Brief guide on things to do in Boracay and El Nido: πŸ„πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Having a traumatic experience as a child when I almost drowned in the Subic beach back when I was 4 years old, I thought I’d never step a foot in beaches ever again.

However, my home country being an archipelago and having countless beautiful islands to boast makes it difficult for me to stay away from the crystal clear salty seawater.

Here is my brief comparison for the Philippines’ top 2 most popular beach island destinations:

β€’ BORACAY

If you want a nightlife after hanging out the beach, then Bora is for you. At night, there are small night parties by the beachside, complete with DJs and firedancers.

There are very cheap flights directly from Manila to Kalibo, Aklan. Cebu Pacific offers the most promotions several times a year especially for domestic flights, hence, it is not that β€˜hole – burner’ in your pocket to go to this island anymore.

Kalibo International Airport

Thank you, Cebu Pac!

Our generous and balikbayan uncle, who sponsored this trip, booked for us an accommodation in the Station 1 of the island. We stayed in a two-storey cozy and mini villa named Club Ten Boracay . It is just a couple of minutes walk from the beach located inside a Euro-style mini villa compound in the first station.

Colorful Mini Villas in Club Ten Boracay
Who wouldn’t want to stay in these cute Swedish style houses?
Kudos to Club Ten for a smooth facilitation of our stay
The origami towel folding is a plus!
Though the exterior looks European, the interior of the accommodation is way more like Philippine Kubo style

Aside from the tempting nightlife in Bora, there are many activities you may also accomplish in daytime. Some of the activities we did were learning how to surf, roll away inside a gigantic zorb ball and riding the banana boat.

Mini bars full of life at night in the island
A guy performer during night

The cloudy weather did not stop us from exploring the beach though. In the near middle, there is a small grotto in which tourists can visit. It has small staircase leading to it, which makes it easir for tourists to get up close the religious sculpture of Mama Mary.

A grotto that seems to look like an oasis by the beach

The gloomy weather that day did not bother us anyway
2012 escapade with relatives
Neatly aligned sailboats by the beachfront are amusing to look at

Though I did not have much patience learning the basics of the surfboard, I still enjoyed watching the guide teaching my sister and cousin. There are local surfers roaming around the island offering cheap rates per hour for those who want to learn the surfboard.

  • My sister, very determined to learn surfingοΏΌ

Practice makes Perfect, indeed!

The next day, it rained when we tried out the zorb ball activity in the Zorb Park. Muddiness aside, we still enjoyed the experience especially as there are a lot of us who tried the zorb ball.

As you can see, you can get inside the large zorb ball with one or two more persons. Once inside, the zorb ball will be closed and then it will be rolled down the slope and straight to the swimming pool. I guess the first trial was sort of weird to me, especially when the ball started rolling through the humps of the slope and the ball seemed to bounce a bit continuously downwards, making us, the persons inside make uncomprehensible sounds. Good thing though, that the inside of zorb ball seem to be soundproof.

A rainy afternoon at the Zorb Park
Gigantic Zorb balls as an ice breaker activity for a rainy afternoon in Bora..t’was fun!

If you want more adrenaline – pumping activities, you may also try the flying fish or banana boat. As there are many of us, we opted for the banana boat ride. It was an exhilarating experience and the people in the motor boat is helpful anough to take nice photos despite the riot in the banana boat.

Posing through the camera lens with my uncles, aunties and cousins
Island hopping!

Banana boat ride in full speed

The banana boat can hold up to 10-15 persons, and it will take you to tour around the island (pulled by a speedy motor boat). It was thrilling, especially when the weather during that time is a bit windy and the waves are stronger than the usual.

I swear, I think I saw this vicinity in one of the local television dramas.

Freshly caught prawns for our hungry bellies

My favorite activity done in Boracay, is the helmet diving. This involves submerging your whole body underwater with only helmet and oxygen tank attached from the boat. It is quite scary at first, especially as it seems the helmet is going to come off any minute if you have not properly held the grip in the helmet. Also, when being underwater, you have to breathe properly and follow what the guide is teaching, otherwise, the water pressure is quite painful in the eardrums. Hand gestures are the allowed form of communication here, and when you dont want to continue anymore you just have to signal (pointing your index finger upwards) that you want to go up the boat for good.

Several helmets lined up for our use
The helmet looks quite heavy, but underwater you will not be able to feel it
Completely submerging for an underwater experience

We also tried the Henna Tattoo, wherein there are a lot of designs to choose from. For me, I selected the feather design with little birds. You just have to be extra careful not to get freshly tattooed ink in the bedsheets though.

Business at night
This Kuya is very patient with me despite myself moving a lot due to cramps.
I am thinking of a Dreamcatcher design, but opted for this one to avoid going mainstream.

The souveneir shops are also a must – see. There are variety of pasalubongs to choose from. I even came across an eccentric looking souveneir stall that seems to be selling souveneirs for ‘adults’ eyes only. πŸ˜…

Plenty of keychains to choose from!
This can be a bit distracting I know. Imagine purchasing this souveneir and hand-carrying it way back to the airport.

β€’ El Nido

Located in Palawan, this island is famous for its natural and ethereal natural resources. Aside from Cebu Pac, you can also find direct and affordable flights in Air Asia from Manila to the Puerto Prinsesa International Airport. Though the travel time can really be exhausting and literally pain in the ass with the land travel being longer than the air travel alone (i remember that upon arriving at the airport, our rented private van took at least 6 hours to get to our accommodation near beach from the airport), all the numbness and exhaustion will fade once you get to see the island.


A smooth and flawless hour flight via AirAsia
Arriving at the Puerto Prinsesa Airport

Island hopping around El Nido

οΏΌ

These boats are ready to go for a day worth of island hopping from 8am

We toured a lot of islands during our visit in El Nido, Palawan. Some of the islands I remembered visiting were the following:

  • Big and Small Lagoon : You can rent kayaks here for 30 minutes in which it can sit 2 persons including the boat driver. The waters are very deep as well, wherein the clarity of the seawaters can almost fool you that its shallow enough to take a dip in.
Big and Small Lagoon

 

  • Seven Commando beach : This is named after the Japanese commandos from the World War II, with fine white sand and crystal clear ocean waters. There are even sand bars and hammocks you can find within the vicinity.
Perfect beach view at Seven Commandos Beach

  • Matinloc Island : This island promises of an IG – worthy snaps afterwards. Also, inside the island you will be able to visit the famous shrine shaped liked a dome.

My favorite island – Matinloc island, boasts an effortless beauty through the lens
A bird’s eye view of Matinloc Island

A 10 minute trek to reach the photo op spot in Matinloc Island
The abandoned mansion in Matinloc Island
Abandoned Mansion (Left) and Matinloc Shrine (Right)

  • Shimizu Beach : this has limestone cliff formations and picturesque sandy beach in which you can enjoy snorkeling.

Careful of the rocky edges and sea urchins!

  • Secret Lagoon : Derived from the name itself, this tiny island is enclosed in limestone cliffs. Among the islands, I found it especially difficult to go here. Why? because the boat will not directly transport you to the secret lagoon itself. Hence, you have to wade and walk through the rocky surface of ocean floor. Beware of the sea urchins and slippery rocks! It is advisable that you buy a swimming or water shoes for this trip.
  • Hidden beach : A small sandy beach perfect for sun bathing and othr chill beach activities.

You will never get tired of beaches as long as it is in El Nido

  • Helicopter island : A helicopter – shaped island with a long stretch of sandy white beach perfect for photo ops. It is also distinguished from any other islands easily because of its similarity to a look of a sea turtle.

Is it a plane? Is it Superman? Nah, it’s a turtle! This sea turtle – shaped island can be pointed at within miles due to its unique structure

The island hopping tour allows you to tour at least 4 islands a day, and most of the time you will be in a boat. One of the tourists with us in the boat, who is a Chinese national, even swore that he saw a shark’s fin by the ocean’s distance as we are island hopping. Creepy!

In fact, there are a lot of tour packages to choose from in El Nido, and the island are to be toured and divided into Tour A, B and C. The tour we paid is good for 4 days and 3 nights wherein we have chosen 2 tours to combine (as far as I remember, we chose Tour A and Tour C in which is has a whole 2 – day of island hopping. This package also included a lunch already. Hurray to a boodle style lunch by the boat! It is so refreshing that sometimes you feel like a survivor castaway. For reference, you may check out WayPH or Klook for affordable and competitive rates for package tours.


Attack! Hunger shall prevail over the desire to look good in a bikini

The food here is not that much to remember with, and I think it was a bit overpriced. Nevertheless, I loved the ambiance at the beach front, and I liked the fact that I saw its staff feeding left overs to stray dogs in the island

Like Boracay, El Nido also have souveneir stores you can shop and select pasalubongs with. From keychains to fridge magnets to shirts and slippers and many other items, you name it and you’re going to find here.

I have always loved to collect β€˜I love ____’ from every destination I go.
Souveneirs up for grabs at reasonable prices
Hola! They also sell accessories!
The biggest souveneir shop in the island, it also houses a small cafe for those tourists who wanted to take a time-out from all the shopping and swimming all day

Verdict: I think I would go for the El Nido on this one. If you are looking for more subtle and refreshing feeling of vacation, then to Palawan you have to pack your bags to. Honestly, I am much more if a nature lover than a night life party goer, hence, I really appreciated the natural beauty of El Nido more than the Boracay which is much more commercialized compared to the former.

Sources:

Google maps:

http://googlemaps.com

Wikipedia:

https://www.wikipedia.org/

Club Ten Boracay:

http://www.clubtenboracay.com/

Cebu Pacific:

https://www.cebupacificair.com/en-ae

Air Asia:

https://www.airasia.com/

WayPH:

https://wayph.com/package/el-nido-tour-package

Klook:

https://www.klook.com/en-US/activity/4168-el-nido-island-hopping-tour-a-palawan/

Author:

A budget travel blog for adrenaline junkies / IG feed seekers like me 🧳✈️ πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­πŸ‡¦πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡΄πŸ‡²πŸ‡¬πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¬πŸ‡°πŸ‡·

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