El Nido – paradise island & beach location located in the Bacuit Archipelago in Western Visayas, Philippines. It has been by far one of the nicest and most beautiful beach destination that we have visited so far and a definite must-see place for any beach lover. El Nido is located on Palawan island and can best be reached by flying from the capital city of Manila to Puerto Princesa, the island’s international airport. After arriving you will need to catch a van or bus and take a 4-5 hour ride till the very north.
When in El Nido the best way to discover the beauty of the surrounding beaches is by booking an island hopping tour, either through a hotel or through one of the many tour agents in town. You can chose many different tours, all of them going to different locations around the bay. We decided to take Tour A and Tour C and we will provide you with some details and pictures of the various beaches and loagoon you will see.
Each tour starts at around 9 in the morning and last till 4 or 5 in the afternoon. You will have your own tour guides who will inform you about the locations and cruise you around the islands in a traditional filipino bangka boat. Included in most of the tours is a nice lunch by the beach – typically a barbeque (they bbq on the boat during the trip!) with different meats, fish & vegetables. You will also get some snorkling equipment as many areas are absolutely fantastic to see the underwater life.
Tours cost around 1,200 to 1,500 PHP (Philippine Peso) / Person, around 22 – 27 EUR.
Tour A – Beaches & Lagoons
The places that you will visit on tour A are: 7 Commando Beach, Small & Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon & Shimizu Beach.
7 Commando Beach
Very nice, long stretch of beach that is perfect for chilling and relaxing. There is a small hut which sells some drinks and snacks. The beach can get a bit crowded as it serves as a great starting point for different tours. Nevertheless, its a great beach to swim and do some snorkeling.
Only accessible through a tiny hole in the sharp coral rocks – so watch out and wear slippers or diving shoes as you will have to walk across some rocks to get there, depending on the tide. There is nothing special inside but its funny and interesting to discover a small lagoon hidden behind the limestone rocks. Once you get out of this small lagoon you enter another nice beach area where you can relax and enjoy some amazing views of the ocean between the rocks.
The entrance to the small lagoon is marked by a small opening between two large rock formations. You can decide to either swim inside or take one of the many kayaks that are rented in front. Although these are not that cheap (400 PHP/hour) it is a nice way to discover the lagoon from the inside. There are many small bays and some nice areas to jump in and swim. Its simply incredible to be in between those huge rocks that reach out of the clear blue waters. We found a small beach located close to where the boats we parking which was incredibly beautiful as well.
You can reach the big lagoon by foot as you will have to walk throug some shallow waters. You should also use your shoes/slippers here even though there are parts where you can walk on sand. The lagoon as such is nice for swimming but you cannot see much underwater so no need to bring the snorkeling gear. (It was too risky to bring the camera :))
Beautifully located little beach in between huge rocks. Lunch was served here and we spent some nice time relaxing at the beach and discovering some nice spots around and behind the rocks. Also, this area was great for snorkeling as there are many different smaller coral reefs around the beach.
Tour C – Snorkeling & Beaches
Destinations on tour C are: Helicopter Island, Mantiloc Island, Hidden Beach, Colasa Beach & Secret Beach.
Like its name suggests the island is shaped like a helicopter (kind of). The beach is huge and is a popular spot for many tour boats. It therefor can get very crowded but you can walk a bit further up or down and find some nice spots. Some areas are covered in rocks. It is a great location for snorkeling as many fish gather among the corals along the beach. The color of the water is incredible!
Mantiloc Island is the longest slim island in El Nido. The island is home to an old, abandoned shrine (Mantiloc Shrine), a sacred monument where once various religious ceremonies were held – quite a surreal location for such a building! Also, you can climb up some steps and enjoy a great view over the bay in front. Many tourists come visit this spot and we even had to queue up to enjoy the view! The rocks up there are incredibly sharp, so please make sure to bring your shoes along. There is a small pier reaching out into the water from where you can also have a great view of the water, beaches and mountains around.
A tiny beach located behind some huge rock formation which can only be reached by walking/swimming through a small opening. The water here is very shallow so you can relax inside and look up along the surrounding cliffs.
Absolutely amazing! A nice stretch of beach hidden behind a range of rocks. You can only reach it by swimming inside as the water is not deep enough for boats to enter. The beach is beautiful, surrounded by clear, shallow waters. Also nice for snorkeling as you can swim all around the rocks and see some nice corals and swim under a bridge of rocks. One of our favorite places!
Beautiful, small beach where we had our lunch. White sands and an amazing coral reef made our stay here very enjoyable. I was able to swim around the large rocks and find some great spots to find lots of different corals and fish in various colors.
We spent two days discovering these beautiful spots and had a amazing time. The islands, beaches and lagoons in this picturesque and pristine surrounding really made our trip to El Nido an unforgettable experience.