Secret Lagoons And Pirate Captains

Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
Trip End Mar 31, 2014

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Flag of Philippines  , Palawan,
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our poor red bodies are screaming in pain from the sunburn the last two days has inflicted upon us, so we decide to stay out of the sun by going on a boat trip to explore the nearby islands. There are lagoons to swim in, white sand beaches to relax on and stunning limestone cliffs to admire. All of them outside. In the blazing sun. Oh dear.

We board our little boat, and meet our new boat-fwends for the day. There is a french couple who have taken a break from their working holidays in Australia and a Filipino couple from Manila having a holiday. The captain of the boat is a pirate. He must be a pirate because he has a boat and only one eye. We are pretty sure that we hear him say 'Arrr' on more than one occasion. His first mate, and our guide for the day, is a boy of undetermined age. We think he is somewhere between 10 and 16 and probably our one-eyed captains son.

Off we sail towards the island of Miniloc, which is mainly uninhabited but has many hidden gems hidden around it's coast. Our first stop is Small Lagoon. To get to it, we have to don life jackets and drop into shallow water, then walk/swim/stumble over many submerged rocks until we reach a small entrance in the cliffs. This opens out into a beautiful small lagoon, where the water inside is crystal clear and the limestone heights surrounding it are awesome. We swim about and marvel at it for a while before heading back to the boat.

Next stop is the not-so-secret, Secret Lagoon. The boat drops anchor and we step off again into more shallow rocks, which Ian theatrically falls over onto his bottom and blames Anna outrageously to save face. He is still convinced she pushed him. We head towards a tiny hole in the cliff face where we have to squeeze through a small opening which is a bit difficult and slippy. Once inside though, it is breathtaking. Limestone cliffs tower above us, completely sealing in a small green-blue lagoon and small sandy beach. The water is cool and refreshing and lying on your back, looking up, the cliffs form a 360 degree frame around the bright blue sky above. We are glad the Secret Lagoon is no longer a secret!

Escaping from the Secret Lagoon, we are invited to explore a nearby untouched beach. The beach is pristine and we stay for a short while before its time to set sail again. Our pirate captain starts the engine and the boat begins to pull on its anchor. And pull. And pull. We don't move. The anchor is stuck and so are we. The captains boy pulls on the rope until his head and arms are about to explode but he can't retrieve it. In the end the captain puts on a pair of goggles (to protect his eye) and dives in. After an epic battle between our pirate-captain and the wedged anchor, we are on our way again and head off to a picture perfect bay for lunch.

Lunch is served buffet style with a huge barbequed fish (still with its teeth and eyes), lots of cooked crabs, piles of rice, barbequed strips of pork (..maybe), salad and mangos. It is delicious! Arnold (our Filipino friend) loves crab and has fun banging them about to get to the meat. He can't quite grasp the idea of being vegetarian and keeps telling Ian to eat some meat. We finish eating after about 15 min and sit there politely for another 10 while he eats crab. Then we bore of watching him eat and go for a swim. When we get back he is still eating crab. So then we  have a sunbathe. Arnold is still eating crab! He eats crab for about 45 minutes and then tells us he likes crab. We wonder what the word for 'understatement' is in Filipino.

Once arnold has consumed his bodyweight in crab, we set off again to The Big Lagoon. The sea leading up to the lagoon is very shallow so the boat is moored and we have a ten minute wade to the lagoon opening. On the way we see star fish and wade through some very hot water. By the way, have we mentioned how agonisingly burnt we are? At this point in the day we have been out in the sun for quite some time and our burns have become torturous. Anna has burnt feet which have swollen and turned a deep purple colour. Dragging her flip flops though the knee-deep hot water to protect her soles from the shale below is proving to be less than fun. Ian has super-red, blistered shoulders and each ray of sunshine feels like a tiny army stabbing him with flaming swords. We try our best to dodge the sun as we wade along. Big Lagoon is really big (surprisingly!) and there is a distinct ledge where the shallow hot sea stops and the deep cool lagoon begins. We jump in and have a swim to cool our burning bodies. It is bliss.

Heading back to El Nido, we drop anchor at a stunning private beach. Up in the trees are some monkeys and as our boy-sailer scampers up the beach to moor the boat, one of them chucks a coconut at him. It misses but we are all a bit wary as we get off the boat. We are pretty sure that being hit with a coconut would hurt. We stroll down the beach and admire the cocktail coloured ocean, before sitting on the white sand. IN THE SHADE. We sift through coral and Ian finds a bit that looks like brain. We spend the next 10 minutes trying to put the bit of shell-brain in Ian's ear (it is quite possible we are suffering from sun stroke).

As the sun begins to go down, we hop back on the boat for the last leg of the journey back to our hut. The breeze in the air is a relief and we are tired from the wading, looking at stuff, and swimming. After attacking the aftersun, we go to sleep standing up as are bodies are too burnt to lie down. Please, let it be cloudy tomorrow...

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