We spent our last 4 nights exploring the breathtaking natural beauty of El Nido. Like Coron, most people who visit El Nido come for the epic island-hopping, so again, we spent most of our time island hopping.
Like Coron, El Nido is a surreal place: endless beaches, crystal clear waters, and an underwater world, that will take your breath away.
Tour A – Lagoons and Beaches
On New Year’s eve, we joined Tour A and spent the day visiting breathtaking lagoons. We visited both Small Lagoon and Secret Lagoon. They were half as busy as the lagoons we visited in Coron, so personally I enjoyed the experience much more than the previous tours, even if some of the scenery might have been a bit less impressive.
Small Lagoon – The Small Lagoon is a bit hidden. Unlike the Big Lagoon next door, which has a big open channel, the Small Lagoon can only be entered through a tiny crack in the limestone rock wall. It’s only possible to swim inside or enter with a kayak (make sure to duck your head it really is a tight entrance). This makes the Small Lagoon pretty special and it has a unique atmosphere inside the narrow lagoon. Once inside there are lots of caves, corners and interesting sections of the cliffs to explore. More importantly, it was so peaceful. We spent about 30 minutes just gliding around in the kayak and taking in the awe-inspiring views.
Like the other lagoons, you can’t see anything from the boat. The entrance is just a small hole in the limestone wall and when you squeeze through it opens up into a small pool of water completely surrounded by the cliffs. While it is an amazing natural formation, there really isn’t much to do inside and often it is just a big group of strangers standing around in the knee-deep water looking at each other. It was a great experience, however, to see mother nature in action.
We met some super fun people on the trip as always, sharing lots of travelling stories throughout the day, which made it even more enjoyable.
In the evening, we headed to a beachfront restaurant, famous for its fresh food and nice wine.
The food was divine, especially the chocolate cake (I subsequently went back to the restaurant 3x after this just to order the cake!).
Jules Tour – Kayaks
We wanted to join Tour C on New Year’s Day, but due to the strong currents, the coast guard cancelled all the tours. However, for some strange reason, you could still hire kayaks, so Jules and I decided to do our own island tour. Our first destination was Paradise Beach, which took about 30mins to paddle too, as the waves were quite rough. Paddling out of El Nido Proper is really cool. We weaved in and out of all of the tour boats and continually looked back towards the small town behind us.
Paradise Beach is lined by coconut trees and crystal clear water that can take your breath away. Only one other kayaker was resting on the shore and he left soon after we arrived., so we basically had the whole beach to ourselves. We stayed here for a while, and then explored a few other nearby beaches with the kayak.
It was a bit of a challenge getting back to El Nido. At one point I actually mentioned to Jules we might have to get rescued by the coast guard, and he even admitted after getting back to El Nido town, that he was only 60% confident in us actually making it back to shore. We felt a bit like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
Tour B – Caves and Coves
On our second to last day, Tour C was cancelled again so we decided to book in on tour D, just so we could make the most of our last day on the island.
Cathedral Cave – From the outside, the Cathedral Cave looks anything but impressive. In fact, I thought this might be one of those filler activities they throw in to pass some time. Once inside we discovered an incredible luminescent section of water within the cave. The roof was so high up with sharp stalactites pointing down at us. With such a high ceiling and natural chandeliers, it soon became clear why this cave was called the Cathedral.
Snake Island – Snake Island gets its name from the natural S-shaped sandbar that twists off its shore, clearly visible during low tide. This area reminded me of a mini French Polynesia with the steep, green hills as a backdrop to the crystal clear blue water (not that I have ever been to French Polynesia!). We climbed a hill nearby to get a bird’s eye view of the seascape and I made Jules take a shed tone of photos of me in the sea!
Cudugnon Cave – as always, the entrance to the cave was small and unassuming, which made entering the save a little bit of a challenge (you basically have to slide through a rocky hole foot first). Once you enter the cave, it is simply breathtaking and somewhat chilling. It gives the impression that you entered a room with high ceilings. Rock formations vary from smooth texture to rough ones. There are elevated parts perfect for picture taking especially for photography enthusiasts.
Once again, we met some super fun people on the trip as always, sharing lots of travelling stories throughout the day, which made it even more enjoyable.
All in all, we had such a fun time touring and exploring Palawan and would go back in a heartbeat.