Our our fifth day we decided to take tour C because… everyone takes tour A and C. I don’t know if just enough people have given positive reviews of these ones that now it is a self fulfilling cycle of people going and raving about tours A and C or what, but not a lot of people do tours B and D. Plus we had already done a teeny bit of tour D (the island we visited when kayaking is part of tour D).
Our first stop was Helicopter Island (because it looks like a big helicopter from the side), which was just a quick stop for some snorkelling.
Our next stop was Hidden Beach (not to be confused with Secret Beach, coming up later). It is hidden in that it is behind a mass of rock which is actually pretty cool to snorkel under. Like all stops on the tour, there were a bunch of other people there but the beach was still nice. Also Chris SAW AN OCTOPUS in the wild, one of his dreams, but he was too slow with the GoPro to capture the moment.
We then went to for lunch at Tapiutan Island. There was some really good snorkelling here but you had to be kind of careful as there are always a few boats pulling in/out for lunch. Our boat had to stop for an oblivious snorkeler on the way in. Lunch was similar to Tour A food – some pork, chicken, whole grilled fish, rice and fruit.
Then on to Secret Beach. It is a secret because again, you have to swim through a fairly narrow opening in the rock face into a little cove. But not too secret, as you will always see some tourist in an orange lifejacket around the opening (it appears lots of Asian tourists don’t swim well?). There are some little fish in the cove, but because of the number of people that must tread through there each day, we were surprised to see any real wildlife.
We finished (almost) with Matinloc Shrine, which is part of a German couple’s home and also some kind of religious shrine which we didn’t really care about (again, not religious). There were some sketchy concrete/rock stairs which led to some pretty awesome views looking out along the islands, and also the pier had a nice dog. We tried to feed him some water (he looked hot) but he refused. I think he’s the owner’s dog, since he seemed pretty at home, and how else would he be there on that island? Unless maybe he can swim like 8 billion times better than my dogs.
We got a bonus stop at Star Beach, right across from the shrine site. It also was great snorkelling – pretty shallow, but just deep enough that you don’t worry about hitting anything. There was also a pretty crazy drop off if you went out far enough. The highlight of this stop though was watching our tour guide mack on the American girl on our boat who had been loudly discussing her recent breakup with her boyfriend of “officially” 6 months. Not sure what his end game was since she had clearly stated she was leaving El Nido that night on the 6pm bus, but the rest of the boat crew were pretty entertained/encouraging anyways.
The next day we headed back to Puerto Princesa. The trike driver who had taken us around to the various beaches offered to drive us to the Transport Center for a price that was “up to us”, so we made it there in good time. After only one van switch, we actually left at almost 9am in a pretty fancy van. Unlike on the way up, this van was entirely English speaking tourists so we actually knew what was going on. We stopped at a cute Vietnamese place on the way and made it to Puerto Princesa by late afternoon.