A trip to El Nido almost demands a mandatory kayaking photo. And the best places to score these are within Bacuit Bay’s exquisite lagoons. Here, karst landscapes serve as an astonishing backdrop, and your bright yellow kayak will strikingly contrast the beautiful turquoise waters. Because some parts of the Big Lagoon are too shallow for the typical island hopping boats to dock, it’s best explored aboard a kayak, which also makes for a truly envy-worthy image.
Another divine photo-op presents itself at El Nido’s Small Lagoon. Just as its “bigger” counterpart, towering limestones and gorgeous blue waters make this a fantastic setting for your next Instagram upload. Whether you choose to linger around the lagoon entrance on your bangka or decide to rent a kayak to enter and explore its hidden nooks, you’re bound to get a brilliant shot.
Over a half-hour drive from El Nido town proper is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. Because it’s a bit of a drive from town, a portion of which runs over some bumpy roads, Nacpan Beach doesn’t get overly crowded with tourists (passerby-free photos!). It’s a stunning stretch of fine, white sand, backed by rows of coconut trees. A few establishments are also around serving cocktails and food, and there are day beds and hammocks for that effortless lounge photo.
Want your followers to know you haven’t traded in your active lifestyle for all-day beach idling? Take an impressive photo atop Taraw Cliff overlooking the El Nido town and bay. While an easier (and safer) option is available through a canopy walk, the challenging route climbing up jagged limestones delivers the most rewarding views. Be warned, however, that the latter requires some level of physical fitness and is made easier by some hiking experience. Also make sure your guides provide safety gear such as helmets and gloves as the ascent is steep and the rocks can be sharp.
Seven Commando Beach
If you choose to go on the island hopping Tour A, this pristine stop will be on your day’s itinerary. Though you will likely be in the company of fellow tourists due to this beach’s popularity, it proves to be a small price to pay for a dazzling beach and shoreline, and lined up coconut trees that make for a scenic background. Try to go on leaner hours of the day to avoid the crowds.
For pictures that are photobomber-free, venture off to islands that aren’t part of the typical El Nido itinerary. Because many tourists, attempting to see El Nido’s highlights in their limited time, will choose the most popular tours A and C, the stops on tours B and D are left more serene. Pinagbuyutan Island is one of these escapes. Its interesting make of powdery white sand, grass patches, and rock formations gives you a variety of setting choices for your snapshots.
Another island to dodge the crowds is Entalula. Also a stop on Tour B, this island boasts a gorgeous beach and vibrant waters, like many others within Bacuit Bay. But what sets it apart is a striking, massive rock formation greeting its visitors as they approach its shores. Quiet and picturesque, Entalula is a great location to score some Insta-worthy shots.
Being part of one of the more popular island hopping tour itineraries, unfortunately the Secret Lagoon and Beach isn’t much of a secret anymore. But it does remain a must-visit for good reason. Visitors have to swim through a small hole within the limestones–which at some hours of the day may be completely submerged under water–to get to the Secret Lagoon, and swim further down to get to the small sandy area considered the Secret Beach. Despite the company, it’s still quite the sight to behold with the limestone walls safeguarding the azure lagoon and beach, and makes for an awesome backdrop should you be able to find a vacant spot.
The Birdhouse El Nido
While guests at this remarkable glamping accommodation among the trees will never run out of things to photograph from the thoughtfully designed glamp tents (which they adoringly refer to as ‘nests’) to their boho-inspired common spaces, non-guests can still make the hike up and pay the photogenic Birdhouse a visit. Meals are available (best to call in advance in case a reservation is needed) at the Nesting Table and sunset yoga sessions can also be savored from an open-air platform at their ‘mother nest’—both of which are surrounded by sensational El Nido views. Nestled atop a cliff on Marimegmeg Beach within lush greenery, The Birdhouse is more than ideal for your Instagram needs.
Las Cabanas Beach
If there’s the mandatory kayaking photo to kick off your beach pictures checklist, there’s the classic, sentimental sunset shot to close it off. Las Cabanas, over a half-hour drive from El Nido town is one of the best places to catch the golden hour glow. Grab a cocktail at one of the beach bars and watch the sky do its magic. Other nearby beaches that are spectacular for sunset viewing include Marimegmeg and Nacpan.