Paradise of Palawan: Breathtaking El Nido

by - September 22, 2014

El Nido -  a paradise locked outside of heaven. This is what I concluded when I experienced the breathtaking El Nido. Who needs to go to Bali when we have these beauty right in our country?

The Travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido

From Puerto Princesa City, where we stayed and toured for 3 days, we took a Roll On Roll Off (RORO) bus to El Nido. The travel is about 6-7 hours long with two 20-minute stop over on some towns. Fare is around 490Php (11$), one way. Take note that you have to be there ahead of time as there could be a lot of passengers especially during peak season and weekends. It's also advisable to travel during the night so you won't be weary of the long hours. Wayback February when we went there, the roads were rough with some paved ones.

Where We Stay

We arrived at El Nido earlier than expected, 4:30 in the morning. My friend had a supposed reservation at a local inn but when we arrived there, her contact said that it's already occupied. The good thing though is that she has a friend who has a room for rent at her house. She even accompanied us there and we only payed 800Php per night (18US$), so cheap! The room wasn't that bad, a fan room with a common restroom and was located downtown near the beach. But I would not advise this kind of accomodation if you like to experience El Nido at its finest.

There are cheap hostels and resorts on the front beach. If there's a reservation, make sure also to inform your contact what time will you be arriving.

El Nido Tour

After resting for an hour, we made our way to the town and looked for a travel agency. As what I have noticed, almost all of them has similar offerings. One local told us that it was the government who made it standardized. There are Tours from A to E ranging from 700php to 1500php, each has a different group of islands to visit. Since we're already on a tight budget, we chose Tour A worth 700Php per pax (16US$). The islands included were Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Simizu Island, Secret Lagoon, 7 Commando.

We joined a number of foreigners and we were the only Filipinos on the group.

Helicopter Island from afar - it was shaped like a helicopter thus the name

Our first stop was the Small Lagoon where went snorkeling and swimming. We had to swim our way through to enter the lagoon itself, which has vivid waters surrounded by limestone walls. It would actually nice to go kayaking here as the current was not that strong.

Felt like an appetizer for the whole El Nido experience

Snorkeling - the water was only chest deep

Small Lagoon

Next was the Big Lagoon, a diving spot located in the midst of karst limestone formations. This also serves a breeding ground for fishes and crustaceans.

Way to Big Lagoon

 There was actually a diving platform where the banca can dock in

I am not a good swimmer so I didn't feel confident diving into the deep blue green waters. The tour guide even said that occasionally there are baby sharks around which made me feel more scared. My friends dived through, though!

Secret Lagoon was our subsequent stop. It is exactly what its name implies. We had to go through a hole to access the Secret Lagoon, you should be extra careful though, as you can bump your head if you don't bow down suitably

Entrance to the Secret Lagoon

Upon passing that narrow entrance, you would see the hidden lagoon surrounded by a massive crater-like cliffs. The water isn't too deep and clear as the other lagoons.
A crater-like Secret Lagoon surrounded by cliffs

Cliff walls around Secret Lagoon

After soaking ourself at Secret Lagoon, we proceeded to Simizu Island, where we ate our specially prepared sumptuous lunch and mostly rest.

Tourists resting at Simizu Island


Healthy, mouth watering lunch prepared by our tour guide

Fresh veggies!


Stunning Simizu Island

A glimpse of paradise. Seriously, who needs filter for this?

We were quite exhausted and tired, so we decided to just take a rest after lunch. The final destination after a long day tour was 7 Commando Island. It was named after the seven Japanese soldiers who stayed on the island after World War II. Its fine white sand and crystal clear waters made the perfect place for our last stop. The scenery itself was so inviting. There were stores where you can buy cold drinks including beer. Public toilets are also available.

Fine white sand


It was almost sunset when we reach back El Nido downtown and we wanted to eat something sweet, so we try Sea Slugs Beach Bar & Restaurant. We learnt about this restaurant when we were preparing our itinerary and the reviews were quite ok.

sea slugsSea Slug pizza

Chocolate crepe

Buko milk shake

For me, the food has been just average or we could have at least tried their best sellers. What makes the place special was it is located beach front so you'll have a solitary view of El Nido. Indeed, I witnessed a golden sunset like never before.

What a beauty

Later that night, we wanted to try Habibi Shisha Cafe and Restaurant but it was jam packed with customers.

Electricity

When going to El Nido, one should know they have a limited power supply. The electricity is off from 6:00AM until 2:00PM. Thus, you may ought to check if the hotel you're staying has power generators. During our stay, there were even power interruptions outside the scheduled black out.

The next morning we took a van back to Puerto Princesa for our flight back to Manila. Taking a van took us only around 5-6 hours but was more expensive than the bus fare.
El Nido was a place I'd definitely fallen in love. All the inconveniences are worth the hassle. You could try Tours A to E everyday, but still won't get enough of this paradise.

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