Dream Destination: El Nido

When I planned our 2 month Asia dream trip, I left the best for last: El Nido. I planned this destination with the most enthusiasm and of course, when you have such high expectations, things tend to go “wrong”. Like cancelling a booking reservation (that has already been paid for) by accident, receiving a booking cancellation from Agoda because the hotel no longer works with them, etc. Eventually our 6 nights in El Nido were planned and I could not wait! Philippines has been on my list of ultimate dream destinations since I can remember. Nothing could take away my excitement.

Even though during the planning stage, a lot of things went wrong, I didn’t let the frustration get to me (well, maybe just a little 😉 ) but I still had high expectations.  I am happy to say that El Nido surpassed the really high expectations that so many pins, reviews, photographs and blog posts had created in my mind. No picture will ever be able to depict the mesmerising beauty that you will find in El Nido. You have to go and see it for yourself.

That is something that I love about travelling, it keeps teaching me about flexibility, openness of mind and being thankful for always having “the glass half full”.  (Yoga also helps too…haha 🤣!)

We had 6 nights at El Nido, so to make sure that we definitely saw the paradise version (no tourists, isolated beaches), I booked 2 nights at El Nido Resorts on Miniloc Island. Yes, expensive, but worth every penny. We wanted to stay longer. I highly recommend this hotel because it includes EVERYTHING except beverages. The most important thing they offer are the tours which are planned with you to make sure you take full advantage of your stay.

The fact that we could do this made our stay at El Nido magical. We were able to visit the big and small lagoons at sunrise with NO tourists. This day was extra special. The day started out with a breathtaking sunrise, the hotel crew dropped Bruce and myself off at the small lagoon and left us a kayak. It was completely silent, the color of the water and the rock formations captivate you. After we saw the small lagoon we paddled to find the big lagoon. We were completely on our own, it feel like such an adventure. The same sensation overtakes you when you enter the big lagoon. It’s filled with peace.

sunrise el nido

small lagoon el nido

Small Lagoon

big lagoon el nido

Big Lagoon

Another amazing thing was that the best snorkelling we did during the whole 2-month trip was right in front of the hotel on Miniloc Island. We saw so much diversity and you could explore on your own. Finally, the hotel resort has private beaches that are just as beautiful or more than those on the A,B,C Tours offered around town.

After staying at El Nido Resorts,  we moved to Cadlao Resort & Restaurant. The hotel is pretty good, among the best that we saw on the Palawan coast. Probably it would have been better to stay here first and then move to El Nido, but hey, that’s part of traveling right? You’re never 100% sure of what you’re going to get. We enjoyed our stay at Cadlao Resort and it was nice to be on Palawan and get a feel of the town. The next day we did Tour C with the agency that works with Cadlao Resort.

This tour was really great, but, after we complained because some of the beaches were closed because Survivor was filming there. Our group was very fun, we met some cool people on the tour and we had a really nice day visiting Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Cagbantang private beach and paradise beach. The private beach is where we had lunch and had the best time because it was only our group and the beach was spectacular.

On the boat we met a Spanish couple that was travelling around the Philippines and we decided to rent an SUV together to take us to Nacpan Beach. There’s a viewpoint there were you can get an amazing view of the beautiful beach. We were really excited for the adventure but unfortunately, when we got there we discovered that we wouldn’t be able to go to the view point because the beach is closed off due to a court case that is going on. There’s an area of the beach that is still open to public so we spent the day there with our new friends and had a good time anyway.

That was our amazing trip to El Nido. I hope we can go back someday. It’s a truly spectacular place. 

Travel Tips

Where to stay:

  • El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island
  • Cadlao Resort & Restaurant

Where to eat:

  • Artcafe

Beaches

  • Small and Big Lagoon
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Entalula Beach (El Nido Resort’s private beach)
  • Cagbantang Beach (Cadlao Resort’s private beach)
  • Helicopter Island
  • Paradise Beach

How to Get there

  • If you have the budget, fly directly to El Nido.
  • We took a van from Puerto Princesa, I would avoid it.
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