The next day, we were off to another early start as we availed another island hopping tour, Tour C. This time around, we had a more private boat as there were only three of us together with a Filipino couple who arrived the day before. I must say that though the first tour had such amazing snorkelling sites, this second tour had wonderful beaches that I could never forget.
Hidden Beach was the name of the first island we went to and it was given that name because the beach was hidden from view by rock formations. We had to walk in a narrow rocky path to get the entire experience of it being concealed. The view that greeted us was lovely. Our tour guide told us that one foreigner told her that it was the most beautiful beach he has ever seen. As splendid as it was, I could not agree with that foreigner because the second island we went to was by far my favorite. Secret Beach, another treasure tucked away and surrounded by limestone cliffs. We were the first to arrive and upon seeing it, the beach was shining underneath the sunlight taking my breath away. I stayed underneath the shade of the big rock found in the center while lying on the sand, half of my body submerged in water. I took deep breathes, relishing the feeling of the sand on my back and the cool water touching my skin, the sound of the soft waves, and the moment that I was in, then and there.
I was snapped back into reality when we had to go for lunch. We stopped by in Talisay Beach where our tour guide prepared our meal. It was simpler than the day before considering that there were only five guests this time but it was still scrumptious. There was something about eating by the sea – it made everything taste better. The beach had some large rocks separated from the cliff which offered a nice little place to hide away in if one needed to. I could not stay for long as we had to move on.
Matinloc Shrine was our second to the last island, a place that was supposed to be retreat house as shared by our tour guide. However, things did not seem to work out with the government so it was left on its own, despite having structures and a shrine already built there. There was a set of stone stairs, poorly fashioned yet added to the beauty of the place. One could go up these stairs and stand in between the jagged formations on the cliff for a scenic view.
Then, we went to Helicopter Beach, though it does not look like a helicopter but rather like a turtle. We snorkelled for a bit and I was still hoping to see a sea turtle underneath the water. However, I had to be satisfied with seeing one bobbing its body out of the water while it swam a few feet away from our boat earlier that day. On our way back from the tour, rain began pelting us. Maybe it was the speed of the boat combined with the wind which made the rain hit us hard and we had to shield ourselves from it using our life vests.
Upon arriving, my two friends were in line for the showers so since the rain calmed down to a drizzle, I went out and explored the El Nido town proper. I went to a souvenir shop to look for a keychain for my aunt who requested one. I then checked stores and restaurants along the town, still reminding me of how a town normally looks like. Then again, it was still a different town, a different place.
View from the top: Las Cabañas Beach
With my exploring, I decided to try one of the stores which sold crepes the day after. We planned on hiking to Taraw Cliff at 6 am but our tiredness overcame us and we woke up late, quite close to lunch time. We ate in a carinderia this time, to give it a try, and I ate my crepe which I absolutely enjoyed. We then had a tricycle take us to Las Cabañas Beach, a 10-minute drive away from the town proper. We chose it as was it was nearer than the other beach and we had to catch our 6 pm van ride back to Puerto Princesa. The driver stopped by a breath-taking view of our destination. We were high up and we could see the beach down below. We drove on and he dropped us off the beach itself and told us that he would just come back later.
Las Cabañas Beach
The sun that day was extremely happy. With its dazzling rays, it made the beach look glorious and dreamy for me. It was a perfect scene to depict a summer getaway. The long stretch of the beach gave people a chance to stay wherever they wanted to bask under the heat. We swam for a while and decided to look for coconuts to complete that cliché part of being on-vacation. We found one eventually, after walking for a while. An old man split three coconuts open for us and handed us straws for drinking. I was a happy lady, drinking my coconut by the shore.
Soon enough, it was time to go and we were right back where we landed days earlier. It was around 1 am when we arrived in the city of Puerto Princesa. We stayed in a simple Vietnamese noodle house and then in a popular doughnut store as we waited for the airport to open. Hours later, we were on-board and up the air we go back to Manila. We all hugged and said our good-byes upon arrival and as I was sitting alone in the taxi, I felt gratitude for the entire time that was given to me to take this break. My resolve to go back there strengthened as I wanted to explore more of the beauty that is Palawan.