El Nido, Palawan

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Philippines | 0 comments

El Nido, Palawan

After eight hours on a banca boat from Coron we arrived at El Nido, a place others had described to me as paradise.

As our boat slowly pulled in we were greeted by stunning sheer limestone cliffs to one side and a beautiful sandy beach on the other.

We hadn’t even stepped off the boat and it was already apparent why El Nido has been gaining in popularity with travellers over the last few years.

It was late afternoon so first order of business was a sunset drink on the sand, obviously!

 

Sunset

 

El Nido is a popular destination and most places in town are aimed at tourists, but it’s a relatively small town and there are not yet any big resort style hotels looming over the beach.

To get there you have to drive from Puerto Princesa, get a boat from Coron, or pay a lot of money to fly direct. This also seems to limit the number and type of visitors.

We hired a scooter to get around, but if you’re not confident riding one it’s just as easy and cheap to get a trike most places.  Not to mention our scooter broke down one day and we had to get towed, so some might say it’s easier to not bother, although it’s always nice to have the independence.

We were somewhat amused by the “pimped out” trikes in El Nido which looked as if their owners had watched too much Fast & Furious!

We rode the scooter to Nacpan Beach, the last bit of road was potholed dirt and rock, but when we walked onto the beach it was totally worth it.

 

Nacpan beach

Nacpan Beach

 

One of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to, Nacpan’s golden sand stretched out before us as the azure water lapped at the shore.

Other beaches we liked were Las Cabanas and Marimegmeg, where we would buy fresh coconuts for 50 pesos.

At Marimegmeg if you are sick of local cuisine and wanting a sandwich or salad The Beach Shack is the place to go.

We hired a kayak and went to Papaya Beach, a lovely and serene beach only accessible by water.  However, it’s a popular sunset location and from about 3pm onwards the tour boats started arriving.

Check out this clip to see footage from our visit to Nacpan and Papaya beaches.

 

Marimeg Beach

Marimegmeg Beach

 

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Kayaking to Papaya Beach

 

A boat island tour (Tour A) took us to some unbelievably idyllic lagoons around Miniloc Island.

Secret Lagoon was particularly cool as you had to climb through a hole in the cliff to get in, and from the outside you’d never even know it was there.

The archipelago is undeniably beautiful, and it is one of the most naturally spectacular places I have ever been to.

 

Exploring the lagoons

Exploring the lagoons

 

We stayed at Jurias Pension which was closer to Corong Corong beach than the main town, we didn’t mind as we had the scooter to get around and liked that it was a bit quieter (other than it’s next to the town generator!)

The staff were really helpful with booking things for us and giving us good prices without having to haggle (they arranged our scooter hire, boat tour, washing, and van transfer to Port Barton).

 

Where to Eat

  • The Art Cafe is a bustling hub with a restaurant, shop and tourist service desk. They have a wide menu with western and local dishes, and the restaurant is nice and breezy if you get a table on the balcony.
  • Boodle Fight is a cool little locally owned restaurant located out of the hustle and bustle of town, offering good food, good service and good prices – what’s not to like!
  • For a fancier night out head to French restaurant L’Assiette, where you can get a properly cooked piece of steak.
  • Mezzanine Bar is great for a sunset drink followed by dinner, they have Italian options including an eggplant appetiser that was seriously moreish.

 

Drinks at Mezzanine

Drinks at Mezzanine

 

Where to Drink

The best place to enjoy a beverage and watch the sun go down is definitely Corong Corong Beach!

  • Happiness Beach Bar is a fun Israeli bar serving wonderful hummus and felafel, and I had the most amazing cocktail made of coconut rum, espresso and banana blended with ice.  They also get a fire going on the beach, play good music and have a very chilled vibe, probably our favourite place in El Nido!
    (we also rented our kayak from here)
  • La Plage is a French owned and operated bar with similar chilled out vibes, and a really interesting cocktail menu.  I had the ‘La Plage Daquiri’ which was made with cinnamon, vanilla and egg!  They have some resident dogs who will hang out with you while you drink, including a Great Dane the size of a small horse but don’t worry he is a gentle giant.

We had heard good things about Republica Bar and went to check it out, but it wasn’t really our scene with pumping music and bad service.

 

Happiness Bar 2

 

After a beautiful week in El Nido it was time to say goodbye, and continue our Palawan adventures in Port Barton!

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