Gastronomic Adventures & Island Hopping Tour in El Nido

Everything you can imagine is real.
~Pablo Picasso

Painted in 50 shades of blue,  El Nido’s picturesque view offers more than a weekend sanctuary.

 Small Lagoon, El Nido, Palawan

Our chronic passion for travel made us realize that everything do not work out smoothly as planned. While we leave room for  troubles, amazing things are bound to happen. 

On our first night in El Nido, we  wander around and search for ArtCafe, paying no attention to the constant drizzle. We booked our island hopping tour with ArtCafe’s Travel Center. Since the weather is unpredictable and we will be joining 4 more tourists, we only get to avail one option, Package Tour A at that. A visit to the 3 lagoons of Miniloc Island, Small lagoon, Big lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Snorkelling around Simizu Island, Buffet lunch at Entalula Island and 7 Commandos Beach. Not bad for the price of P700. By the time we left ArtCafe we were ecstatic with high hopes that the weather condition will improve.

We come by this neat El Nido Town Map. Reminds me of the unique doodle Sagada town map.

El Nido Town Map by ArtCafe  (click to zoom)

Our second day in El Nido was pretty much uneventful. The weather is not cooperating. We received a call from ArtCafe that Island Hopping tours were cancelled due to bad weather. We succumb to gastronomic adventures instead to make the most out of our stay.


Our all-time fave, street barbecues.
A Squidos’ feast- Stuffed Squid, Mixed Seafood Curry, Dangit Rice & Egg, Chocolate Shake
Filipino Breakfast at the Sanctuary includes a sweet mango treat

Mushroomed along Calle Hama or M.L . Quezon St. now are a multitude of affordable beach front accommodations, small cafes and restaurants. Even with monsoon season, foreigners and locals flocked this side of the Philippines. And what I really loved about this coastal town is the availability of  wi-fi everywhere. When I had to do work errands one night and needs a decent internet connection, we stayed at Barrack’s cafe ’till midnight.

Finally on our third day, a hint of sun showed up and we received the best news to kick off our morning. Our island hopping adventure is finally coming forth!

We met our fellow seafarers of the day, a Filipino-American couple visiting from the U.S., and a Swiss student on a one month holiday. All of us were excited to explore Palawan for the first time.

Small Lagoon at Miniloc Island, Palawan

First stop is the breathtaking Small Lagoon, about 15 minutes away from the town of El Nido. This paradise brings in a tranquillizing effect by just mere looking at it from the surface. Set against a natural karst formation as backdrop, the green-turquoise water must’ve been the result of the fusing of salt and fresh water.

Here you can rent out kayak to get to the entrance of the Small Lagoon or just thread your way at the waist-deep high water. My crappy underwater camera plus limited swimming skills cannot do justice of it’s colourful marine life.

haven hunters in el nido, represent!

There is a small opening that we need to thread through to get inside the cove. Kayaks are not allowed beyond this point. We snorkel and check out a small cave. Snorkelling for non-swimmers like us is a joy in this stretch. Wading through a cold, lucid water calms down some apprehension we have for deep waters and strong currents.

For most shallow part, the damaged coral reefs are evident, perhaps a long term effect of dynamite fishing.

The Deep Blue Sea sans Sharks

If it weren’t for a number of people coming from different tour companies, this cove will be so eerie with just us. I’m not comfortable with deep waters, so my imagination always runs wild with sharks and monsters in picture.

The fishes would be happier if they have nicer playgrounds. Those damaged reef offers no fun at all. :(

 Seriously, I don’t have a joke, so get out of here! – Clown Fish

Our next stop is Entalula Island, a private beach in Bacuit Bay for Lagen and Miniloc guests. There is a small public area though reserved for ArtCafe tours. Here we take rest and enjoy a downtime moment while we wait for our boatmen to prepare our lunch. at Entalula Island

White sand beach, blue sky and crystal clear waters of Entalula Island

Oh my, I cannot even fathom how “downtime” is possible in this pristine island. I am overjoyed, I just want to do cartwheels (if only I can) at the whole island, take photos and marvel at how such beauty is so far away from Manila. Well, it’s still a good thing though, like a protective mother, I feel that this place isn’t for everyone, I hope there will never come a time that it will not be as stunning as this.

Lunch was served, grilled fish, pork barbecues, vegetable salad and fresh bananas. Coffee is free while soft drinks came in hefty price.

After an hour, we sail around Simizu Island, a better site to witness a healthier reef where we are allowed to do fish feeding.

 I can’t think of a better poster name for this one but “Jaws”, “Lost” or “Doomed”. This photo gives me creep to go on an open water adventure again. Don’t get me wrong, it was the best snorkelling experience we had, I just wished I can be more at ease with the open sea.

Kudos to our boatmen for letting us experience swimming away from our boat. We usually just go around the boat to snorkel being a non-swimmer. I’m a scaredy cat even with a life jacket on. No wonder it takes a million heartbeat before I jump my way out of sohoton cove. This is the first and I superlove our guide.

Here are some underwater scenes. The school of fish migrated to the tropical university.

Our next stop is the Big Lagoon, a showcase of islets and karst formation. The water varies from emerald blue to clear to deep blue, that I bet if the crayon company is with us, they will go crazy picking up another shade of blue to add to their collection. How about “minilowinkle” as the new name.

We only get to marvel at it’s beauty from afar as the Big Lagoon is close for the Survivor shooting.

We were also told that the passage to the Secret Island is non-passable for our boat. So we headed to our final island, the 7 Commandos Beach. This is a perfect setting to lounge and wait for nightfall. The waves are crazy though.

There are around 3 small houses in this island, and I guess almost the same number of family lives here. Their main source of income is to sell fresh coconut juice. It costs more than the usual tourist price, but a refreshing treat nonetheless for our tired and thirsty soul.

We wander to the end of the island and found a perfect spot to lounge but we can’t stay long enough for sunset. At past 4 pm, we were on our way back to El Nido.

Going through the pictures again, I can’t wait  to go back and experience some more island hopping adventures, perhaps on another summer getaway.

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  • Reply A Paradise Called El Nido | Weekend Haven September 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    […] next, our Island hopping tour at Small & Big Lagoon, Miniloc Island, Simizu Island and Entalula Island. […]

  • Reply Elal Jane Lasola September 23, 2012 at 2:32 am

    You went to El Nido on a better weather than the time we went there! Envy :) I’m contemplating not to be lazy and post it soon. Hehe :)

    • havenhunter
      Reply havenhunter September 27, 2012 at 10:38 am

      oh, that means only one thing, you’ll be back to El Nido for sure. Hoping to bump into you one day, perhaps in the shores of Miniloc, Nacpan or town of El Nido :)

  • Reply lovemindanao September 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

    i can’t get enough of el nido the last time i was there too … my wild and overflowing meet and greet at Salangane was the best especially with a bottle of cold beer. hahaha.. your pics reminded me of my happy moments in the island.

    • havenhunter
      Reply havenhunter September 27, 2012 at 10:36 am

      thanks, i would be dreaming of el nido time and time again. maybe it’s just that despite our longer than usual 3-days backpacking to a philippine destination, it isn’t enough, perhaps a month won’t cover all the best spots that of El Nido.

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  • Reply Hidden Paradise: Twin Beach of El Nido, Palawan | Weekend Haven February 10, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    […] with an unpredictable weather for days, we finally made it to our Island Hopping tour off the coast of El Nido. One can never get tired of exploring any of the 7,107 islands of the […]

  • Reply hara July 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm


    we’re planning to go to el nido. may i have your email so that i can ask some questions.

    thank you. :)

  • Reply Lori October 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

    travelled to ElNido from Canada. Its worth every minute of 23 hour travel. Its heaven on earth!

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