Secret Lagoon, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach – just a few names of the places you visit during one of the island hopping tours in El Nido. Names promising something magical and spectacular. And trust me, they keep their promise! Among all my travels, this was the time when I felt closest to paradise. Paradise and… hell at the same time…
It will become very clear after I tell you that I’m kind of (very much) scared of water. And caves. Especially water and caves at the same time. Accompanied by waves. No way!
But this is what I have to deal with when our boat stops at the first lagoon. I’m thinking “Wait a second, I don’t see any lagoon… and why are we stopping in the middle of the sea?!”. For some reason I was convinced that the boat would ‘park’ on a beach each time and I can graciously make it to dry land. I have to read the brochures more carefully next time.
My enthusiasm reaches level 0 when captain Morgan points at a little hole in the rocks, around 50 meters away. My enthusiasm becomes replaced by many different emotions. My enthusiasm is gone.
People start jumping into the water and swimming towards the distant hole, while I’m desperately trying to find a solution for this situation. And then I see it! The orange ring of hope attached to the mast. The lifebuoy. “Captain Morgan, do you mind if I borrow it?”. He doesn’t. Woohoo! I’m saved. I’m looking ridiculous, holding on to my orange wheel, swimming next to a group of Asian tourists in orange life vests. But at least I’m not missing out on the first lagoon on the first tour..
It wasn’t the first time that I had to fight my fears while travelling. But that’s the way it is. The boat will not always bring you straight to the shore. Sometimes you’ll have to swim. Or walk a longer way than expected. Or put away your ego and be able to laugh about yourself.
Of course I was happy when I reached the lagoon and of course the amazing views made up for any previous discomfort. Still, I would gladly repeat my skydiving experience for the third time right away, while the thought of swimming in the ocean without ground under my feet gives me the creeps. Well..
Nevertheless, if you ever visit the Philippines, make sure El Nido and an island hopping tour is on your list of things to do. It truly feels like paradise. Especially that most of you probably have a normal and healthy attitude towards deep waters.