The journey to El Nido was a lot better than to Sabang. It took about 5 hours and we had to change once at the main junction. When we arrived we had to look for a room again, it took a while - Kam and Claire found the best one, another family room for the 5 of us it was very near the beach. We dumped our bags and then went to look at the beach, it was quite polluted and it was very overcast so we didn't get a good first impression of it! We ate in a bar called Sea Slugs and had our beloved mango shakes, Claire went for a swim but got told off as it was too polluted to go in!. In the evening we had a walk around the town, it was very touristy with lots of stalls selling souvineers, t shirts and tours. There were the most western tourists we had seen too. We had dinner and then had a few drinks on the beach at a reggae bar called Pukka. Claire and Jessica had a little dance and I think we may have had one too many Red Horse beers!
We got up quite late the next day and had brunch at the Art House Cafe which was quite expensive but they had really tasty food. Then we got a tricycle out of El Nido to another beach where you could swim and stayed there for the whole afternoon. We had one drink at a bar there before we left and met a really wierd american guy who wanted to make a trance club on the beach and 'dance under the galaxy' we told him to go to Thailand! In the evening we went out again for dinner and booked a tour for the following day for the islands surrounding El Nido. There are four different ones to choose from and we chose to do A as it was the most popular.
We met our guide at 8:45am and went down to the boat, we only had two other people on the tour. The weather was a bit overcast and the sea was very choppy. Our first stop was called hidden beach, we headed towards a big rock edge where there were lots of other boats bobbing up and down. We then realised we would have to swim around another big rock to get to the hidden beach. We opted to swim in our life jackets as it was so rough. As we got in the water it was a bit of a struggle to get to the beach as the waves were just crashing into the rock in front of us. We got there though and it was a sweet little beach hidden between two rocks jutting out. We swam and Kam and Jessica snorkled before trying to get back to the boat. This time our guide told us all to go in a line and grab on to eachothers feet as he guided us back. He was fairly young and was as skinny as a rake but a very strong swimmer!!
Our next stop was another hidden beach or lagoon (they all had similar names!) This time to get to it we had to swim through a tiny archway in the rock. This was quite terrifying as when the big waves came in it completely submerged the archway, we were bobbing around in really deep water waiting to get through as the guides would wait until it was safe. When it was my turn I had a wave that followed me in and got pushed through really quickly and scraped my wrist on the rock. Our guide also got a minor injury too. This little beach was also very nice. We had to then try and get back through the archway. There were 3 guides all from different boats to help. It was so rough but we all managed to get through OK, I followed Jessica out and we swum through a load of rubbish to get back on the boat, it was all tangled around my feet and there was oil in the water too. When we got back on the boat someone went errr whats on your arm, I immediately panicked as I thought it might be a jellyfish but it was a bit of poo!!! We were then taken to a nice beach where we had lunch, our guide BBQ'd some pork, tuna and aubergine, this was served with rice, a lovely sauce made from mango, lime and soy sauce and salad. It was so yummy I think me and kam had three helpings each. We then went off to mintiloc island which is a catholic shrine, it was very nice and there was a rock you could climb up to get a good view. It was here we found out we were actually on tour C not A! We were a bit miffed as Tour A looked really good too. Our final stop was helicopter island which I thought looked more like a whale or a camel, Kam thought it looked like a goat. We relaxed on the beach and the guide took Kam out snorkelling but the current was so strong it didn't last long! In the evening we went back to the agent and told him he'd booked us on the wrong tour and managed to get a discounted price for tour A the following day. We also booked tickets for the van back to Puerto Princesca. We had dinner on the beach again and the waves actually washed over our feet as we were eating!! We played cards and had a few beers before retiring for the night.
We woke up early the next day to do Tour A this time and the weather was so much better and the sea a lot calmer. We went to small lagoon where we had to swim through a small opening which opened up to this magnificent lagoon surrounded by high cliffs covered in trees, it was like a swimming pool - we just floated around blissfully! The next stop was big lagoon where we just sailed through, again it was spectacular scenery. We then went by a posh hidden resort and then stopped on this absolutely gorgeous beach for another amazing BBQ pork lunch. The sand was so white and the water was clear it was amazing. After lunch we went to another 'hidden lagoon' we had to swim to an opening in a cliff and then climb over into the lagoon it was again stunning and very echoey - its a shame we couldn't take the camera in. When we were near the beach we saw quite a few dead jellyfish, Kam was the last one on the boat and as we were watching him swim towards us we saw loads of jellyfish bobbing around him, we started shouting for him to watch out and he nearly swam into one, luckily he got on the boat very quickly! Our last stop on the tour was the most stunning beach called seven commandments, it was just spectacular and in the distances you could see the rock peaks jutting out the water it was picture perfect. We met a sweet little dog who got in some of our pictures and there was a bar on the beach - we all got a san miguel and as there was no shade on the beach we all sat behind someones deckchair! Tour A was definately the best and we all really had a good time, we were sad it was our last night in El Nido and had a few drinks and dinner in the evening and played some cards.
The following day we had to get up early for our van back to Puerto Princesca, the agent had mucked up our booking again and we weren't booked on the van at all, luckily they put us in another one and after only a short delay we were off on the five hour drive, Kam saw a dog get run over on the way which luckily none of us girls witnessed :-(
When back in Puerto we went back to Banwa but they had no rooms available but they were really kind and phoned around and got us our last family room all together at the Duchess Pension house which was cheaper and had was really clean. As it was our last night all together we decided to walk into the city centre and see if they had any nice places to have a drink. We found a nice stretch of outdoor bars on the boulevard which was full of locals - it was a perfect end to our time in Palawan!