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Finding Nemo in Palawan

Author: michelle washington
Date of Trip: April 2006

No, these are not doctored photos. They are real photographs, many taken with an underwater disposable camera! And finding the mythical Nemo was an adventure unto itself.

We started our adventure on a cloudy, overcast day in Manila, catching a small propeller plane from a Club Isabelle terminal for Sea Air Airlines. We landed on a small dirt road runway with another small terminal on an island adjacent to the island of Club Isabelle in Palawan. From there it was a fun, albeit bumpy ride on a Club Isabelle jeepney to a river lined with beautiful mangrove trees. After a 45-minute boat ride down the river and into the sea, we arrived at the Club Noah Isabelle resort.

Crystal blue water did you say? Beautiful white sand? After living in Manila for whatever period of time, to be able to experience these treasures of nature only three hours away seems unlikely. But living in an island country seems to offer these opportunities more than perhaps other places. The fact that Club Noah Isabelle resort is also a nature preserve means that both animals and flora are protected. Therefore, one is able to experience near-pristine environments not offered in other resort spaces. It’s a strict rule that mistreatment of wildlife is prohibited. From our first welcome, with dancers and string band, we are reminded of nature and harmony, with an element of fun. So you get the sense immediately that the establishment wants to have fun while helping to respect what’s there for future generations.

At Club Noah, everything is included with the stay package, except for drinks (which are quite reasonable). From the time of your arrival, you are asked what you would like to do and are given a plethora of chooses. From picnic lunches, to island hopping, to kayaking, there’s so much to do.

The first day, we chose a picnic lunch, followed by a scuba diving lesson for me. Because my husband is certified and quite enthusiastic about the process of diving, I decided to try it. I was scared to death, especially since I don’t swim well! But because he agreed to swim along with me along with the instructor, I felt a little more at ease. Sure enough, I found the underwater world truly fascinating. I even got to feed the fish underwater.

At Club Noah Isabelle, there were so many things to see. It wasn’t a matter of finding Nemo but several Nemo’s! Along with large groupers (about a meter long), parrot fish, tiger fish, even the infamous small shark or two, a moray eel, and black and white sea snake. My two biggest thrills were spotting a large turtle overhead and a large school of several Nemo families. Imagine the wonder I felt being in clear blue water, as far as the eye could see, being surrounded and feeding a school of Nemo’s and other colorful fish. Now I’ve just got to learn and see more!

Upon returning from our quiet little hut on the side of the Club Noah resort to Manila, I thought surely my adventure was only a dream. But now I’m happy to say, I’ve got the pictures to prove it was real, and I can’t wait to start diving lessons this week and visit Club Noah and Nemo again.

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