Traveling to the Philippines was not on our travel bucket list, yet after seeing all the amazing images of Palawan online, the country directly made it on top of our list.
Looking at pics of Palawan, El Nido’s blue lagoons and amazing islands dominated all our online searches so we added it to our itinerary.
Our itinerary started in Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s main capital, with three nights and two days there, moving to El Nido for another three nights and two days, then in Coron for the same amount of time, ending in Manila with one night and two days.
Tours A and C are the most famous in El Nido and mostly recommended if you are limited on time. You can also have these two tours combined for a quickie Tour A and C. If you are a scuba diver, there are amazing dive sights. There are other activities like hiking (Tarak Cliff), zip lining, sightseeing (waterfalls and stuff), birdwatching, etc. There is a vibrant nightlife and a lot of sea, sun and fun!
We had rented a car from the Puerto Princesa Airport and after spending two days in Puerto Princesa (PP), we drove to El Nido.
Reading online forums, everyone tells you that the road needs 6 hours at the latest. They also tell you that the google maps timing is off. Well, we were driving slow, we stopped several times for pictures and we stopped for lunch and we still made it in four hours and a half. We left PP at 9:30am and arrived in El Nido (ENI) at 2:00pm. We checked-in in our hotel and the time just stopped as we roamed the streets, bathed in the beaches and dived into a new underwater world.
If you have almost three days in El Nido, see what we did and get inspired:
We decided to play it by ear in El Nido, so we asked the locals what they recommended and from one recommendation to the other, we spend the most beautiful 3 days in the Philippines.
1.We ate sandwiches and have drinks at Marimegmeg’s Beach Shake: this was a recommendation from one of the hotel employees. The place was very nice, we sat on beach sunbeds that were so close to the beach the waves were almost below our feet. The drinks were very good and the sandwiches too.
2. We watched the sunset at Marimegmeg’s Las Cabanas Beach Resort: As soon as the sun started setting, we automatically started walking towards the sunset, and after around 10 minutes of walking, we reached a pivotal point on the island that merged east and west and overlooked all the islands. This place was found on the map, yet not on booking.com or any other websites. It helped explain why searching for hotels in El Nido was very hard. Anyway, Las Cabanas Beach Resort was amazing, whoever was there had intended on being there since the place is so far on the beachfront that it needs between 10 and 20 minutes of walking on the sand to get there. We sat there on a table overlooking the sunset, ordered some drinks, then allowed the sunset’s beauty to sink in as we get lost bit by bit, second by second with its beauty.
3.We went on a combined tour A and C island hopping and saw seven islands: The next day we decided to go on a combination tour A and C. Usually Tour A and Tour C need two full days yet we did not have two full days, so we went on a combination tour. The tour was more expensive, yet it’s not a big deal. This day you will typically get wet, so get your waterproof accessories for they will come in handy on that day. Lunch is provided on the boat, if you are OCD about cooking hygiene, then get your food, but I personally can testify that the boat we were on had delicious food, I just ate everything that was cooked. On that day, we got a chance to see the Seven Commandos Beach, Helicopter Island, Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon and another island whose name I forgot. If this is your first time in the Far East, I recommend going on Tour A and Tour C on two separate days, yet if you are like us and haven’t allowed an island to slip through, then the combination tour is a good idea. This was the 31st of December for us, so we enjoyed every second of our last day in 2017 and were looking forward to welcoming 2018.
4.We had dinner and drinks at El Nido Center: On the same evening, we got ready to bid farewell 2017 El Nido style. We started our evening in El Nido center where we had a romantic candlelight dinner at a French restaurant, followed by some drinks at various pubs, then we went to Las Cabanas Beach Resort for yet another magical memory, and for celebrating New Year’s Eve. After leaving the noise of El Nido center with its pubs and restaurants, we were happy to be welcomed by the sounds of the waves and sand and it’s natural inhabitants. At Las Cabanas, the real island life was dominating, where fire torches were lit all over the resort, light soft music was being played, and everyone was just having an amazing time. As we got ready for the 2017/2018 countdown, a huge bone fire was lit on the beach, everyone gathered around it and as soon as 12:00am hit everyone’s clock, all the islands started fireworks show. We would look around 300 degrees around us and everyone had fireworks on. For at least 20 minutes, the fireworks captured our eyes and attention, looking from to another as the memories of 2017 flashes before our eyes and hopes for 2018 arise. Sometime after the new year fireworks ended, a group of orphan kids came to sing for us, they played fun songs that everyone knew and was singing along. We stayed up at Merimegmeg beach until every human and animal species was sound asleep, then we sneaked out, laughing and dancing and enjoying the moment, every moment.
5.We went diving in El Nido’s best dive sites, South Entaloula and Miniloc Island: The next day, for the first time during our vacation, we woke up at our own pace, had a quiet breakfast, a quiet morning actually, then we went diving. Since we were limited on time, we asked our divemaster to take us to the best two dive sites in El Nido and he gladly took us to South Entoulala and Miniloc Island. The dive center was called Pa-Lao-Yu Dive Resort, it was very professional, the equipment were well maintained and clean and the dive master was very helpful. We went in a speedboat, we started by diving in South Entaloula, the dive site was very nice, it was a straight wall of coral reefs and fish. Then we rested on the boat, had some sandwiches and coffee, then went to Miniloc Island. We started in the center of Miniloc Island, then went South of the island. the Dive Master kept telling us to keep our camera batteries until we reach the south, we did not quite understand what he was referring to until we looked around and saw the cabbage corals filling the whole valley. It seemed as if we were in a dream, a valley of cabbage corals, and schools of fish swimming around. For some time, time stood still as we tried to take in whatever beauty nature was offering us. During that dive, we saw a turtle, a crocodile fish, an eagle ray and many many amazing little creatures and fish.
6.We enjoyed a sunset dinner at Greenviews Resort: after our dives were over and we were back to reality, we decided to have a sunset dinner ate Greenviews resort that was back to back with our dive center. The restaurant had tables and chairs on the sand, so we sat back, relaxed, looking at the mesmerizing sunset from Corong-Crong Beach as the waves wash away on our feet. The food was good and the drinks were too, but the best thing was the atmosphere, the sunset, El Nido, the wind and best of all, the company of my lovely husband.
7.We sipped drinks at La Plage: after dinner was over, we decided to venture north Corong-Corong beach and walked barefoot on the sand and discovered the nice resorts, pubs and cafes. We ended up at a nice restaurant called La Plage that is apparently owned and managed by a French couple. The place turned out to be a tourist magnet, they had good food, good music and good drinks.
8.We ate at Art Café, downtown El Nido: Apparently, Art Cafe is also one of the most popular touristic cafes, its owned by a foreign lady and is packed all-day long, they have a travel office where you can book tickets and tour and they exchange money. The owner also has a gift shop below the cafe so I would say, it’s a multipurpose destination. We had breakfast once and dinner another time and both were delicious and nice.
9. We visited Leo Beach: This beach is on the verge of becoming one of the most popular beaches in El Nido, yet it is still quiet at the moment, so we recommend that you go there during the day to enjoy some privacy. The beach is almost deserted at night since no one really knows about it, yet we recommend it during the day.
10.We walked around: Whenever we had a free minute, we filled it with walking and exploration. Walking around was the best way for us to meet the locals and discover the city.
We wanted to go to Nangtong beach, yet since it was one hour away from our hotel, we dropped it and enjoyed Marimegmeg beach instead.
I can still recall every second of our 60 hours in El Nido since it was the only time in my life where time stood still and I felt that I had all the time in the world and felt the happiest I can ever be.
I hope this post inspires you to travel to the world and hopefully pass by El Nido for a stop.