It was my second time in El Nido. Another time to listen to the sound of waves rushing to the shore. Another chance to enjoy paradise.
Unlike most stories though, this is not about the difference between tour packages. This is about why you should visit El Nido before it gets too commercialized, because trust me, it’s starting.
I have nothing against progress and modernization. It’s good for everyone. But it seems like there are some environmental problems that El Nido faces today. And we need to take action.
I remember vividly my visit three years ago. The 5-hour ride going there wasn’t smooth. When it was down to an hour to town, the road got bumpy. It was dark. There were few restaurants and bars to visit. There was no ATM or bank in the area. No electricity in the morning. That was the kind of El Nido I imagined I’d go back to. A pristine paradise and a relatively undisturbed area. But everything has changed. Some are good while other changes need immediate attention.
It was around 11:30 am when we arrived at the new Puerto Princesa Airport. Everything is more organized. A tourist information desk where you can book a van going to El Nido stands at the arrival area. The standard rate is PHP500 or US$10. It was a smooth ride going to El Nido transport terminal.
I was shocked with what I saw. There’s a huge commercial building, a gasoline station, and a line of hotels and bars near the terminal. That’s not even the town proper! Well, it’s a good sign of growth. Every business establishment is equivalent to job opportunities.
I had a hard time looking for a place to stay, because I could still imagine the old El Nido which was a bit boring at night. So, as much as possible, I tried looking for a good place close to some bars and restaurants. It was a last minute decision to stay at Spin Designer Hostel upon the recommendation of my friend. It’s got a tasteful design and good online reviews. In fact, it ranks second out of over a hundred specialty lodging places on TripAdvisor. Without second thoughts, I immediately booked a room using Traveloka to get a discount.
The moment I arrived, I concluded that it’s the best accommodation for millennials or simply for people who want to meet other travelers. It was the kind of vibe El Nido lacked a few years back. Spin Designer Hostel has enlivened the place. I love how the hostel was designed—stylish with wide and open space surrounded by tall trees, allowing the air to flow naturally.
I got an air-conditioned private room that had the basic. I love how the pillows and the bed are soft, giving me a comfortable sleep. They had a BBQ Night wherein you would pay PHP350 or US$7 to enjoy a dinner buffet. The food was good, although limited to one dish of pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables. After the BBQ Night, it was time for socials.
I got up early the next morning to catch breakfast before the start of our tour. They served bread, eggs, rice, and one Filipino dish. Coffee and tea were unlimited, too. But what’s lovable about eating in the hostel is their open-air dining area called “The Table.” It was a lovely experience to enjoy the nice weather and listen to birds chirping while having breakfast.
It was October when I first visited El Nido and I came back in the same month this year. Trust me, though, it’s not the best time to visit. I didn’t learn my lesson. The weather was so bad that I really prayed for the rain to stop. The clouds were dark when we started our first tour: Tour A. I got the services of Sealand Venture. You may call them at 0945-257-5352 or 0999-992-1218. If you have limited time in El Nido, pick Tour A.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of beaches in the Philippines. But I don’t know where else you can find lagoons as beautiful as El Nido’s.
We had our lunch on an island called Payong-Payong. Originally, it wasn’t part of the tour, but I believe it was where most of the boats stop for lunch. I was disappointed to see some trash floating around the island. When I stepped out of the boat, I saw more trash on the beach. I swear, I felt embarrassed. I tried to pick them up, but I couldn’t carry everything. As we moved away from the island, I saw plastic bags floating around. The matter was escalated to El Nido Tourism, but I didn’t get any feedback from them. My post about it went viral on Facebook and was even featured by ABS-CBN. I hope that the local government do something about it. Taking our trash with us to the mainland will be helpful. Also, I hope that the LGU put trash bins on this island.
The small lagoon is my favorite part of Tour A. The water was so clear and calm that it allowed me to do freediving. I remember my first visit there. Everyone swam to enter the small lagoon. But this time, everyone rented a kayak. Rate is PHP400, good for probably 30 minutes. It was expensive, so I just swam all the way to the lagoon. Everything is slowly changing. Even the lagoon is getting commercialized.
Our last stop, the 7 commandos, is one of my favorite beaches in El Nido. The white powdery sand is comparable with the famous white beach of Boracay. Today, there’s a growing number of bars around 7 commandos. Time flies fast. It was undisturbed a few years back.
It was my first time to do Tour C, so I was really excited. Something to look forward to on this tour is the hidden and Talisay beach. We docked our boat outside huge and tall limestone’s and swam all the way inside the hidden beach. The moment I entered, I was breathless. The hidden paradise made me forget all the hate I felt toward irresponsible people who throw their trash into the water. El Nido is spectacular. I hope we keep its natural beauty.
I love freediving. I can’t recommend a good diving spot included in Tour A. There were some fish, but they didn’t satisfy my craving for a lively and colorful world underwater. Not until we visited Talisay beach. If you’d love to do snorkeling and freediving, tell your bangkero to stay longer on the island. It’s the best place to see a lot of fish and corals.
Going back to the town, a number of bars, hotels, and restaurants have sprouted. We can’t stop El Nido from developing, because there’s high demand on the island. I noticed, however, that the development wasn’t thought out carefully. The road is getting smaller and uneven, trash is lying everywhere, and the place is getting flooded. I hardly noticed a canal along the streets in the town. This is something that I wish the LGU will act upon.
We can’t stop the construction of big establishments in the town. We can’t stop people from visiting El Nido. But there is something we can do about the impending environmental issues. Please don’t throw trash into the ocean and anywhere inland. Imagine yourself traveling on a boat and all you see is trash instead of schools of fish. Is this the kind of El Nido we want? I don’t think so. But if we don’t put an end to it, that’s going to be the El Nido our future generations will live in. I’m asking for your help. Let’s spread awareness and protect our oceans.