day ninety-eight: january 5, 2016
Today we traveled from Coron to El Nido. We caught a flight from Coron to Manila (1 hour), Manila to Puerto Princessa (1.5 hours), then hopped in a van to El Nido (7 hours). Needless to say, today was a big travel day. We arrived El Nido late in the evening so we went straight to bed to get ready for a big day of island hopping ahead of us.
*Note: you can take a ferry from Coron to El Nido and it takes about 7 hours or so.
day ninety-nine: january 6, 2016: el nido
We were picked up at our hotel at 9am and brought down to the beach, where we caught a bangka to island hop for the day. Our first stop was 7 Commandos Beach, named after the seven Japanese soldiers who took refuge here after WWII. The beach is beautiful, but it's also becoming more and more developed with a few restaurants and bars, which also brings more people. We snorkeled a little bit, but found there to be a ton of jelly fish in the water. We only stayed for a short while before heading to the next place.
Next stop was Secret Lagoon. You have to crawl thru a small opening to get into this small lagoon. Once inside you're surrounded by steep, sharp karst limestone walls. Unfortunately, there were people shuffling in and out while we were there, which I'm guessing is the typical experience here with so many people visiting. With the recent publicity for El Nido, we weren't surprised.
Just across the way, we headed to Shimizu Island for our lunch spot. This was also apparently several other groups' plan as well, making it a little bit crowded on the beach. While our guide and boat captain prepared our lunch, we did some snorkeling in the crystal clear water. Some of the coral in the shallows were slightly damaged, but further out was decent snorkeling. We even spotted and followed around a pod of 20-30 squid.
After lunch, our next stops were Big and Small Lagoons where we were able to kayak around, which was nice to get away from most of the crowds and move around at our own pace.
Overall, El Nido was a beautiful place, but as with anywhere that becomes a popular tourist destination, the crowds come too.