El Nido Series

El Nido | Tour C Part 3: Cadlao Lagoon

Monday, January 28, 2013Ryan Mach

The boat trip from Cagbatang Island  to Cadlao Lagoon was so wild and crazy that I let out a few loud sighs which almost sounded like an embarrassing gasp. The moment I caught myself squawking like a scared little kid, I immediately looked at my companions to see if they noticed anything weird. But alas, my stupid stunt went unnoticed as they were busy laughing every time the boat would hit a bump, water splashing in all direction, though mostly directed toward our face. I tried giving our boat captain a look of warning that bordered on an expression of disdain - a feeble attempt to let him know that his precarious navigational exhibition wasn't funny, but he pretended like he never saw me. What with all the gleeful sighs he'd been receiving from his delighted passengers, stopping a show was a terrible idea.

[Getting to Cadlao Lagoon was no mean feat]

So instead of mellowing down, he went full throttle - his toy boat now running on full speed, slicing through the waves with a frightening velocity. Oh boy, he was on a roll! It was just a matter of perfect current collision before the boat succumbed to a deadly overturn. Fortunately when Leo, our sensitive tour guide, advised him to slow up, he finally took his pace a few notches down. But he would still increase his gear from time to time. Whether he liked to put on a good show or he liked me seeing freaked out, I had no idea. If anything, his sense of urgency played a huge factor in getting to Cadlao Island on schedule, even if we really didn't have any schedule to follow.

But my golly, despite the speed, the ride felt awfully long. Just to set the record straight, I'm not particularly scared of boat rides - I'm just scared of the gadgets I carry. I can swim well and good but I don't think I can save my camera in case the boat capsizes. I should really buy a waterproof camera bag so I won't worry anymore next time I ride on a boat.

My heartbeat went back to normal at the sight of towering karst formation surrounding a calm lagoon. As the boat navigated its way with difficulty toward the inner part of the lagoon, Leo explained why the island was called Cadlao. According to him, when viewed from the top, the island creates an interesting formation akin to a smile, thus the name Cadlao which literally means 'smile.'

[Sharp, pointed and proud rocks]

Sharp rocks jutting upward into the clear blue sky soon became a source of perpetual wonder. This time, I let out another sigh, not due to fear. Etched on their jagged surface were curious shapes of human faces, shapes I merely imagined but those rocks looked like they harbor some sinister secret. I would instantly look away every time I'd see a face. But I'd still get drawn at their interesting form.

[This one looks like a head]

Cadlao Lagoon was perhaps the closest thing I got in experiencing a lagoon in El Nido. I would have chosen Tour A had I known that the strong current would impede our visit to Hidden and Secret beaches. The blue water concentrated on an area near the middle of a large lagoon strewn by a huge outcropping was a sight to behold.
[Clear water]

With a bulky DSLR on one hand and an underwater camera on the other, I waded through the chest-deep water to get close to what I'd call a 'blue bayou' - I swear that was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the lagoon on its bluest blue but I could only go far. 'Blue bayou' was quite deep.
[Other side of the lagoon. Look, there's a house with people in it!]

There wasn't much to do in the lagoon apart from swimming in the shallow water. My tour mates tried snorkeling but soon gave up because apparently the area didn't have great underwater scenery. Some of them simply stayed on the shore under the shade of trees, read books or just lazed in the sand. A few even had fallen asleep.
[Tattered, abandoned hut]

I thought about doing the same, sit on the sand and try to sleep but our tour guides, who had their dose of quick sleep, told us that we should get going. I stuffed my camera in a zip-lock and safely tucked it inside my bag, ready to take on a yet another wild boat ride.

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