The beautiful island of Palawan still remains one of Asia’s great travel secrets. From the limestone island cliffs of the El Nido lagoon, to the mysterious Puerto Princesa Subterranean River (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), to the wildlife sanctuaries for some of the rarest creatures in the world, to the bountiful reefs and pristine beaches that ring its impressive coastline, Palawan is an adventurous nature-lover’s paradise.
El Nido is one of the Philippines’ premiere destinations for eco-tourism. The area’s “mountain to sea” ecosystem has much to offer visitors. El Nido’s over 30 dive and snorkeling sites bring intrepid travelers close to the dugong, turtles, manta rays, occassional whale sharks, and species of rare fish that make their home among the thriving coral reefs and resource-managed waterways of the area.
Among El Nido’s most breathtaking geographic features are its secluded inlets and coves. The “secret beach” of Matinloc Island, which can be accessed only by divers
through a submerged hole in the rock wall, is said to be the inspiration for Alex Garland’s novel The Beach. Always a photogenic subject, El Nido’s Bacuit Bay and the towering rock wall of Lagen Island were among the staging sites for the 12th leg of The Amazing Race’s 5th season.
El Nido also offers anthropological insights into Palawan’s past. Excavation sites in the Ille Cave of New Ibajay have unearthed fossils that date back to the Late Neolithic Age. Chinese traders are known to have been frequent visitors to the area since the Sung Dynasty, when they harvested the water-worn caves for edible birds’ nests.