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Rightfully becoming more popular in recent years, El Nido is one of the most breathtaking destinations in the Philippines. One glance at its jagged limestone landscapes, azure waters, and immaculate beaches, and you might declare it one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Here are the best things to see and do in Palawan’s tropical haven.
The most popular sights in Bacuit Bay are the dreamy cerulean lagoons, simply called the Big Lagoon and the Small Lagoon. Because these are absolute musts on a trip to El Nido, you probably won’t have these stunners to yourself. However, you can rent a kayak and explore deep inside of these lagoons where the big boats can’t enter, limestone formations tower over you, and the water you wade through sparkles in the sunlight; the experience still makes for a picture-perfect moment. These lagoons are two stops on Tour A, one of the four ubiquitous tours offered in El Nido (the other three are Tours B, C, and D).
Quite the no-brainer, the beauty of El Nido won’t be found in its busy town proper, but beyond the shore, within Bacuit Bay. Explore the islands that make this place one of the most beautiful in the world. One of the best ways to have this experience is through Tour C, one of the more popular of the four tours, along with Tour A. Tour C will take you to Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Star Beach, and Matinloc Shrine. Other great stops are Seven Commandos Beach (part of Tour A) and Entalula Island (part of Tour B); you can ask your boatmen about these locations if you want to pay them a visit too.
Should you have the luxury of time during your visit to El Nido, you might also enjoy venturing down the less trodden path. Veer away from the crowds that swarm the popular sights of Tours A and C and instead, check out the underrated lagoons, caves, and beaches that make up tours B and D. Many travellers complain about the Secret and Hidden Beaches not being much of a secret anymore with the number of people that share them at one time. Tours B and D are your best shot at peace and solitude in the tourist hotspot of El Nido, especially during the peak season.
Also called Shimizu Island, this stop is well-known for its clear waters and vibrant marine life that make it an exceptional snorkel spot. It’s one of the destinations on Tour A, but you can always have a chat with your boatman if you’re doing another tour and want to add this one to the list. When snorkelling, always keep in mind that you should not step on corals, as this can be detrimental to them and the creatures that reside in this spot. Enjoy El Nido’s natural beauty while helping to preserve it too.
While the beachfront of the El Nido town proper isn’t the most amazing, you don’t have to take a boat out to Bacuit Bay to reach a tropical haven. Rent a motorbike or take a tricycle to one of the beaches, a quick roadtrip from town, and wait ‘til golden hour. Beaches like Nacpan, Las Cabañas, and Marimegmeg are superb spots to watch the sunset. Marvel at the horizon with a cocktail in hand, and this evening activity will make for one of your most memorable moments of the trip.
While El Nido town might not be the best for daytime beach activities, it comes alive at night. Enjoy a chilled out happy hour at one of the bars lining the beachfront. A great choice is SAVA Beach Bar, where the music is good and the cocktails are even better. It has just the right atmosphere to start an evening of island fun. Later into the night, gather up your rhythm and energy, and move over to Pukka Bar for some reggae music and a dance floor. Join locals and tourists alike toasting and jiving to upbeat island music.
If you’ve marked Coron as another stop on your Palawan trip, one of the most amazing ways to get there is by departing from El Nido aboard Tao Philippines’ majestic Paraw (traditional sailboat). This one-with-nature sailing expedition is a five-day trip between two of the most beautiful destinations in Palawan. But this is one experience that will prove the journey can be just as, or even more remarkable, than the destination.