EL NIDO, Palawan -- El Nido is one of the Philippines' top tourist destinations. Last year, around 200,000 tourists visited the municipality, which is located at the northern tip of Palawan.
It is known for its beautiful beaches and enchanting limestone rock formations. And like any island destination here in the Philippines, there's a lot to do in this paradise, from island hopping to scuba diving to hiking.
And although the local government has already started with its “cleaning operations” of the tourist destination, like getting rid of illegal structures on the beach and closing snorkeling sites for rehabilitation, there's still a lot to do in El Nido.
Here are some of these activities tourists can do to explore the natural beauty of El Nido:
1. ISLAND HOPPING
This is a must-do in El Nido especially if it's your first time. Price starts at P1,200 per person for a whole day of island tour, which includes lunch. Tours typically start at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.
There's a lot to see in the cluster of islands of El Nido and there are several tour packages on offer. One tour package consists of four stops: Big and Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and Seven Commandos beach. Some packages have different itineraries which would include other destinations like Snake island and Cadugnon cave, among others.
Regular tours use ordinary motorized bancas but there are tour operators that offer speedboats that costs more, at P4,000 per person. The speedboat's advantage is it can go to more destinations in a single day.
2. SCUBA DIVING
El Nido is perfect for beginner and experienced divers. Bacuit bay, the main body of water in the municipality, has several diving spots. The area is known for its beautiful reefs and is home to several species of corals and marine life.
Diving tours are offered by several operators like Palawan Divers, which offers morning, sunrise, and day tours. Others also have evening dives for divers who are curious to see the underwater night life.
3. INLAND TOURS
There are several operators that also offer inland tours, which covers several tourist spots including Nacpan Beach, Nagkalit-kalit Falls, and Makinit Hot Springs, among others. But tourists can also visit these areas on their own by renting a motorcycle for a day starting at P500, tricycles for P1,000, and vans for P2,500.
Nacpan Beach is located north of El Nido town and is about 45 minutes to one hour from the town center. Nacpan is also known as El Nido's Twin Beaches and is four kilometers long of white sand beach and blue waters.
Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls can be a side tour on the way to Nacpan Beach. It's just a 30-minute trek from the main highway.
And not to be confused with Maquinit hot springs of Coron, Makinit hot springs is located 20 kilometers from El Nido town. It's perfect for those who love to take a dip in natural hot pools that is said to have healing properties.
For the more adventurous ones, hiking is one unique way to explore El Nido. One of the most famous climbs is the Taraw Peak, the highest peak in El Nido.
It's a three-hour trek to the top and can be a bit dangerous especially for beginners. The trek has steep segments and is mostly rocky. The jagged limestone rocks can also be a challenge to climbers.
The peak, however, offers a great view of El Nido so a lot of hikers still take this trek.