It wasn’t even intentional, but when my boat left the bay in which the little town of El Nido sits and drove out into the archipelago it dawned on me that I had saved the best for last. El Nido was the last stop on my Philippines trip, and as our little boat was getting closer to the massive limestone karst cliffs that are prominent on all the islets out here, I couldn’t stop thinking how lucky I was to be able to see this little piece of heaven.
El Nido and the Bacuit Archipelago are often named as the last unspoiled paradise on earth, and as we were passing deserted, immaculate beaches, steered through lagoons with crystal clear emerald green water, stopped the boat to swim through narrow holes in the towering limestone walls which turned out to be entrances to hidden beaches and lagoons, snorkeled with colorful tropical fish and ‘hopped’ from one uninhabited island to the next, I could see why people are so smitten by this truly awe-inspiring wonder of nature.
The archipelago, consisting of 45 limestone outcrops pierced with steep karst cliffs and lined with dozens of palm-fringed beaches is best explored on an island hopping tour like the one I was on, which can be booked everywhere around El Nido town. There are four different boat tours which include various islands, allowing you to snorkel in hidden lagoons, explore beautiful caves and visit secret beaches, or just take in the magnificence of this serene setting from the boat. But not to snorkel would mean missing out on the incredible underwater world here, which has more than 800 different species of fish and over 100 species of coral.
I was lucky enough to go on two island hopping trips during my stay in El Nido, but I wish I could have gone on all four – I could’ve sailed through the archipelago for weeks and never gotten bored of just looking at the breathtaking beauty of this chain of lush green isles which all look like they are the picture-perfect Robinson Crusoe-like retreat. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to my island hopping trip in the Philippines – Palawan turned out to be the most impressive ‘grand finale’ to an absolute dream trip.
Think I am exaggerating with my gushing over this heaven on earth? Then check out these photos in an article named ‘Palawan, the most beautiful island in the world, is sheer perfection.‘