved El Nido and will definitely be back. As a matter of fact we are considering coming back on this trip. That’s how much we liked it. Everyone should come here once (or more than once! :)). Put it on your “list” people!!!