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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Secluded Eden of El Nido

El Nido has been on my travel list since forever. Many say it is a paradise on Earth and the photos of it made me think so too. Back then, we had the impression that spending a vacation there is very expensive and that it’s only for wealthy people.

It turned out to be untrue anymore. There are ways to get there even if you're on a budget. What's expensive is flying directly from Manila to El Nido and staying in private island resorts. If you're not going to do those, you will not burn holes in your pocket.

We flew to Puerto Princesa and from there, we took public transportation to El Nido. Kuya Roy fetched us from the inn and drove us to San Jose Bus Terminal. He is super nice! We are expecting to ride an ordinary bus. But when we got there, we saw an air con bus called Roro Bus. It was just their third week of operation, fairly new. That's why we haven't heard about it yet. Of course, we chose it over the ordinary one.

on board Roro Bus to El Nido

The air con bus fare to El Nido costs PHP 485. It's dirt free and of course cool. The only thing you have to endure will be the bumps in the rough road. We chatted with the bus conductor while waiting for the departure time (6:00 AM). According to him, they will also have buses going to Southern Palawan in a few months time. How cool is that? Exploring the entire Palawan will be more convenient!

It had been five and a half hours of travel from Puerto Princesa. If the bus wasn't picking up passengers along the way, it would've been shorter. Hearing the locals' conversation, they were happy to finally have an air con bus. Apparently, it's the first! The fare difference is not that much so they now prefer to ride here for more comfort. The rough road wasn't that long as I expected but it was really bad. I ended up so dizzy with my body aching. Ouch.

the stunning view from our pension house

It was midday when we arrived. The town is a little deserted with only a few people around. The stores and shops were closed. I don't know if it's because it was a Sunday. Upon entering our room, I immediately went to bed. I want to sleep off my migraine, dizziness and body aches. I was so exhausted. I left everything that's needed to be done with my partner, like looking for our tour organizer. When I woke up, it's already evening. I jumped off the bed and looked for a place to eat.

El Nido Tour A

We were so excited for our first island hopping tour that we woke up early. We had breakfast before we go to our tour operator. Kuya Roy referred them to us. Nanay Lelia was so nice. We got discount on our tours and we were not collected of tourism fees because of her. Hehe. I also loved talking to her. I've learned a lot about their lives and what not from her.

a wonderful weather for island hopping :)

She then endorsed us to our boatmen and guide. She made it clear to them to take good care of us. How sweet. We had another set of tour mates. They were a family of three. Then we're off sailing.

Our first stop was the 7 Commando Island. We just did a little bit of swimming because there was nothing to snorkel there. The water there is very shallow too. I think we did a lot of picture taking there than swimming hahaha!

7 Commando Island

Second was Simizu Island, which is a snorkelers haven. Just before we docked we can see snorkelers having fun already.

snorkelers paradise

The aquamarine water just looks awesome.

And the white sand, fabulous! A beach lover's paradise indeed.

Palawan never fails to amaze me!

We decided to stay here longer. This was where we prepared and ate our lunch. While our guides were preparing our food, we explored and goofed around a little.

Jane attempt: Failed!

Did our lunch look delectable? It was! We had a feast! Eating with our bare hands made it more yummy. :)

our island feast

We were so full that snorkeling didn't seem like a good idea haha. We rested a while before hopping on the boat. The snorkeling area is in the deeper part of the sea (FYI).

snorkel galore!

I don't have a decent photo of myself snorkeling here. The water is too deep and the waves are a little strong that day. I just snorkeled holding on to the boat's outtrigger which was not a good sight. Sorry folks, I don't know how to swim so I held on for my life. Haha! :)

more fishes!

It was fun "swimming" with the fishes and feeding them. I always loved being one with nature.

Our third stop was the Secret Lagoon. Well, it's no longer a secret because many people were discovering it everyday hehe. To access this lagoon, you have to insert yourself into a hole. The size of the hole can fit two people but there were sharp edges so you should go in one by one for you not to get scraped.

the entrance to Secret Lagoon

I was so glad the water inside is not deep. I was able to enjoy it worry free hehe. The water is oh so clean and clear too.

welcome to the Secret Lagoon!

It was enclosed by towering limestone cliffs which makes you feel you're in a deserted island somewhere. A very wonderful feeling.

my view while floating

I took pleasure in floating here for a long time. It was a very relaxing place. While looking up, I imagined how tiny I am in this part of the globe.

this is how you do it :)

It was time for us to leave before I knew it. We have to pass through this portal again to the outside world. :)

Our next stop was the Big Lagoon. We just went through it by boat. When we say big, it is really huge and the water is so abysmal.

entering Big Lagoon

Nobody dared to get off the boat and swim. Our guide says it is really deep, like unfathomable deep. And the underwater current here is unpredictable. Any takers?

bewildered :)

Our last stop was the Small Lagoon. Unlike the other one, this one was tourist friendlier. There's a shallow part where we can swim and float and kayak.

Again, all I can say was "wow". How can nature be this beautiful?!

never been anywhere like this

I was so overjoyed that we can swim here again. Another lovely and tranquil lagoon. All you can hear are the splash of water from the people kayaking, the birds, conversations of the people you're with and you're own breathing. There's no better way to relax than spending it in this dreamworld.

loving every minute of it

Then it was over. We have to go home already. Our tour mates have to catch their van service going to Puerto Princesa that late afternoon.


back to town

I was so delighted at the end of our tour. They were so right. El Nido is an enchanted paradise. And I was so excited to see more of it on our second island hopping tour the next day.

happy fiesta El Nido! :)

For the meantime, we looked for the best place to eat that night. They are celebrating their town fiesta in a few weeks so the streets were full of decoration (banderitas). We even played some color games with the locals at the "perya" (fair) haha. After dinner, we bought Tanduay Ice and some chips and sat down at the beach under the moonlight. It was one of the best days ever.

Beach Rating: ♥♥♥♥

This is Part 1 of my El Nido travel series.


  1. I agree, I'd been to that place already and I was really amazed the beauty that Mother Nature gave to us. I'm with my friends on that time and we really enjoyed each moment. I know you enjoyed a lot on those days and I know there are still lot of things that we need to discover in the Philippines.

    el nido palawan packages

    1. Hi thanks for reading my blog. Yup, you were right. We'll never run out of beautiful places to discover out of 7,107 islands that we have. We were truly blessed with wonderful works of nature. :)

  2. I knew that Secret Beach could be entered without skin diving! =) Just have to wait for low tide, I guess. Thanks for that photo proof hehe. I hope to go to El Nido one of these days. =)

  3. your pics remind me & my partner of our nice memories of el nido :) my dutch partner brags about el nido to his friends, he loves it. we are hoping to come to PH soon & of course to el nido.. nice info on the airco bus :-)

  4. Hi Aivee! Glad you and your partner also loved El Nido! Yes, it is a favorite among foreign travelers. I've encountered a lot Europeans expressing their love for El Nido as well. Thanks for visiting my site! :D