When I was a little kid, I remember begging my parents to let me do swimming lessons. For whatever reason – they were hesitant at the time – but through near constant nagging I eventually got my wish. I started swim school when I turned 7 and felt immediately at home in the water. I wasn’t a natural born swimmer and lacked a lot of actual skill, but I loved being in the water then, and I still love it now.
One of the most appealing parts of the El Nido region is the incredible coral reefs and huge abundance of incredible fish and ocean wildlife. Needless to say, I could hardly wait to don a snorkel and explore this underwater wonderland.
After grabbing a snorkel, mask and fins I was just about ready to meet some Filipino fishies. I was encouraged by the staff at El Nido Resorts to wear a life jacket, but I instead insisted on wearing a weight belt. While I may not be the most graceful or speedy of swimmers – I am strong, I have good endurance and I am confident in the water. Also, I have a tendency to float! This is good for my swimming ability, but means that when I am snorkelling I find it difficult to duck dive and stay below the surface for extended periods of time. This is where the weight belt comes in – extra weight around my waist helps me stay down where I can explore the anemones up close and personal.
After halfheartedly applying sunscreen, it was finally time to dive below the surface!
The first creatures I met were the enormous jackfish that Miniloc is famous for. These huge fishes can grow up to 1.5m long and can move incredibly quickly through the water! They are generally harmless to humans but have incredibly sharp teeth. Make sure you aren’t holding onto any food when you enter the water – they will smell it, and they will go for it, regardless of whether your extremities are in the way.
The sheer quantity of life in this body of water is pretty damn impressive, especially when you consider that all these fish are hanging out within 50m of the beachfront!
Aside from fish and coral, the other wildlife that is abundant in these waters are jellyfish! I was initially a bit nervous about these jellyfish – I was in the water in nothing but a little bikini after all! But as it turns out, they really aren’t anything to be overly concerned by. I got stung by the moon jellyfish several times and the stings really weren’t bad. I was aware that I had been stung, but didn’t experience any pain, just an awareness and an extremely subtle light burning sensation. Getting stung wasn’t enough to make me want to get out of the water so it really can’t be that bad!
That being said, I was only stung by the moon jellyfish. There is numerous breeds of jellyfish in these waters and some have a stronger sting than others. Keep your eyes on the lookout for anything resembling a yellowy-orange and translucent long string, apparently these suckers can cause a bit more discomfort! Jellyfish do not move overly quickly, so as long as you are aware of your surroundings they are fairly easy to avoid.
Every time I saw a new breed of fish I got extremely excited. Check out this little rainbow fish!
Another thing that is easy to find amongst the coral – starfish! There are heaps of different varieties of starfish – but these big blue bad boys seemed to be the most common in the Miniloc Reef.
My little point and click camera does a pretty decent job underwater, but I am becoming more and more desperate for underwater housing for my Olympus DSLR. I want to be able to capture these underwater worlds more effectively. For example, this little electric blue fella was the most incredible colour in real life, but I feel like he isn’t done justice in this picture.
Watch this space – I had planned to invest in a telefoto lens next, but I think underwater housing will have to take priority! Now I just have to save up the cashola.
Possibly my favourite part about this stunning coral reef would have to be the few anemones housing clownfish – or little ‘Nemos’ as I like to call them.
This bigger clownfish was rather assertive! He/she was obviously protecting the smaller baby clownfish, and each time I duck dived down it would swim out of its anemone to try and ward me off! Clownfish are apparently super protective parents. Finding Nemo just keeps getting more and more accurate!
Swimming around and exploring the fish and the coral was a pretty incredible way to spend a morning in Miniloc. The water is perfectly warm, somehow I didn’t get sunburnt (a veritable miracle) and not even a few stingy jellyfish could put a damper on things. Snorkelling in El Nido was amazing, now I just have to work out how soon until I can return!
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting There: From Manila, book a direct flight with Air Swift
El Nido Resorts: I’d like to say an enormous thank you to the wonderful team at El Nido Resorts for not only making this stay possible, but also for making it so wonderful
Miniloc: To explore more of this gorgeous resort and to book, visit the El Nido Resorts website here
Snorkelling in Miniloc: All snorkel gear is free for resort guests
Camera: Nikon Coolpix S31
Threads: I am wearing a gorgeous bikini by Aussie label Tigerlily
Remember: To keep your eyes peeled for jellyfish!