Ah, El Nido. Where do I even begin? You know how in every place you visit, there will always be that one moment, that joyful fragment of time wherein everything just clicks and falls into place? It could be seeing a group of performance artists in the middle of Tokyo’s Shibuya crossing; hearing the opening bars of your favorite song played live at a concert, the throng of people around you roaring in shared excitement; a lazy afternoon laced with wine and really, really good conversation in a Malate art gallery; or finding yourself in a bangka at sea in the middle of a sudden downpour, the rain giving your body a cooling massage after a long day spent under the sun. My friend Paula and I, we call these blissful slivers of time “moments we want to bottle.” And in the paradise that is El Nido, you get a chockfull of these bottle-worthy moments.
During my five-day stay at the Lagen Island Resort, one of my favorite episodes was when I was on my way to the restaurant for breakfast and I saw my aunt approaching me from the opposite direction. She was all smiles and waving at me when she suddenly froze in her path. The reason? She waited until the resort’s resident giant monitor lizard finished crossing the road (it took its sweet time, haha). The resort staff lets it wander around the place—I think it’s one of the many ways they respect the integrity of the island and its inhabitants. I even saw it swimming past me when I decided to kayak on my own. Unlike my aunt, I did not freeze. Instead, I paddled like a lunatic towards the opposite direction. My sister, who saw the whole thing, nearly fell off her seat by the bar from laughing at my predicament. Haha. Unfortunately, I have no photo/video of these two episodes, but I was bound to encounter the lizard again and when I finally saw it resting on a tree branch, I took a souvenir photo:
It is HUUUUGE. *shudders* Moving forward…this sunset, taken that same afternoon in Lagen, made me forget all about my creepy crawly friend. In fact, it made me forget everything. Period.
Our first afternoon in El Nido was spent in gorgeous Snake Island, where, much to my youngest cousin’s disappointment, there weren’t any snakes. Upon hearing the news, he actually looked like he was about to cry (lasted a millisecond before this photo of him and my sister was taken).
Snake Island’s actual name is Vigan Island, but it got the nickname because of a natural sandpit that “snakes” off its shores (read: this only appears at low tide).
We hiked on top of the island to a view deck that showed off a stunning view of Bacuit Bay.
Much of our stay was spent island-hopping, but a highlight was when I finally got to experience diving for the first time. I knew from my visit to Coron that much of Palawan’s beauty is underwater and still waiting to be explored.
When I finally went on an intro-dive right by this jagged limestone cliff near the resort, it felt like an out of body experience. I was spellbound by the colorful fish swimming past me and the vibrant wall encrusted with a stunning array of corals. I think we were underwater for only 30 minutes, but it was enough to convince me to finally work on getting a diving license. When we went snorkeling in Miniloc later that afternoon, I yearned to swim deeper underwater to see the giant Jackfish up close. Of course, when it did swim closer to me, I swam the opposite direction. Meh.
I really loved the time I spent in El Nido. It was one of the most blissful vacations I’ve ever had. Our days were spent either hopping from one island to the next, snorkelling, kayaking, having picnic lunches in one of the many virgin beaches of Bacuit Bay, swimming by the pool, reading by the pool, sipping piña coladas by the pool…we didn’t have to think beyond the next fifteen minutes because the resort arranged everything for us.
One of the most memorable parts of the trip was when the time finally came for us to go home. Members of the resort staff walked us to the pier where our boat was waiting, and when our boat finally left the island, we looked back and saw that the staff members were happily waving their goodbyes. We waved back and thought they would already return to the resort, but they kept on waving even when we were quite far and they already looked like tiny white dots. It definitely made us feel special. We were all smiles the entire ride to the airport. It was a great way to end a perfect holiday. :)
What are some of your bottle-worthy travel moments? Share it with me in the comments below :D