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So four beach babies went to El Nido for the first time and they only had a day and a half to make the most of their well-deserved vacation.

With so many island-hopping options and secret/remote/virgin beaches to choose from (and not so unlimited budget), let me count the ways to have an epic El Nido getaway with your best buddies.

1. On your first night, hang out at Habibi Restaurant and Shisha Cafe.  This is a charming beach side bar with an interesting mix of people.  It is a good place to pick up that laid-back island vibe plus they serve yummy drinks.

A toast to the oldies who chose coffee over cocktails

A toast to the oldies who chose coffee over cocktails

2. Early to bed and totally sober, get up the next day and eat a heavy breakfast.  Head to your designated boat and prepare for some island hopping.

Since it was our first time, we opted for Tour A which was a pretty good initiation to a lifetime love affair with El Nido.

Tour A: Shimizu Island, Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Seven Commandos Beach.

The limestone cliffs were so breathtaking, I couldn’t decide whether to bring out my camera and click away or just take everything in and bask in the glorious view.

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As you go further into the ocean, prepare to get more transfixed.

Serene Small Lagoon

Serene Small Lagoon

3. Bring your snorkeling gear so you can play with the fishes

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Snorkeling at Shimizu Island

4. Don’t forget to get silly with your friends as the boat docks at the Secret Lagoon and Mr. Boatman prepares your picnic lunch.

Everyone doing their own thing at the Secret Lagoon

Everyone doing their own thing at the Secret Lagoon (Panorama view)

5. After an amazing and tiring day in the ocean, explore the town center and reward yourself with a great dinner.  I highly recommend Squidos, affordable and delicious.  And teeming with loud but cute tourists. Heee.

Since we only had a half day left in El Nido the next day, it won’t be logical to book another tour since almost all packages require one full day to finish so…

6. Look for a willing tricycle driver to take you to the snug hideaway known as Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beaches (this is normally part of Tour E).  Negotiate and you might get a deal for half the tour price. Also, don’t forget to give him a decent tip.

The next morning, he fetched us from our resort and we endured a bumpy hour-long ride to this “secret” beach.  Our jaws literally dropped when this greeted us…

elnido-11A gorgeous, deserted beach with powdery white sand and calm clear waters.  Most blogs recommend climbing up a certain hill to get the full view of the twin beaches.  Breathtaking that may be, we simply didn’t have the time and energy so we did what any normal crazy group of friends would actually do…

BEACH YOGA!

BEACH YOGA!

And gossip, swim, laugh for an hour or so…

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Not bad for a first time in El Nido.

 

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