EL NIDO, PALAWAN
El Nido is a magical place. From its ageless towering marble cliffs to its white sandy beaches with crystal clear water, many refer to it as paradise. There are over 50 beaches to discover, so many in fact that sometimes you feel as if you are on your own secluded private beach. You will also find enchanting lagoons with tranquil turquoise-green water, caves that can take you to hidden beaches, and a very diverse variety of wildlife. El Nido is a top destination for island hopping. It is a truly relaxing and inspiring place. Scuba diving is also a popular activity with over 30 dive sites for varying levels and skills. El Nido has so many different treasures to offer beyond the obvious. Activities available include cliff climbing, waterfalls, kayaking, cave exploration, windsurfing
CLIMATE: The El Nido Palawan climate is distinguished by two seasons: generally dry, from December to May, and wet, from June to November. April and May are typically the driest months, while the heaviest rainfall occurs around August. The Northeast wind blows from December to March, occasionally interchanging with the North wind during December to February. The Southwest wind is felt from June to October while the East wind, the mildest of all winds, blows during the months of April and May.
LANGUAGES & DIALECTS: El Nido Philippines main language is Filipino, which is largely based on Tagalog. In addition, many people are very proficient in English, Visayan languages (Visayan, Cebuano, Ilonggo, and Waray), and Bicolano. A small but significant percentage of the population speaks or comprehends Cuyonon, the native dialect of the Cuyo Islands and most parts of Palawan.
RELIGION: El Nido Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic like the rest of the Philippines. The parish of the municipality, officially known as the Parish of Saint Francis of Assissi, is under the Apostolic Vicariate of Palawan. A small segment of the population belongs to other Christian denominations such as Baptist, Iglesia Ni Cristo, Seventh-day Adventist and other Protestant churches. Recently, there is a growing number of migrants, who are engaged in Islamic faith, from southern Palawan and parts of Mindanao.
ECONOMY: The main industries of El Nido are fishing, agriculture and tourism, being a popular diving location. Edible nest-gathering is also an economic activity, although it is relatively seasonal. Coconut, palay,cashew, banana, and mango are its major products.
PLACES OF INTEREST: El Nido Philippines, one of the top tourist destinations in Palawan, which is often referred to as the Philippines’ Last Frontier. Palawan was chosen as one of the best travel destinations in the world, and particularly, it recommended El Nido and the Calamianes Islands.
Bacuit Bay, El Nido – The bay is dotted with islands and islets, most of which are inhabited. Its clear blue waters are teeming with marine life. It is home to dugongs, turtles, manta rays, species of fishes, coral reefs, and the occasional whale sharks. There are over 30 dive sites ranging in depth from six to more than thirty meters.
Cadlao Island, El Nido – It is the largest island in El Nido, occupying a land area of 10.06 square kilometers. Among all islands, it is the closest to town proper and has the highest peak that towers up to 640 meters above sea level. It is known for its white sand beaches, gradually sloping sea floor, hidden lagoons, and nature trails through its lush forest cover. One of these nature trails leads to the charming saltwater Makaamo Lagoon. Surrounded by mangroves, the lagoon is best enjoyed in silence at sunrise or sunset when the birds feed.
Dilumacad Island, El Nido – This island has a beautiful white sand beach stretching to some 300 meters that is ideal for picnic lunches during island-hopping trips. There is an underwater tunnel at its northern side and a fringing reef on its southern end. The island is also called Helicopter Island because its limestone cliffs resemble that of a helicopter when it is viewed from a considerable distance.
El Nido Resorts – The biggest private sector employer in El Nido, cooperates with the Philippine government in environmental conservation and management. At present, TKDC operates in two islands of El Nido namely, the Miniloc Island and the Lagen Island.
Miniloc Island, El Nido – where the first resort in El Nido was established, started as a diving station for Japanese and European tourists. The tranquil turquoise-green waters of its orchid-lined limestone walls. Big and Small Lagoons showcase a kaleidoscope of marine life. Scientists believe that these lagoons were actually caves which abound in these islands. The roofs of these caves must have collapsed millions of years ago, and these lagoons have emerged in their stead.
Lagen Island, El Nido – The most luxurious exclusive resort in the area is situated in its cove, which is fringed by a lush forest and limestone walls. Its Leta-Leta Cave was an important burial site of the Late Neolithic Age, where a collection of stone and shell artifacts, sophisticated pottery, and nephrite adzes and axes were recovered. Other materials include stone ornaments and shell beads. The island hosts a high diversity of birds including almost all of the species endemic to Palawan. The Lagen trail is one of the best sites for birdwatching, more rewarding during the early morning or towards late afternoon.
Pangalusian Island, El Nido – It has one of the widest stretches of powdery white beaches in El Nido, which is very ideal for sun bathing, sunset viewing, and other beach activities. The waters fronting the beach are clusters of coral reefs that make this area a good snorkeling and diving site. A trail located in the middle of the island is a good place for birdwatching, especially during early mornings and late afternoons. The trail ends at the peak of the island and provides and an excellent 360-degree view of the Bacuit Bay and nearby islands
Vigan Island, El Nido – Located near Pangulasian Island, it is also referred to as, “Snake Island,” because of the fine natural sandspit (s-shaped sandbar) that “snakes” off it shores. The sandspit is clearly visible only when the tide is low. On both sides of the sandspit are shallow swimming areas.
Cudugnon Point, El Nido – It is an important anthropological site, where jewelry and pottery dating back to the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 BC) were yielded. The anthropologists believe that the cave dwellers were from Borneo, and travelled across the ancient land bridge that connected Palawan from Borneo. The crevices of its cave roof are inhabited by barn swallows and insectivorous bats.
Matinloc Island, El Nido – The longest slim island in El Nido, has a secret beach, which is a pocket of white sand beach at the corner of a sinkhole, that is inaccessible by boat and surrounded by steep rock walls. To reach it, divers must swim underwater through a narrow crevice in a rock wall. At noon, the sun streams in through the opening, allowing a play of light and shadow against its limestone walls. The beach floor drops abruptly. According to local legend, this beach inspired Alex Garland’s novel The Beach, which was written while the author was in El Nido.
Pinasil Island, El Nido – The island has a cathedral-like cavern accessible by dinghy and kayak. Its cool interior is lit at certain times of the day by sunlight coming through an opening at its peak. This one of important sites for the busyadors or the birds’ nest gatherers.
Aberawan River, El Nido – Aside from its several islands and beaches, tourists can also enjoy a mangrove tour along the Aberawan River where they can watch egrets roost among the mangrove trees at the mouth of the river.
DINING & RESTAURANTS:
Balay Tubay – A regular joint for the lively as it hosts a live band every night playing classic western favourites together with local numbers. Handicrafts are also sold here, some of which are crafted by the house musicians. (Calle Real St, Buena Suerte, El Nido Palawan.)
Blue Karrot – Located on the beach front of El Nido, Blue Karrot is the only beach bar in the town with a real sand floor. The best of both European cuisine and local specialities are available along with ice cold beer, and selection of wines and spirits, cocktails, fresh fruit shakes and soft drinks. (Beach Front, Buena Suerte, El Nido Palawan.)
Artcafé – is one of the most popular places for breakfast; it opens at 6am. Breakfast options include homemade bread, brewed coffee, yogurt, fruit shakes as well as omelettes and rice. Lunch or dinner favourites include pizza, pasta, sausages, salads & seafood. (Serena Street, Buena Suerte, El Nido Palawan)
Florlit’s Restaurant – A popular with the locals serving up Filipino favourites from dawn to dusk. (Brgy Masagana, El Nido Palawan.)
Marbers Restaurant – Managed by Marlou and Bernie (a German) is located underneath OGs lodging house. Stunning views of El Nido beachfront as well as seating right on the beach give a perfect location for meals or just a refreshing drink. Filipino food along with German specialities are available. (Beach Front, Brgy Masagana, El Nido Palawan.)
Ric Sons Restaurant – is renowned for its fish delicacies both amongst locals and returning guests. (Hama St, Brgy Masagana, El Nido Palawan Beachfront.)
Sea Slugs Restaurant, Beachfront, El Nido Palawan
Seaside Restaurant, Serena St, Buena Suerte, El Nido Palawan,
Shipwreck Restaurant, Serena St, Buena Suerte, El Nido Palawan
Squidos Restaurant – Place where one can have breakfast, lunch, dinner or cool drinks any time during the day.
Skyline Restaurant & Sing-A-Long Bar – Rizal St, Buena Suerte, El Nido Palawan This restaurant is very popular with the local workforce; it is usually packed at lunchtimes. A large spacious downstairs offers a mixture of local dishes and drinks, while upstairs the karoake bar is in full swing most nights. (Hama St, Brgy Masagana, El Nido Palawan.)