If you dream of crystal clear blue waters, powdery white beaches, fabulous snorkelling, a great vibe, then El Nido is your place. I had the chance to re-visit this paradise, that impressed me quite a lot the first time. I was over the moon with excitement thinking of rediscovering El Nido’s favourite spots like Big and Small lagoons, Secret Beach, swimming above the colourful corals, having fun watching the monkeys swinging I the trees. Oh may… sounds like a dream come true!
The island has been ranked by National Geography as one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. And once you are there you’ll start to understand why. Truth being told it’s hard to compete with the raw, natural wonder that awaits you at El Nido.
In this blog post I will share some of my favourite beaches, fun activities to do, how you can get here, but I will also talk about the weather, because it is an important factor, as it can spoil your trip.
how to get to El Nido
Palawan has 4 airports : El Nido Airport, Puerto Princesa City Airport, Cesar Lim Rodriguez Airport in Taytay and Francisco Reyes Airport in Busuanga. If you are travelling from Manila the flight time is one hour and 20 minutes. Prices vary based on season average price is between 20 to 60 Euros. But if you are already on the island you can take a bus from Puerto Princesa where the journey time is around 5 hours.
what to do in El Nido
El Nido is the most famous village of Palawan island, that being the reason why most of people go there, but the island has so many other places to see and trust me anything in Palawan is like from another world and so much worth the visit. During our first visit we’ve seen a lot in Palawan, but this time we wanted to dedicate more time in El Nido.
This is the most famous spot in Palawan and also the most visited, making the top off the list of each traveller. I also highly recommend you to visit this spot because it’s litteraly Heaven. I visited the island only twice but this place more than 3 or 4 times, because I booked a few times during my trip the Tour A, just to see again the Big Lagoon.
Big Lagoon can only be accessed by boat on one of the El Nido island hopping tours. More specifically. The only tour including this place is Tour A. So make sure you’ll do Tour A during your visit on the island.
While we are approaching the Big Lagoon we can see the towering limestone cliffs of Miniloc Island and the deep blue coloured waters inside Big Lagoon that are inviting you to go for a swim! If you go into the water here, be aware of the fish, they are crazy in bite, you can hear the echos of travellers..f*uck it just bitten me, or auch! followed by the laugh of everybody. But don’t worry they can’t harm you, will be just a little bite.
One of the best activities to do when you arrive is to rent a kayak and paddle your way through the opening of the lagoon and enjoy the stunning views that surround you.
When we visited the first time we couldn’t access this place because of the high tide, but this time we got lucky. Secret Lagoon can only be accessed by boat on one of the El Nido Island Hopping Tours. The lagoon is absolutely amazing and is something you just have to see with your own eyes!
Secret Lagoon is just 10 minutes boat ride from Big Lagoon which is typically the third stop on El Nido Tour A. The name makes justice to the place, because if nobody tells you about this it, you will not be able to see it.
Our boat docked a few meters from the shore and then we walked a little bit through the water to a little opening in one of the cliffs. It was a huge wall with a tiny hole. So there behind the karst rocks on the other side, so hidden that I had to twist my body like a pretzel to get there.. there it was.. the marvellous Secret Lagoon, also known as Hidden Lagoon, of Miniloc Island. Fortunately, the opening was above the water so we didn’t have to swim through it, we just had to crawl into the Secret Lagoon.
Many people thing that the Secret Lagoon is the beach behind the giant rocks to the right, but nope.. the lagoon is well hidden. Also, while you make your way to the lagoon be very careful with the rocks and corals. I recommend you to wear special swimming shoes.
For a different way to explore the village and beaches around, I recommend you to hire a scooter. It’s super cool and you’ll have the freedom to go where you want and you’ll decide how much time you want to spend in each place. We just prefer to explore the place in a fun way.
You can find plenty of scooter and motorbike rental places almost everywhere in downtown El Nido. We rented the scooter with the same company we did the boat tour, Soledad de Amor travel agency.
Now it’s time to explore the beautiful El Nido. You will be welcomed by the lush greenery of rice paddies, palm trees and beautiful views of the ocean. It was amazing! The streets are quite good and the scenery is fabulous. I loved the clean and fresh air in my face.
beaches and snorkel
I’m pretty sure you’ve seen at least one photo of the stunning limestone formations around El Nido rising majestically above the turquoise water and dreamed about being there, bathing in the warm water, while being amazed by the beauty of the place.
The most popular activity when you visit El Nido is to go island hopping either in a private boat or as part of a tour group. And when you are not sailing in the tropical water, then you can enjoy one of the many beautiful beaches nearby. Or take lunch at one the cute restaurants with view at the ocean.
This was voted as one of the best beaches in the world and you’ll understand why once you are there. The palm trees dotted all along the beach, the gold sand, turquoise water, doggies playing all around, nice boats docked on the beach… it’s amazing. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a tasty lunch with a fabulous view at the ocean. There are a few nice bars to chose from.
how to get there
From the main road, you have to drive through an uneven dirt road before we got at the beach. There is a parking lot where you can leave your scooter, or your car. The parking is literally half minute from the beach. By the entrance gate, you’ll be asked to register your name and there you are. Now enjoy this little piece of paradise!
Don’t forget to apply lost of repellent because the mosquitoes are insane. It’s plenty of them and pretty crazy, they bite and bite..
CORONG CORONG BEACH
This beach is not too far away from El Nido town. It’s not among the most famous, which means it is less crowded. Here you’ll find a few a few small bars and restaurants hidden between the palm trees with views at the ocean where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a nice lunch.
So this is your place it you’re looking for a more remote beach in El Nido, where you won’t be surrounded by hundreds of tourists, Corong Corong Beach is one of the best!
things to to know when you visit Corong Corong
- there might be areas where you won’t have mobile signal
- ATMs are a little bit far away from the beach
- when it rains it gets pretty wavy making it difficult for swimming
If you go there to enjoy the views is still enough, but there are so many awesome activities to do. You can do kayak, paddle surf, snorkelling is pretty great here too.
PASANDIGAN COVE BEACH
You need a boat to visit this beach. This was our lunch stop while we were doing Tour A. The beach is not too far away from Small Lagoon, a beach separated by a clump of rocks with soft white sand. It is very small but you can have some nice activities here.. This is also the place where we had a nice snorkelling with plenty of colourful fish and coral.
lunch at the beach
The lunch on the boat is included in every tour, with a typical menu of grilled fish, pork, chicken, veggies, rice and plenty of fresh fruit like pineapple and watermelon. If you are vegan or vegetarian, just tell them before the tour so they can bring the right food for you.
Papaya Beach is on the mainland of Palawan, pretty close to El Nido town. We came here by scooter and it was not very hard to get. You have to drive through the forest, then you’ll see the parking lot where you can leave your scooter free of charge.
If it is not raining or cloudy day, here you can experience some of the best sunsets in El Nido. The day we visited the beach it was raining a lot, but we had a nice afternoon at the beach, walking around, drinking fresh fruit juice and just enjoying the views.
watch the sunset
As I mentioned before this is one of the best place to see the sunset. The sunsets in the Philippines are an absolute dream. If you are a sunset chaser this is your opportunity to enjoy a beautiful dusk with pink and orange skies, mountains in the distance and boats reflecting into the water. It’s pretty romantic.
THE VILLAGE OF EL NIDO
The town is super small so you can explore it in a few hours. There are many small businesses, souvenir shops, ATMs, tour agencies. And also the vibe of a different way of living.
stray doggies all over the island
There are doggies everywhere, at the beach, on the streets, restaurants. They are fed by the locals, it seems they are treated with kindness, some of them are in decent health, but not all of them. The stray dogs in El Nido seem to be in very poor health. Many are sickly and/or injured. It was heartbreaking for me to see them like that.
things you need while you are in El Nido
- Insect repellent : the insect repellent will be your best friend here, because trust me the mosquitoes are crazy. if you forget to bring a repellent from home, you can buy anywhere in El Nido. I also had after bite, witch is pretty useful too.
- ATMs : there are several ATMs in El Nido, some allows you to take only 300 Euros at a time, whereas the other ATMs have a limit of 170 Euro per transaction. Most ATMs will charge you 3 euro per transaction if you are not a filipino, so maybe is a better idea to take out large amounts.
- SIM cards: you can find two major internet service providers in the Philippines : Globe and Smart. We opted for Globe witch it worked very well all my time in the Philippines. The SIM costs 1 Euro and then you chose with internet package fits you better.
- Water supply: I highly recommend you not to drink tap water. Always buy water, because it will save you form getting sick.
if it rains it rains
Depending witch time of the year you visit, there will be more rain or a little less rain. We visited in both seasons and it rained each time. At our first visit we even catch the typhoon on the sea and that was the scariest experience of my life. This time we experienced it on the mainland and it wasn’t that scary, but we did loss 2 days of exploring the ocean, because all the tours were canceled.
enjoy an infinity pool
As all the tours were canceled we did our best to enjoy our time here. We explored the town, beaches, the forest and also the infinity pool we had at the hotel. And it was pretty awesome! The infinity pool is the ideal spot to enjoy the cool sea breeze and have some delicious snacks with amazing views.
is it worth visiting El Nido?
Absolutely! Although El Nido became pretty touristic nowadays, you can still enjoy the place. Exploring the surrounding islands and swimming in the crystal clear water is still an out of this world experience.
Also there are so many activities to do like island hopping tours, the best snorkelling on the planet is here, you can explore the forests that are full of monkeys and if you are lucky enough you can see them hanging around. Anyway this is the prefect place to enjoy the postcard tropical destination.
I hope you enjoyed my blog post and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment area. If you want to explore more islands in the Philippines, check out my Siquojor blog post here.