Best Spots and Tips Before You Go in El Nido

Palawan has been famous for so many years because of its exquisite beaches, diving spots and lagoons. El Nido, which is one of the famous tourists spots for people visiting Palawan has been receiving large amounts of tourists every year. Most people only have few weeks vacation in the Philippines so they would normally spend at most a week in El Nido.

What if you only have few days to spend to do island hopping boat tour in El Nido? Which spots are the best with limited time?

I have been to El Nido for few times and did almost all of the tours. But for others who do not have a leisure of spending at least a week in this stunning paradise, do not worry, I am here to help you.

Tips on how to make the best out of your time in El Nido

1. Book a place on a beach

At Las Cabanas Beach near El Nido on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, a girl does a cartwheel over the shallow water causing a reflection during the best sunset

To those beach bums and who have three to five days to spend in El Nido, I would suggest staying in Las Cabañas beach or in Nacpan beach. Las Cabañas beach is around 15 minutes away from El Nido town by tricycle, which is not that bad. There, you have plenty of things to do when you get tired of doing island hopping boat tour. There is a zip line, hammocks, bars and restaurants. I consider it as a perfect place to watch the sunset while drinking a beer or some piña colada on hand. There is a restaurant at the corner of the island that lights up fire torches on the beach after the sunset which makes the ambiance romantic and relaxing.


Long stretch beach of Nacpan beach

If you are looking for a quiet place in El Nido with long stretch beach, Nacpan beach is perfect for you. It does not have massive selections for bars and restaurants but you can still party on the beach. If you want to party and you are feeling too lazy to go to El Nido town, there is a party hostel in Nacpan right on the beach called Mad Monkey Hostel. If you plan to party in town or visit it most of the time but would rather stay in Nacpan beach, I suggest renting a motorbike. It is cheaper and more convenient.

 

Party at Mad Monkey Hostel in Nacpan beach, El Nido

2. Book a private boat tour

With the exquisite beauty of beaches and lagoons in El Nido, there goes the increasing number of tourists visiting every year especially during holidays. As a result, you do not get to enjoy each beaches and lagoons just for yourselves. Taking beautiful photos of the place without people in it seems to be impossible as well. Do not lose hope, we have a SOLUTION for you!

Booking an El Nido private boat tour is the best decision you could ever make. Having a limited time and wanting to avoid the crowd, can be possible if you book a private boat tour with us. In El Nido, the usual joiner boat tours start at 9:30am, sometimes later, like 10am. With us, you can start as early as 8am. You can also customized your tours. Yes you can! You can combine some best sports from Tour A with Tour C or Tour A with Tour B. Just let us know in advance and we could have it arranged.

3. Best spots in El Nido

The snake island in El Nido, Palawan

In case you are wondering which tour you would choose between Tour A, Tour B and Tour C with limited days you only have in El Nido, here are some suggestions below. You can combine these spots like you did two tours in one day.

Best spots for El Nido Tour A:

  • Big Lagoon
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Papaya Beach

Best spots for El Nido Tour B:

  • Pinagbuyutan island
  • Snake island

Best spots for El Nido Tour C:

  • Hidden Beach
  • Secret Beach

With private boat tour, you can combine these best spots for up to six.

If you like to book a private or joiner boat tour with us, please click the photo below. With minimum of 6 people in a group, we have a special offer —- DRONE SHOTS!!!

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Tips on Choosing Tours in Coron

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Twin Lagoon, Coron, Palawan

Got only limited time in Coron? Are you having some difficulty in choosing which tour you should not miss? This post will help you decide which island hopping tours you should do despite having limited time or only a few days in Coron, Palawan.

World’s top 3 islands are in the Philippines and obviously, Palawan is on the list. Palawan with 1,708 islands and islets of the Philippines. Palawan has been ranked three times in a row to have the clearest waters in the world.

The most popular destinations in Palawan are El Nido and Coron, bombarded by millions of tourists every year. Both are known for their stunning lagoons, white sand beaches and perfect diving spots.

I know, Philippines is massive in terms of thousands of islands it has, and so is Palawan. If you are visiting Coron and you only have a few days to do island hopping tours, I would recommend booking a Coron private boat tour.

Why? It is better because if you only have a limited amount of time, having a private boat tour offers you flexibility. Meaning, you can arrange with your boatman what time you want to start. In order to avoid the flocks of tourists, I suggest leaving earlier, like around 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning. The usual public or joiner tours start at 9:00 or 9:30.

Moreover, one of the perks is no one will rush you. If you have experienced joining a tour, you already know what I mean. Joiner or pubic island hopping has a tour guide who blows a whistle telling you that time is up and it is now time to leave and move on to another location.

If you are the kind of person who prefers to enjoy the paradise and stay however long you wish, no rush, for sure you would not want that right? You would rather enjoy the paradise and just go with the flow.

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So what is the best island hopping tour in Coron, Palawan? I would say it depends on what you are looking for.

If you want to see lakes and lagoons, Coron Only Island tour is the best for you. It includes Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake, Barakuda Lake, Twin Lagoons, Skeleton Wreck and Coral Garden. These sites are usually packed of tourists all year round because it is just a few minutes by boat from town and is known for its picturesque views.

On the other hand, if you want to get away from crowds and chill on the beach, Bulog Dos, Banana Island and Malcapuya Island are perfect for you. It will take roughly an hour and half by boat to get to Bulog Dos. Because it takes some time to get there, only few tourists venture this far, so you will most likely see fewer of them. You can also avoid most of the travelers by leaving early in the morning around 7:30. Usually, if you leave early, the sea is calmer. Banana Island and Bulog Dos are known for their sand bars, while Malcapuya Island is known for its very soft and fine sand. These three islands have clear waters too.

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Free Diving In Kayangan Lake, Coron, Palawan
Bulog Dos, Palawan
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The sand in Malcapuya Island is so soft like a cotton candy that you want to eat it.

Coron is well-known for its wrecks and reefs. If you do diving or free diving, Lusong Coral Garden, Lusong Gun Boat and Pass Island will not disappoint you. These are the sites most divers have in their bucket list to dive into. There are around eight ship wrecks in Coron.

You can also find another ship wreck in Black Island. If you do not dive, you can see the ship wreck during low tide. It is very accessible and, because of the clear water, you can see it right away. You can also find some caves there (above picture).

Ship wreck in Coron
Visible ship wreck in Black Island during low tide

To get here, you can join or book one of our private custom Palawan boat tours and choose “Coron only” for your tour.

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Coron Expedition

These people just having fun under the sun on a white sand beach having the whole island for themselves

Are you looking for a one of a kind experience? Do you dream to live like a local on some beautiful pristine beach on an island? If yes, this Coron Expedition is perfect for you.

Coron Island is one of the most famous destinations most tourists would visit when they go to the Philippines. It is a wedge-shaped limestone island in the province of Palawan. It has seven lakes, the famous of which is the nationally-acclaimed cleanest lake in the Philippines, Kayangan Lake.

It also has a number of islands with white beaches and clear blue waters perfect for snorkeling, deepsea fishing and shipwreck diving. Some coastal areas are covered with mangrove forests.

The area is famous for its World War II wreck diving, and the site has been named in many lists of top dive spots in the world. In September 1944, a fleet of Japanese ships hiding in the harbor were sunk in a daring raid by the US navy. The result is around ten well preserved underwater shipwrecks surrounded by coral reef.

There are also attractions on Coron Island itself. There are many beautiful bleach white sand beaches, mostly tiny and surrounded by large limestone cliffs and wildlife. Barracuda and Kayangan lakes are both stunning locations, and good for snorkeling, and the island is the ancestral domain of an indigenous tribe managing the island in a sustainable way and keeping outsiders at a distance and offshore at night.

We usually offer private customized boat tour between Sibaltan and Coron or vice versa. But due to popular demand, we now offer private customized boat tours in the Coron area only.

To book a tour just fill in the form here and choose “Coron only” as your route.

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Spanish fortress and cliff diving in Linapacan

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No matter how clear the water and fantastic the snorkeling can be on these countless paradise beach islands, sometimes its nice to do something a little different. 

This can be found on the big, central island of Linapacan, a bit west of its main town of San Miguel. Both the cliff diving at Doble Nueve and Spanish fortress are in the same area, so both can be accomplished in the same session, although, as explained below, renovations of the fortress are not yet completed.

Be warned that the climb up for the diving is not that easy. Although there is a rope in place to help, the initial part of the climb is quite steep and the rock is very hard (although not sharp or painful to walk on). And although the height overall is not great, it is still a bit scary to jump into the water. Your boat will anchor offshore from the jagged rocks, so you’ll have to swim a bit to get to the climb, and if the water is choppy and wavy as it splashes against the cliff face, the initial climb out of the water may be a bit challenging. So just be careful, but for me it was definitely worth it!

Here’s a video of the experience:

Spanish fortress in Linapacan

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For more than two years I lived on the beautiful island of Dimancal, where I constantly egged the locals to include this old fortress in their boat tours, but each time they’d just wave their hand explaining that its reconstruction is not completed and that the path is hard to find. Later I learned they received half a million pesos from the government for its rehabilitation, but years passed and still no progress, even with my own humble although much appreciated contribution. I was even prepared to put together a band of volunteers equipped with machetes, saws and axes to at least kick start this project somewhat, but alas, my term in this paradise was coming to an end and I did not manage to host a large enough group to make it happen prior to my departure. 

Nevertheless, as is explained below, someone did manage to find and document it, and explain in detail how to get there. If you like these sorts of historical sites and if equipped with these instructions, you can egg your boatman to take you there. Perhaps even ask to borrow some machetes and make it easier for others to follow. At least in this way the locals will realise it has value and be motivated to do something about it. 

Fortress at Barangay Caseladan

A relic of Palawan’s days as a Spanish stronghold in the 18th century, it was built between the 1620s to 1738 to help defend the area against the Moro invaders. There are actually three fortresses in the area, the last one only a few low walls remaining but in the shape of a pentagon. The town of San Miguel was originally located under the main fortress, but later moved to where it is now after WW2. 

Here is a recount of Cheyenne Morrison (linked to from above) and who has won several awards for his explorations of the Philippines:

“But I was determined to track down the fortress as the fact no one knew where it was just made my fascination stronger. On a brief trip to Manila I took the opportunity of researching in the National Library of the Philippines, and after 4 hours of wading through ancient accounts I came across the following description.

On the island of Linacupan, beside the town and on the edge of the sea, rose a rock whose ascent was difficult with only one access to the top. A plain extended over it and there a parapet of masonry had been constructed, surrounded and guarded by artillery. It dominated the town and defended its entrance so well that it couldn’t be attacked without the attacker being attacked in return. Within was a church, quarters for the troops, some houses of refuge for the inhabitants and a natural spring that provided sweet and potable water.

The inhabitants and the priests, without any aid from the central government, supported the fort. It was only during the administration of Gov. Fernando Valdes-Tamon (1739) that four cannons, the battery and gunpowder were sent for its defense. — Vicente Barrantes (1878)

I knew that it was supposed to be located in Caseledan and when I asked where this was people knew that it was located on the other side of the island. The next day we proceeded over to the other side of the island, the western side of the island has two large bays, each of these bays is then divided into a further 5 smaller bays.

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Entering one of the larger bays we stopped a local fisherman for directions to the village of Caseldan, he pointed in a rough area, but as we proceeded closer we couldn’t see anything. Coming closer into the end of the bay we asked another fisherman who gave us a better direction. Finally we could see a small bay with a beach dominated by a large hill, a deep anchorage extended into the bay and there were 3 houses on the beach.

I pointed to the hill covered in very old trees and said to my friends “That’s the Fort, I’m sure of it because it’s in the right place and those trees are very old”.

Sure enough when we asked the people on the beach they said yes the fort was on the hill. We went just behind the beach where we came upon a small stream which fed into a well. Just past this a small trail turned left and steeply up the hill.

After a few minutes of pushing our way through the undergrowth I spotted the first stone wall which was only 2 foot high, this was the edge of the outer rampart which surrounds the fortress proper. After about 5 meters we came to a corner of the fortress and we followed the walls along to the front of the fort which is dominated by two Baluartes or bastions. These are heavily overgrown by Balete trees, a kind of strangler fig which has grown up through the fortress walls giving it the appearance of the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

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As we progressed our way around the wall we passed the other Baluarte and as we rounded a short wall we came to the entrance to the fortress. As we entered a very large gate a stairway was immediately to our left, we took this up to the upper ramparts of the fortress and with difficulty made our way all the way around.

From the SW Baluarte we could see the beach 250 feet below us, and if the trees were cleared we would have a fantastic view of the surrounding area. In the middle of the fortress it is overgrown with trees some of them with huge roots.

As we stood on the upper parapet of the SW Baluarte and gazed down into the bay I could almost feel what it must have felt like being a Spanish soldier in one of the most remote outposts in the world.”

How To Get There:

The fortress is located 13.5 kilometers west of Linapacan’s main town of San Miguel, in Sitio Caseledan, Pangaraycan, in North Bay located in Barangay Maroyrogrog. For more detailed instructions refer to the section above.

To get here you can join or book one of our private custom Palawan boat tours between El Nido and Coron. Tons of paradise beach islands to see along the way, excellent snorkeling in crystal clear waters, caves to explore, Spanish fortress and much more. Completely off the beaten path!

Palawan-boat-tours

Magransing Island: An Underrated Tropical Island in Palawan

Drone shot of the Magransing Island

Linapacan is slowly attracting more tourists, especially after Daily News Dig listed it as having one of the clearest waters in the world to swim.

Colorful fishes under the clearest waters in Palawan

Although most tourists will only visit the touristy and known places like El Nido and Coron, there are plenty of underrated and undiscovered islands in between, one of which is Linapacan.

Small waves dancing over the sand bar of Magransing Island

The municipality of Linapacan has 52 islands included in its official region but we counted manually that there are 82 paradise beach islands to explore along our regular boat tours between Sibaltan and Coron.

White sand bar dividing the sea into two in different shades of blue

Also known as Little Maosonon Island, you can actually see a little resemblance between Magransing and Maosonon.

Untouched beautiful island

Sure, the waters were still clear. But the island is famous for its long sand bar, which looks really amazing. The sand bar is quite narrow that you can see the waves meeting from both sides. It is better to go there when it is low tide so the sand overlaps the water.

The sand is so soft that it entices you to lie down on it

It will take roughly 30 minutes from Maosonon Island to get to Magransing Island. There are no houses on the island but you can find a bamboo nipa hut where the man who collects money for the environmental fee waits. It is better to bring some food, drinks and beers before going there because it will take a few hours to reach the town of San Miguel, where there are regular stores.

The color of the sky reflects in the sea water

Most people do not know about this island if they take a fast craft ferry from El Nido to Coron or vice versa. This is just one of the many islands they missed along the way. For sure on your next trip, you do not want to miss this untarnished island, which you can have for yourselves because it is away from the crowds!

If you are visiting Philippines and want to experience pristine tropical islands, Palawan is the PERFECT place for you. To get here, you can join or book one of our private custom Palawan boat tours between El Nido and Coron, or a local Coron tour. Tons of paradise beach islands to see along the way, excellent snorkeling in crystal clear waters, caves to explore, Spanish fortress and much more. Completely off the beaten path!

Palawan-boat-tours

Maosonon Island: Unspoiled Tropical Island

Located in the famed sanctuary paradise island of Palawan, Mystery Island (or known locally as Maosonon Island), can be found in Sibaltan, municipality of El Nido.

Mystery Island sits in close proximity to the other islands of the El Nido municipality and is easily accessible from Manila.

An excellent getaway for sun-seekers who crave spectacular light and warm weather all-year long.

Mystery or Maosonon Island offers a diversity of land and water adventures for the finicky vacationer and plentiful business opportunities for discerning investors. 

Maosonon Island is raw and bare, with no electricity or other structures aside from the caretaker’s humble hut and a few makeshift cottages where visitors can take refuge. There is no five-star hotel or resort on the island, although those who wish to spend a night there will surely be sleeping underneath billions of stars.

        Fresh coconuts that our boatman took from a coconut tree for FREE

More videos of the area

If you are visiting Philippines and want to experience pristine tropical islands, Palawan is the PERFECT place for you. To get here, you can join or book one of our private custom Palawan boat tours between El Nido and Coron, or a local Coron tour. Tons of paradise beach islands to see along the way, excellent snorkeling in crystal clear waters, caves to explore, Spanish fortress and much more. Completely off the beaten path!

Palawan-boat-tours

Bulog Dos

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#14 of top things to do near Coron according to Tripadvisor.

Like Malcapuya Island, Bulog Dos also has a nice white sandy beach, although rather short. It also charges an entrance fee, and has a long snaking sandbar that connects it to Malaroyroy Peninsula and the rest of Bulalacao. It has interesting rock formations, but is currently under negotiations with the same new owners of Malcapuya, so it may be closed to public soon as well (make sure to check the latest comments in Tripadvisor above for the latest news).

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It is usually part of the same tour package of three islands, including Malcapuya and Banana island. “Bulog” means bald, describing the shape of the mound that resembles that of a bald head. Snorkeling there is good if you get out far enough (although Banana Island is better), and overall the best visit among these three islands. A rather small island that can be explored in less than 30 minutes. There’s a lone hut on the island which may be possible to sleep in. Otherwise, if you’d like to stay in the area, you can walk across the sand bar to the 5 star hotel on the neighbouring island.

To get here you can join or book one of our private custom Palawan boat tours between El Nido and Coron. Tons of paradise beach islands to see along the way, excellent snorkeling in crystal clear waters, caves to explore, Spanish fortress and much more. Completely off the beaten path!

Palawan-boat-tours

Back to Suggested Travel Itinerary for the Palawan Area

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Banana Island

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4.5/5 of 241 reviews on Tripadvisor, #12 of things to do around Coron.

200p entrance fee.

Preserved and privately-owned by the Gallego Family, they allow visitors to swim and see the clams, corals and lots of fishes just a few meters from the shoreline of the island. The waters are deeper than Malcapuya Island, so you can expect a greater variety of sea life.

Some info according to http://blog.macoymejia.com/2015/11/23/banana-island-coron-palawan-philippines/:

  • Beach camping on the island is no longer allowed
  • Day-tour entrance fee is PhP 200
  • Overnight fee is PhP 850 ~ PhP 1000 per night
  • Most of the cottages have lights and electric fans run through electric generator
  • Some
  • They can cook for you, but bring your own food to cook
  • No fishing, but you can ask them to fish for you
  • They have a small store that sell few items like softdrinks, beer, alcohol drinks, cigarets, and chips

More officially known as Dicalabuan Island, the name Banana catching on later because of the island’s shape.

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The beach can be somewhat pebbly, but it does have a volleyball net.

A little tip: There is a sandbar jutting out from Banana Island to Malaroyroy Peninsula. You can hike over the base of this sandbar and walk all the way to Malaroroy and Bulog Dos along it. During high tides you can still get across if you don’t mind wading through chest-deep water.

It is more developed than Malcapuya or Bulog Dos and has a reasonable sized convenience store where you can get beers.

Banana Island

To get here you can join or book one of our private custom Palawan boat tours between El Nido and Coron. Tons of paradise beach islands to see along the way, excellent snorkeling in crystal clear waters, caves to explore, Spanish fortress and much more. Completely off the beaten path!

Palawan-boat-tours