Hop, Jump or Skip to Linapacan, Palawan
If National Geographic had a show entitled Extreme Island Hopping, I would totally be on it. These past few months I’ve jumped in and out of boats so many times it felt weird to be a landlubber!
In January I flew to El Nido for a friend’s birthday and while there visited the new Cauayan Resort & Spa. In February I visited Coron with family and hopped from Beach 91 to Twin Lagoon to Kayangan Lake and then to Busanga Bay Lodge’s privately owned South Cay Island the next day. In March I flew again to El Nido but this time to attend a beautiful couple’s wedding at El Nido Resorts (which got us hopping from Lagen Island, where I was booked, to Entalula Island to Pangalusian Island!).
End of last month I flew again to El Nido to celebrate both my birthday and the official opening of SAVA Beach Bar (woo-hoo! Insert confetti icon here!). A few close friends decided to meet us to celebrate this momentous event in our bar-owning lives, several of who have never been to the island at all. It was at this time that Geronimo Begre, co-owner of Skipper Charters, a luxury speedboat charter service company that services El Nido, Palawan and Nasugbu, Batangas had asked, after all my island wandering, if I would like to try Skipper Charters for my next adventure – even to Linapacan, perhaps?
Now Linapacan is a series of islands in Palawan between El Nido in the south and Culion Island and Busuanga (and Coron) in the north, an hour and a half ride with Skipper Charters. Just Google it and begin to drool over its paradise of unchartered beaches with white sands, crystal clear waters, excellent coral reefs and more. Linapacan has been voted as one of the world’s clearest waters to swim in here and Conde Nast Traveller named Ariara Island, located in Linapacan, as one of 22’s world’s best private islands to book in an article here. It would have be totally rude of me to decline, and I’m very polite.
We were 14 passengers in all and had to take two speedboats because each boat fits a maximum of 8 passengers, not including its crew. I asked Carlo, Skipper Charter’s manager, if the speedboats could pick us up at SAVA Beach Bar instead of La Plage, which was a 10-minute tricycle ride away. He obliged and we when we saw the speedboats arrive, we wondered how it would get around all the bancas already parked there, but they slinked their way through.
The boats were extremely comfortable with its padded seats and backrests, surprisingly quiet and fast! At 8:45AM the water was perfectly flat and it was fun to race against the other boat (women and children and gay couple in one boat, two women and four very adult men in the other)…before we knew it, we had arrived.
Our first stop in Linapacan was Kakayakan Island. Aside from providing us with towels, bottled water and lunch they were going to make for us, Skipper Charters even brought along gear for snorkeling. How could you not, with water this clear? The kids saw a jellyfish near the shore which made everyone run out of the water, but a few of us decided to check out the reefs below, while trying to avoid the random jellyfish. All I can say is I’m glad jellyfish are not very smart.
The corals were incredible! Some of them reminded me of the Coral Garden in Coron, but here we were snorkeling in slightly deeper water. In our 20 minutes of snorkeling, I spotted two pairs of cuttlefish that changed color depending on the current and even thought I spied a baby shark hiding under the corals. The corals were teeming with big and small fish and the visibility was simply amazing too.
It started to drizzle so they skipped to another island with a small hut to prepare lunch for us. Just walking up and down the beach we found beautiful giant clamshells, dead corals and fallen tree trunks. It was a land lost in time, mostly undisturbed by human’s carbon footprint.
Lunch was an amazing boodle fight of cucumber salad, stir-fried vegetables, steamed rice, grilled chicken; freshly caught grilled fish and squid; and oh the crabs! They were so sweet and delicious. For dessert they served us pineapple, mango and watermelon. Skipper Charters recommends customers to bring their own snacks and alcoholic beverages for the trip.
After lunch we skipped over to Ginto Island with the bluest water you ever did see! It was so inviting we had the boats stop and we all jumped into the ocean. Wow, the sea is uber-salty here and the current was quiet strong. The kids jumped in with their life vests but were struggling to stay near the boat. It’s a good thing we had some of the boys around to rally them up.
Amy wanted to visit this sandbar so off we were again! As soon as we landed at one, she said she knew prettier one (haha) so we took off and went in search of the other one. What a hard life! Finally we found one – and it was absolutely stunning. It reminded me of Boracay the first time I visited, 23 years ago. We just had to hang out here and enjoy the water and the beach.
The trip back home at 3PM was a bit rougher as the waves were higher but once we got closer to El Nido I actually fell asleep and got sunburned! What a ride! Thank you Begs and thank you Skipper Charters for a phenomenal experience. Should you wish to visit Linapacan via banca from El Nido, it would have taken you at least 4 hours to get there. But thanks to Skipper Charters, everyone rode in style and was pampered by the staff. More importantly, it was safe. The kids especially loved it! I wonder which island to visit next…
May all your island hopping gypsetting dreams come true too,
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.