El Nido: Basking in Palawan’s Picturesque Paradise
This would probably be the 500th time you’ve heard about El Nido, Palawan by the time you read this post. What with Tripzilla and other travel blogs constantly hounding your Facebook timeline about this postcard-perfect island, I wouldn’t be surprised if you suddenly had the compulsion to go pack your bags right there and then.
So for those who haven’t been there – and you have that one paradise of a place to go anywhere in the Philippines – then let that be El Nido. My friends and I had a fantastic time frolicking around it’s famed white sand beaches and gigantic limestones. Not to mention, we took thousands worth of selfies and group pics that can last us a lifetime. Believe me, it’s totally worth it.
If you’re curious as to how we organized our El Nido adventure, read this post until the end. If you like what you’re reading, then let me know or better yet, share this to your friends who deserve a cool vacation getaway.
Of Lagoons, Beaches and Shoddy Accommodation
Most, if not all island tours in El Nido are organized. So you need to book in advance, either through a travel agency or from the hotel where you stayed. It’s understandable why.
This place attracts thousands of tourists everyday. All tourist vessels need to be booked ahead of time to accommodate hordes of tourists. It’s only February, and the place was swamped with both local and foreign travelers.
To get there, we booked our night van through our hostel. We were picked up at the Puerto Princessa airport around 11 pm. You also have the option to ride a bus as well, but I honestly don’t know how much the fare is. You can check Cherry Bus for more details. It takes approximately 6-7 hours travel time from the Puerto Princessa airport to El Nido.
We booked an overnight stay at El Nido Sands Inn, a run-of-the-mill hostel with a spectacular balcony view of Bacuit Bay. This is where we started our 4-hour island voyage the next day.
We paid P550 each for those who stayed overnight. Prices may differ depending on the room. If you’re on a tight budget and you’re not very particular about cleanliness and customer service, then try here.
Otherwise, just bring your money somewhere else (there are tons of options nearby) because this hostel is beyond hopeless. The bathroom is dirty and Nanay Letty, the old lady at front desk is stubborn. She charged us 2 nights even if you we stayed less than that.
She also booked us our van transfers and Tour A on our behalf. It’s an island tour with 5 stops: Shimizu Island, Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon and 7 Commando Beach. It cost P1,200 per person.
This was our first stop. Our boat didn’t dock close to the shore due to some rocky corals and stones underneath the exquisite turquoise waters surrounding the island. Every stop offers a kayak ride for 30 minutes (P300) separate from the Tour A package. We didn’t’ stay long here and just took pictures from our boat. Kayaking would have been tempting but I forgot to bring money with me.
It’s an awesome place to snorkel, kayak and swim as it offers a breathtaking view of gigantic rock formation. Embarrassing as it sounds, most of us don’t know how to swim. So, we didn’t really swim here, we “float or drift by”, more or less. Our tour guides had to drag us by our life jacket back to the boat to our next stop.
This was where we had a sumptuous lunch of the freshest seafood, vegetables, fruits and pork barbecue. We took this time off to chill, and revel at its scenic view. There were other tourists who docked on this island for their afternoon lunch.
Don’t be misled by the title. It’s not that secret anymore because it took us almost 15 minutes to get inside a small passageway of the Secret Lagoon. But once inside, you’ll be mesmerized by the enclosure of water seemingly trapped from the rest of the island. It’s like being transported to another dimension.
7 Commando Beach
Our fifth and last stop was 7 Commando Beach. I have to say that it’s one of my favorite islands on this tour. We enjoyed the view of its never-ending shoreline, played with its powdery white sands, take dramatic selfies, and just bum around while people-watching.
This is what we imagined doing after grueling week of work. We just want to relax and lounge around without caring what happens next. This place was a perfect place to do just that and even more.
El Nido: Palawan’s Treasured Gem
For those who want to know how much each person in our group spent for the entire El Nido trip, here’s a simple breakdown of the cost:
El Nido Sands Inn Accommodation – P 550
Van to El Nido – 460
Van back to Puerto Princessa – 500
Tour A – 1,200
Total P 2,710
So there you have it, folks. Our half-day tour was rather short but memorable. I might come back hopefully to check out their other islands. I heard some great reviews about Tour C. Or perhaps Coron Island should be next? What do you think? All I know is that, whatever my budget permits, there I will be for sure.
Here’s a video to recap our El Nido adventure:
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