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Why i fell in love with El Nido Palawan

Karuna El Nido Villas

El Nido was that place that always seemed to be out of my reach but was also that one place that I always dreamt of going to. I somehow thought that it was quite costly to go there and only recently found out that it was just as easy to go there on a budget.

It was a breeze to find accommodations in the town itself for such a cheap price, with a view of the breathtaking limestone cliffs looming above. It took little effort to walk around the charming yet busy town. I enjoyed the close-knit community and it was noticeable how many foreigners have settled down there with their businesses – living the dream as they say.

Karuna El Nido Villas
Karuna El Nido Villas
There is so much to do in El Nido, so the moment I got there I headed excitedly to the pristine white sand Nacpan Beach, about 45 minutes away from the town, and was instantly struck by its heavenly beauty. I loved that it was virtually untouched and did not have many establishments, save for some rustic beachfront restaurants that served some scrumptious seafood. The strip was lined with coconut trees and the water was expectedly divine. The first tour I went on was Tour A, highly recommended by people. The waters were spectacularly clear and blue as our boat went from one island to another. We were supposed to stop by Seven Commandos beach first but as it would have been full of tourists we went instead to the adjacent beach called Papaya Beach – and I am glad we diverted, because I was able to see a turtle just by snorkelling a few meters from the shore. What a great way to start the tour. A fabulous lunch was also part of the tour, and of course the stops just got even better. We went to the stunning Big Lagoon with limestone cliffs as a backdrop while the boat sliced through pool-like aquamarine colored waters.
We also kayaked to the Small Lagoon, which had such a tiny opening that we had to lie on our backs on the kayak to get through the hole. We were delightfully treated to dozens of monkeys of all sizes crossing through the rock above that small opening – there were even baby monkeys clutching on to their mothers. As if that wasn’t glorious enough, the moment we saw the Small Lagoon we were awestruck by its beauty. Water was so calm and so blue; we couldn’t stop ourselves from taking a dip in this saltwater swimming pool surrounded by the magnificent limestone cliffs.
Karuna El Nido Villas
Karuna El Nido Villas
Right after the tour I headed to the famous white sand Marimegmeg Beach, more popularly known as Las Cabanas, to catch the sunset. As I have been spoiled by years of Boracay sunsets, it is really quite hard to find anything that will top them. However, the sunset at El Nido was in a class of its own. Once the sun dipped behind cliffs and radiated with different colors, it made a spectacular sight.
Karuna El Nido Villas
Karuna El Nido Villas
I also went on Tour C, another highly recommended excursion. On the itinerary is Helicopter Island, which got its name from its shape, for some snorkelling, and then Hidden Beach – a beautiful, serene beach concealed behind some cliffs; also Secret Beach, another beach that can only be reached by swimming underneath a tiny rock opening. The highlight of my day though was going to Star Beach. We did not dock on the beach itself but rather stayed afloat and snorkelled for hours seeing the most abundant and colorful marine life in some of the clearest waters I have ever seen. Visibility could easily have been more than 30 meters that day. We then had the most mouthwatering, delicious lunch on board the boat which had grilled vegetables, seafood, and meat; topped by beautifully carved fruit for dessert (these Tour Operators actually have carving competitions to enhance their abilities). I was quite impressed that the boatmen practiced environmental consciousness. At the beginning of the tours they instructed us not to touch any of the corals or sea life, nor bring home any shells with us. Boats also need to dock at least 50-70 meters away from the shoreline and are not allowed to anchor on corals, only on sand. The local townsfolk are also not allowed to burn plastic as this is harmful to the environment.
Karuna El Nido Villas
To take a break from the flurry of activities, I spent a day in the tranquil and picturesque Corong Corong Beach, reading my book and taking a dip in the calm waters. One of the hotels in this beach is known for its environmentally friendly practices. They conduct a recyclable drive amongst their guests for items such as bottle caps, wine corks, and plastic spoons. They also have natural filtration system made of charcoal, gravel, and pebbles for their water used in the shower and toilet. They make use of solar panels and use upcycled products, such as decorations made from fallen tree branches, and lanterns made of plastic spoons. It is also good to know that they support the local community by employing locals to work at the resort or make some of the fixtures on display, as well as utilize locally sourced materials such as pebbles and stones from Puerto Princesa.
Karuna El Nido Villas
Karuna El Nido Villas
I wanted my last day to be memorable and so I decided to kayak to Cadlao Island, known for having the highest peak in El Nido. It was probably a good 45 minute workout, and well worth it to have the beaches there almost completely to myself with just a few other adventurous kayakers. I once again snorkelled to my heart’s desire for hours on end and explored the diversity of the ocean with colourful fish and corals. What I took from this trip, aside from validating that El Nido is indeed part of the most beautiful islands in the world, is a newfound love for snorkelling (which I think was directly attributed to the perfectly clear and calm blue waters, along with the abundant sea life), made some newfound friends, and I have once again fallen in love with a paradise destination, one that I cannot wait to go back to. El Nido has my heart, and with very good reason.

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