Sailing in Paradise: El Nido to Coron
When you arrive to El Nido in the Philippines, it is very likely that your expectations will be through the roof. You've seen every bedazzling photo of the imposing limestone cliffs rising from the clear blue waters out there and decided that El Nido was going to be the highlight of your trip.
You have compared tours A, B, C and D carefully and selected the more popular A and C Island hopping tours. Anticipation is keeping you awake at night and you're more than prepared once the guide picks you up from the hotel to commence the 9AM trip.
After a 30 minute boat ride, the guide tells you to get ready; you're arriving at the first stop: the Hidden Lagoon. Once you get closer to the entrance you notice that it's not quite the aqua blue that is grabbing your attention, it's an unexpected color; bright orange.
The beautiful hidden cove is filled with life vests and go pro's everywhere you look. Not one inch of this 'secret beach' isn't being used as a selfie background. There is a line to get into the cave and on the way in you get repeatedly kicked by the more than one enthusiastic life vest.
Conde Nast Traveler elected El Nido as the number one beach in the world and that has clearly been noted. Every popular stop is swamped by tourists and noisy motorboats, El Nido has long past the phase of idyllic isolation.
Luckily for you adventurers, there is a different way to experience the stunning Bacuit Bay; by sailing for 3 days to the neighbouring island: Coron. Three full days of the ultimate nomadic explorations; meeting local communities, enjoying freshly caught seafood and sleeping on deserted islands. No lifevests, no pollution and no trash laying around, just boundless natural beauty and freedom.
'Buhay Isla' organises it all for you, all you need to do is hop on board of the traditional wooden boat and bring your most adventurous self. For three days you can jump in the clear blue waters, go snorkeling for starfish and explore tropical islands.
The first night you will spend in Buhay Isla's base camp, where you can sleep in small wooden huts or even better, set up a mosquito net on the beach and fall asleep under a sky full of stars.
After another day full of following in Robinson Crusoe's footsteps and taking in the true Island life you set up your tent on a deserted beach, where you spend the night eating the freshest food and listening to the crew playing guitar around a camp fire.
On the third and final day you get to explore the islands and crystal clear lagoons around Coron and the best thing is, you're not on the mass tourist schedule, meaning that you could have these stunning places all to yourself.
The crew, food and experiences are all fantastic, the hardest part of the whole trip is waking up out of this paradise island dream.
Ecotip: make sure to pick up any trash you find floating around in these beautiful waters, sea-life can choke on it. Purchase non-chemical sunscreen to make sure the reefs aren't getting damaged.