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

El Nido Island Hopping

 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 still bound to happen. 

Everything you can imagine is real.
~Pablo Picasso

On our first night in El Nido, we  wander around and search for ArtCafe which is further to the end of Calle Hama Street, unconcern about the constant drizzle. We booked our island hopping tour with the Travel Center. Because of the erratic weather and joining 4 more tourists, we are left with only one group tour option for the next day. Package Tour A includes 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. All for the price of P700. By the time we settled our reservations, we were anticipating that the weather condition will improve the next day.

We grab this neat El Nido Town Map to explore the town by foot. Reminds me of the unique doodle Sagada town map.

El Nido Town Map by ArtCafe

El Nido Town Map by ArtCafe

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

 gastronomic adventures in el nido

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.

Island Hopping Miniloc Island, Palawan

Small Lagoon at Miniloc Island, Palawan

First stop on our Island Hopping tour is the breathtaking Small Lagoon, about 15 minutes away from the town of El Nido. This paradise brings in a tranquillising effect by just mere looking at it from the surface. Set against a natural karst formation as backdrop, the green-turquoise water is 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.

Couple Traveling in El Nido

Small Lagoon, Miniloc Island

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. :(

finding nemo, a clown fish guarding his anemone

 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.


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. at Entalula Island

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 island hopping 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.

Big Lagoon El Nido Philippines

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

7 Commandos Beach

fresh coconut juice for sale at 7 commandos beach

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 beatup soul.

We wander to the end of the island and found a perfect spot to lounge but downside of having a group package tour is 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.

Gastronomic Adventures & Island Hopping Tour in El Nido

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