Our fourth day in El Nido, I left early to meet up with my dive instructor for my first ever scuba dive and left Liz to have the whole day to herself. She said the snorkeling during the tours was enough adventure for her. I think she really just wanted me to go first and report back.
I signed up for what they call a discovery dive. I did not want to commit the time and money to get certified until I tried it. On a discovery dive, you have your own personal instructor with you for the entire dive. There were only two others who had never dived before, so it was the three newbies with three instructors.
I met my dive instructor randomly at the Angle Bar in town and though he’s a perfectly adequate diver, his tour company is very new and I feel like I could have had a better overall experience choosing a well reviewed company on trip advisor instead.
The underwater experience is really incredible, and for those brave enough, the 65 dollar discovery dive was totally worth it. I felt perfectly safe and got to see very interesting fish, a three legged turtle, and other sea creatures.
I felt the fish at deeper depths are far less skittish than the ones you see snorkeling. They will hang out while you swim right past them.
After the tour, Liz and I met back up around mid-day and went to town to get some lunch at The Mezzanine, which has beautiful views views and good food.
Liz told me about her day which included her own lunch at Art Cafe, some wedding research, booking our Ubud stay in Bali and an $8 USD, 1 hour massage. She needed some new sandals as well and had a funny encounter.
The first stall that she stopped in said her feet were much bigger than Filipino women and they couldn’t find her size, they giggled at her and she left feeling like big foot. As she walked passed another street stall, a little 5 year old boy popped out and asked to help her. He hooked her up with the right size and two hundred pesos later ($4 USD) she had some knock off Havianas.
When we got back to Coron Coron beach (the area we were staying just out of El Nido), we needed to check into a new hotel. Unfortunately the JM Pension House was full so Emily arranged for us to stay at another place across the street. It was even cheaper ($20 USD a night) but not as nice and sans Emily’s welcoming personality. We picked up our newly cleaned laundry and walked across the street reluctantly to our new room.
We sat outside with a cold beer and chatted more about our day until it was time to stroll to the beach for another picturesque sunset. We found a different beachside cafe and grabbed another beer and a seat for the show.
After the sunset we met back up with our two other couple friends for a homecooked Filipino meal at Emily’s, that she wanted to prepare for us ( and not take any money for). It was rice, vegetables and prawn essentially.
We talked about how great our time had been with the six of us and sadly said our goodbyes. Shon and Amy were headed back to New York the next day and Kelly and Daniel were headed to Singapore but we made loose plans to meet them in Bali.
The next day was our last full day in El Nido. We got up early as per usual (in El Nido, we were up between 5-6 every morning with the roosters howling). We went up to town to have a waterside breakfast at Art Cafe then walked over to Deli Nido Cafe again for Nates favorite Mint Mango Smoothie.
Our friends Peggy and Eric had arrived the night before so we made day plans with them for the day. Who’s this now?
Sidebar: remember…we met Eric and Peggy canyoning on Cebu Island, they are from Ohio! We exchanged emails to meet up in Palawan. Eric and Peggy are pretty adventurous, as they are now on their second year of traveling full time.
The four of us met at the beautiful serene beach Marimegmeg just a 15 minute trike ride from Coron Coron.
The famous beach in ElNido is called NacPan but there is no shade there and it takes 30 – 40 mins and an expensive taxi so we opted for this one and it was perfection. The four of us caught up at the beach and had lunch as well.
That evening we took them to Republica Bar for a sunset welcome to their first day in El Nido, followed by dinner in town.
They are going to be in Bali and Thailand the same time as us so even though we said goodbye, we know we will see them in another country soon!
The next day, Liz and I piled on a bus that took us back down to Puerta Princessa where we would eventually fly out of the Philippines for good.
El Nido is at an amazing place in its development as a tourist destination. The majority of people around are locals living as locals do. You can experience one of the most beautiful spots in the world without the trapings of an overpopulated tourist destination.
At the same time, El Nido is developed enough to have (in my opinion) the world’s best bar and greatest smoothie. We both can’t wait to come back and see it thriving, though it might not be as desirable for travelers like us in search of untouched land, we know the development will be good for the people here. They really seem to love tourists and are reaping the benefits in a very positive way.
The Filipino people have been so welcoming and we will not forget the people and their lovely country. The time to move on has come and sadly this requires Liz and I to part ways. I’m headed to Australia for a few days of wrk and Liz is leading the charge in Bali.
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