From the coves to the caves to the miles long reefs and beaches, El Nido, Palawan is a stunning travel destination — home to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful sights, both above and below sea level.
Due to its diverse geography of mountains, rainforests, and coastlines, the Philippines is extremely biodiverse and a travel hotspot for plant life, mammals, sea creatures, and reptiles. Consisting of over 7, 600 islands, the Philippines provides an array of scenery.
My vacation spot: El Nido, Palawan.
Where I stayed:
Casa Kalaw (Lio Tourism Estate)
As a travel aficionado, walking into Casa Kalaw I was stunned by the small beautiful boutique hotel owned by Lio Tourism Estates. Located on the mainland of El Nido, it is walking distance from the airport and has several small bars and cafes along its secluded beach. The main town is a short 15 minute ride away and the hotel offers free shuttle services that depart every half an hour to an hour with the last shuttle of the day departing at midnight. However, if you’ve ventured off into town to explore the nightlife, note that you can still take a tricycle (the island’s form of a taxi) back to Casa Kalaw. When taking tricycles, ensure you are carrying pesos or cash for payment, firming up a price with the driver before boarding the vehicle.
Pangulasian Island Resort (El Nido Resorts)
Pangulasian Island Resort is an eco-luxury resort located in Bacuit Bay, El Nido. It’s truly mesmerizing –by far one of the most exquisite resorts I’ve been to. Accessible only by boat, the private island is referred to as the ‘Island of the Sun’ due to its incredible view of both the sunrise and the sunset. The resort has a marine sanctuary stretching along its pristine white-sand beach and a tropical forest as its backdrop. From the crystal clear waters, to the stunning green designed villas overlooking the beach, to the endless activities and beautiful scenery, Pangulasian Island Resort is a tropical paradise to say the least. Despite being a high-end resort, excursions are included in the price along with a buffet breakfast and activities like guided hikes and kayak adventures.
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?⏩ Spent a late afternoon and night on the beach enjoying the sunset and waters of Pangulasian Island. We snorkelled along the reefs that were right at our villa’s doorstep, found Nemo & Dory, spotted some blacktip reef sharks, and felt like we were right out of the Mamma Mia movie in our gear (‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ dance for those of you who don’t get my guilty pleasure’s reference). Pangulasian Island is an eco-luxury resort located in Bacuit Bay, El Nido. Accessible by boat, the private island is also referred to as ‘Island of The Sun’ as it has an incredible view of both the sunrise and the sunset. The resort has a marine sanctuary stretching along its pristine white-sand beach and a tropical forest as its backdrop. From the crystal clear waters, to the stunning green designed villas, to the endless activities and beautiful scenery, this place is paradise (& the perfect spot for special announcements at family reunions hahaha #?)
What to do in El Nido:
To ensure the sustainability of the natural resources, the beauty of El Nido, and to limit the overcrowding of the beautiful spots located in Palawan, the Philippines’ government regulates all the tours offered.
My Top Three Highlights:
Small Lagoon & Big Lagoon:
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There is nothing I love more than adventures in new places with good people & that was what this trip was all about. Located on the cove of Miniloc Island, Small Lagoon is a kaleidoscope of colours: from the turquoise waters that sparkle like crystals from the sun’s rays, to the greys of the limestone karsts, to the greeneries that grow from them, each aspect of the lagoon is magnificent on their own accord, but as they stand together in stark contrast their beauty is extraordinary and breathtaking. The marine life is diverse and flourishes within the safety of the lagoon’s enclosure. Within the walls hide eerily stunning caves, that when found and explored are awe-inspiring. Such an amazing excursion and way to spend the day in El Nido! Be careful though, because if you’re not paying attention you might just miss the entrance to the Small Lagoon and all of its hidden treasures (cough @bunastyy @carloslayug cough ?). Also, I’m clearly doing my fair share of the paddling …….. thanks @ridleychristian for not kicking me off the kayak ???♀️
Located on Miniloc Island, Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon are kaleidoscopes of colours: from the turquoise waters that sparkle like crystals from the sun’s rays, to the greys of the limestone karsts, to the greeneries that grow from them, each aspect of the lagoons are magnificent on their own accord, but as they stand together in stark contrast their beauty is extraordinary and breathtaking. The marine life is diverse and flourishes within the safety of the enclosures.
Within the walls hide eerily stunning caves, that when found and explored are awe-inspiring. Christian and I had the chance to find some of these hidden beauties in the Small Lagoon and spooked ourselves as we ventured within the dark abyss of the limestone caves, which were lit only by small crevasses. Should you choose to explore these caves please be careful and keep your eyes open for rocks jeering out and any wildlife that might be hiding around the corner. As we went back to find out where our partners in crime, Carlos and Anthony, had ventured off to, it became apparent that they had missed the entrance to Small Lagoon entirely and were simply paddling around the open water (genius… we know). So if you’re not travelling with a tour leader, make sure you’re paying attention to the limestone walls for the small entranceway and get ready for an experience of a lifetime (oh and yes, we pointed Anth and Carlos in the right direction and they ended up finding the entranceway).
Once a sacred burial site, this cave was used as a natural catacomb for the people of Borneo. As such, it is presently an important anthropological site. To gain access into the cave you must climb through a small opening nestled between the rocks. Once inside, it looks as though you’ve landed within a science-fiction movie. The cave has high ceiling-like rooms surrounded by a variety of different rock formations, some smooth and slimy, others rough and jagged. Shades of green, blue, and grey paint the walls. Bats lurk and flutter through the hidden passages. It is eerie and stunning in the same breath – truly and absolutely magnificent.
Hidden away by large karst cliffs, Secret Beach is a small stretch of white sand beach only accessible through a small crevasse that is sometimes submerged during high tide. The not-so-secret beach is a popular tourist attraction and a great snorkelling spot. The underwater world is home to beautiful marine life and holds plenty of different underwater passageways. The beauty for us wasn’t the beach itself nor the exquisite underwater world, but the secrets that lay hidden behind the beach. If you have a good eye, you’ll spot narrow gaps between the rocks and if you are adventurous enough, these gaps will take you to a whole new secret location. Be wary of the creatures that may lurk within these walls – we noticed there were large holes in the ground, large enough for snakes and reptiles to hide in. Also, word of advice, ensure you are with at least one other individual whenever you go exploring… you never know if you’ll need a helping hand, as I did when I got a little excited and got myself into a pickle at this hidden spot.