Located on the northernmost end of Palawan, El Nido is known all over the world for its beautiful white sand beaches, extraordinary marine ecosystem, and majestic limestone cliffs. It’s consistently included in various lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world, including those compiled by CNN and Condé Nast Traveler.
For first-time visitors, an El Nido, Palawan tour package might be the best option so you can save money on flight tickets and accommodation. The extra funds can go to renting kayaks and boats, diving or snorkeling gear, and other similar necessities because you’re definitely going to spend a lot of time in the water.
After you’ve zeroed in on the exact kind of travel experience that you want, than it’s time to make narrow down your list of places to see. Here are some of our top recommendations.
Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon
Despite their not-so-creative names, the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon are nothing short of magical. You can reach both destinations via kayaking there yourselves or by renting a boat. For Big Lagoon, you’ll be navigating huge rock walls that have a surreal, unearthly beauty about them. It’s almost like they’re computer-generated in their perfection! Once you come into the “entrance,” you’ll see aquamarine waters that are sparklingly clear. You don’t even need to snorkel to see the dazzling variety of marine life Palawan is famous for! There’s also a small beach area where you can laze around and swim in the cool waters.
Meanwhile, Small Lagoon has that “secret paradise” feel to it. It’s accessible through a narrow gap between huge, hulking rocks, with waters that are pleasantly warm and incredibly clean. Snorkeling and swimming are absolutely welcome. There are plenty of delicate corals here, along with small fish that dart in and out of the rocks and hide in the sand. Stay still for a while, and you’ll see them going hither and thither soon enough.
Snake Island got its name not because of actual snakes living on the island (there are none!) but rather due to its snake-like shape. Moreover, the island isn’t really an island but a sandbar littered with starfish. It cuts across Bacuit Bay, and when it appears during low tide, it can be used to cross to the main island. Snake Island is perfect for swimming and flooding your Instagram feed with photos that would surely rake in those likes and comments.
Apart from the length of the sandbar, there’s also a small rocky hill you can climb. This is the perfect spot for picturesque shots of the coast, the waters, and the island itself.
Towards the north, you’ll find El Nido’s famous twin beaches: Nacpan and Calitang. The 4-kilometer stretch of Nacpan Beach boasts fine golden sand and blue waters with big waves that are perfect for body surfing. Just be careful and stay near the shores when the waves get a little too strong. Despite its popularity, Nacpan beach remains “chill,” with plenty of quiet areas where you can simply relax.
Meanwhile, Calitang Beach is much smaller but no less gorgeous. This is where you go when you really want to just enjoy some peace and quiet, and appreciate the beautiful seascape. On your way here from Nacpan, you’ll chance upon a viewpoint where you can get a panoramic view of both beaches.
The road going to the Twin Beaches can be a little challenging, especially if it just rained because it gets muddy. However, it’s definitely worth the effort once you get there.
For those looking for an adventure, Hidden Beach is the place to go. You can access it by swimming through a small opening in the surrounding limestone rock formations. Once you make it to the other side, you’ll be welcomed by a secret cove and lagoon. If you get there early enough (via Boat Tour C), you can have the place to yourselves for a couple of hours. You can also book a private tour to ensure that you’ll be the only ones there for a while.
Matinloc Island is part of Bacuit Archipelago. It’s a long and slim island, with stunning limestone formations and rich marine life. Matinloc Island is also home to Secret Beach, which is only accessible by swimming underwater through a narrow passage between huge rocks. The view is particularly beautiful when the sun is high, since it “paints” the limestone walls with color. It’s said that the author Alex Garland was inspired by Secret Beach to write his novel The Beach.
If you’re not much for diving, then Kulasa Beach is for you. It’s a long stretch of white sand beach, where the seafloor stays shallow and level for about 10 meters before it dips down. It’s perfect for swimming and splashing around, even for those who can’t swim well.
These places are just a taste of what the islands of El Nido can offer. For sure, once you’ve experienced them, you’ll want to come back to the islands many more times!