El Nido doesn’t have that beach-town vibe, feeling of idyll which accompanies the best beach towns. But, El Nido is chock full of luxuries many tourists appreciate on their vacations: cafes and restaurants, a wide range of hotels for every wallet, beach bars with happy hours and reggae music, fiery sunsets, stuff like that. Stores offer plenty of souvenirs, and even designer clothing stores for those looking to spend serious amounts.
And that doesn’t include what is waiting just a boat’s ride away offshore… Sure, the island-hopping tours are on the pricey side—1200 to 1500 pesos per person (around 30 USD)—but there is no disputing the beauty of the Bacuit archipelago.
The karst formations, the white-sand island beaches, the glowing blue-green lagoons, the colorful fields of coral, and the clear waters that turn into every shade of blue. Each and every destination is exactly what we all gape at on TV and in magazines. Pa-ra-dise. If the weather is just right, the tour fees will seem paltry in comparison to the natural phenomenons that abound.
Furthermore, there’s a handful of other things to do around El Nido, besides the island-hopping. Neighboring beaches, blissfully free of bangkas, are there for our perusal. Plenty of places offer kayaks for rent (bring snorkel gear) and I’ve read that hiking can also be undertaken at a few of the islands. Renting a motorcycle and exploring the surrounding areas can be nice.
It’s hard to appreciate an overcrowded fishing town, and even harder not to feel guilty about being a tourist when we see firsthand the damage we are doing by following the masses to every popular destination. But the archipelago is jaw-dropping gorgeous. We have no regrets having visited Bacuit Bay.