12 Coolest Things to Do in El Nido, Palawan

by Jen
Coolest Things to Do in El Nido, Palawan
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As I gazed at the emerald waters and towering limestone cliffs of El Nido, Palawan, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of awe. Tucked away at the northern end of Palawan island, El Nido is a tranquil haven, a world apart from the everyday rush, where the wonders of nature are in abundant display.

El Nido’s charm lies in its stunning seascapes and landscapes. From the majestic limestone cliffs rising out of the turquoise waters to the hidden lagoons and secret beaches, every corner of this archipelago whispers tales of adventure and tranquility. It’s a place where you can kayak through crystal-clear waters in the morning, explore hidden caves in the afternoon, and watch the sunset paint the sky from a secluded beach.

But El Nido isn’t just about its natural beauty. It’s a cultural tapestry, rich with the warmth of its local communities. The town, with its quaint streets and friendly locals, offers a glimpse into a laid-back lifestyle that’s hard to find elsewhere. Here, the days are marked by the simple joys of sipping fresh coconut water, savoring local delicacies, and immersing in the vibrant local culture.

For those ready to embark on a journey to one of the world’s most stunning hidden treasures, El Nido, Palawan awaits. This guide is your ticket to exploring this paradise like a true insider, from its secret beaches to its enchanting lagoons. Let’s dive into the wonders of El Nido and discover why this place is more than just a destination – it’s an experience that will captivate your heart. To help you make the most out of your next trip, here are my top 12 things to see and do in El Nido, Palawan.

The coolest places to visit in El Nido, Palawan right now

Best Places to Visit in El Nido

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in El Nido? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this breathtaking vacation spot in Palawan. So keep reading to discover all these unique El Nido places to visit.

Are you looking to go island hopping, try snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, and explore hidden lagoons? Or would you prefer to relax on pristine beaches, witness stunning sunsets, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surroundings? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in El Nido can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in El Nido that you should know about.

1. Bacuit Archipelago

Discovering the Bacuit Archipelago is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in El Nido, Palawan. This cluster of islands offers a breathtaking experience, each island boasting its unique landscape and crystal-clear waters. The archipelago’s beauty is unparalleled, making it a top destination for travelers seeking both adventure and tranquility.

When you embark on an island-hopping tour in the Bacuit Archipelago, you’re in for a treat. The tour typically includes stops at iconic locations like the Big and Small Lagoons on Miniloc Island, known for their stunning turquoise waters and dramatic limestone cliffs. Snorkeling in these lagoons, you’ll encounter a vibrant underwater world teeming with marine life.

Another highlight is the Secret Lagoon, hidden behind the sheer rock walls of a small island. It’s a surreal experience to swim through a small opening into this secluded pool. Then there’s Shimizu Island, a perfect spot for a beach picnic and snorkeling, with its abundant fish and coral species.

These island-hopping tours are more than just sightseeing. They offer a chance to connect with nature in its purest form. You can find adventure in many forms in the Bacuit Archipelago. Kayak through the calm waters of the lagoons, lounge on the white sandy beaches, or explore the underwater wonders for an unforgettable experience.

The Bacuit Archipelago is one of the coolest things to do in El Nido, Palawan.
The Bacuit Archipelago boasts stunning islands, unique landscapes, and crystal-clear waters.

2. Small and Big Lagoons

Kayaking in El Nido’s Small and Big Lagoons offers an intimate way to experience the area’s natural beauty. These lagoons, set against a backdrop of towering limestone cliffs, provide a serene and picturesque setting for a day of exploration. Paddling through these waters, you’re likely to feel a sense of peace and awe at the sheer magnificence of nature.

The Small Lagoon, accessible only through a narrow opening between the rocks, is a hidden oasis. Once inside, the calm waters and surrounding cliffs create an almost otherworldly atmosphere. Kayaking here allows you to navigate through its nooks and crannies at your own pace, discovering secluded areas that larger boats can’t reach.

The Big Lagoon, on the other hand, is more open but equally stunning. Its wider expanse is perfect for leisurely paddling, offering breathtaking views at every turn. The clear waters make it easy to spot the vibrant marine life below. This lagoon is also great for beginners, with its calm waters providing a safe environment for those new to kayaking.

Both lagoons offer a unique experience, allowing visitors to connect with El Nido’s natural wonders in a personal and eco-friendly way. Renting a kayak and setting off into these tranquil waters is more than just an activity. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of El Nido, Palawan.

Kayaking in El Nido's Small and Big Lagoons offers a serene experience amid stunning limestone cliffs and picturesque waters.
Kayaking in El Nido’s Small and Big Lagoons offers a serene experience amid stunning limestone cliffs and picturesque waters.

3. Helicopter Island

Snorkeling at Helicopter Island is a must-do for anyone visiting El Nido, Palawan. Officially known as Dilumacad Island, this unique spot gets its nickname from its helicopter-like shape when viewed from a distance. The island’s clear waters and abundant marine life make it an ideal location for snorkeling enthusiasts.

Regarded as one of the coolest things to do in El Nido, snorkeling here allows you to explore a vibrant underwater world. The coral reefs around Helicopter Island are teeming with life. You’ll find a variety of fish, from small, colorful ones darting around the corals to larger species cruising in the deeper waters. The clarity of the water enhances the experience, offering excellent visibility.

The island itself is a sight to behold, with its lush greenery and white sandy beach. It’s a perfect place to relax after your snorkeling adventure. The beach is often less crowded than other spots in El Nido, providing a more secluded and intimate experience.

Helicopter Island’s snorkeling experience is not just about seeing the fish and corals. It’s about immersing yourself in the natural beauty of El Nido, Palawan. Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or trying it for the first time, the island offers a memorable experience that combines adventure with the serene beauty of the sea.

Snorkeling at Helicopter Island (Dilumacad Island) is a must in El Nido for its unique shape, clear waters, and vibrant marine life.
Snorkeling at Helicopter Island (Dilumacad Island) is a must in El Nido for its unique shape, clear waters, and vibrant marine life.

4. Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls

Trekking to Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls is an adventure that showcases a different side of El Nido, Palawan. Located a short distance from the main town, this trek is a refreshing escape into the natural landscapes of Palawan. The journey to the waterfalls is as rewarding as the destination itself, offering a glimpse into the lush greenery and diverse ecosystem of the region.

The trek involves a moderate hike, taking you through rice fields and dense forests. Along the way, you might encounter local wildlife and a variety of plant species, adding to the experience. The path can be a bit challenging, especially during the rainy season, but it’s manageable for most fitness levels.

Upon reaching Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls, you’re greeted by the sight of cascading water set against a backdrop of tropical foliage. The falls create natural pools, perfect for a refreshing swim after the hike. The cool, clear water is a welcome treat, and the serene surroundings make for a peaceful retreat.

This trek is not just a physical activity. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature and experience the tranquility of Palawan’s inland beauty. It’s a must-try for those looking to explore beyond the beaches and discover the lush interior landscapes that make El Nido a truly diverse destination.

Trekking to Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls reveals El Nido's natural beauty and Palawan's diverse landscapes.
Trekking to Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls reveals El Nido’s natural beauty and Palawan’s diverse landscapes.

5. Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach is a hidden gem in El Nido that offers a serene escape from the more frequented tourist spots. This four-kilometer stretch of golden sand presents a picturesque setting. Flanked by crystal-clear waters on one side and lush greenery on the other, it’s ideal for a day of relaxation and exploration.

Among the unique things to do in El Nido, a visit to Nacpan Beach stands out. Its relatively remote location means it’s less crowded, allowing for a more peaceful beach experience. The beach is perfect for long, leisurely walks, sunbathing, or simply enjoying the tranquil ambiance. The clear waters are ideal for swimming, with gentle waves that make it safe for all ages.

Nacpan Beach isn’t just about lazing around; it’s also a great spot for local interaction. Small beachside shacks offer fresh seafood and traditional Filipino dishes, giving you a taste of the local cuisine. These eateries are run by friendly locals, offering insights into the everyday life of the people in El Nido, Palawan.

For those looking to capture the essence of El Nido’s natural beauty without the crowds, Nacpan Beach is a must-visit. Its unspoiled charm and laid-back vibe make it a perfect addition to any El Nido itinerary, offering a slice of paradise for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

Nacpan Beach offers a serene escape with its golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and lush surroundings.
Nacpan Beach offers a serene escape with its golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and lush surroundings.

6. Las Cabanas Beach

Experiencing a sunset at Las Cabanas Beach is one of the most memorable activities in El Nido. This beach, also known as Marimegmeg Beach, is renowned for its stunning sunsets that paint the sky in vibrant hues. The beach’s location on the west coast of Palawan makes it an ideal spot for this evening spectacle.

As the day winds down, visitors gather on the soft sands of Las Cabanas to witness the sun dipping below the horizon. The atmosphere is serene, with the sound of gentle waves complementing the visual beauty. It’s a moment that encourages reflection and appreciation of nature’s artistry.

Las Cabanas is not just about the sunsets; it’s a great beach destination throughout the day.

During daylight hours, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. You can swim in the clear waters, lounge on the beach, or try out the zipline for a thrilling ride with a spectacular view of the sea. The beach also has several bars and restaurants where you can grab a drink or a bite, adding to the laid-back beach vibe.

This beach experience offers a perfect blend of relaxation and natural beauty. Watching the sunset at Las Cabanas Beach is a simple yet profound experience. This makes it a must-do for anyone visiting El Nido.

Sunset at Las Cabanas Beach, also called Marimegmeg Beach, is a must in El Nido for its stunning evening vistas.
Sunset at Las Cabanas Beach, also called Marimegmeg Beach, is a must in El Nido for its stunning evening vistas.

7. Matinloc Shrine

Island hopping in El Nido often leads to the intriguing Matinloc Shrine, located on Matinloc Island. This abandoned shrine, surrounded by lush vegetation and set against the backdrop of stunning ocean views, offers a unique blend of history, mystery, and natural beauty.

The journey to Matinloc Shrine is an adventure in itself. As you approach the island, the crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life beneath the surface are captivating. Upon landing, the shrine, with its weathered structures and overgrown paths, feels like stepping into a forgotten world. The shrine, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built in the 1980s but has since been left to the elements, adding to its mystique.

Exploring the shrine, you’ll find a series of abandoned buildings and religious statues. The highlight, however, is the panoramic view from the highest point on the island. The vista of the surrounding Bacuit Bay is breathtaking and well worth the climb.

Visiting Matinloc Shrine is one of the more unique El Nido things to do. It combines a sense of adventure with a touch of history, set in one of the most picturesque locations in the Philippines. This destination appeals to those interested in the cultural history of the region and the natural beauty that surrounds it.

A visit to Matinloc Shrine on Matinloc Island unveils history, mystery, and natural beauty.
A visit to Matinloc Shrine on Matinloc Island unveils history, mystery, and natural beauty.

8. Cadlao Lagoon

Kayaking in Cadlao Lagoon offers an intimate way to explore the stunning landscapes of El Nido. Cadlao Lagoon, known for its tranquil waters and towering limestone cliffs, provides a serene kayaking experience that’s both relaxing and invigorating. This activity allows you to navigate at your own pace, discovering hidden corners and enjoying the lagoon’s natural beauty up close.

As you paddle through the lagoon, the calm waters reflect the sky and cliffs, creating a mesmerizing effect. The lagoon’s clear waters are ideal for spotting marine life, and the surrounding cliffs offer a dramatic backdrop to your adventure. Kayaking here is suitable for all skill levels. This makes it a great activity for both beginners and experienced kayakers.

The beauty of kayaking in Cadlao Lagoon lies in the freedom it offers. You can explore areas that are inaccessible by larger boats, giving you a unique perspective of El Nido’s stunning geography. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature quietly and personally, away from the buzz of motorized tours.

Cadlao Lagoon is not just a destination; it’s an experience that embodies the essence of El Nido’s natural splendor. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or an active adventure, kayaking here is a must-try, offering a memorable way to engage with the beauty of Palawan.

Cadlao Lagoon is one of the coolest things to do in El Nido, Palawan.
Explore El Nido’s stunning landscapes while kayaking in Cadlao Lagoon’s tranquil waters and scenic limestone cliffs.

9. Simizu Island

Snorkeling at Simizu Island is a captivating experience for those exploring El Nido. This island, with its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, is a snorkeler’s paradise. The underwater world here is vibrant and teeming with a variety of fish and coral species, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in marine exploration.

As you dive into the waters of Simizu Island, you’re immediately greeted by the colorful underwater scenery. The coral reefs are healthy and bustling with activity, providing a home to a diverse range of aquatic creatures. From schools of tropical fish to more elusive species, the marine biodiversity here is impressive.

The island itself, with its white sandy beaches and towering limestone cliffs, provides a stunning backdrop for your snorkeling adventure. The clear waters offer excellent visibility, enhancing the snorkeling experience.

Snorkeling here isn’t just about observing marine life; it’s an immersive experience that connects you with the natural beauty of El Nido. Simizu Island’s underwater world showcases the unspoiled beauty that Palawan has to offer. It is a highlight for any trip to this tropical paradise.

Simizu Island is a vibrant underwater paradise with crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life, and diverse fish and coral species.
Simizu Island is a vibrant underwater paradise with crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life, and diverse fish and coral species.

10. Taraw Cliff

Taraw Cliff climbing offers an exhilarating adventure for those visiting El Nido. This activity isn’t for the faint-hearted but rewards the brave with some of the most spectacular views of the town and its surrounding waters. The climb to the top of Taraw Cliff is challenging, as it involves steep and rugged terrain. However, it’s an experience that adventure seekers shouldn’t miss.

Reaching the summit of Taraw Cliff is considered one of the best things to do in El Nido for those looking for an adrenaline rush. The panoramic view from the top is unparalleled. It offers a sweeping vista of El Nido’s bay, the outlying islands, and the majestic limestone formations that make this area so unique. Taraw Cliff is a perspective of El Nido that few get to see. This makes the climb all the more rewarding.

Safety is paramount, and it’s recommended to undertake this adventure with an experienced guide. The climb takes about an hour or two, depending on your pace, and requires a good level of fitness. Early morning is the best time to start the climb to avoid the midday heat and to catch the breathtaking sunrise.

Taraw Cliff climbing is more than just a physical challenge. It’s a journey that tests your limits and rewards you with awe-inspiring views. This makes it a memorable part of any El Nido adventure.

Taraw Cliff climbing provides thrilling, challenging terrain but rewards adventurers with spectacular views.
Taraw Cliff climbing provides thrilling, challenging terrain but rewards adventurers with spectacular views.

11. Ille Cave

Ille Cave in El Nido offers a unique and intriguing experience away from the beach-centric activities. This archaeological site is not just a cave but a window into the past, revealing fascinating insights into the history and prehistory of the region. Ille Cave was discovered to have been inhabited thousands of years ago, making it a treasure trove for history buffs and curious explorers. The cave has revealed numerous artifacts, which add to its allure.

As you enter Ille Cave, you’re stepping into a space that has been a part of human history for millennia. The cave has unveiled a variety of artifacts, including pottery, beads, and even human and animal fossils. Some of these discoveries date back to 14,000 years, offering a glimpse into the distant past. The feeling of walking through such an ancient site is both humbling and exhilarating.

The cave is part of a larger limestone karst mountain, and the journey to the site is an adventure in itself. The surrounding landscape is lush and green, offering a refreshing contrast to the sandy beaches and blue waters El Nido is known for. Guided tours are available, providing valuable insights into the significance of the discoveries made here.

Visiting Ille Cave is one of the best things to do in El Nido for those looking to add a touch of history and adventure to their trip. It’s a reminder of the diverse experiences that Palawan offers, beyond its stunning seascapes.

Ille Cave offers a unique archaeological adventure, unveiling thousands of years of history with revealing artifacts.
Ille Cave offers a unique archaeological adventure, unveiling thousands of years of history with revealing artifacts.

12. Bebeladan Village

Bebeladan Village, located in the northern part of El Nido, offers a serene and less frequented spot for birdwatching enthusiasts. This area is a hidden gem for those interested in exploring the diverse avian life of Palawan. The village is surrounded by lush forests and rice fields, creating a perfect habitat for various bird species.

As you venture into Bebeladan, the sounds of nature immediately envelop you. The chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves create a peaceful atmosphere. With binoculars in hand, visitors can spot a variety of birds, from the vibrant Palawan Hornbill to the elusive Philippine Cockatoo. The experience is not just about seeing these birds but also about appreciating the tranquility and beauty of their natural habitat.

Birdwatching here is a gentle adventure, suitable for all ages. It’s a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature. The village also offers insights into the local way of life, with friendly residents and a glimpse into rural living in Palawan.

Exploring Bebeladan Village for birdwatching is one of the coolest things to do in El Nido for nature lovers. It’s an activity that combines wildlife observation with cultural immersion, offering a unique experience in the picturesque setting of El Nido.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in El Nido

Looking for more content on the top things to do in El Nido? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to El Nido:

What are the must-do activities in El Nido for a budget traveler?

Budget travelers in El Nido should not miss the affordable island-hopping tours, priced around $15-$20. These tours offer access to beautiful lagoons, beaches, and snorkeling spots. Exploring El Nido town’s reggae bars and beachside eateries also provides an authentic and cost-effective local experience.

Is El Nido suitable for luxury travelers?

El Nido is indeed suitable for luxury travelers. Apart from the popular island-hopping tours, there are numerous upscale resorts and hotels offering exclusive services. These luxury accommodations enhance the tropical experience with their unique amenities and serene settings.

How long should I stay in El Nido to fully experience it?

To fully experience El Nido, a stay of at least ten days is recommended. This allows for participation in various island-hopping tours, exploration of local attractions, and time to relax. A longer stay ensures a deeper immersion in El Nido’s natural beauty and vibrant culture.

Kayaking in Small Lagoon, El Nido
Kayaking in Small Lagoon, El Nido

What is El Nido best known for?

El Nido, Palawan is renowned for its stunning island-hopping adventures. It’s a paradise of crystal-clear waters, hidden lagoons, and white sandy beaches. The area is also famous for its rich marine life, making it a top destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts seeking to explore vibrant coral reefs and diverse aquatic wildlife.

What is unique about El Nido?

El Nido’s uniqueness lies in its breathtaking natural landscapes, combining rugged limestone cliffs with emerald-green waters. It offers a perfect blend of adventure and tranquility, with secluded beaches and secret lagoons accessible only by boat. The town’s laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals add to its charm, making it a one-of-a-kind tropical getaway.

Is it worth going to El Nido?

Absolutely, El Nido is worth visiting. It’s a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers, offering unparalleled island-hopping experiences. The beauty of its pristine beaches, clear waters, and diverse marine life is unmatched. Whether for relaxation or exploration, El Nido provides a memorable and enriching experience that caters to a wide range of interests and preferences.

Closing Thoughts on Exploring El Nido

El Nido, Palawan, is more than just a destination. It’s a journey into a world of unparalleled natural beauty. To reach this tropical paradise, you can fly to the Philippines, where an array of stunning islands and crystal-clear waters await every traveler. Whether you’re snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs, lounging on secluded beaches, or kayaking through hidden lagoons, the natural beauty of El Nido is captivating.

The town itself, with its friendly locals and laid-back vibe, adds to the charm. Here, you can savor fresh seafood, explore local markets, and unwind in cozy beachside bars. El Nido isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience that combines adventure with relaxation in a unique and unforgettable way. For those seeking a blend of natural beauty and authentic local culture, El Nido is a must-visit destination on any traveler’s list.

The coolest things to do in El Nido, Palawan for all types of travelers
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