Kayaking at Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

Top 14 El Nido Palawan Activities and Tourist Spots: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

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Aerial view of El Nido's limestone karsts and clear blue waters at Small Lagoon

Explore one of the best island destinations in the world found in the Philippines' Palawan province, El Nido. Find out why El Nido island hopping tours are a must-do for visitors traveling to the Philippines from different parts of the world.

One of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines, both for local and international explorers alike, thanks to its undeniable and exotic beauty is El Nido in Palawan.

This quaint little beach town located in the northernmost part of mainland Palawan has become a top travel destination, with more convenient access to more flights and a wide array of top-rated El Nido resorts and El Nido hotels (some of which offer Philippine luxury vacation packages), some of the best beach resorts in the Philippines, Philippines honeymoon resorts, and budget El Nido hotels that cater to backpackers, El Nido has opened its doors to wanderers from all walks of life.

Imagine deserted powdery white sand shores with clear and turquoise waters, breathtaking limestone cliffs, secret islands, and dramatic sunsets – truly El Nido should be on every traveler's bucket list because of its unspoiled beaches


El Nido weather is almost always in summer mode, making it a great year-round destination. The main attraction of El Nido are islands, beaches, and lagoons that you can easily travel to when you join El Nido island hopping tours. The most popular is the El Nido island hopping Tour A and El Nido Tour C. You can read our guide on what to expect at El Nido island hopping excursions.

More than the many beautiful islands off its coast, the island also satisfies adventure-seekers and nature lovers by offering exciting tours in El Nido such as cliff climbing, kayaking, trekking to waterfalls, and lounging on pristine Palawan beaches in the main island.

Experiencing El Nido is like getting lost in a dream, one that you wouldn’t want to wake up from. Its grandeur and charm will surely let you have a taste of paradise and heaven on earth. Can’t wait to explore El Nido yet? Start preparing your trip with this list of all the El Nido activities and tourist spots that you should not miss when you explore this exquisitely gorgeous tropical destination.

Traveler kayaking in El Nido, Palawan

Guide to the Philippines' map of things to do in El Nido, Palawan

1. Chill at Nacpan Beach

Drone shot of El Nido's Nacpan Beach stretch of white sand

Deserted golden sand, clear blue waters, and a surreal view of the ocean await you at Nacpan Beach. Just the thought of lounging under the sun in this paradise makes you wish for that dreamy escapade. That's why joining an El Nido land tour to Nacpan Beach is worth the wait. 

The 45 minutes to 1-hour drive from the El Nido town proper is well worth it once you set foot in this slice of heaven. Read a book, listen to music, or watch the waves kiss the shoreline as you take in the beauty that Nacpan Beach has to offer. Local and foreign tourists rave about the 4-km long Nacpan Beach in El Nido because of the laid-back vibe here. 

Nacpan Beach is part of the Twin Beaches with the adjacent Calitang Beach. You can climb up to the highest point and see the view of the two beaches. If you're trying out Nacpan Beach tours, buy some drinks or snacks in the beach bar as you work on your tan. The sunset in Nacpan Beach is also a must-see, the cherry on top for a perfect tropical getaway in El Nido, Palawan.

Top 14 El Nido Palawan Activities and Tourist Spots: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

2. Marvel at the Beauty of Big Lagoon

Top view of Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

This majestic lagoon in Miniloc Island looks like a scene straight from a destination movie. It's like you're transported to a different dimension where you're surrounded by towering cliffs lined up to watch over you. It is one of the highlights of an El Nido Tour A island hopping, which is also rated by travelers as the  best island hopping tour in El Nido. 

As you enter through the Big Lagoon, everything is a sight to behold – the crystal-clear blue water, the ray of light peeking through the top of the cliffs, and the luscious limestone formation. It has become famous for being featured in several movies and postcards because of its beauty, as seen from drone shots to kayak views.

Top 14 El Nido Palawan Activities and Tourist Spots: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons



Due to the local government's efforts to keep the pristine condition of El Nido islands and avoid overcrowding, island-hopping boats are not allowed to go inside of the Big Lagoon anymore. The time spent and the number of tourists is also strictly controlled.

Tourists, however, can board kayaks and paddle their way through the shallow entrance that will lead to a giant natural pool with turquoise waters surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.

3. Kayak in Small Lagoon 

Travelers kayaking at Small Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

Another Miniloc Island destination is the famous Small Lagoon. As the name implies, it is relatively smaller compared to the Big Lagoon, but can't be discounted when it comes to the beauty and charm it exudes.

Unlike the Big Lagoon where the opening can be easily entered, the Small Lagoon has a smaller entrance. You can swim or ride a kayak and go through a crack on a limestone wall to get inside during your El Nido Tour D island hopping.

Top 14 El Nido Palawan Activities and Tourist Spots: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

Once you’re inside, you can take a dip or kayak around the peaceful waters of Small Lagoon and enjoy its calm surroundings with the sound of nature as your default soundtrack. Its serene turquoise waters that make up a natural pool in the middle of cliffs are the perfect spot for floating or kayak rides.

Similar to the policies implemented in Big Lagoon, the number of tourists and time spent in Small Lagoon has limitations as well to keep its enchanting vibe. 

4. Dip in the Secret Lagoon 

Secret Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

This unique natural pool in El Nido's Miniloc Island is also known as the Hidden Lagoon. This popular El Nido Big Lagoon has a sweet surprise that awaits you once you enter a small opening on the majestic limestone cliffs. It's usually part of the El Nido island hopping Tour A

When getting here, your boat will make its way to a small white sand beach in the southern part of Miniloc Island. You'll pass through a hollow rocky cave-like opening so be extra careful and dock your head. You can easily wade into the opening if it's low tide.

Once inside, you'll be greeted by a small natural pool surrounded by remarkably high limestone cliffs –  this is the Secret Lagoon.

You can dip in the natural cold pool and bury your toes in its beautiful white sand. Unlike the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon, the water here is cooler because of the cliffs that cover it from the sunlight.

However, a Hidden Lagoon tour is done during low tide, the water is only knee-high deep and activities are limited to quick dips or picture taking. But the mysteriousness of the Secret Lagoon is what makes it a worthy destination. 

Top 14 El Nido Palawan Activities and Tourist Spots: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

5. Discover the Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach in El Nido, Palawan

Similar to the Big Lagoon, you will need to board a kayak or swim from your boat to get to this Hidden Beach. The pristine small stretch of white sand beach called the Hidden Beach is usually a part of El Nido Tour C island hopping, referred to as one of the best tours in El Nido aside from Tour A. 

Boats cannot fit in the entrance to go to the Hidden Beach. Since the distance from where the boats dock and the beach itself is quite far; the best way to get inside is by riding a kayak from your boat where you'll pass through towering karst cliffs.

You can choose to swim going to the beach, but I'm telling you, it will take time. At the end of your kayak ride (or long swim), you will see a pristine beach with a stunning view of another opening going to the open sea, framed by two walls of pointy limestone cliffs. Truly a breathtaking view.

The crystal clear water here is more shallow than the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon and is excellent for a relaxing swim. The white sand of Hidden Beach lined with lush greenery is also the right spot for sunbathing or building sandcastles if you have kids with you.

6. Find the Secret Beach

Travelers swimming at the Secret Beach in El Nido, Palawan

El Nido isn't done yet with hidden and secret places! A highlight and must-see during an El Nido island hopping Tour C is the Secret Beach. This hidden enchanting beach in El Nido is said to have been the inspiration behind the novel "The Beach," by Alex Garland. It was then adapted into a film starring Leonardo di Caprio. 

Once your boat arrives, you'll see nothing but a big wall of limestone cliffs with no beach in sight. To see the Secret Beach, you'll need to swim through the hole under the towering cliffs. A sweet surprise in the form of a hidden unspoiled beach awaits you behind the wall that surrounds it.

Be careful when swimming through the hole, especially if the waves are strong. Kayaks cannot go in through the hole, so your only option is to swim. Your tour guide will provide you with life vests and assist you as you make your way inside. But the struggle will be all worth it when you see the immaculate Secret Beach. 

7. Relax at Shimizu Island

Shimizu Island in El Nido, Palawan

Shimizu Island (also spelled as Simizu Island) is the perfect stop for you to relax in its cool white-sand beach or whip out your snorkeling gears to explore its colorful marine life. In fact, a Shimizu Island tour will let you lounge on one of the best beaches in El Nido and a popular lunch stopover as well.​

You can spot here different species of fish in various shapes, colors, and sizes. You can explore the beauty of Shimizu Island underwater by snorkeling or you can relax and lounge by its white sand beach.

The island-hopping tour usually includes lunch at this island stop. You can swim some more or take a nap under the shade of the limestone cliffs as your boatmen and guide clean up and prepare to leave for your next stop.  

8. Lounge in Seven Commandos Beach 

Beach view of boats at Seven Commandos Beach in El Nido, Palawan

The 320-meter long Seven Commandos Beach is said to have been named after seven soldiers who were stranded here during World War II. You can visit this when you book the El Nido Tour A island hopping activity.

Seven Commandos Beach is a postcard-worthy white sand beach lined with coconut trees and a massive wall of limestone cliffs in the background. It's the perfect last stop for tourists to lounge by the sand with a freshly opened coconut in hand. 

The Seven Commandos Beach has a shore wide enough for tourists to play beach volleyball or work on their tan. The beach is also known for its gentle waves; you can relax by the crystal-clear waters after a tiring day of kayaking in the lagoons.

It's also the right spot for snorkeling because of the calm waters and precious marine life. But you can always opt to have a lazy afternoon on its shores and enjoy the tropical island life.  

9. See the View from Matinloc Shrine

Matinloc Shrine in El Nido, Palawan

Unlike the beaches and lagoons of El Nido whose main highlights are their pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. This island-hopping stop in a El Nido island hopping Tour C is a unique one.

The Matinloc Shrine, specifically the Shrine of Our Lady of Matinloc, is an abandoned spiritual oasis that sits on top of Matinloc Island and offers one of the best views of El Nido.

There's also a mini-museum on the island where you can learn about the shrine's history. The story says that a Matinloc devotee had a vision of a dome with 12 pillars and inside was the image of the Virgin Mary.

The shrine was built based on this vision, and once it was complete, they were blessed with a bountiful harvest of fish, thus becoming a holy place for Matinloc devotees. The way to the viewing deck is through the limestone cliff staircase, so make sure to wear your slippers or aqua shoes. Once you reach the top, you can climb further to the jagged cliffs to see a 360° view of the neighboring islands and the blue waters of El Nido. 

10. Lie on the Sandbar of Snake Island 

Aerial view of the sandbar at Snake Island in El Nido, Palawan


Snake Island, aptly named because of its s-shape white powdery sandbar that connects a small island to the mainland of El Nido, is a popular attraction included in the El Nido Tour B island hopping. The sandbar only appears during low tide and is truly a sight to behold. 

Snake Island excursions feature gorgeous sandbar strip, hidden in Bacuit Bay, which is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll as you take in the breathtaking view. Dip your feet in the sand or lounge by its shores as the waves meet from both sides gently crash into you. Not to worry though, there are no snakes in Snake Island. Its other name is Vigan Island. The beauty of Snake Island and its serene vibe make it a must-try when in El Nido. 

Top 14 El Nido Palawan Activities and Tourist Spots: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons


11. Catch the Sunset at Las Cabanas Beach

Las Cabanas Beach in El Nido, PalawanLas Cabanas Beach located 10-minutes away from El Nido town proper, is a must-visit for its romantic sunsets. Las Cabanas is a nickname based on the resort found here, but its other name is Marimegmeg Beach. 

The beach is lined with several bars and restaurants. You can buy drinks and snacks while waiting for the sunset or chill and enjoy the laid-back vibe of this El Nido tourist spot. 

Some of these bars and restaurants also have bean bags or chairs by the beach where you can grab the perfect spot for sunset-watching. Our tip is to find a seat by the far left to get the best view of the sunset. 

If you want a different way to enjoy this beach in El Nido, you can also try the Las Cabanas El Nido zipline where you can be treated to an incredible view. At night, you can also enjoy romantic dinners or chill drinking sessions by the beach here. 

12. Climb the Taraw Cliffs

View from Taraw Cliffs in El Nido, PalawanThe Taraw Cliff of El Nido is a prominent sight in the town proper. During the dry season, you can climb it and see a panoramic view of El Nido town and Bacuit Bay. Taraw is a local word for “mountains” since reaching the top will have you hiking over jagged cliffs and rocks.

There are two ways to climb the Taraw Cliffs: the regular hike or by a Canopy Walk. But both will require you to face your fear of heights. The regular hike up the Taraw Cliffs will have you ascending its steep and sharp limestone rocks. Doing this hike will require a guide and proper hiking shoes, so you have a better grip. 

An alternative and much safer way to see the view from the Taraw Cliffs is by doing the Canopy Walk. Compared to the regular hike, a El Nido canopy walk tour provides you with safety equipment like helmets and harnesses. There are built-in walkways in the cliffs that you can explore to get the best views. This option is an excellent activity for inexperienced hikers.  

13. Plunge Into Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls

Aside from the islands, beaches, and lagoons of El Nido, you can also dip into the natural pool of Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls. The hike to the waterfalls is an adventure itself, but the cool temperature of the water compensates for the effort of trekking to the place. 

"Nagkalit-kalit" translates to "Nagsaglit" in Tagalog which means "taking a moment." You will surely forget the time as you adore the beauty of the waterfalls and the joy it offers to tourists who stumble upon it.

Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls is located in between El Nido town proper and Nacpan Beach. It’s usually a stop in El Nido inland tours. From the main road, you will have to trek for about 20-45  minutes in the jungle and rivers to reach the waterfalls. Once you arrive at Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls, you can choose from the big or the small falls and plunge into the natural pool for a refreshing swim.  

14. Dive and Explore the Marine Life

While Palawan’s Coron is regarded as a top diving spot, El Nido also offers several underwater adventures for diving enthusiasts. There are over 40 diving spots that you can choose from in El Nido. From coral gardens, tunnels, steep vertical walls, sandy flats, to deep dives, El Nido has them all for you. 

Most of the diving spots on the island are around its islands and beaches that are included in El Nido island-hopping tours. The most popular diving site in El Nido is South Miniloc, where you can find vibrant coral gardens. You might even get the rare chance to spot sea turtles.

Other diving sites in El Nido include North Rock, known for its pelagic sight, Dilumacad Island for cave diving, Entalula Island for its colorful coral gardens, and Nat-Nat Beach for macro diving photography. 
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Experience the Beauty of El Nido

Kayaking at Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

Take it from us; El Nido will leave a mark on you. If you think that falling in love at first sight, isn't real, think again because El Nido will cast a spell on you. Its effortless natural beauty, charming tropical island vibe, and breathtaking sceneries along with the warmth of its people will surely find a way to your restless heart. We're sure that El Nido will be on the top of your favorite travel destinations once you explore it for yourself.

Start planning your island getaway to El Nido and tick it off your travel bucket list. To make your itinerary planning more relaxed and your adventure more convenient, make sure to research El Nido tours and activities from El Nido island hopping tours to inland activities. Check out glamping resorts in El Nido for a unique experience.



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