After having done both Tour A and C TWICE, I was finally ready to explore a bit more of El Nido – to Tour B, the less recommended, but still impressive tour to the caves, the elusive Snake Island and their beautiful Pinagbuyutan Beach.
The tour ordinarily costs P800, but because I have great haggling skills (okay, the hostel did), I only paid P700. Unfortunately, this rate is still utterly expensive, because it did not include snorkels. I had to rent snorkels at the hostel which cost P50. And because I left my environmental fee receipt with Robbie who had left already, I had to pay for another. So much for budget traveling.
We left the town at around 9.30am. Since none of my friends would be around to join me, I thought I’d be going alone. However, it turned out that 3 of my hostelmates would also be joining Tour B – apparently, because I convinced them to (I still don’t know when I did that, Lol).
No matter. At least I knew someone on the boat.
The tour started with Entalula Island.
In 2010, when I did Tour A, we included Entalula Island in our itinerary. I don’t think we did a lot when we came here. Just a little bit of snorkeling and that was it. This was why I actually remembered the place. Unfortunately, there’s not really a lot to remember, besides the huge signature rock that everyone who went to El Nido before seems to have a picture with. The waves were a little strong when we went and strong waves + snorkeling = not really a good time for me.
I ended up back on the beach and taking pictures instead. I got my first scratch here, by the way when I went up the ladder into the boat and a wave crashed into the beach. I leaned onto the ladder and a part of it scratched my thigh.
I waited for the others, who apparently enjoyed their snorkeling. Ah, how couldn’t they, they’re pretty strong swimmers.
When everyone came back onboard, we headed off to the Snake Island, the island I was most excited to see on this tour. I’ve always liked snake islands because such a sandbar is quite interesting. However, this snake island in El Nido is known for connecting two islands. In the pictures, the island can be pretty drool worthy, especially if you’re standing in the middle of the sandbar.
Unfortunately, when I went, parts of the sandbar was embraced with sea weed and stones, making it hard to walk all the way to the other side. It was still beautiful, of course, with its stretch of white, soft sand perched like a snake, curling its way to the other island, surrounded by blue-green waters, some filled with sea weed, a few parts sandy and clear and the rest with corals. By the looks of it, nature was a genius.
Once I had walked the length to the other side to check the sandbar and the island next door (which was actually more of mangroves and trees and you can’t really go there), I walked back, under the heat of the sun to the main island where we were supposed to have lunch.
Yes, imagine me and the Palawan sun. Now you know why I’m burned.
On the main island, there’s a staircase that leads to a viewing deck where you can take pictures of the sandbar from above.
The boatmen called us for lunch and we were fed like kings (so to speak, quoting somebody here). They even served us squid!
It was a good lunch. There were a lot of dogs, though.
After lunch, we headed over to our next stop, Cudugnon Cave.
The cave was at the side of a beach. At first, you won’t even notice it, until you follow your boatman into its entrance. The entrance is pretty small so you have to lie down and crawl into the cave. I’m tiny so I was able to get in pretty easily without being claustrophobic or anything.
But once you’re inside, the cave is pretty big.
Nothing much about the cave. Just a few limestone rocks and formations, lots of carvings and sand. I thought it would’ve been nice to climb to the top but according to the boatman, they’d have to pay a fee to DENR. Understandable.
One of the girls we were with was so scared of bats that every time she heard a noise, she’d duck. It was quite funny. There wasn’t really any bats in the cave, the boatman was just teasing her. I got my second scratch here when I climbed up another stone to get to the top part of the cave.
The next cave we went to was a little more interesting though.
Known as the Cathedral Cave, this cave formed inside a huge rock formation. The cave got its name because it forms a cathedral shape inside. Unfortunately, because the tide was a little strong, we could only park the boat outside the rock formation. To get into the cave, we had to swim about 10 meters in 20 or 30 ft deep water. The guys went in first, most of them without their life jackets.
Competitive me thought twice. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? And there was my biggest mistake. I jumped into the water with nothing but my snorkels. Swimming into the rock formation was easy, because the tide easily pushed me inside. But because I’m not a very strong swimmer, I ended up crashing into the corals when I reached the entrance of the cave. The current was so strong that I fought to hold onto something but only ended up grasping more painful limestone and coral. My legs, which flailed to save my dear life tried to find something to step onto and fight the current. Oh, my legs were able to find something to fight the current – more corals!
And that’s the story of how I got several cuts, bruises and scratches on my legs. Poor, poor flawless legs before now has a number of healed cuts and scratches to remind me of Tour B. It bled a bit, even while I walked into the stone and rock filled cave. Despite the pain, it was far from killing me – yet, anyway.
I was a little worried of getting back. I thought it would be hard. But I dived into the waters to avoid the corals and swam directly to the boat. Oh, and I kind of got distracted by the beautiful corals at least around 20 ft below. It was awesome.
Our last island was Pinagbuyutan Island. Similar to Helicopter Island and 7 Commandos, Pinagbuyutan may be beautiful, but it remains a simple resting place for island hoppers. I simply set my shawl down and fell asleep. It was a pretty good sleep, after a tiring day of swimming and pretending I’m a strong swimmer.
Tour B may have been a little boring in the beginning. But I gotta say, I truly enjoyed the thrill at the Cathedral Cave. Sure, I got scratches and cuts from it. But there’s really nothing like a bit of adventure and underwater beauty to make the trip worth it.