Officially nicknamed “Heaven on Earth”, El Nido is a tiny town located on an island off the western coast of the Philippines. What makes this town so special is the fact that it lies within one of the most beautiful seascape areas of the entire country and, at least to our impression, the world.
Getting to El Nido, Philippines
Getting to El Nido is only possible via the country’s main airport in Manila from where we took a flight to Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital of the island. From there you have to take a bus or mini-van to El Nido, which is another 5-6 hour ride away.
The town or población of El Nido is nestled in a sheltered bay surrounded by huge limestone cliffs and hills, hence its name (El Nido = Spanish for the nest). The town itself is nothing special but rather serves as a starting point for island hopping tours around the Bacuit Archipelago. No matter which tour you will end up taking, you will be left speechless by the abundance of natural beauty! Pristine, spotless and white beaches surrounded by crystal clear waters – this is something you will encounter for sure.
Exploring El Nido
We immediately decided to go on such as tour and headed off the days after we arrived. The weather was perfect and our bangka, a traditional Filipino motorized boat with large bamboo outriggers, easily navigated its way out of the bay. We were amazed by the limestone rock formations and hills which are very typical for this region. After 15 minutes the boat reached the white shores of the first beach, the clear, blue waters blinding our eyes as we finally felt the powdery sands between our toes.
We spent some great relaxing time here and were excited about finally being here and experiencing this slice of heaven. Great to see is that the tur guides and the local authorities truly respect the environment and really help in keeping this place a clean and environmental friendly tourist destination. Being part of a natural conservation area also helped the beaches to remain spotless – something that unfortunately is not always the case in Asia. In general we were impressed by how unpolluted these beaches were.
After enjoying some nice time in the sun and having a refreshing dip in the water we continued to our next stops. We left the main island of Palawan behind us and now headed out to the smaller island groups which were lying a bit further away. Apart from the beaches there are a few incredibly beautiful lagoons around El Nido.
As we approached another smaller beach the boat stopped and the tour guide pointed us towards a small opening in the rocks. We stepped out of the boat and slowly waded through the shallow waters and carefully climbed into a small hole. This was the entrance to a small, hidden lagoon on the other side. A total surprise, we were fascinated by this place as it was something very unique and not comparable to other things we have seen so far.
With still a half day ahead of us we now approached more beach spots where we had some nice lunch. During the trip the tour guides already started to barbeque on the back of the boat and prepared some nice fish, meat, vegetables and fruits for us on the beach. It was absolutely delicious and really added up to making an island hopping tour a great success.
More and more giant rock formations struck out of the waters as we continued our trip, opening up like spread-out arms, inviting us to their beautiful beaches. We stopped by a few more and also managed to do a great deal of snorkeling. Compared to some other diving and snorkeling spots throughout Southeast Asia we found that there were a lot of active and intact coral reefs here. We were amazed by the sheer variety of different fishes and corals – truly a must-see place if you are interested in discovering the underwater world.
We reached back to El Nido town in the afternoon and were still amazed by the beautiful places we experienced during the trip. Actually, we were so amazed that we decided to join another tour the next day as we really wanted to see more of this!
El Nido has absolutely fascinated us! It is an incredibly beautiful natural paradise with breathtaking views, clean white beaches, amazing underwater life and spectacular lagoons. It is for sure one of the most distinct and unique seascape areas in the world.