As the largest island in Bacuit Bay, Cadlao Island is an imposing presence that has become the popular landmark island being so close to town. Despite its proximity, it’s probably the least patronized of the 4 main island tours in El Nido. In my months of stay in El Nido town, taking my time off at the beach, I have always imagined what it is like to visit the island, to climb its peak which is the highest at 640 meters above sea level in El Nido or even visit its lagoon on the far west. I knew, one way or another I won’t leave El Nido without visiting this prominent island. So on the day before I left El Nido, my friend and I launched our kayak and set out for a day of expedition.
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.
I previously though that going into this part of the last frontier of the country we all know as Palawan would be really expensive. But I learned that with a bit of haggling, looking around and being with other thrifty companions while in El Nido can really stretch your budget. In the 5 days and 4 nights, with two days of Island hopping, 1 day of inland tours and sampling some of the good food of El Nido, I only spent P6082 (US$132) (excluding transport to El Nido from Manila). Read on for the details.
It’s been taunting me ever since we came to El Nido. Those towering cliffs and jagged peaks keep calling me, daring me to tread its trail, conquer its peak and discover what’s up there. We already inquired at one of the tour operators there first time we came here about climbing those cliff. There’s a 300 pesos guide fee per person with a minimum of two persons quota that I thought was expensive. And on our last day I got a good deal and the guide would accompany me to the peaks even on my own.
“We can’t make it to Snake Island”, our boatman who doubles as our guide, Charlie informed us. It was already late mid afternoon and Snake Island is far down south of Bacuit Bay. We were also told that we needed to refill our fuel soon lest we got stuck in the middle of the bay. We headed to an island they called Helicopter Island, said to be named after its shape. But it looks a lot more like a whale to me.
Making our way back at the central channel of Taiputan-Matinloc Islands we docked on a beach where Matinloc Shrine is located. Shielded by walls of limestone, It’s a charming place that I felt it’s like a small piece of Greece with its architecture. There’s also a large platform facing the beach on the opposite island. Standing there gave us a surreal panorama of the aquamarine waters and limestone cliffs in every direction or angle.
The groove to go Island Hopping is back on our fourth day in El Nido. We’re going again with Islanen Outdoors Tours since they have a very good slightly customized package and price (of P650) on Tour C which includes several sites in Matinloc Island and few stops on our way back. We had to wait a few minutes before they got everything ready. We had a smaller white boat this time highlighted by MMDA colors of pink and blue but it seems real solid and capable to handle the seas.