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Philippines & Japan 2023, Part Two: El Nido

Continuing my trip recap:

Lime Time #

We flew from Coron in the early evening—which was good, in that it allowed us to squeeze in an island tour in Coron. On the flip side, I was really feeling the jet lag by the time we arrived at our hotel (Lime Resort El Nido).

We had originally intended to see what tour packages the hotel offered but the markup was so high that my dad ended up searching around for a better provider, and the next morning we booked a custom tour via El Bacuit Travel and Tours. Because there were nine of us so we could get a whole boat to ourselves—if we had been a smaller party we would likely have to share a boat with other groups.

An ocean view with multiple islands on the horizon line, with a small boat in the distance. In the foreground is a silhouette of a tree.
Looking out from Lime Resort to the ocean

Big Lagoon #

The first stop on our tour was the Big Lagoon on Miniloc Island, and our guide wanted to get us there early before the rest of the tour groups started to crowd in. We anchored offshore where there was a kayak rental station, transferred from the bangka to kayaks, and paddled in. My dad and I shared a kayak.

Entering Big Lagoon (no audio). Full version on Flickr.

The water was extremely clear and in the shallower parts it sometimes looked like the kayaks were levitating above the water, because you could see the kayaks’ shadows on the bottom of the lagoon.

Four kayaks in a lagoon with clear teal water.
Kayaking on the Big Lagoon

The island cliffs were very interesting—apparently they’re limestone, and you could see the erosion at the water line as we paddled past.

Four kayaks lined up in line with the horizon, with island cliffs in the background.
It took a minute to get us all lined up for this shot

Eventually our guides took us to a shallower end and tied up the kayaks, and we got to hop in the water for a few minutes.

A man and a woman in waist-deep water flanked by two island cliffs in the background.

Entalula Island #

After the Big Lagoon we hopped back on the boat and went to a beach on Entalula Island. There were small beachside bars where you could get fresh buko (young coconut) juice—they slice up the top and drop in a straw for you, or you can do like my daughter and sip straight from the top.

A woman sips from a young coconut.

After you’re done with drinking the buko juice they cut up the coconut for you and you can scrape out the coconut meat inside.

A woman sips from a young coconut.

Seven Commando Beach #

We could see the clouds rolling in while we were on Entalula Island, so we got on the boat to try and make it to Seven Commando Beach. We ended up running straight into pretty heavy rains, and we huddled tightly under the bangka canopy. It didn’t help much, though—the rain was so heavy. I was impressed at the crew’s ability to navigate in the rain and fog.

Fighting through the rain (no audio). Full version on Flickr.

We arrived at Seven Commando beach and it was very quiet, mostly likely due to the rain. The rain eased up and we swam for a while—a few of us even saw a sea snake, though I was glad that I didn’t witness that.

A beach with palm trees fading into a foggy hillside.

At this point we were pretty tired, jet lag and hunger were setting in, so we decided to skip a final stop and head back to the hotel. We hung out at the pool until it was time for dinner.

Two beach chairs on a deck, looking out on an infinity pool.

Downtown El Nido #

We grabbed dinner downtown at a small restaurant called Maa’s Grill where we stuffed ourselves with grilled squid, then walked down to the shore to look at the water and the boats.

The ride downtown (no audio). Full version on Flickr.
A family photo in front of a beach with a hillside in the background.
Photo © Joseph Llobrera
A group of outrigger boats anchored close to shore. In the boat in the foreground a man sits in the shade of a canopy.

Lime’s Observation Deck #

We wrapped up the evening on the pool/observation deck at our hotel, watching the rapidly changing light.

A group of islands silhouetted as the sun sets behind an island to the left.
Purple clouds in a fading sunset.

Some other shots from this leg (click to enlarge):

More photos on Flickr.