Truly the jewel of Palawan, this place is home to some of the best beaches, islands and marine life in the Philippines. Palawan finds its place among the best islands of the world. Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron are all part of Palawan.
Itinerary: Cebu – Bohol – Puerto Princesa – El Nido – Coron – Boracay – Manila
Reaching El Nido from Puerto Princesa: El Nido is approximately 230 km north of Puerto Princesa, the journey roughly takes 6 hours by car or bus. You will find many travel agencies operating this route. We went by Biyaheroes, which charged Php 600 per person.
Where to stay: We stayed at Barangay Buena Suerte, which is very near to El Nido beach from where the ferries for island hopping and diving depart. It’s a bustling area with many cafes, restaurants, bars, shopping places and tour operators.
One of the Options: Krizma Inn
Apart from taking a place nearby El Nido beach many travellers staying for considerable number of days in the island also prefer to stay in hostels near Nacpan beach. This place is approximately 17 km from El Nido beach (pier harbour).
Commute: You will find many tricycles here. However, we recommend to rent a two-wheeler and explore the countryside on your own.
Things to do: Take the popular island hopping tours, shortly known as Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, Tour D. This is undoubtedly the best way to explore the scattered islands and beaches here.
To explore the countryside just rent a vehicle, roam around and visit Nagkalit-Kalit Falls, Nacpan beach and Calitang beach. Tour operators provide this as ‘Inland Beaches and Waterfall Tour’, also known as Tour E.
If you have time, we recommend doing all the tours (A, B, C, D), however if you are hard pressed for time do at least Tour A and Tour C or go for combo tours. We did Tour A, C and E.
1.) Tour A: One of the more popular tours among the four tours.
Activities: Discovering beautiful lagoons, swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, kayaking, relaxing, photography
Tour A covers below places in Bacuit Bay:
- 7 Commandos Beach: Fine sand, clear water, ideal for swimming and chilling by the beach.
- Secret Lagoon: You need to swim or snorkel through the clear waters and reach a small crevice. Once you get through the tiny crevice you will see a pool of clear water surrounded by karst formations. The whole experience is mesmerizing.
- Shimizu Island: One of the best snorkelling places* in the Philippines. You will encounter a variety of colorful fishes and corals here.
*other places include Banana Beach (in Coron) and Talisay Beach (in El Nido)
- Small Lagoon: Kayak in the backdrop of karst mountains
- Big Lagoon: Swim/Snorkel/Kayak and explore the clear waters in the backdrop of karst mountains
We booked this day tour with TravelPALAWAN. The tour operator was Maambeng Travel and Tours. The charges were Php 1260 per person.
2.) Tour C: One of the more popular tours among the four tours. Both Tour A and Tour C are amazing, but if comparison was to be made we enjoyed Tour C more than Tour A. You can also go for Combo Tour A & C, however you will get to spend less time in each place. It’s a good option if you face shortage of time.
Activities: Discovering out of sight beaches, swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, kayaking, relaxing, photography
Tour C covers below places in Bacuit Bay:
- Helicopter Island: Dilumacad Island better known as Helicopter Island derives the name from its shape. Beach with clear water, good for swimming and sunbathing. There is a good place for snorkelling near karst formations on the beach.
- Matinloc Shrine: A place with breathtaking scenery of clear turquoise waters that you get to see after a short climb through the karst rocks. Picture perfect panoramic viewpoint for taking signature postcard photographs embodying the Philippines.
- Secret Beach: You need to snorkel through waves of low intensity and reach a small opening in a rock, here you will struggle to enter as you get pushed and pulled alternatively by the waves. After the fun struggle you will be stunned to see a small beach with soft sand and clear water with the backdrop of karst formations. The whole experience of wrestling the waves through a small crevice until there comes one giant wave that pushes you in to the territory of a small enclosed beach is truly enthralling.
- Talisay Beach: One of the best snorkelling places* in the Philippines. You will encounter a variety of colorful fishes and corals here.
*other places include Banana Beach (in Coron) and Shimizu Island (in El Nido)
- Hidden Beach: Nothing astounded me more than the unfolding of the entrance to Hidden Beach. You need to snorkel to reach this place. The waves here are a little stronger than the ones you would encounter in secret beach or secret lagoon. The whole time while snorkelling, you will wonder as to where can this beach be, after all you can’t make a whole beach go out of sight. Keep moving forward and suddenly you will see an entrance to the beach, perhaps the most dramatic of all island hopping experiences. The beach has soft white sand, clear water and karst formations with coconut trees on the other side.
We booked this day tour with TravelPALAWAN. The tour operator was Maambeng Travel and Tours. The charges were Php 1470 per person.
3.) Tour B: We did not take this tour for lack of time
For more information you may follow the link TravelPALAWAN Tour B
4.) Tour D: We did not take this tour for lack of time
For more information you may follow the link TravelPALAWAN Tour D
5.) Inland Beaches & Waterfall (Tour E): We booked this tour through TravelPALAWAN. However, we recommend you rent a two-wheeler and explore the countryside, waterfalls and the twin beaches on your own.
You will cover below places with this:
- Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls: Either drive or take a tricycle ride to reach the entrance of the waterfalls. It is approximately 12 km (25 mins) from El Nido beach (pier harbour).
From the entrance it’s a 30 minutes (2.5 km) hike through lush green fields surrounded by trees and occasional wading through a river. The hike makes the experience all the more beautiful.
After the hike you will reach the first waterfall with a small pool where you can swim and relax.
It’s not over yet, now get ready for slippery and steep hike to the bigger and much more aggressive waterfall. The hike to this second waterfall is challenging in the sense that you will have to use all four limbs for a good grip. Once you reach the waterfall try standing exactly below the falling water, it will be a daunting yet thrilling experience.
6.) Twin beaches (Nacpan Beach and Calitang Beach): From Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls, Nacpan beach is another 25 minutes (8 km) ride.
Nacpan is a 4 km long stretch of soft white sand with clear water. Swim, sunbathe and chill at the beach. You will find many restaurants serving delicious food and drinks. You will find a couple of hostels as well around here.
Trek uphill and you will see Calitang Twin Beach. We were too busy lazing around in Nacpan to go to Calitang.
7.) Explore places near El Nido pier harbour: You will find many cafes, bars, restaurants and places to shop around this area. Few nice places to visit or shop:
- Art Café: The café offers good food and a vast menu to choose from with amazing ambience. The café has two different ambience, the one by the beach is a nice candle-lit place and the other one is a cosy place inside a building on the opposite side of the road.
- Jarace Grill: Restaurant on the beach with live music, good food and drinks.
Get customized souvenir t-shirt with quotes related to El Nido printed on it: We don’t remember the shop’s name, but it’s one of the shops in between ‘Rooftop Boutique & Bar’ and another boutique ‘A little corner of paradise’. This place offers superb El Nido themed souvenir t-shirts and bags. The best part is that you get to choose and customize the print and the quote from a wide catalogue.
Time of visit: November 2017