Its day two of my El Nido island hopping adventure. I wanted go on “Tour A” this time. At around 9:00AM, Kuya Jason was ringing my phone … I was already running late and the group I was assigned to (for the day) were all waiting for me at the boat  … talk about a shameful entrance :( On the way to our first destination, I inescapably overheard group’s conversation … they mentioned meeting each other in an online forum. I immediately got curious and asked them about it. My suspicions were true, they were indeed fellow Pinoy Exchange (PEX) members… what a coincidence! “Tour A” took our group of 7 (Me, Ana, Fritzie, Jo, Cyril, Cyrus, and Nanay) to the most amazing lagoons and beaches in Miniloc and Shimizu Islands.

Small Lagoon, Miniloc Island

Our first destination was the small lagoon in Miniloc Island. To get to the entrance of the small lagoon, the boat passed through a scenic passageway walled on both sides by steep limestone cliffs. It was the only part I was able to take photos of since we had to leave our stuff behind at the boat to get to the actual small lagoon. The pumpboat can’t fit through / enter the small entrance … you either have to ride a kayak or swim through a small crack in the wall.

Big Lagoon, Miniloc Island

Afterwards, we went to the big lagoon. The scenery was also really good but we didn’t stay long since it looked just like the small lagoon only … wait for it … bigger :|

Umbrella Beach, Miniloc Island

Our guides then took us to Umbrella Beach and started to prepare lunch for us. There was a picnic hut at the beach, which was a great spot to have our feast. The boatmen cooked the food onsite, which meant getting to enjoy the freshest food possible :) Lunch was really delicious! I particularly liked that we had barracuda on our menu. It was my second time to get a taste of barracuda (the first was in an Indian Restaurant in Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia) … I loved it! It’s one of the few fish species that I will willingly eat.

A considerable part of the Umbrella Beach was generously shaded by low hanging trees. Me thinks it’s the reason why the beach was named as Umbrella Beach. Across from where we were, we could see the high-end El Nido Miniloc Resort. Umbrella beach is actually within the resort property but they allow non-guests to dock there.

Secret Lagoon, Miniloc Island

After a fulfilling lunch, we continued our tour to the Secret Lagoon, which was a small closed off salt water lagoon surrounded by tall limestone walls. We had to crawl through a tiny hole to get there. It was a really interesting place to visit … though I don’t think it was much of a secret anymore since everybody who’s been to El Nido have already been to this so called “secret” lagoon.

Beside the secret lagoon was the most beautiful beach I’ve seen in my life! My first instinct is to take my camera out when I see something that catches my eye but when I first saw this gorgeous beach I got stunned. I just had to give in to the irresistible urge of pausing for a moment to bask in its beauty. The tall limestone cliffs, emerald blue waters, lush tropical vegetation, and amazing blue skies totally embodied what I hoped to see in El Nido and Palawan, in general.

The scenery reminded me of the set-up in “The Beach,” a popular movie in the 1990s starred by Leonardo de Caprio and based from a similarly named novel. The author, Alex Garland, spent an extended period of time in the Philippines (including El Nido) before writing his book and it was believed that a particular spot in El Nido was his inspirations for “The Beach”.

Shimizu Island

Our last destination was Shimizu island. I really liked the exotic shape of Shimizu Island (even just its name sounded exotic already). Before docking at the beach, the boatmen let us do some snorkeling and fish feeding at a coral garden a couple of meters off the coast. There were so many fish of varied types and colors … the corals also looked so alive. It was the best snorkeling spot I’ve experienced in El Nido.

At this point I was already blown away by the beauty presented in front of me. It was nice to just bum around at the beach … sit beside my new found friends :) and let the images set in. What I loved about El Nido was the rawness of nature and the feeling of being transported into an exotic wonderland … it’s very different from say Boracay, which,for me, has a more refined allure (like a well devised/calculated tropical paradise).

Monitor lizard spotted at the beach

I was very thankful that my two days of island hopping in El Nido were blessed with clear blue skies. Traveling on the start of the monsoon season, there was definitely the high possibility of rain. In fact, I could literally see patches of rain peeping out in the distance! It was a really strange phenomenon :) Luckily, it didn’t get too near us.

The boat ride back to El Nido Town Proper

Seven Commando Beach

Paid the fee for Tour A, which costs P550, when we got back to the town proper at around 5:30PM. I was looking forward for another great sunset experience to cap off my wonderful day in El Nido.