There are over 7,000 beautiful islands that make up the Philippines- what a dream it would be to see them all! I have always heard that Palawan, with its picturesque lagoons, secret beaches, and the UNESCO World Heritage Underground River, is one of the most beautiful islands not just in the Philippines, but in the world!
For our latest family trip, the Laird clan made our way to El Nido on the island of Palawan. Though we only stayed three days, we made a lifetime’s worth of precious family memories, and got to see for ourselves why everyone is crazy about Palawan.
We stayed at the Mansion Buenavista, a lovely guesthouse just a few miles from El Nido town. Surrounded by sweeping mountain views, lush tropical plants, and a remarkable view of the ocean, Mansion Buenavista truly lives up to it’s name : “Good View.” The owner Noud, his family, and the staff were amazing and took very good care of their guests.
The rooms were clean, comfy, and had everything you needed for your stay. One of the best amenities: the complimentary daily breakfast. Choose from a menu of American, Filipino, or Continental style meals, or order a very large fluffy pancake plain or filled with mango or banana, and it’s cooked to order, and super sarap, which means delicious in Filipino.
There was always someone willing to help us book tours, find a beach, or hail a tricycle ride into town at Mansion Buenavista and they were always so genuinely friendly. When it came time to depart, we were sad to leave- we loved it so much!
In El Nido, there are tons of things to do and see but it really is all about the Tours which are all conveniently divided into Tour A, B,C,D,and E. We wanted to go at our own pace and have the boat all to ourselves so we opted for a private tour. If your budget allows, I highly recommend getting a private tour so you can control the pace. If you have an apprehensive person in your party who doesn’t care much for water or may be prone to seasickness, having your own private boat may come in handy! Most hotels will arrange tours for you free of charge and work out all the plans for your party so make sure you inquire with the concierge at your accommodation for the most hassle-free experience.
Our first choice was”Tour A” because we wanted to see the beautiful lagoons that El Nido is so famous for but the tour companies were all booked up for a private version of that tour so we decided on “Tour C” which was a five hour excursion to different beaches and a shrine with lunch on the beach. We all agreed that this was the best day we had in El Nido. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and the adventure was once in a lifetime. I’m super proud of my mom and sister for getting on the boat with us and joining in on the fun :-).
If all day touring is not your thing then pick one of El Nido’s beautiful beaches to just sit back and relax. Our favorites were Lio Beach, Nacpan Beach, and Las Cabanas.
Before we left, a few of my friends who had returned from a trip to El Nido just a few days before we left for ours mentioned that they had become VERY sick while visiting and the medical staff in the El Nido Clinic did not know why many foreigners have been getting sick. We’re talking IVs, major dehydration, and all the symptoms that can have you out of commission for days. Me being me, this of course sent me into a frenzy of online research, and of course I found all the horror stories which set me on edge before leaving.
I am happy and relived to say that none of us got sick while visiting El Nido. We remained diligent, doing things like making sure the water was filtered, eating at restaurants that had good ratings, etc., but we still indulged and did not let this scare ruin our vacation. One thing I observed (most likely because I had been so worried) was many tourists not practicing basic hygiene! I saw saw so many people using the restroom and not washing their hands then sitting down to eat, and even walking around public bathrooms barefoot. Maybe that’s why so many got sick! I don’t know, something to think about.
If the chance to visit El Nido, Palawan ever presents itself I say, “GO!” It’s beautiful. Sana na babalik ako sa Palawan ibang araw 🙂
I’ve been so lucky to have visited the Philippines (or the “Motherland” as I call it because that’s where my mom is from) 3 times so far in my life. “So far” because I am hoping more visits will happen again soon, God willing! Leyte is next on my bucket list!
Check out a video recap of our El Nido trip here!