We began the second day at El Nido with a simple breakfast at our hotel, Greenviews. We booked an island hopping Tour A with them (it’s 1 type of tour a day, so you don’t really have much of a choice) for USD26, and breakfast and lunch is provided. The tide was low that morning, and the beach stretched far out into the horizon. So satisfying to begin a day with a view like that.

El Nido Philippines Greenviews
View from Greenviews’ breakfast bar.

El Nido Philippines Greenviews breakfast

El Nido Philippines beach

El Nido Philippines beach
So nice to see carefree pups mucking around the shallow waters.

Turns out that we were taking a slightly larger boat for the day, and this meant that it couldn’t come as close to the beach as the smaller boats, and we had to wade out quite a distance to reach it. The walk out into sea was stunning though, so we didn’t mind at all. Little did we know that this walking great distances to the boat thing was going to be a recurring and inconvenient routine throughout the day.

El Nido Philippines beach
Heading out to the boat.

I should also point out how useful it is to have a dry bag for beach holidays. We had to wade out to almost chest-high waters before hopping onto the boat, and those without waterproof bags had to hold their belongings above their heads while trying to balance in the water. It’s not very elegant, if you ask me. You can easily save yourself from embarrassment by getting a waterproof sling bag that most sport shops in Singapore stock. They only cost around SGD20+ for a 10L pack.

El Nido Philippines beach
The big outrigger boat skimmed across the choppy waters effortlessly, and the ride was surprisingly smooth.
El Nido Philippines beach
Palawan offers such rugged landscapes and dramatic colours!
El Nido Philippines beach
A diligent boatman preparing our lunch.
El Nido Philippines beach
Approaching our lunch spot.
El Nido Philippines beach
We’re going to have lunch on this pristine beach!
El Nido Philippines beach
But we’re one of the many tourists at this gorgeous spot 🙁
El Nido Philippines beach
The boatmen skillfully waded through strong waves to deliver freshly BBQ-ed meats and tropical fruits from the boat to us.

I didn’t get a shot of the generous lunch spread because I was too hungry and went straight into wolfing down the food. It was fairly good! It’s always lovely to have a picnic on a nice beach; it’s just a pity that this beautiful place is overcrowded with boats and people. Too hectic to really appreciate the gorgeous surroundings.

El Nido Philippines beach
Next stop, Big Lagoon!

The way in is flanked by soaring cliffs, which conceal the Big Lagoon and create a nice build up to the big unveil. Unfortunately, it was a painful build up. Cursed by the big boat, we had to dock much, much farther away than all the small boats, and had to walk the rest of the way on the rocky sea bed. At that point I sorely regretted leaving my Crocs at the hotel. It would’ve made things so, so, so much more pleasant. So, another must-bring for future island hopping tours: water shoes.

El Nido Philippines beach
Other casualties include fellow tourists from our boat.
El Nido Philippines beach
Finally arrived at the Big Lagoon. In my opinion, the journey in was more memorable.
El Nido Philippines beach
Deceiving shot without the 50 tourists, whom, for a few seconds, didn’t get in this shot.

We skipped the Small Lagoon, which is one of the standard stops for Tour A because the beach was just jam packed with boats, and we had to swim dangerously between anchored and moving boats if we were to get to the beach. We took a vote and everyone on the boat agreed that we should just skip it and spend more time on the next destination instead. Island hopping is a very touch-and-go affair, so more time at one spot is always a good choice.

El Nido Philippines 7 Commandos beach
Approaching the 7 Commandos beach.
El Nido Philippines beach
Still can’t get over the colour of the waters.
El Nido Philippines 7 Commandos beach
Very proud of this Conde Nast Traveller cover I shot of Priya.
El Nido Philippines 7 Commandos beach
We arrived at 7 Commandos ahead of schedule and avoided the convoy of tourist boats.

The snorkeling wasn’t great as there wasn’t much to see and we kept getting tiny stings, probably from small jellyfish. So we just rolled around in the fine sand under the shade, made friends with puppies, and drank fresh coconut juice from the fruit. Absolute bliss. The older I get the more I’m willing to settle for not-so-hyped places as long as they’re quiet. Done with all the wrestling with others to get the “perfect shot” of must-see attractions.

El Nido Philippines beach
When we got back to our resort, the sun has set and another day in paradise has passed.

We deserved a massage after all that tiresome and grueling beach hopping, and there was a shack right next to our resort perfect for that. It had an open-air terrace that allowed us to look out into the sea and hear the waves crashing as we got our muscles kneaded.

After that, we headed back into town for dinner by the beach. Chose the slightly upmarket Atmosphere, where I had their signature stir-fried Udon with chicken, prawn, and carrots for USD8. I was taken aback by the generous portions, but surprised myself even more by wiping out the entire plate.

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