I don’t like repeating things; I don’t reread books, I don’t re-watch films, I don’t travel to the same place, at least not if I can help it. My reasoning is I got more books waiting to be read, I already know how a movie is going to end, and I will not live forever to waste time revisiting places when there’s so much more to explore in this world. But some things in this life are worth repeating especially if it’s something beautiful. That’s why I didn’t mind taking the Tour A in El Nido despite doing it in 2014.
Admittedly, I had another reason; I want a better memory. The first time I took this tour my phone got water damaged that I didn’t have photos of the Big Lagoon, the Secret Lagoon, and 7 Commandos. That’s 3 islands out of 4; I know right, it sucks. I’d been presented a chance to do over, I could only be grateful.
It is easy to find the best deals for El Nido tour package because El Nido is a popular tourist destination. In our case, we went with Sealand Venture. We found its little kiosk in front of Ocean Vista Inn being manned by a woman. We approached her, introduced ourselves, then we wrote down our names on their log book.
The day was overcast, it had been raining a little on the first day of our island-hopping tour. We prayed for a nice weather; cruises tend to be canceled when the rain is too strong. The heavens seemed to have heard our prayers because even when the sun was hiding behind the clouds for the better part of the day, the rain was kept at bay.
We were kept entertained by one of the boat crew, a dark-skinned skinny guy who kept on shooting pick-up lines to the women on our boat. For example, when we went to the Big Lagoon and I said, “Wow, this is really beautiful.”
I heard him say, “Beautiful, but not as beautiful as you.”
At other times he told me, “Ma’am your smile is brighter than the sun,” and his favorite line, “Your smile is enough to make my day.”
At first, I didn’t know what to make of his random compliments, but like I said, he’d been using the same lines to other women on the boat (save for those who came with their partners) so I decided to just laugh it off and play along. I do not think he was doing it out of malice, maybe he was just trying to keep everyone in the right mood.
The first island of the day is the Big Lagoon, one if not most picturesque island in El Nido. I still remember the time when I stared longingly at the other tourists who were having a grand time doing their mini photo shoot by the nose of the boat, with the two looming limestone cliffs and the bluest of water as their background. Back then, Big Lagoon was the third island in our itinerary, and my phone died on me after getting short circuited. Because of that I made up for lost opportunity and took as many photos as possible. I think I have more photos than anyone else on that boat. See that smile on my face? That’s the smile of success, lol.
Then off we went to the second destination, Secret Lagoon. In 2014, I was on my period (sorry if that’s TMI) hence, I skipped the foray to this lagoon and stayed on the boat. If you think about it, technically, I haven’t really been there. As the name implies, the lagoon is hidden and one must pass through a narrow opening through the rocks to see it. It is a small body of water secluded by towering rock formation. We didn’t go far beyond the opening and proceeded into picture-taking. Interestingly, the water doesn’t go beyond chest level. Inside, it felt like we were in a different world, our excited voices were the only sound that I could hear. That’s it about giving some places a second chance, you get to discover marvelous things that you might have missed in the past.
In my previous tour, lunch time was held on Payong-Payong island. This time, though our meal was prepared on Shimizu island. It’s worth noting that this island was not included in my 2014 trip, for reasons unknown. Shimizu (sometimes spelled as “Simizu”) was named after a Japanese diver who died on this island.
The food was great, or maybe I was just too hungry that everything tasted perfect. But my favorite moment of being on this island really was doing a photo shoot. While my friends were busy snorkeling, I was running back and forth to this one spot on the shore taking photos, thanks to my friend’s tripod, lol.
Next was Payong-Payong. Having been to this island before, I took the time to just relax a little bit. We then continued our tour to the Small Lagoon where we rented a kayak to explore the place. Lara was our captain, but I tried my hand on it after a while and I realized I have the potential. There was a moment when I steered the kaya for like 15 minutes. Pretty soon my arms were burning from the effort, but I welcomed the physical strain to compensate for my missed workout routine.
The remaining hours of the tour were spent on Seven Commandos beach. My friends and I enjoyed a chat by the beach with our halo-halo and shake. I saw a few locals playing with a long rope tied to a tree. I wanted to give it a try, but I wasn’t too eager to make a fool of myself (pretty sure I’d fall flat on my face) so I passed.
There is a saying, love is sweeter the second time around, and it couldn’t be more true with El Nido. The memory is more vivid, the experience more luscious and meaningful. I am a person who doesn’t like to repeat things, but for El Nido, I’d be willing to do it all over again.