El Nido… Finally

As I’m sitting at dinner with my two friends, James and Camila, I say, “man… I’m kind of bummed my El Nido trip got cancelled this week. Maybe I’ll try to go next week by myself.”  They replied back, “we might be able to go this weekend if you want!”  Uh, yes. I would love that. Two days later tickets are booked and we leave the next day!
As a Manila airport standard we have a two-hour flight delay, but at this point any delay will be fine just as long as the flight doesn’t get cancelled. Arriving in El Nido I feel a wonderful sense of happiness. I remember the first time I came to the island and how completely overtaken with the experience I was and how much I loved it.  Camila’s uncle Dudo owns a place on Lagen island which is about a 20 min boat ride from town proper. (He rents out his house on Airbnb, the link will be at the end of this post.)
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lagen island, photo by camila nieto
Town proper is the main strip of shops, restaurants, jetty, etc. As we arrive into town and get to the jetty the friendly hands waving to us in the distance is her uncle to pick us up in the boat. The drive to Lagen is a bit dark so we didn’t get to see much at this point however, darkness could not keep me from realizing the beauty of his place as we approach. Over 100 solar-powered lanterns lay around the grounds, hammock, hundreds of palm trees, and his three bungalows cover this section of Lagen island. Truly remarkable and I cannot wait to see it the next day.
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Dinner is fast approaching and his helpers have made us quite the meal. We have jack fish (which we saw two hours earlier as our catch for dinner.)  A caper and corn sauce, vegetable curry, rice, and sautéed greens. As we dig in it is soon discovered that this is one of the best meals I’ve had on my trip, if not the best meal of my trip.
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After eating far too much the night comes to an end. So far – the wait has been worth it.
Morning comes and as I expected the island and surrounding area is absolutely stunning.
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two bedroom bungalow

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As we walk around to see the mangrove near by and the rest of the grounds we are stopped by her uncle and the fisherman to see our catch of food for the day.  Completely taken back by how beautiful the fish were, I said to myself, “crazy. I will soon be eating that!  Oh, and I must take a photo because my brother is going to love this!”  Haha.
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photo by camila nieto
Finish up breakfast and its time to get going.  First things first, island hopping!  Island hopping is the main activity offered in El Nido. And rightfully so as you likely will not ever see anything else like it.  With our own tour guide Bilog, we sail off and leave the options of where to go up to him.
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snake island, photo by camila nieto
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Lunch is prepared as we arrive back to Lagen island and wouldn’t you know, the fish from the morning is served up as the main. We also have sinigang, rice, chop suey, and homemade ceviche.
A few amazing meals later, some kayak time, some R&R, and we have reached the end of our weekend.  Did I contemplate skipping my flight back to Manila and staying in El Nido?  Absolutely.  At one point I even went online to look at hotels to make sure the town had spaces available but, on our way back to town proper I had to kick myself and remember that there are more amazing places out there to be seen that are just waiting for me… so back to Manila I go.  Epic weekend El Nido…. Epic.
Next Stop – TBD.
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