El Nido | Palawan’s Paradise Nest
I was seated beside American backpackers Jim & Mark who were still battling with terrible hangover from last night’s party in Boracay. The huge Russian & Dutch guys at the back rows were struggling to fit their long limbs in the cramped legroom. It was a quiet 5-hour ride but the long silence was broken as soon as our van started to snake through the coastal side. Ooohs & wows bounced from everywhere as El Nido ushered us to a very seductive preview of her islands.
Those last 40 kilometers seemed to be the longest 1-hour in our lives. Suddenly the Americans were sober, the Europeans forgot about their numbed legs. And I, the lone Filipino in the van, became the instant tour guide as everyone excitedly threw in questions (left unanswered by their arctic guidebooks).
El Nido —- the islands, the parties & the soup!
El Nido is recognized by many international travel organizations as one the best island holiday destinations in the world. Its name, derived from the prized birds’ nest of swiftlets that can only be found on the fissures of its skyscraping limestone cliffs, is also synonymous to dream island getaway in the Philippines.
It is a small coastal town scrimmed by massive limestone karsts and fringed by fine alabaster sand along the graceful Bacuit Bay. Its cerulean water is specked with 45 islands & islets that are sanctuaries of exotic marine treasures.
But the real gem of El Nido isn’t its town’s beaches but the spectacular islands and lagoons shortly across from the mainland. Check out these fantastic sights and choose your own piece of paradise.
From rosy pink to blinding white, the soft sand on its beaches are just perfect for your long-dreamt holiday tan. The water is clean and super clear, all prepped for your ultimate indulgence.
Amazing Limestone Cliffs
Skycrapers? It’s more fun in Palawan! Here, evergreen foliage creeps through its razor-sharp limestone karsts creating a yonderbound backdrop for your castaway themed Instagram posts.
The lagoons in El Nido are one of its highlight attractions. Surrounded by million-year old monoliths, the lagoons here come in unimaginable sizes & characters. It fulfills your wanderlust of splendid isolation. It tickles your every tropical holiday fancies.
El Nido’s underworld is home to hundreds of species of fish and coral formations. Whether you just snorkel or take it deeper on a dive, you’ll sure get a VIP space on its underwater luminescent show.
El Nido used to be just for the wealthy island hoggers. It still is, in fact, the islands of Pangulasian, Lagen & Miniloc are reserved for those who can stash $1,000 a night. But with the influx of cheaper commercial flights & affordable hotels on the mainland, El Nido provided more access to travelers who wish to to experience this holiday destination.
The town itself is not as pretty as you think. With hostels standing in cheek-by-jowl with each other, noisy vehicles, tourists & barkers huddling for prices & smokey barbeques all over, it surely is not the kind of holiday you’d like to imagine. But in all of Palawan, El Nido is the happiest! This is where you get your pockets of all-nightlong parties.
What’s Ugly About El Nido?
El Nido is a contrast of many things beautiful & ugly. True, its islands are a paradise but here are a few little items that could spell trouble if you don’t take particular attention to.
SAND FLIES. Horrible sand flies! They’re worst than mosquitoes & they’re all over the town’s beach, actively stinging you, 24/7! So be very careful because the rashes & itchiness last for about a week. Never lay on the sand without a mat & without insect repellant lotion.
ALWAYS OFFLINE ATM. This has caused unmindful travelers to cut their vacation short or go all the way back 6-hours of drive to Puerto Princesa just to withdraw money. Don’t rely on your credit cards too because it’s not widely honored. Who travels with travelers check these days? Cash is king all the way from Port Barton to El Nido to Nacpan! Otherwise, if you’re bringing in your US or Canadian Dollars or Euros, you may have it exchanged easily (catch: low exchange rate).
EXPENSIVE. Food is expensive. Most hotels are expensive. Tours are expensive. So if you’re traveling on a shoestring, make sure you do your research well because there are only a few budget deals around but are surely delightful when you find them.
El Nido is a tableau of so many things ethereal & a live canvass of a holiday getaway. Be it on land, above water or below it, this tiny town has always something to offer its guests who wish to have nothing but indulgence.