If there was ever heaven on earth, it must be the Small Islands of Philippines.
I visited Palawan last year in January and was blown away by the sheer natural beauty. Almost too idyllic and perfect that I had to pinch myself! If you are looking for a holiday destination then definitely consider Palawan Island, one of the larger islands in the western part of Philippines.
I stayed in El Nido, a municipality on the island that proudly boasts gorgeous white sandy beaches, untouched coral reefs full of vibrancy and colour, dramatic rock formations and the most crystal-clear waters I have ever encountered. Coupled with extreme hospitality by the locals, it is a perfect holiday for relaxing and having your fill of adventure.
Travelling from Dubai, we flew directly to Manila and then took a shorter flight to El Nido. Once we reached El Nido, we were greeted by our hotel staff (we stayed at the Pangulasian Island resort) and took a 40-minute speed boat ride to our resort which was on a private small island.
The resort was gorgeous, private beach villas and tree house canopy villas, you were surrounded by just the ocean and palm trees! (It goes without saying we had multiple monkey visitors, but it was all part of the charm.)
We stayed here for about 6 days and had activities and sightseeing almost every single day! There is a lot to do and see in El Nido. On our first day we went Kayaking around a few islands. This was a real treat as our guide took us to 3 main spots:
The Big Lagoon, The Small Lagoon, Miniloc Island.
These were all absolutely breath-taking. Out of the two lagoons, the small lagoon was my favorite. The entrance to this lagoon is just a tiny narrow gap between two massive rocks. As you navigate through the tiny opening via your kayak, put on your snorkeling gear and get into the warm water. You’ll be greeted with tiny fish swimming around and beautiful coral. The lagoon is so serene and peaceful. The light blue water glistens around you – the whole experience is magnificent.
On our second day we decided to visit the Cudugnon Caves where a local guide had to reach us how to slide through a very narrow opening between jagged rocks. Once inside, you’ll see tiny bats hidden and sunlight peering through an opening, the walls are smooth and run high with small and medium sized rocks that your guide will navigate you through. Once you climb high, there are plenty of photo opportunities. The walls of the cave are There is historic significance of the cave as an important anthropological site, where jewelry and pottery dating back to the Sung Dynasty were discovered. Bones and artifacts have also been found there and many theories circulating around travelers who treated this cave as a religious ground.
On the rest of our days that we were there, we spend exploring different islands around and took any chance we got to get into the water and snorkel.
Once in the early morning, we went to a sandbank that is in a shape of a snake when you see it from top – This tiny island has been named the “Snake Island." Its perfect to take a short swim here in the morning and then swim up on a beautiful white beach and hike up the rocky hill. Once you reach the top, you’ll be able to see the sand bank in the shape of a long snake.
We also took various island-hopping tours that took us to different islands where activities included snorkeling, deep sea diving, relaxing on private beaches and absorbing the wonderful panoramic views of Nature’s beauty. We had the opportunity to see different types of Fish, starfish, sting-rays and sea turtles! The whole island is committed to being plastic free and preserving nature that even our hotel encouraged us to spot as many different species of animals as possible and to tick of a list they had given us at the beginning of our stay and had a no plastics policy.
If I could write on the Philippines, I would end up writing a book! This is a place I would love to visit again and explore further. Although I was only able to see El Nido, from my research and speaking to others that have travelled around Philippines, it has so much more to offer and see.
From islands like Coron and Cebu that boast of even more adventure, this is a holiday destination you do not want to miss out on.