Palawan is one of the most sonorous places in the Philippine archipelago the other one is Boracay Island in Aklan province. Well, this island province can define and showcase the real paradise. No wonder as it was recently hailed as the Best Island of the World by the popular travel magazine, Travel and Leisure, for two consecutive years (2016 & 2017) followed by Boracay Island at number 3 spot. I have been in to two popular tourist destinations in Palawan, namely; Puerto Princesa City (provincial capital) and Coron province. All I can say that these provinces can mesmerize both local and foreign guests thru its implied wonderful natural creations.
Puerto Princesa owned the popular “Underground River” which was featured many times in different travel documentaries in television, media prints and online blogs. It was also included in the 7 Wonders of Nature by the global community. Coron province on the otherhand, is known for its numbers of rock formation islets, shipwreck under water, and amazing giant aquarium-like coral reefs.
Beyond these two mentioned amazing provinces, here’s another popular tourist attraction in Palawan where we recently spent our time in and one of the most visited by many foreign tourists from around the globe, El Nido, Palawan. It is a place where it’s like you brought yourself in to a dreamland where the world is perfect.
The scenic view of every rock formation islands are jaw dropping and mesmerizing, especially, the lagoons. I could say that El Nido reached our beyond expectation among those previously visited places. It was an absolutely a real paradise to travelers and guests. The ocean front of each island is just like a huge water-clear pool with great underwater view.
El Nido is a Philippine municipality in Palawan island. It is known for white-sand beaches, coral reefs and act as the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago, a group of islands with steep karst cliffs. Miniloc Island is famed for the clear waters of its Small and Big lagoons. Nearby Shimizu Island has fish-filled waters. The area has many dive sites with great underwater scenic view.
How To Get There in El Nido?
From Manila, take a plane to Puerto Princesa via Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines or Air Asia. Travel time is 1-hour and 20-minutes. From Puerto Princesa, take a van heading to El nido with travel time of 5-hours.
Alternatively, the fastest way but a bit expensive to reach El Nido is taking via Air Swift. It is a charter company for El Nido Resorts and it offers direct flight from Manila to LIO Airport, El Nido. Travel time is around 55-minutes on a 50 seater ATR aircraft. You can check their website for flight booking and reservation. Here are the scheduled boarding of Air Swift;
Flights from Manila to El Nido leave at 6:30, 9:55, 11:00, 14:00.
Flights from El Nido to Manila depart at 8:00, 12:00, 16:00, 17:00 daily.
There’s a daily flight from and to Cebu! El Nido-Cebu takes off daily at 12:55. The plane leaves En Nido for Cebu at 15.15
Tour Highlights (6 Days / 5 Nights)
Our day one was just plainly reaching Puerto Princesa, Palawan from Manila via Cebu Pacific Air. Our arrival in Palawan was early in the evening, so we looked for a transient inn near the airport upon arrival for our overnight stay in preparation for our El Nido trip the following day.
Our tour agent picked us up in our stayed pension house early in the morning of our second day, and brought us to El Nido for about 5-hours land travel. We reached El Nido at around 3pm and promptly arranged our check-in process at our assigned accommodation. Our second day was just hauling ourselves from Puerto Princesa City to El Nido province.
Our day three was technically the day one of our actual touring El Nido which was our purpose. We took the combination tours of A and C that covered the exploration of islands and lagoons. We visited the different attraction islands and lagoons based on our day tour itineraries; Seven Commando Beach, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Beach, Matinloc Coral Reef, Matinloc Shrine, and Helicopter Island.
Seven Commandos Island was named after the 7 commandos who lived in the island. Their names are printed on the rocks at the island. Sitting right on the mainland, Seven Commandos is a deserted stretch of beach with a gently sloping sea floor and a magnificent view of the sunset. It is actually one of the major ternaries of the tourists when visiting El Nido.
One of my favorite spots in El Nido are the Small and Big Lagoons along Miniloc Island. Those lagoons are so amazing and magical. Both are guarded by steep cliffs upon entry with nice scenic ambiance. During our tour, we spent most of our time doing selfies in these lagoons. For big lagoon, we weren’t able to jump off the water since our boat was roving the entire lagoon area for site seeing of all, we, the guests. But in small lagoon, we spent more time in snorkeling and kayaking just to feel closely appreciate more this jaw dropping lagoon.
Secret Beach is literally a small hidden beach enclosed by high rise and steep limestone cliffs of the island. And for sure that’s the main reason why the locals named it as a “secret beach”. There is a small hole passage point at the main island to access this hidden amazing beach.
Guests can easily enter the walled cliff small passage, especially, if it’s low tide since major portion can make them move freely towards the hidden paradise. Likewise, upon exiting. But if high tide condition occurs with presence of strong current of sea wave, the guests might have a hard time to access the small passage. Tour guide might totally not allow the guests to take chance of entering the hidden beach for safety reason if that’s the case.
Matinloc Shrine is an abandoned site hidden at the foot of towering karst cliffs on the western coast of Matinloc Island. More formally known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Matinloc, it was built in 1982. The place has been completely neglected (with the main building almost empty), but tourists are still allowed to visit. While others may find this as a spiritual oasis, most tours make a stop here for the view.
Our last stop for our day-1 tour was visiting the Helicopter Island or also known as the Dilumacad Island. This island has many variety of imaginary looks due to its shape such as a shoe, a crocodile head, half of fried chickenjoy and many more depending on the person’s view perspective.
As we continue our El Nido exploration, the second day of our tour was quite chill and less energy exertion as compared to our first day tour. We, in our first day, exerted some energy basically for snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and many more. In contrary on the following day, we took the tours B and D which we explored the islands and lagoons in a different way.
We just stayed in the island for picture taking, absorbing the fresh air breeze and sounds of the sea waves. Added to the tour was the well-known island caves visit. We learned that thru numbers of huge rock formation and steep cliff islets in the middle of the island group, there are some discoveries to access caves due to exposed small hole entry point along those cliffs that considered to be one of tourist attractions. Our itineraries are; Cadlao Lagoon, Entalula Island, Snake Island, Codugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave, and Pinagbuyutan Island.
Cadlao Lagoon is quite similar to Miniloc island where small and big lagoons are situated. This lagoon is a wide calm clear salt water surrounded by natural rock-formed karst cliff. The water is teasing to anyone to dive down and to swim, oh well it’s just like a wide water-clear pool that surely will entice everyone.
Snake Island is a long sandbar named after a literally long and narrow snake-shaped sandbar connecting a small hilly island to a huge main island. We tried to climbed up to the peak of this small hilly islet, and we appreciated more the water surrounding view from the hill top. Especially the visibility of the white color powdery sand of the snake sandbar. Unfortunately, it was high tide during the time went to this island, thus, the snake sandbar was quite shy to show off.
In the middle of Codugnon Island seashore, there is a tiny hole in some portion of its cliff where anyone can access inside. This access point can bring anyone into the small cave called Codugnon Cave. Codugnon means “echo”. You may think to live there just like Bruce Wayne did in his Batman story.
Cathedral Cave can be found somewhere in a high cliff islet wherein there’s a vertical hole infront that shaped like a cathedral church door. It is a small cave that you may imagine that you’re in a cathedral church upon entering due to its cave shape with high ceiling inside.
Entalula Island is situated along Bacuit bay. Just like any islands in El Nido, it offers a clear sea water that great to swim and to snorkel with white powdery sand along the shore. There’s a private resort beside the public island that is limited to swim and to access due to privacy matter.
Pinagbuyutan Island was the last island we’d visited. I must say that among all beaches and islands we explored in El Nido, this island has the most silent surroundings and most calm water. It is the best place to relax I mean you can take a nap or even lying down the grass floor while watching flying birds above the sky and to feel the air breeze. Anyone can reflect in this island due to the absence of strange sounds and everything.
Our day five tour was basically just killing the time and making the last moment out of it. We stayed and chill at Nacpan Twin Beach where water is so very clear. Everyone can notice the seabed from top, it’s just like a pool. Few meters away from the shore, the water is still shallow and perfect to swim or to do free dive. Added with the shining sun, the light is perfect for underwater photography.
From El Nido town proper, it takes 45-minutes drive to the Nacpan beach. Before reaching this beautiful beach, getting there is a bit rough since the road access towards Nacpan is quite knobbly. Especially when rain occurs, it is advisable to get there via tricycle as means of transportation since it has a little weight during access along muddy and uneven road. In the end, magical beach of Nacpan welcomes everyone from almost an hour land trip along lumpy road.
End of tour. We traveled back from El Nido to Puerto Princesa Airport for boarding to Manila. It was indeed a tiry but enjoyable and memorable trip. Almost a week off away from Manila stress was a quick one due to this unbelievable trip.
We were scheduled to explore El Nido for 5days/4nights. Prior to our trip engagement, we canvassed some of local travel agencies who offer El Nido tour for us to picture out the typical budget needed. Until such time that one of our close friends recommended I Love PH Travel and Tours since they already acquired their service a year ago. To found out during our actual tour, this travel agency has the most tourist clients. We witnessed the gathering of all travelers from one meeting place (at I Love PH El Nido Satellite Office) before boarding to the island. Their package inclusions are accommodation, free breakfast meal, free dinner meal for first night of stay, free lunch meal during island tour, van transfer from/to Puerto Princesa Airport, environmental fee, life vest usage, tour guide / staff assistance and boat fee. They are well coordinated for every transaction with the clients, from vehicle transfer to accommodation arrangement. Thumbs up!
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I Love PH (tour coordinator)
Facebook Page: I Love PH Travel and Tours
Location: Unit 8, NEC Bldg., 105 Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
Contact Person: Chay Oco (+639778527678)
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One of the inclusions in our availed tour package was the accommodation. Accommodation is a big factor that will make guest relax and have enough rest and energize after day touring from different tourist places in the area. Thus, some important matter must be considered. An ACU, stable power, comfortable bed, wifi and many more. All accommodation partners of I Love PH are actually looking good based on the initial online assessment. They only differ on the thorough online reviews by travelers who already experienced their services. One of the best accommodation partners they have with a good reviews and feedback is the Jurias Pension.
Jurias Pension is situated along the national highway of Brgy Maligaya in El Nido. It is almost 1-kilometer distance to El Nido town proper where most commercial establishments like restaurants, bar and cafe are located. Its location is considered to be good since the surrounding outside of the pension house is less crowded and is less environment noise. The staff are very accommodating, turned greeting and approachable. Our assigned room was good with a bit native wooden style design in-front. And it’s just a typical room with neat and well arranged decors in the inside. There is a small garden in-front of our room that makes the scenery more relaxing especially in the morning.
The good thing in this accommodation is that everytime we leave our room for our island day tour, the staff initiatively arrange our left unorganize bed sheet, blanket and pillows from our sleep. They also replacing our thrash bags in the can. They even spraying our room with a nice scent perfume, so that when we come back from our island tour, we feel more relax with the rejuvenate room environment.
My side comment only in this pension accommodation is that their served breakfast has only few choices. Also, the served breakfast meal seems not newly cook due to insufficiently hotness upon serving. Currently, they are still in the process of expanding their rooms. Also, Jurias Pension has a genset to compensate back-up power supply, if the rotational brownout in town occurs. So, power supply is not a problem in this accommodation.
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Jurias Pension (tour accommodation)
Facebook Page: Jurias Pension
Location: Brgy. Maligaya, El Nido, Palawan
Contact Nos.: +639175691974 / +639399161516
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I have been into many different group of islands and beaches in the country. But in El Nido, Palawan, I learned a lot of things. Now, I know why this particular place on earth everyday sounded so loudly from the voices of both local and foreign travelers and explorers. It’s just because of those amazing preserved natural creation assets of the province. I am very grateful that I am already one of them who now discovered and appreciate El Nido in flesh which I only often see only in the post cards, internet and travel reviews. It was indeed a proof that there are still lots of extremely impressing places out there, not only in the Philippines but in this entire earth surface. A heaven on earth, El Nido, Palawan.
EAT. SLEEP. EXPLORE. repeat