Well, that was a huge 10 days in El Nido and without writing a short novel it would be hard to encapsulate everything that I’ve been part of over the last week and a half. Instead of summarizing it all as I usually would, I think I will highlight the 6 highlights or adventures of the week as it just really was incredibly intense. I’ll also add the vlogs I created this week in this blog post and several other videos. All of the week’s photos will be at the bottom of the blog post as usual so if you don’t like to read, skip down to vlogs and photos.
Before I delve into the highlights let me preface with a short explanation of why I was in El Nido and with who. Red Bull Cliff Diving was holding their first event of the year in Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon of El Nido. Ellie and Owen are two of the pro-cliff divers and they founded the environmental movement called Clean Cliffs Project. They run cleanups, workshops, and presentations as they cliff dive around the world. Red Bull decided to sponsor their efforts before the El Nido competition and they invited me to join them, representing Adventure Bag Crew. Red Bull was great enough to support my flights, accommodation, and expenses throughout the trip, which is awesome they are putting effort and funding into environmental campaigns attached to their events.
Throughout the week we did cleanups, a presentation and created lots of content that has now been shared on Youtube, Instagram, and the blog. We also held a big clean up on the main beach at El Nido town. So for four days before the event, we went island-hopping collecting trash but also enjoying the islands and then it was time for the competition. I continued the trash collection out there while the divers went for it from the 20m and 27m platforms.
Okay now for the highlights of the week:
#1 Cliff Jumping with Red Bull
The first highlight is definitely cliff jumping with the Red Bull team. I was watching and just hanging out for the most part but on the training day, I climbed up to the platform. The head of the video team held my GoPro, the safety divers splashed below and the pro-divers all looked on. It was an unreal setup and I did an amicable, feet-first jump from 20-meters. What a buzz and what a memory. You can check that out in this vlog.
#2 Island-Hopping and collecting the trash
Each day before the event, I set off on an island hopping trip around El Nido. While most tourists were busy snapping selfies we filled 3 or more huge sacks of trash every single time we hit a beach or a lagoon. It was an eye-opener for us and those watching as well as the thousands who watched it later on social media.
#3 Watching the Pro-Cliff Divers do their thing
After my foray on the training day, it was time to watch the worlds best do their thing. I was literally the only person in the lagoons watching who wasn’t part of the media team or a diver. I was pretty lucky to have been invited in. I had pretty free reign as well and kayaked here, swam there and mingled with the film crew and the divers throughout the three days of diving.
After watching almost 300 jumps over the warm-ups and competition, I’m still blown away by these guys. Here’s a video of the team doing their thing on a warm-up day.
#4 Adventure Bag Cleanup at El Nido Main Beach
After several days of island hopping, I then was lucky enough to watch the Red Bull cliff diving competition, the first ever in the Philippines. I continued cleaning up while out there and began promoting our El Nido cleanup. It was pretty crazy to think that only a few months after creating Adventure Bag Crew, we were collaborating with Redbull and featured on their livestreams, videos and interviews.
After the Red Bull Cliff Diving event concluded the focus shifted to our cleanup. We decided to do it on a Sunday morning at 8 am on El Nido Main Beach and were stoked when 40-50 legends turned up to help!
As always, cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, and bottles were the most collected items. Cigarettes are the most littered item in the world and they always cover the beach.
It was awesome that so many travelers gave up a day of island hopping to join us and shows that the travel community cares about the environment. They know how spectacular El Nido is and recognize the need to protect it. It was equally as amazing to have a huge group of locals join us to do their bit. I saw this group of ten guys talking and teaching some kids they met along the beach as well. It always makes me proud to unite travelers and locals because it is a global problem but we all care no matter where we are from or what language we speak.
The full blog post of the clean-up is here with all of the photos: ADVENTURE BAG CLEANUP IN EL NIDO, PHILIPPINES
#5 Running to Las Cabanyas each night
Pretty much every night in El Nido, I would head out for my run towards Las Cabanyas Beach. It’s the most popular sunset beach with towering palms and islets out in the water, which made for a great backdrop to the orange glow that came each night. I had to earn it through with a couple of grueling hills to tame each night to make it to the beach. I only ever took the photos on my phone as I obviously don’t run with my camera but it was a magical way to exercise and enjoy an epic sunset each night.
#6 Hiking Taraw Cliff with Bryan Hamora and Caloy
Three years ago I tried to hike Taraw Cliff twice and both times got turned away or were unsuccessful due to damage on the trail. I was stoked to head back to El Nido to finally hike Taraw as it had been on my mind since! I headed up for sunrise with Carson (Caloy) and Bryan (our guide who I met on the jeepney three years ago)
It is an epic little hike along the sharp limestone spines and then when you hit the top it is all there. The entire bay of El Nido Proper, a view out to the horizon and the islands in the distance. Absolute magic and worth the three-year wait. I’ll do a full blog post about this hike soon.
So those were the highlights and I could keep going but let’s just say it was an action-packed week with great people, athletes, video and photo teams and locals! Here are the rest of the photos (but first vlogs) from El Nido!