my top five spots in el nido
El Nido, Palawan
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Every island in El Nido has its own character. Each is unique in its own way and can be easily differentiated from another so the tours really give you a rich and varied experience. The best islands for me are those whose characters stood out. There were some beaches/lagoons/islands which I was not able to go to for some reason so I might be missing some of your favorites. And yes, I love lagoons so 3 would make it to the list.
number 1. small lagoon
The Small Lagoon was the best surprise among all the spots we went to in El Nido. The boat stopped somewhere in a beautiful area with clear turquoise water and we thought that that was already the small lagoon. Beautiful as it is, it was surrounded by limestone cliffs where you could swim and explore. But instead, the tour guide asked us to follow him into a small opening in the rocks and what we saw inside left us speechless. It was a very small lagoon, almost like a private pool, not very deep but deep enough to snorkel and see some marine life. The place was surrounded by very tall cliffs so our voices echoed all over the place. Good thing it was just us in the lagoon and we did not bother anyone with our high energy and screeching laughs.
number 2. big lagoon
For me, Big Lagoon was the most picturesque spot in El Nido. It was a long stretch of water, almost like a river, surrounded by tall limestone karst and leads you to the open sea. This is one of the most iconic spots in El Nido as most visitors to the place would take their photo here while sitting on the edge of their outrigger boats. Unlike other lagoons, this one felt very welcoming with its serene ambiance, calm waters and sunny weather when we passed by.
number 3. snake island
Snake Island is the most unique in that it has a long sand bar that stretches from an island to another. The sand bar only shows itself during low tide, which has a different timing every month. When we went there towards the end of July, low tide was at 6 o’clock in the evening so we were not able to see the sand bar clearly. But even during high ride, you can walk along the sandbar with the deepest water only up to the waist. Snake Island also has a viewing deck where you could take a good photo of the sand bar. Even if you are not a good photographer, the sand bar has no bad angle. Professional photographer or not, the sand bar remains scenic.
number 4: cadlao lagoon
Cadlao meant smile and Cadlao Lagoon definitely lived up to its name. The ride going to the island was quite scary – waves were choppy, the rain was pouring so hard, it felt like hail on my back but getting into the lagoon and the weather starting to cooperate, what I saw was a pool of green calm waters decorated with beautiful limestone karsts. The cliffs here are more spiky and shorter than the other ones we saw. Despite the ice-cold wind and annoying drizzles on my face, I just had to take a swim. The water remained clear despite the rain and it was just nice and warm. Deeper into the Cadlao Lagoon, the water would turn brackish and cold. This is where fresh spring water meets with seawater, which really sparked my interest.
number 5: tapiutan island
Tapiutan Island is another one of those picturesque islands in El Nido. This is where we had lunch on our first day. It was drizzling but I still managed to take a photo of the island. The limestone cliffs in front of the beach was positioned in such a way that the beach looked hidden from the outside while still giving boats a generous space to enter, unlike Secret Beach. The cliffs are also very near the shore so it’s very easy to swim over. The cliffs are also short enough (and not too spiky) to allow tourists to climb up the cliffs and take photos. There's also a small hut in the nearby cliff where tourists can hang out and enjoy the scenery in Tapiutan Island.
how to get there
Manila to Puerto Princesa:
AirAsia and Cebu Pacific Air fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa 4 times daily.
Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Puerto Princesa twice daily through PAL Express.
Travel time usually takes 1.5 hours.
Puerto Princesa to El Nido:
There are several transportation options going to El Nido:
Travel time usually takes about 5-6 hours depending on traffic and mode of transport.The public utility vehicles going to El Nido are all in San Jose Terminal. To reach San Jose Terminal, you can ride a jeep/multi-cab going to San Jose Public Market. Ask the driver to drop you off at the San Jose Terminal. You can also go to the terminal by tricycle.
where to stay in el nido
Please visit my list of cheap hostels, backpackers inn and budget resorts for less than P1,500 per night or use the search box below.
El Nido island hopping tours are more organized and priced at a standard rate, unlike other island hopping tours in the country. You can always negotiate depending on the number of pax in your group.
arrange for your tour
You can always arrange an island hopping tour with your hotel/inn but if you would like to arrange this online prior to your visit, you can do so through our contact Ate Beth at +63(927)5460691. She has a big boat that can accommodate more than 10 people.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them here: