Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bacuit Archipelago - Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Miniloc and Simizu - Cruising the Islands of "Tour A"

Hidden lagoons filled with coral and colorful fish highlight the Bacuit Archipelago, so I jumped on another small boat for "Tour A" - taking me around Miniloc Island (Big and Small Lagoon), Simizu Island, the Hidden Lagoon and 7 Commandos Beach. As with the previous tour, the islands dotting the bay were spectacular, though I can't say the same for all of my fellow passengers. Overall, it was still amazing.

(The Small Lagoon at Miniloc Island. This shallow cove contains a small opening to the open water, protecting a blue-green bay. We swam to the back of this cover where you pass through a narrow opening in the rock wall to find another completely hidden lagoon with similarly perfect scenery. The sun finally came out just before this picture, and it made a huge difference in revealing the colors all around us.)

(The entrance to the Big Lagoon at Miniloc Island, around the corner from the Small Lagoon. The channel is so shallow that we all had to stand on the front of the boat while the captain turned off the motor and literally waded in the water in front of us, pulling the boat along by the side of the catamaran.)

(The narrow channel leading into the Big Lagoon.)

(Clear water and limestone cliffs.)

(Leaving Miniloc Island, with the entrance to the Big Lagoon in the right center of the picture.)

(Our next stop was Simizu Island with another small beach where our guide/driver prepared another fresh lunch for us.)

(Fresh fish, mango, bananas, orange watermelon (tastes about the same as red watermelon), and some chicken. Pretty good deal considering the huge, all you can eat lunch and the full day tour with all the stops only cost about $20.)

(Lounging around Simizu. I had originally planned on having a fisherman just drop me on one of these islands and stay the night in my hammock, but bits of rain every night made me think better of that idea, so I opted for the day tours. Back in town, I stayed in the guest room of a local family.)

(The leftovers of our lunch were tossed overboard to the hungry fish waiting below. It's the circle of life. Or, as our captain put it, "Those fish are so stupid. You eating your mother!")

(This may or may not be Paglugaban Island. It's not a riddle, I just have no idea. Either way, it's another beautiful spot in the archipelago.)

(Another idyllic scene along the way.)

(Arriving at tiny beach backed by eroded limestone cliffs, we made our way through a small hold in the wall to the Secret Lagoon.)

(I had seen sharp limestone pinnacles like this in China and Madagascar, but along with the stunning beaches, it makes a pretty impressive scene.)

(I emerged unscathed from the Hidden Lagoon, enjoying some time on the beach before heading back towards the mainland.)

(I also had planned on doing a bit of sea kayaking in the area, but again the hints of rain deterred me. Also, it's not a bad life to have a motorboat and massive lunches while visiting these places.)

(7 Commandos Beach, back on the mainland a few miles South of El Nido. This was named for some American soldiers at some point, though I never got the whole story. Probably something about a beach...and maybe some commandos...)

(As the sun fell low in the sky, we spent our last few minutes relaxing in this paradise before heading back to El Nido.)

(A view of Ipil Beach, wedged between the forest and cliffs on the South side of the peninsula where El Nido sits. They used to offer mountain climbing/hiking tours from El Nido to some of these beaches, but a few accidents helped them realize that it can be pretty dangerous.)

(The small town of El Nido - basically one main street along the waterfront and three or four streets deep with some hotels, restaurants and simple houses.)

(I arrived around 11 pm one dark and rainy night after another breakdown on our bus, so most hotels were full. I helped a friendly but worried Korean couple find a room first, and then I ended up staying with a family in their extra bedroom for five days. Basically just a bed, mosquito net and fan (with electricity from late in the afternoon until 6 am). The shower was simply a bucket and a ladle, but that was good enough. Walking down the muddy alley, my house is the one on the right.)


frank said...

i laughed myself silly reading this: "(The leftovers of our lunch were tossed overboard to the hungry fish waiting below. It's the circle of life. Or, as our captain put it, "Those fish are so stupid. You eating your mother!")"

thanks for the laughs during this tough time.

Anonymous said...

What tour company did you choose for Tour A? I will be in El Nido in april and am in the process of researching. Great blog, by the way!

Derek said...

I will look and see if I can find the name of the tour company, but there are a lot of them on the main road running along the beach, so it's easy enough to find a company with the tour, even sometimes on the same day. Most leave at 8:30 or 9, so you'd just want to walk around in the morning and ask about which ones have space. They'll all basically do the same itineraries, so ask about group size, if they'll sell you to another group (this often happens to consolidate into fewer boats), and confirm the itinerary. Other than the one popular backpackers place (El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe), which is a little more expensive, most tours are about the same price regardless of the company.

There are slight differences in prices of the tours (A vs B vs C), but that's mostly based on some of them requiring more gas/longer trips based on going to islands further away.

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