Undoubtedly, the main lure why people flock to El Nido is the world class beaches and islands. Rightfully so, they definitely won't disappoint and might even exceed your expectation. The towering limestone karsts and monoliths added a special allure to these nature's spectacle and embed an experience in your life that won't be erased in the sands of time. El Nido is synonymous to these ravishing islands and beaches so that's why this post will feature each one of them and all information you need to know.
I will claim it that I'm lucky to live in one of the tropical paradise in the world such as the Philippines. Stunning beaches are everywhere. The 7,107 islands which made up the country is more than enough to keep me busy in uncovering the beauty hidden in all of those. I barely scratch the surface because I'm still struggling visiting even half of those islands. My recent trip in El Nido granted a good number to scratch off that list.
Let me go over by details of every shores and islets that captivated our soul in our short stay in El Nido. Not all of them stun us the same way as others. Some takes awhile & a little more exploration before we have finally uncovered the hidden beauty which is so much more magnificent than what it appears to be. There are those special ones that's just downright elegant no matter the angle is.
- TWIN BEACH : NACPAN BEACH & CALITANG BEACH
We did this in our first day after we freshen up and found an accommodation for our second day we hired a van ( Php 2,500.00 for a day ) to take us anywhere we want to go in El Nido. If you are conflicted to choose between a van or a tricycle I would definitely suggest to go with a van if possible because the road going to this twin beach is quite dusty and bumpy. It's actually quite far from the town of El Nido so it takes so much energy and time for people who choose trek their way to this spot. I noticed some red clay in the path going into this beach and it can surely stain your footwear if you decide to walk your way here.
The moment we get off the van it was Nacpan Beach who welcomed us with her pristine beauty. The heat that troubled us whole morning dissipated to thin air and we mindlessly run into her crystal clear water. "Paradise!" that's the word that resonated in my head when I caught a full glimpse of her unsullied shoreline. The heat is probably 40°C around that time but the invigorating sea breeze helps dull our senses.
Another one of nature's miracle. The Twin Beach of Nacpan & Calitang is a beauty beyond compare! #ElNido #Palawan #Philippines #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines #goasean #the_PH #earthofficial #big_shotz #natgeolandscape #awesome_photographers #theglobalwanderer #nationaldestinations #awesome_earthpix #splendid_shotz #worldtravelpics #travelawesome #travellingthroughtheworld
The softness of the sand feels like marshmallow to my feet and length of the shore with the azure water made it even more exquisite. It's a no brainer why Nacpan Beach goes in and out of the worldwide list as being one of the best beaches in the world.
The size of Nacpan beach cannot fully be justified when you're browsing some photos. It took me almost 15 minutes of trek to reach the other end of the shore where the hill is situated. I passed through a small fishing community and admired how spotless it is still in the area. They gain my respect for keeping their community as clean as possible.
- LAS CABANAS COVE / BEACH
|We picked this spot because of this wickedly cool sign.|
Las Cabanas is a perfect place to chill, enjoy the festive crowd & music and wait for the sun to set.
|Yep! This photo I've been boasting everywhere is taken here. I wish I climbed that coconut tree.|
|Of course! I wouldn't leave the place without a photo taken with my sun kissed *err! burnt* skin|
|Sunset in Las Cabanas|
- BACUIT BAY
The town center of El Nido has a famous beach on its own that sets the standard of what to expect when we arrived in the morning and they call it Bacuit Bay. We were astound with the stunning sunrise scene we witness here when we arrived in the first day while searching for a place to stay.
|sunrise scene in Bacuit Bay.|
The limestone karst decorating the beach made it unique and I can still see traces of the former beauty of the shore before settlement ruins it. I wouldn't advise anyone to swim in its water because it has a recurrent coliform bacteria problem due to improper sewage management. I hope the local government can find a solution to this dilemma before it gets worse. Bacuit Bay is a good spot for some sunset watch as well.
- HELICOPTER ISLAND
The second day is the island hopping day for all of us. We manage to convince the tour agency to merge the Tour A & C into one given the limited time we have and they gladly oblige. We started the tour in the earliest time possible at around 8 am. Normally, the island hopping tour will only visit four famous spots. Since we merged the two tours, we will be visiting eight spots instead and that means we need to allocate our time well to accommodate all of that in one day.
Our first stop is Dilumacad Island but it is now commonly known as "helicopter island" by the tourist because the limestone cliffs resembles a helicopter from a distance. Majority of the island is now owned by Ayala ↸ but a small patch of white sand beach in the southern end is open to the public. An underwater tunnel occupies the northern part of the island and a fringing reef on the southern end with a small strip of white sand beach where the island hoping tour happens. We were overwhelmed the moment we docked in the island.
|Can you make out the shape of the Helicopter?|
Surprisingly, this is actually the first white beach we encounter in Palawan so we go crazy with photos after photos and jump shots after jump photos. It's a bonus our guide can take a jump shot photo in just one click. Isn't he amazing!? We were lucky to be the first tourist in the island for that day, so that's why it is important to start the island hopping tour in the earliest time possible especially during peak season in summer.
|The obligatory squad photo. Can you spot where am I in the photo? Please post it in the comment box below.|
We spend most of our time here snorkeling because the beauty of the island is hidden underwater. It's a memorable time for the two snorkeling virgins ( pink short & bald dude ) of our group because they get to enjoy the activity for the first time. And I was encouraging one member ( who's afraid of the deep even with a life vest on ) to go deep with us to enjoy a much lush coral garden. He did not give in this time and prefers to stay in the shallow part of the shore. I've seen a variety of angel fish with different colors & patterns while snorkeling in the fringe reef and some black snapper. I found two beautiful coral stones that I brought home as a souvenir with me. We left when another group arrive in the island.
- MATINLOC SHRINE
Our second stop is a part of the Matinloc island — the abandoned Matinloc Shrine. As we are nearing the island we gazed into the haunting structure from a distance with an eerie astonishment. The shrine really stand out in a back drop of natural beauty because it is the only man made structure that can be seen in the area. I'm not a fan of such building so I discreetly ask our guide what's to see here besides that shrine and his finger goes into the direction of the sharp limestone karst and says the view up there is priceless! And that got me excited.
A small strip of white sand welcomed our boat to the island and so far it is the most fine white sand in Palawan according my senses.
A small strip of white sand welcomed our boat to the island and so far it is the most fine white sand in Palawan acoording to my senses. Surprisingly, the shrine now demanded an entrance fee of Php 100.00 to guests for renovation purposes but luckily, we were so early that the person who guards the island is not there yet so it was exempted for us.
The entrance to the shrine is so scenic that we couldn't resist another photo ops and that took a chunk of time. Everyone pose for a photo even if the guide continually remind us to hurry so we will evade the entrance fee. A Grecian architecture with some religious figures and a big cross is the first to greet us and it is then that occurred to me that this is a Catholic shrine.
The entrance to the shrine is so scenic that we couldn't resist another photo ops.
None of us paid much attention to the shrine because our priority is the view above the limestone karst. I am definitely gonna take a panorama photo up there of the seascape. Conveniently, someone carved some steps behind the karst so that made the ordeal in climbing the rock much easier. Once we reach the top, we were rewarded with a surreal view of the Matinloc island and the other islands surrounding it.
|The Obligatory Panorama Shot in Matinloc Shrine and the hardship I went through getting here is another story|
There are many stories about why the island was abandoned but the most plausible one I can believe is about the separation of the couple who commissioned in building the shrine that's why it never reaches completion after almost a decade of work. The furniture were looted by the locals and only the huge ones that was left alone in the ruins. An initiative to restore the shrine was commenced by someone and since they are short of funds an entrance fee of Php 100.00 is now required for every visitor.
- TALISAY BEACH
|And this is the indian almond tree now|
It's mostly water here with very little coast and the towering limestone karst decorating the beach made it hauntingly beautiful!
|Yes! The cover photo of this post is from this heavenly island.|
|Isn't it just beautiful?|
"Outlook" #photo047of365 #project365 #ElNido #Palawan #Philippines #travel #beaches #PhilippineBeaches #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines #the_PH #goasean #earthofficial #big_shotz #natgeolandscape #awesome_photographers #nature #earthporn #theglobalwanderer #nationaldestinations #natureporn #awesome_earthpix #splendid_shotz #worldtravelpics #travelawesome #travellingthroughtheworld
|Our tropical island lunch. Anyone?|
- SECRET BEACH
Our next destination is my priority because I have strange fascination in exploring secrets and hidden things. My mind is overflowing with beautiful images of how the secret beach works. All I know is we swim through a hole and reach a beautiful shoreline inside hidden from the outside world. Secret Beach made backpacking a worldwide trend with the travel novel The Beach, which was adapted to a film with Leonardo DiCaprio, was inspired here when the author, Alex Garland wandered to this hidden shore.
We arrived in a dull location with numerous boats parking in front of a huge limestone karst. I knew in my head that this is the location and my devilish grin started when I remember one friend who is too afraid in deeper waters even with a life vest on. I jump into the water filled with anticipation and then swim fast as I could to the narrow crevice in the rock wall. I forgot my friends again because I was too preoccupied of what to see inside.
Secret Beach made backpacking a worldwide trend with the travel novel The Beach, which was adapted to a film with Leonardo DiCaprio, was inspired here when the author, Alex Garland wandered to this hidden shore.
|Obligatory selfie with our cool guide|
The charming part happens during noon time when the sun's ray streams in through the opening allowing a stunning play of light and shadow against the limestone walls.
|Our guide go an extra mile to take that photo for us by climbing the limestone karst.|
|Kulasa Lagoon Beach aka "Hidden Beach"|
Kulasa Lagoon Beach is an interesting beach with a few meters strip of fine white sand hidden by limestone cliffs in Matinloc Island which we were not able to visit in our limited time.
|Welcome to the not so secret 'Secret Beach' in El Nido|
- MINILOC ISLAND
We came here to visit the maze of beautiful spots in Miniloc Island. It carefully tuck the most beautiful lagoons in El Nido such as Secret Lagoon, Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon. It's no wonder this is the first island in El Nido which was converted into a resort by the Ten Knots Development Co. partnered with Ayala Land ↸
- SECRET LAGOON
Secret Lagoon was our first stop in Miniloc Island. My excitement around this part of the island hopping tour is on its peak after the new experience in Secret Beach. Unfortunately, it is around this time that most of the tourists are out on these islands and to our surprise the area is filled with island hopping boats. I must say it is harder to appreciate it now when the crowd dampen the exquisite beauty of the area.
The most accurate visual representation I could summon is to a train station in the big city. It is that crowded!
We have to swim our way to the entrance of the lagoon because the parking area approximate to the lagoon is quite full. The water is actually shallow so it possible to walk through the reef but I prefer swimming to avoid unnecessary pricking from the sea urchins and other pointy creatures living in the reef.
|Entrance to the Secret Lagoon|
|Well... at least the sky looked beautiful!|
Once we were inside it was even harder to appreciate the lagoon because of the huge crowd in such a limited space. The shallow water turns murky and we were surrounded by limestone walls. The sun barely reaches the lagoon so it creates this gloomy shadow to the karst. I see people taking selfies despite the crowd which made me wonder if they're doing it for the sake of just having a photo inside the lagoon.
The shallow water turns murky and we were surrounded by limestone walls. The sun barely reaches the lagoon so it creates this gloomy shadow to the karst and I see people taking selfies.
|Obligatory group photo inside Secret Lagoon|
|Everyone couldn't wait to get out lol...|
- BIG LAGOON
It is so lovely that a director decided to shot the ending scene of The Bourne Legacy in here.
The first thing I noticed are the numerous boats parked outside the lagoon. I thought to myself so it's forbidden to go inside the lagoon now with a big vessel?
"Kayaking" 🚣🏻 #photo045of365 #project365 #ElNido #Palawan #Philippines #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines #goasean #the_PH #lagoon #nature #travel #earthofficial #big_shotz #natgeolandscape #awesome_photographers #theglobalwanderer #nationaldestinations #awesome_earthpix #splendid_shotz #worldtravelpics #travelawesome #travellingthroughtheworld
Business is booming in this area as I noticed some floating cottages leased their canoes and paddles for Php 300.00 each. The boat weren't able to enter because it is already low tide and only through swimming, kayaking or SUPing can anyone approach the lagoon. I even saw people navigating the lagoon with their feet but I wouldn't advise it because the seabed are roughened up by the sharp corals. So we rented one canoe instead and spend most of our time taking turns in kayaking.
|Is expectation better than reality? Yes!!!|
As the water changes from a pale emerald to a dark sapphire, I know in my inner thoughts I've entered the inner sanctum of The Big Lagoon. My heart starts to beat faster and the deafening silence slowly engulfed my senses.
Mountainous karst covered the inner area of the lagoon. As the water changes from a pale emerald to a dark sapphire, I know in my inner thoughts I've entered the inner sanctum of The Big Lagoon. My heart starts to beat faster and the deafening silence slowly engulfed my senses. Beauty and madness is what I keep repeating to myself and why I strayed around that part of the lagoon. It wouldn't help that I have a companion with a creative mind which keep spewing non sense talk about the movie, Creature from the Black Lagoon ↸
The towering limestone walls provide a solitary sanctuary inside the lagoon while I was kayaking in the sapphire stained water. The ravishing imagery in front of me is such a delightful treat to my eyes. The echoing call of a seafaring avian soothes my ears. The sudden splash in the water and followed by a mysterious silence made the hair on the back of my neck stand. It's the mixing of these different emotions that rewards my senses in ecstatic ways. That relaxing sensation coupled with a feeling of dread that some creature will come out of the water and drag me to its depth got me hooked like a junkie.
The ravishing imagery in front of me is such a delightful treat to my eyes. The echoing call of a seafaring avian soothes my ears. The sudden splash in the water and followed by a mysterious silence made the hair on the back of my neck stand.
We took our time here knowing our wonderful day is about to end after a few hours. Our senses were overwhelmed by the beauty of the Big Lagoon and left with a full & satisfied heart hoping for another surprise as good as this. Only two more destinations left with one promises to be real crowded as our guide says.
|An aerial shot of the 'Big Lagoon' in the center & 'Small Lagoon' in the middle right|
- SMALL LAGOON
Small Lagoon is the seventh destination for the day and I was exhausted. The moment I see the crowd here doubled from those in the previous lagoon I lost all interest of seeing this small one. The number of boats are so overwhelming that ours couldn't go near the entrance. It's visible from a distance and I see the crowd barely have space in there. It almost feels like there's a kayaking race inside and the arena is overwhelmed with spectators.
It is actually a good snorkeling site and I spotted a school of young fish rummaging below us.
Two of my friends are still enthusiastic to see the lagoon up close despite the crowd and swim their way inside. After a few minutes I made attempt to follow them and actually jump into the water but ends up just snorkeling outside the lagoon. It is actually a good snorkeling site and I spotted a school of young fish rummaging below us. There's also a healthy coral garden teeming with life but the water is murky that's probably cause by the horde of boats all over the area.
- LAST FRONTIER PARADISE