Following our minibus ride from Puerto Princesa we arrive at El Nido feeling rather over jiggled and arrive at our guest house, it has a great view and a nice chill out bar but the rooms leave a bit to be desired, very average and the double bed was tiny, even for us! Talking to people in resort it seems it’s hard to get anywhere very good to stay.
Although El Nido is marketed as one of the top destinations in the world, 1st impressions aren’t that good. The beach is full of rubbish and a lot of broken glass, you can’t walk barefoot. Tricycles and motorbikes seem to use the best bit of the beach as a short cut.
Off we go to look for a place to eat. The food looks good and you really can eat right on the beach front. We started the night with happy hour before taking our spot in a seafood resturant. The fish and prawns were really fresh.
This place is the 1st time we’ve encountered kids begging. Throughout the Philippines the kids have just been happy to see you and wave at you, here they have learnt tourists mean money which is a real shame.
Next morning we are off on a boat trip, we didn’t book prior to arrival because if the weather is no good and you have already paid you don’t get a refund. We simply got up and grabbed one on the day. Lucky for us we ended up on a good boat with plenty of shade and a great crew, J and JR were our hosts. Get it wrong and you get an awfully small boat, no shade, no life jackets, rubbish food and have to tentivley skirt the rocks as it’s rather choppy and we noticed the small boats can’t cope with the swell.
We went on tour A, small lagoon, big lagoon, secret lagoon and should have gone to a snorkeling area but the water was too rough. You need to be happy on the water as just getting to the boat has you wading up to chest height, with your bag over your head and the waves are pulling you back and forth. Once on the trip you stop at various locations. You then understand why everyone rates El Nido!
7 Commandos Beach.
Pretty gorgeous beach. You get 45 mins to chill with a coconut drink or swim. #nofilter
The rock formations and lagoon are simply beautiful. The sea really is this clear and blue. If you are not afraid of jelly fish stings you can swim in the lagoon but we saw alot floating about, tiny and bigger. You do have to pay an extra 400 PHP for a kayak for 3 but it’s worth it.
We also stopped here for a lovely lunch on the boat. Getting into the small lagoon is pretty congested as it only a small gap but it takes you into the tranquil lagoon, so mind your head!
This was a bit scary, the sea was rough and the boat struggled to get very close to the bay due to the swell and rocks in the cove. If you are not very confident it’s not a good idea to get off as the secret lagoon is a bit boring. It’s just a small opening in the rocks that you climb through that takes you into a murky pool.
It’s hard to get into and the waves push you into the rocks. Deb struggled to get through and couldn’t help but laugh and what a site the other passengers had to endure. Middle aged women, slightly chubby in a bikini trying to wedge herself through the hole in the rocks. No photos here!! We had 5 minutes on the beach and then a super swim back to the boat.
Half way back on our swim to the boat, it gets tangled with another boat and we have to tread water and fight the waves whilst the crews move back and forth to try and release them. Ours has to pull back out towards the sea and we are left trying to swim against the tide.. Crew were brilliant and very conscientious. They helped pull the people in life jackets to the boat while the rest of us swam over.
We pull up amongst loads of boats and it’s time to swim or kayak again. After the last stop people were a bit apprehensive. Some took kayaks but Deb, Steve and Nikki were heros and swam. In parts of the 2km swim you could stand in places until you got closer then it drops away to 20 meters deep. Snorkeling was good in the shallows but once inside it just became murky. Swimming in the lagoon was a challenge as smaller boats and kayakers were zooming all over the place so you really had to watch yourself.
We had to miss this place during to rough sea but it’s supposed to be great for snorkeling.
Suddenly it was 16:00 and time to go back.
On route back a guy told us about a great place for sunset. So we don’t miss it, still soaking wet we hop on a tricycle and go to Las Cabanas beach… WOW.. Amazing beach bar and view and cheaper drinks. We end up walking along the beach and staying for dinner at a nice restaurant looking like we have just been washed up on the shore from a ship wreak.. We know how to do style!
By the end of the evening we go back to our room and Steve goes on to fight a spider the size of your hand while Nikki continues to party at the El Nido Police station christmas party complete with police cars providing disco lights until 03:00 am
Next day and it’s back to Puerto Princesa to catch our flights out to Bohol for Christmas.
If your going to El Nido and your budget can take it, look to stay out of town and just go in to visit or catch boat trips. There are beautiful beaches and resorts along the coast and on private islands. If you’re backpacking, our daughter stayed in Spin hostel and had a great time. Free cocktail evenings, good atmosphere and breakfast. If they had a private room with ensuite we would have stayed here too!!
We missed Nacpan Beach but if you can fit it in one morning, do the hike up on the hill at the end of the beach as we have been told the views are spectacular but there is a strong rip tide/current if you want to swim so be careful out there. Have lunch in town then take a tricycle to Las Cabanas for the rest of the day and walk down the beach for sunset.You will find cheap happy hour along this beach and a super beach side bar.
Debs and Steve