Why you need to visit El Nido in the Philippines

Beautiful El Nido

Dreaming of an island escape? Laura McWhinnie of This Island Life shares her experiences on the beautiful island of the Phillipines. Read on to hear about her trip and to learn some tips from the perpetual summer seeker!

By Laura McWhinnie from This Island Life.


I’ve travelled to a lot of beautiful tropical islands in South East Asia. I’ve sailed around the limestone cliffs in Thailand, hiked to the summit of an active volcano in Indonesia, swam in crystal clear waters off Cambodia, and kayaked past floating villages in Vietnam, but nothing prepared me for the beauty of the Philippines.

With over 7,000 islands to choose from, I narrowed my adventure down to Palawan Island with one destination in mind. El Nido. The main town is located at the tip of Palawan Island, providing perfect access to the 45 islands and inlets that make up the rest of El Nido.

Some say the islands of El Nido were the real paradise behind the famous novel and blockbuster movie ‘The Beach’, with author Alex Garland writing the novel while he was there. According to local legend, it was a secret beach on Matinloc Island that you can only access by swimming underwater through a narrow crevice in a rock wall that inspired the novel.

After visiting this hidden beach and the rest of El Nido, it’s not hard to come away from this destination feeling inspired. Huge limestone cliffs dominate the landscape with clear aqua water and coral reefs waiting below.



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El Nido Resorts

If you’re heading to El Nido, you’re going to want to check out El Nido Resorts - a group of four sustainable island resorts in El Nido that have been developed to sit in harmony with the beautiful natural landscapes. We stayed on Miniloc Island – one of their more rustic resorts in a dreamy overwater bungalow.

While the island is incredibly beautiful and a destination in itself, the best thing about Miniloc is how close it is to some of El Nido’s most popular attractions like the Big and Small Lagoons, and Snake Island.  It’s so close to the lagoons that you can kayak to them in the morning and have the clear aqua water to yourself before the tourist boats get there at around 9am.

We spent our time at the resort snorkelling the reef off the beach right near our bungalow, watching the sunset over the ocean and sipping cocktails on the balcony of our bungalow.









On tour with American Tourister

When I chose my American Tourister luggage in white I was hesitant. I’d always wanted white luggage, but I was worried it wouldn’t stay looking fresh for long. With its maiden voyage being the Philippines I had to accept pretty early on into the trip that it was going to get trashed.

At one point I had the large suitcase dragged across an orange dirt road in torrential rain and then attempt to be strapped onto a scooter. When that failed it got strapped to the outside of a tricycle (a half car half scooter contraption that looks like it's straight out of Mad Max). I like to keep all my things perfect - but this I just had to let go. By the end of the trip there was so much dirt on it, I was scared I was going to get stopped by customs. But when I got home, I wiped it down with sugar soap wipes (those things are the best) and every single mark came off and it is literally as good as new. I’m so happy I didn't go for the safe black suitcase option.

I travelled with the ‘Bon Air’ 55cm and ‘Bon Air’ 75cm in white.




At home with American Tourister

When I get back home to my apartment in Sydney, I usually unpack straightaway and then put my suitcases in storage. I’m pretty OCD with my apartment looking perfect and clutter-free, so the only time you’ll see luggage around is when I’m packing.  But that all changed when I got my American Tourister pieces. Without realising it, I actually started leaving the white suitcases out in-between trips. I would never keep any of my other suitcases out, but the clean white lines of my ‘Bon Air’ set work perfectly with the aesthetic of my apartment and remind me that my next trip is only just around the corner.


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How to get there:

The best way to get to El Nido on Palawan Island in the Philippines is to fly to Manila. From Manila you can get a direct flight to El Nido that takes around one hour. The flights from Manila to El Nido book out quick, so make sure you don’t leave it until the last minute or you could find yourself on a bus that takes up to 12 hours. Details here.


Laura McWhinnie is an Australian writer, photographer, presenter and founder of THIS ISLAND LIFE® ( - a blog that follows the summer around the globe to bring you warm-weather inspired travel, fashion and adventures. Because it’s always summer somewhere®.

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