El Nido, our little paradise on earth

El Nido at dusk

With the snow and ice gone, this last bit of winter is just such a drag. There is still more than a month to go before the official start of spring but I can hardly wait to move on into the new season. Even my little girl is already longing for the time when she can go outside and pluck some flowers because at the moment, there is hardly anything of color anymore.

The weather is not helping either to cheer me up. Today it is wet, windy, cold and grey. Thus, I am going down memory lane to a wonderful holiday we had way back in 2006 in the Philippines. This particular place is called El Nido (or the nest) in Palawan and is so-called because of the limestone cliffs that are so typical in this area which are home to a special type of swift, the cave swift that are renowned for building the saliva nests used for the Chinese bird’s nest soup.

This place is special to me and the Mr. because this is where our love story started with a coincidental meeting on its shores over 15 years ago. We call this place our own little paradise for being here is like no other from the wonderful things to see — beautiful uninhabited islands, pristine beaches, scenic limestone cliffs to amazing things to do — island hopping, snorkeling, scuba diving or simply relaxing on the beach listening to the gentle to and fro sway of the waves on the shores and the chirping of the birds and crickets in the trees (or at times being pelted with fruit stones by monkeys who do not like intruders). Add to that the pleasantly warm weather, the friendly people and the relaxed if not lazy pace of life which is a comforting interlude from the busy lives we lead back here in the west.

We enjoyed our almost one week stay in this paradise…island-hopping every day and having our simple meals by the beach. Though I have this fear of the deep water, I was caught up in the magic of snorkeling, oftentimes forgetting the time while observing the amazing world beneath the waters…schools of colorful fishes, beautiful corals, sea turtles, clams, and many more.

My husband when he first came to the Philippines has really made it his goal to see El Nido because Jacques Cousteau has remarked that it was the most beautiful place he ever explored. He described El Nido as having one of the most beautiful seascapes in the world.

I miss El Nido and I look forward to returning one day…that time with the three of us. I am sure that our little girl will in a heartbeat get fascinated by these islands and its limitless charm.

US on one of the many uninhabited islands

Early morning on the shores of El Nido town

El Nido at dusk

Island scene -- pristine beach, wild plants and flowers

Typical feature of the islands - white beach, coconut trees and limestone cliffs

Coconut trees


White sandy beach, coconut trees and limestone cliffs

Sea shell

a local fruit (not sure if edible)

Limestone cliff

Approaching an uninhabited island

Limestone cliff island

A local flower

Coconut trees

Wild orchids growing abundantly on the limestones

Fruit-laden coconut tree

A local plant

a lovely shell

Sea shell

Coconut trees along the beach

The limestone cliff up close

This monkey was maybe not happy with intruders to his world - he kept on pelting us with fruit stones ;-)

Lazy pace of life in the islands

An uninhabited island

About Malou
I'm a mom to a five-year old little girl with interest in cooking, baking, traveling and photography. Castles and palaces are special favorites so when weather permits for a good walk on weekends, me, hubby and little girl are always out for a bit of adventure.

133 Responses to El Nido, our little paradise on earth

  1. Lovely…thanks so much for sharing

  2. edebock says:

    What a beautiful place! No wonder you long to return. Your photos are fantastic!

  3. Wow! Looks like such a beautiful place!

  4. What a magical place. After seeing your photos, I want to go there.

  5. The subject matter was a feast for the eyes and your photography was perfect!

  6. sugaredpecan says:

    Wow. it is all so beautiful. I love your pictures and your stories. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Whoa…it really IS a little paradise!! Looks amazing!

  8. Oh my … absolutely breathtaking!!! I would be daydreaming of that too … paradise on earth!!!

    • Malou says:

      Now that I can hardly wait to get out of the winter season, I can’t help but daydream of this place too. It’s summer months now in the Philippines so this is what they have out there.

  9. Ben says:

    I had never heard of this place before. Now it’s on my list. Amazing.

  10. sheila7697 says:

    Beautiful, beautiful, and a great place for a mental escape on a cold winter day! I could use one myself. SE Alaska is dreary and chilly in February. We get more rain than snow, even in winter months, although we do get snow as well. But mostly I get tired of the gray, cloudy skies. Can’t wait for sunshine! Thanks for sharing a visual treat! ~ Sheila

    • Malou says:

      Oh, I thought Alaska always have loads of snow and on most days of winter. This year was pretty weird because winter was most times warm out here. We only had 2 weeks of real winter. This weekend we are already expecting the temperature to reach 10-12C so I’m really looking forward to spring and bbq as well. ;-)

  11. Ok, talk about a nice reminder that warm places to exist! Like a drink of summer!!! Lovely!!!

  12. RDoug says:

    Beautiful pictures. Beautiful scenery. Beautiful weather.

  13. Pingback: El Nido, our little paradise on earth « Going Dutch | Palawan Philippines

  14. manchitra says:

    Awesome pictures!!! Love all:)

  15. whitsendmom says:

    I too needed to be transported away from the cold and grey for a few minutes. Thanks for posting these pictures!

  16. winterseeker says:

    Beautiful, I hope it remains clean and pristine for generations to come!

  17. Dor says:

    This has to really be the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I am from Florida, where the beaches and coconut palms abound, but they are not so gorgeous as this with the sandstone cliffs and uninhabited islands. I miss the Florida beaches, but I want to go to El Nido now too. Your photos are breathtaking Malou.

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot, Dor! When I was in the Philippines, I dreamed of castles and palaces here in Europe, of the winter weather with snow and ice. Now that I have experienced that, I miss the beautiful beaches back home and the warm weather. Strange isn’t it?

  18. janinevasta says:

    Reading this post is like a mini-holiday!

  19. James Shannon says:

    Palawan is on my list of places to go sooner, rather than later … thanks for the motivation!

  20. It looks like Paradise! And of course, you fall in love in Paradise ;-)

    Thank you so much for sharing. Am adding Palawan to my list of places I must go to!

  21. Those pics remind me a lot of Thailand.

  22. Vic Rana says:

    Hi Malou,

    beautiful pics, thanks for sharing.


  23. Reggie says:

    These are suuuuch beautiful images, Malou. I can understand that you are longing to visit there again.

  24. Y says:

    I love the pictures. I think my next local destination should be Palawan. :)

  25. What a beautiful, exotic-looking place :) Makes me want to dip my toes in warm sea water and take a nap on one of the beautiful sandy beaches.

  26. Gilly Gee says:

    What a wonderful place!

  27. mayossi says:

    this is such a beautiful place! =)

  28. I love the beautiful sea shell photos!

  29. viveka says:

    Stunning photo’s, Malou! Yes, we all should have a personal paradise that we can return to .. in thoughts and in person. Had to look on Wikipedia to read more – have been in those waters my self about – but can’t recall being there. Our “little red ship” had so many stops sometimes 2 per day. Been to Manila / Zamboanga. Sure if I been there I should had remembered the landscape. Breathtaking. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot, Viveka. Glad to know that you’ve been to my country. I’m a bit ashamed that there are so many places in my country which I have never been to. Zamboanga has always fascinated me but I’ve never been there. It is sad that the place has been a no-go these days for tourists and non-locals because of kidnapping threats from the rogue Muslim groups in the area.

      • viveka says:

        Malou .. can’t say that Zamboanga really thrilled me – very poor and rough already then in 1979 and at least what I saw. Loads of beggars, very busy and big city.
        Love the Philippine people, very friendly and so interested in knowing about where I came from and my country. Just like the Chinese.

  30. Really beautiful, a place to long for on a grey, wet day like today!

    • Malou says:

      Too tired of winter that the prospect of warm sunny days and the images of blue waters and powdery white sandy beaches are the closest escape at the moment. ;-)

  31. Michi says:

    Gorgeous photos, Malou!! It truly is a paradise, and what a wonderful place to have met and had great memories in! I hope to be able to visit El Nido someday.

  32. Michael Zoll says:

    beautiful pictures!

  33. Lori says:

    Beautiful, Malou! Now the hopeless romantic in me wants to hear more about that chance encounter with your husband 15 years ago. :)

  34. This is amazing. I am so jealous!

  35. Madhu says:

    Wow! The place and your shots are stunning! El Nido is now on my bucket list :-)

  36. Debra Kolkka says:

    Beautiful photos. I think that fruit might be breadfruit, which is edible.

  37. Cathy says:

    Wow, stunning images. You have a very nice blog.

  38. Beautiful photos, and a great story, too!

  39. Fay says:

    HI, Malou!

    What camera do you use? I’m trying to buy a semi-professional camera (Canon EOS 7D) but still can’t quite make up my mind.
    Your advice would be greatly appreciated!


  40. jennrambles says:

    Fantastic photos! A nice anecdote for another dreary WA day.

  41. Java Girl says:

    What gorgeous pictures my dear friend! It does seem like a piece of heaven. A lot of the pictures reminded me of Brazil and my life down there. I liked the mangrove trees in the water and the sunrise pictures. All pictures were excellent! Thanks for sharing!

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot! Brazil must be spectacular. I’ve seen documentaries and was really impressed by the enormity of the rainforest. I just hope that the Brazilians will be able to preserve that nature’s bounties for the generations to come. ;-)

  42. gkm2011 says:

    Beautiful – I’ll have to go back to the Philippines now!

  43. Holly says:

    your image compositions are amazing. and the colors in your photographs are so vivid. looks like a paradise. thank you for sharing!

  44. Dave Gatenby says:

    Six years is a long time…………..you would not recognise the place now……… overcrowded, uncontrolled building and more boats waiting to take you island hopping than people.
    Not to mention that the local government has seen a money making opportunity to tax all visitors who arrive in El Nido 200 pesos for first ten days they are there and 500 thereafter up to one months stay.
    The coral reefs are disappearing under the anchors of all the boats and when i was there last month even hollywood has started blowing up ships in the name of entertainment whilst making a film called the Borne Legacy.
    You were really lucky to visit when you did and i advise not to return to erase those memories of paradise. You will be very disappointed.

  45. Sheryl says:

    Absolutely breathtaking scenery – your photographs are stunning!

  46. Love 2 Type says:

    i left my heart in el nido… i love the place

  47. Purely.. Kay says:

    Wow.. your photos just take me to another world and makes me dream. Beautiful.. simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing this with us Malou

  48. These photos are truly stunning! What a privilege to be able to see such wonderful beaches!

  49. Bassas Blog says:

    Thank you for sharing your love story in paradise. It is a beautiful place. I love the photos!

  50. Lovely post and beautiful pictures :-)

  51. Rhoda Kirwan says:

    Such amazing photos, thanks for sharing . :O)

  52. Absolutely stunning photos x

  53. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos!

  54. tita buds says:

    My gulay, despite every good thing I’ve been told about it, I haven’t been there. Nakakahiya, hehe.

  55. Beautiful pictures – Absolutely loved your post. We share similar passions I guess – travelling, photography & writing!

  56. Bernadette says:

    Amazing place, great pictures!

  57. Judy says:

    Wow…..such beauty! Paradise indeed! You are so lucky. Your photos are gorgeous. You had me hooked with the very first one. Such a beautiful place! Uninhabited islands….amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your lovely photos! And thanks for the follow!

  58. Absolutely the nearest to heaven on earth.
    I found myself looking at these photos with tears in my eyes.

    Yes, I KNOW there is much poverty there (a colleague’s wife’s family farm over there: they were both too ill to run it. Both were in reality starving to death because their resources were soon used up. And maybe because they were too proud to say anything to their daughter over here.All turned out well in the end.) and disease, and fundamentalism… but it is also soooooo beautiful.

    Thanks once again for such loveliness!

    • Malou says:

      Thanks a lot, Michael. It is a beautiful place but you are right, there is also so much poverty that many leave the island to seek for better opportunities elsewhere. People depend on the land and the sea for a living and it is pretty remote as well.

  59. Joy says:

    So pretty! I could hear the waves softly hitting the beach, smell the air. Lovely.

  60. I can’t wait to plan my next trip here! Thanks for sharing:)))

  61. A feast for winter-weary eyes!

  62. How could anyone not fall in love there?! So beautiful…..

  63. You have blessed my heart with all your beautiful pictures. Thank you!

  64. Aww… you & your Mister, sweet!

    I can’t wait to visit Palawan with my mom later this year. Seeing your pictures makes me even more excited! It will be the first time for the both of us! Thanks for sharing!

  65. Malou says:

    Glad to know that you have Palawan on your travel radar screen, Sarahlynn. Have fun! ;-)

  66. Absolutely gorgeous photos! This does look like heaven on earth!

  67. roamingtheworld says:

    Beautiful photos. Makes me want to hop on a plane and visit right now!

  68. Incredibly peaceful! I guessed immediately that El Nido meant the nest here as well as in other languages, because it really does seem like a nurturing, cozy, welcoming nest! How rich and beautiful.

  69. I really enjoyed your pictures especially since my husband and I had just visited there in the new year. You are very lucky to have been there before it becomes too busy.

  70. Brit says:

    You take such gorgeous photos! My grandmother is filipino (former beauty queen Susan Magalona) and she is always telling me to visit our family there. I am nervous though – never been to Asia, but you make it look like paradise. Just might be honeymoon material after all…

    I’m taking my time perusing your blog now that I found it :)

  71. Stunning! You’ve truly captured the essence of the culture, the people and the nature. I’ve never been to El Nido but it is definitely on my list, especially after I browsed through your amazing photos. You do need some time to spend in Palawan and taking the trip to El Nido and I never got round it but there is always next year. I am smiling even now, writing this, thinking about that pig on the poles, the smiley faces of the carefree children, the beautiful views of the beaches and the untouched beauty of the nature, the grilled fish and the jipneeys:) Did I mention the food and lots of it!

    Thanks for following me as well. And thanks for a great blog!


  72. Pencilpaws says:

    Beautiful photographs, we have visited there too, it is a wonderful place.

  73. Sunelly_Sims says:

    Hello Malou,

    incredible and wonderful pictures!!
    Thank you for stopping by on my “Photos On The Go” and for the follow – so I could discover your amazing blog!
    Thanks for sharing these breathtaking images and for your intersting travel-stories –
    I´m very impressed. It´s my pleasure to follow your blog too!

    Sunelly Sims

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