Of drowning and hypothermia. :D (El Nido, Tour A)

By the third day (June 19, 2013) of our El Nido vacation, I was running out of courage to go out into the rough seas and stormy weather. 2 typhoons and Habagat season, how could this be more exciting? Kuya Rodrigo, our tour contact, was reassuring as always, and we, fools and eager as always, went ahead. This time around, my mindset was that whatever is bound to happen, it will happen. And as long as I’m wearing a life jacket, I’ll live. :D

Tour A’s main destination is Miniloc Island.


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First stop is the Secret Lagoon. This was the scariest ride of the entire tour because we were going to the southern part of the Miniloc island, and we will be exposed to wind coming from the South China Sea. Going to the Secret Lagoon, we had to dock into a small beach amidst the limestones, and same as all the beaches in El Nido, the beach was white and a piece of paradise. :)

Pristine beach.

Getting lost. :)

In those limestones, there is a small hole which leads to a calm lagoon. The hole is about a meter in diameter, and is not easily visible especially during high tide. You have to be careful when going inside, the rocks are slippery and the waves can throw you off balance.

We found something! :)

This is how it looks like on the inside. The lagoon is small, the size of a badminton court maybe. The water is cold, knee-deep. There are cracks and plants hanging on the limestones, and I couldn’t help thinking that a snake would suddenly come out of those cracks and eat us. I also can’t help thinking the sea water might rise anytime soon and we might get trapped inside the lagoon, so I hurriedly went out the small entrance and back into the safer beach. See, I was paranoid the whole time. :(

I am the king of this lagoon!

After our lunch, the weather just got worse, and slowly the small island in front of the beach faded until it wasn’t visible anymore. I just want to stay on the island and never venture into that sea again.

The weather was getting worse. :(

Around 1pm, it was this dark.

The boatmen also said we would wait till the rain and wind calm down a little, but when he realized the weather was only getting worse, we had no choice but to try slowly crossing to the other island. It was during this ride that I saw the other boatmen wore life-vests and ran from one side of the boat to the other to try and bring the boat to a balance position again every time big waves hit us. The strong and cold wind wasn’t helping my already shaking body. It was scary. :( But I also remember thinking a bit clearer and swinging to the opposite direction, as if my weight could also bring balance. I checked on Paolo, he was trying to stay calm, and I was trying to stay alert in case we had to jump or move to the other side of the boat or whatever needs to be done. My adrenaline was keeping me alert and prepared. So that when we safely arrived on the sheltered part of Shimizu Island, I almost cried while everyone cheered. :(

Shimizu Island offers fish-feeding activities. There were lots of sergeantfish when we swam around the boat, but the current was too strong, and I was still recovering from the previous boat ride so I wasn’t able to enjoy the swim.

Next stop is the Big Lagoon. By the time we got there, it was almost low-tide so our boat wasn’t able to go inside the lagoon. We just walked the shallow and long entrance to the lagoon, and we were surprised to see clown fishes in knee-deep water.

The Big Lagoon is, BIG. Tourists would need to ride a boat in order to explore the entire lagoon. We were only able to explore this side since we only have life-vests.

Nemo! :3

Next is the Small Lagoon, located on the northern part of the island. When we arrived on the entrance to the lagoon, we saw big corals and colorful fishes on the docking area, and suddenly Paolo was more excited to snorkel than to go inside the lagoon. :D

Snorkeling area.

Entrance to the lagoon. You can use kayak, or you can just swim through it.

I want to snorkel. :(

Shallow part of the lagoon.

One of our tour-mates had been to El Nido for several times already, and he told us there is a cave further into the lagoon. But the calmness of the water and the darkness of its depth scared me, and we were eager to snorkel, so we didn’t join them go into the cave.

Deep.

Snorkel it is!

Big clown fish, about the size of my palm. Its orange tint is not visible from this picture.

Cause nemo everywhere!

I don’t know what this is, but it sure is big and weird-looking fish.

Stoned.

Last destination was supposedly the 7 Commandos Beach, but when the boatmen told us the beach was facing an open water, everyone agreed to say no! Not again. :D

It was June, it was Habagat season, and there were 2 typhoons within the week, so missing 1 island on each of the 3 tours we did was forgivable. I also realized during this time that perhaps, hypothermia have killed more people than drowning. Ships provide lifeboats, life rings, and life vest, but those things cannot protect you from biting coldness. Enough adventure!

Maybe next time. I would always love to eat on the restaurants by the beach of El Nido, again and again and again. :)

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