Even after being in El Nido for 3 months, I seldom go island hopping since it is an activity I partook on my first visit taking Tour A and Tour C then. Not to mention it’s not really cheap for a day’s activity once you are living in the area. It took a friend’s visit from Singapore for me to take another tour of Bacuit Bay, this time with El Nido Tour B which my friend and I haven’t done yet. Being back there again in the midst of the many islands of Bacuit Bay renewed my sense of wonder of El Nido. It’s different world when one is out on the sea.
Taking a Tour
It’s no secret there are already a large number of tour agents in El Nido and it can be tricky. Truth is there is already a set standard in terms of price so it comes down on who has the better equipment (boats, gear, etc), personnel and guides. I recommended Islanen Tours before which is still one of the trusted ones but this time I tried APT Travels (just in front Entalula Resorts) since I have a friend there. And not to be biased, they do have a nice large boat, very good kayaks and the guides puts a nice touch on the meals.
We left early morning around before other tours have started. Our first stop was the Entalula Beach which is not originally part of El Nido Tour B but was added. Is a really nice scenic beach with one noticeable limestone karst standing like a beach sentinel. There’s only a part for the public since the main beach is used by El Nido Resorts. We were the first ones there which as a good thing but minutes after, the other boats carrying the other tourist started coming in. The group of Palawan Hornbills I saw when we were docking on the shore flew away. It’s the time we saw what would be familiar with the rest of the faces of our Tour B companions.
More than a Snake Island Sandbar
This was the exciting part of the tour for me and we came at the right time, where a large portion of the sandbar is up on the water and we can walk from the islet to the nearby mangrove forest by the main land. The Snake Island lived up to what I expected, even the number of tourist there wasn’t an annoyance as everyone was doing their own thing, walking by the sandbar, a group just chilling at the shallow water with their beer or climbing up the hill to see a nice overlooking view of the sea and the sand bar. It was also our lunch stop. Definitely one of the better sites in El Nido.
Squeezing through for Cudugnon Cave
The beach here was gorgeous. But we were here for the cave where we had to crawl into a small opening to see a couple of huge chambers with skylights. Named after a Cuyonon word Cudugnon which means “to shake” since this was the hiding place for some Japanese and FIlipinos during the war and they would feel the ground shake after the American forces would drop bombs on the island. There used to be some remains and artifacts here but was moved to the National Museum. Cudugnon Cave is an interesting stop for the historically inclined.
Cathedral Cave and Jellyfishes
I was in the mood for snorkeling but it seems the jellyfishes have other plans. it was the season when the jellyfishes begin to swarm certain areas just like the Cathedral Cave. The whole island the cave is situated is like a giant dome and the cave is like a huge open chamber. It would have been interesting to swim inside but moved on we did.
The Soft Sands of Pinagbuyutan Island
Its towering peaks may probably the first glimpse of the islands in Bacuit Bay, Pinagbuyutan Island can even be seen from the road as one enters El Nido town. What I didn’t expect is to find a wonder soft beach, not long but delightful still. There’s even a nice portion of Bermuda grass grounds ideal for picnics. I heard this used to be a private island thus signs of accommodations can be found now its open to the public.
Disturbing Development at 7 Commandos Beach
I remember at my first visit here that we can freely roam around this beach but now the Coco Bar has moved to the side and large area has been fenced since it is now owned by the Cariños of Pasig. I’m a bit saddened that a lot of the properties in El Nido are being privatized already. I think we will reach a point where there would be only limited islands for the public to enjoy.
Ipil Beach Detour
Since we didn’t really like how things went at 7 Commandos, we just decided to go to Ipil Beach and wait for the sunset there. We just enjoyed simply wading on the clear waters while talking about different stuff with fellow guest on the tour. I wasn’t in the mood to shoot at the later part of the afternoon and just enjoyed the sunset instead.
The Highlights of El Nido Tour B
El Nido Tour B is also a wonderful tour that I really enjoyed. Thinking about it now all, the island tours have their own unique highlights. For me, the Snake Island was definitely my favorite followed by Pinagbuyutan Island then a sunset at Ipil Beach.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.