Your Ultimate Guide to El Nido: Top Attractions Revealed
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El Nido is a stunning destination located on the northernmost part of Palawan Island, known for its eco-friendly practices and breathtaking natural beauty. Its pristine beaches, coral reefs, lagoons, and limestone cliffs make it a must-visit for travelers seeking adventure and relaxation.
Composed of 45 islands and islets, each with unique geological formations, El Nido’s Bacuit Bay has been declared the “Best Beach and Island Destination” in the Philippines for its extraordinary natural splendor and ecosystem. The marine ecosystem is the main attraction, captivating divers, snorkelers, and beach-goers alike.
What to See in El Nido:
Bacuit Bay is a stunning archipelago consisting of 45 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabited. The towering limestone islands can reach up to three stories high, while the larger islands feature majestic stretches of white sand against the bay’s crystal-clear waters. Tourists can explore beaches that are partially concealed by limestone caves, as well as secret beaches that are accessible only by swimming through small crevices.
The pristine blue waters of Bacuit Bay serve as a sanctuary for a diverse array of marine life, including dugongs, turtles, manta rays, various fish species, coral reefs, and the occasional white shark. With 30 dive sites in the bay, ranging in depth from six to over thirty meters, visitors can discover an underwater paradise teeming with vibrant sea life.
Moreover, the other islands located in Bacuit Bay boast scenic lagoons and caves waiting to be explored. With so many islands to visit, tourists in El Nido often find it challenging to decide which island to explore first.
To make the most out of Bacuit Bay, visitors can engage in a variety of activities such as island hopping, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. It is recommended to stay for at least 3-4 days to fully immerse oneself in the beauty of the archipelago. To ensure a hassle-free experience, it is suggested to book our Tour Package El Nido Beach Break 4 days/3 nights.
Islands and beaches of Bacuit Bay
Matinloc Island is an incredibly scenic island in the Bacuit Bay archipelago, boasting dramatic limestone cliffs and soft white sand. It is not just a pretty island, but also a great spot for snorkeling and diving thanks to its abundant marine fauna and vast coral gardens. The island’s name comes from the Cuyunin word “Matinlo,” which means beautiful, and it certainly lives up to its name.
This heart-shaped island is home to fascinating beaches, abandoned mansions, and even a shrine built in 1982 in honor of the Virgin Mary. There is also a small museum on the island that displays old photos about its history. The abandoned mansion’s reason is unknown, but there are many speculations that the island is cursed, haunted, or that the owner disappeared with the island’s hidden treasure.
While most visitors come to see the breathtaking view of the Tapiutan Strait, the island is also a spiritual destination for many. The most stunning view of the Tapiutan Strait can be seen by climbing a steep limestone cliff using a stair-like path, but visitors should take caution while climbing to avoid injury.
Along with neighboring Tapiutan Island, Matinloc Island forms the narrow Tapiutan Strait, whose walls offer some of the best snorkeling in El Nido.
Matinloc Island is a great spot for island hopping, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. While a visit can take as little as an hour, it’s recommended to stay longer to fully appreciate the island’s beauty. Accommodations are available at the Matinloc Island Resort, and the recommended tour is El Nido Tour C.
Located near the Matinloc Shrine, the Secret Beach is considered one of the most stunning beaches in the Bacuit Bay archipelago. Accessing the beach is an adventure in itself as visitors need to jump off the boat and swim through a hole in the limestone cliff to reach the pocket of white sand and emerald waters encircled by craggy limestone formations.
The Secret Beach is believed to be the inspiration behind author Alex Garland’s novel “The Beach,” which was adapted into a movie shot in Maya Bay, Thailand, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. While it may not be the easiest beach to reach, the breathtaking scenery is worth the effort.
Visitors are rewarded with a secluded oasis surrounded by towering cliffs that create a sense of privacy and exclusivity. The clear blue-green waters provide the perfect opportunity for snorkeling and swimming, and the powdery white sand offers a comfortable spot to relax and soak up the sun.
While the Secret Beach can be challenging to access, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots in the archipelago. It is recommended to join El Nido Tour C to visit the beach and other nearby attractions.
El Nido has a plethora of beautiful beaches, but few compare to the breathtaking Hidden Beach.
Located on Matinloc Island, this small, idyllic cove is tucked away behind towering limestone cliffs, hidden from the open sea. The powder-white sands and crystal-clear waters make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring El Nido.
The Hidden Beach is a peaceful sanctuary where visitors can relax and enjoy the serene surroundings. The beach is only accessible by swimming a short distance as it is too rocky to get closer by boat. However, the effort is well worth it, as once you arrive, you will be captivated by the stunning scenery and tranquil atmosphere of this hidden gem. Due to its small size, the beach can get crowded during peak periods, so it is recommended to visit early in the day or during off-peak season.
If you are staying at one of the island resorts in Bacuit Bay, you can easily plan your visit to the beach by arriving early or booking a private boat. This way, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the beach at your leisure.
If you’re planning a trip to El Nido, be sure to include a visit to the Hidden Beach on your itinerary. Book online El Nido Tour C
Snake Island in El Nido is a beautiful sandbar with an S-shaped curve that connects the island to the mainland of Palawan. During low tide, visitors can walk across the sandbar and enjoy the stunning views of the clear blue waters on both sides.
Walking across the sandbar is an unforgettable experience that shouldn’t be missed. You can also enjoy swimming in the shallow waters on both sides of the sandbar, or hike up to the island’s viewpoint for breathtaking panoramic views of the winding sandbar.
It’s recommended to wear aqua shoes or flip-flops when walking on the sandbar to avoid stepping on stonefish that are present in the area. The island is part of the Bacuit Bay and is included in the El Nido Tour B itinerary.
Pangulasian Island, also known as the “Island of the Sun,” is a hidden oasis of luxury and tranquility in El Nido. With its exclusive villas, fine white sand beaches, and calm turquoise waters, this island is the perfect escape from the crowded beaches of the mainland.
The island is home to one of the most luxurious resorts in El Nido: the Pangulasian Island El Nido Resorts, where discerning guests can experience the ultimate in luxury and relaxation.
During your stay, indulge in island-hopping, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. With its abundant marine life and colorful coral gardens, Pangulasian Island is a paradise for water enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for a truly indulgent and unforgettable vacation, book the El Nido Luxury Escape tour and discover the magic of Pangulasian Island.
Miniloc Island is a popular destination in the El Nido archipelago, famous for its stunning Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon, which attract visitors from all over the world.
Located in the heart of Bacuit Bay, Miniloc Island boasts a rugged coastline dotted with secluded coves and pristine white sand beaches. The island is also home to the charming Miniloc Island Resort, an eco-friendly accommodation that offers native-style cottages with thatched roofs and over-water bungalows.
One of the biggest advantages of staying at Miniloc Island Resort is the opportunity to kayak in the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon in the early morning, before the crowds arrive.
Apart from kayaking, there are plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained, including island hopping, snorkeling, and diving.
If you’re planning a trip to El Nido, don’t miss the chance to explore the hidden gem that is Miniloc Island. We recommend taking the El Nido Tour A to experience all that this enchanting island has to offer.
Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon
The Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon are two stunning attractions located in Miniloc Island, El Nido. These lagoons are surrounded by towering limestone cliffs that create a mystical atmosphere and make for an unforgettable sightseeing experience.
The Big Lagoon is a vast expanse of crystal-clear blue water, enclosed by dramatic cliffs on both sides. Many visitors describe it as a surreal and dreamlike place, with the limestone formations resembling a labyrinth. On the other hand, the Small Lagoon is accessible only through a small gap between two giant limestone rocks, and it is a perfect spot for swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling.
Both lagoons are a must-visit when in El Nido, and they are accessible through El Nido Tour A and El Nido Tour D. Don’t miss the chance to explore these natural wonders and immerse yourself in their beauty.
Helicopter Island, also known as Dilumacad Island, is a stunning island located in Bacuit Bay. Its towering cliffs, covered in lush vegetation, and pristine beaches make it one of the most picturesque islands in El Nido. The island is named after its limestone cliffs, which resemble the shape of a helicopter when viewed from a distance, though some visitors find it hard to see the resemblance.
Helicopter Island is an excellent destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, with plenty of underwater tunnels and diverse marine life. The island is also a great place to relax and unwind, with its 300-meter stretch of beach perfect for a picnic lunch or sunbathing.
The massive cliff on one side of the island not only provides an excellent shade but also makes for the perfect backdrop for your photos. Make sure to add Helicopter Island to your itinerary when you book El Nido Tour C.
Located in the stunning Bacuit Bay, Shimizu Island is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a slice of paradise. With its soft, white sandy beaches and sparkling blue waters, this island offers a breathtaking experience.
Snorkelers and scuba divers will be delighted with the abundance of underwater life that thrives in this area, making it one of the top destinations for underwater exploration. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a novice snorkeler, Shimizu Island promises an unforgettable experience.
Aside from its underwater wonders, Shimizu Island is also the perfect spot for a picnic and a photo shoot. The stunning scenery and tranquil atmosphere provide an ideal backdrop for your pictures, while the island’s lush greenery and natural beauty make it an excellent location for a relaxing day out.
Interestingly, Shimizu Island was named after a Japanese diver who tragically lost his life during an underwater cave exploration in one of the island’s tunnels.
To fully appreciate the beauty of Shimizu Island, we recommend spending at least an hour exploring its wonders. To make the most of your trip, we suggest booking El Nido Tour A, which includes a visit to this breathtaking island.
Seven Commandos Beach
This stunning beach boasts a beautiful, palm-fringed shoreline that merges seamlessly with crystal-clear waters, making it the perfect destination for anyone seeking a quintessential island getaway.
Although located on the El Nido mainland, the beach is only accessible by boat due to the mountainous terrain that surrounds it. It’s recommended to visit Seven Commandos Beach as part of the El Nido Tour A, which includes a day trip to this stunning location. However, to fully appreciate the beauty of the beach, we suggest spending a couple of days here at the Vellago Resort, an exclusive boutique resort located on Seven Commandos Beach. The resort has only five rooms, each offering a stunning view from the balcony.
Interestingly, Seven Commandos Beach was named after a stranded fishing vessel that was repaired and left the beach. The locals discovered a huge stone engraved with the words “7 Commandos” and believed it to be the name of the vessel.
El Nido boasts not only beautiful beaches and lagoons, but also a network of stunning caves that are often overlooked by visitors. One of the most breathtaking caves is Cathedral Cave, located just a boat-ride away from El Nido town on Pinasil Island.
Although it may not look impressive from afar, Cathedral Cave’s sheer size will leave you in awe. The cavern has an opening higher than the famous Underground River, and the dark interior is adorned with spectacular rock formations that resemble a cathedral’s high ceilings.
As you explore the cave’s interior, you’ll be mesmerized by the crystal-clear emerald waters. However, swimming inside the cave is not recommended due to the presence of venomous sea snakes.
We suggest booking El Nido Tour B to include this stunning cave in your itinerary.
Lagen Island Resort is the ultimate private island getaway, ideal for those looking for an exclusive and relaxing vacation in El Nido. The resort is situated on a serene lagoon, surrounded by a lush four-hectare forest and majestic limestone cliffs.
This idyllic location is not only a natural wonder, but also a sanctuary for a diverse range of birds and mammals, making it perfect for eco-trips and birdwatching tours. For the adventurous, Lagen Island Resort offers activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and exploring caves and marine treasures.
The resort’s 50 charming cottages are located in peaceful areas, each with its own private veranda. You’ll wake up each morning to the sounds of nature and breathtaking views of the surroundings.
To fully experience the beauty of Lagen Island Resort and its surroundings, we recommend staying for 3-4 days. Activities such as island hopping, diving, and more can also be arranged through the resort.
Make the most of your El Nido vacation by booking a stay at Lagen Island Resort, where you’ll be treated to an exclusive and unforgettable island getaway.
Nacpan Beach is truly one of the most breathtaking beaches in the Philippines. Situated to the north of El Nido town proper, this stunning beach boasts pristine, powdery sand and coconut tree-lined shores, perfect for swimming in the crystal-clear waters or simply soaking up the sun. A visit to Nacpan Beach is an absolute must when in El Nido.
At the southwest tip of Nacpan Beach, you’ll find the smaller twin-Calitang Beach. The most picturesque spot to take in the panoramic views of the two beaches is atop the small hill where they meet.
To fully experience the beauty of Nacpan Beach, we recommend taking El Nido Tour E or staying overnight at a luxury resort in the area. This will give you ample time to soak up the stunning scenery and truly unwind in this tropical paradise.
Las Cabanas and Corong Corong
Las Cabanas Beach and Corong Corong Beach are two popular destinations located just a few kilometers outside of El Nido town in Palawan, Philippines. These stunning beaches are known for their spectacular sunset views.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities at Las Cabanas Beach, such as swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and other water sports. Adventurous visitors can even try their hand at ziplining, as there is a zipline that runs across the beach to nearby Depeldet Island.
Las Cabanas Beach has a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, with plenty of beachside bars and restaurants where visitors can enjoy delicious food and drinks while taking in the beautiful scenery. The beach can get crowded during peak season, so it is recommended to arrive early in the day to secure a good spot.
Corong Corong Beach is also a popular spot for dining. Several restaurants and bars line the beachfront, offering a wide array of local and international cuisine and refreshing cocktails.
Discovering El Nido in 4 days
Day 1: Arrival in El Nido – Nacpan Beach
Upon arrival in El Nido airport, take some time to settle into your accommodation and head to Nacpan Beach, one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in the area, and enjoy swimming and sunbathing.
Day 2: El Nido Tour A
Start your day early and embark on El Nido Tour A, which will take you to some of the most stunning destinations in the Bacuit Bay, including Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, and Seven Commandos Beach.
Day 3: El Nido Tour C
Another day, another tour in Bacuit Bay! Join El Nido Tour C to explore some of the lesser-known but equally beautiful destinations in the area, such as Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, and Star Beach.
Day 4: Departure from El Nido
If you have time, you can also visit some nearby attractions, such as Taraw Cliff and Las Cabanas Beach. Depart from El Nido airport.
Where to stay:
The hotels and resorts located in El Nido town, Calaan beach, and Corong Corong beach provide an excellent base for exploring the islands of Bacuit Bay. However, during the high season, El Nido town and Corong Corong can become overcrowded with tourists. If you’re seeking a quieter vacation, it’s best to consider Las Cabanas Beach or Lio Beach.
Lio Beach and Las Cabanas Beach resorts are the perfect options for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of El Nido. These resorts offer the perfect combination of island exploration and relaxing days on the beach. However, the beaches in town and Corong Corong are not suitable for swimming. If you’re looking for a suitable beach for swimming, Lio beach and Nacpan Beach, or the island resort, are better options.
For the ultimate luxury experience, the most exclusive resorts are located on the islands in Bacuit Bay. El Nido Resorts is a group of luxury resorts located on private tropical islands. This group of resorts, which includes Miniloc Island Resort, Lagen Island Resort, and Pangulasian Island Resort, is one of the most exclusive resorts in the Philippines, offering absolute discretion and first-class service (at higher prices than other resorts, of course).
Nacpan Beach is considered the most beautiful beach in El Nido, although it is a bit far for island hopping tours. It’s the perfect place to relax and swim in crystal-clear waters. Duli Beach is an excellent option for surfing, but there are only simple accommodations available.
El Nido Resort Lagen Island
El Nido Resort Miniloc Island
El Nido Resort Pangulasian Island
Cauayan Island Resort
Matinloc Island Resort
Sea Cocoon Hotel
El Nido Garden Resort
The Funny Lion
Mahogany Resort & Spa
Frangipani El Nido
Maremegmeg Beach Club
Last Frontier Beach Resort
Angkla Beach Club & Boutique Resort
Nacpan Beach Resort