Water Activities in El Nido

Lest you think I succumbed to a beach stupor during the Chinese New Year holiday and accepted my fate to rot in the sand for a week in a pile of coconuts and rum, I am here to say that there is so much more to El Nido. In fact, if you are a more active beach-goer, there aren't many places I have been that top it. Unfortunately, all scuba diving shops were completely booked up because of the holiday, but my friends and I found loads of other activities to sign up for during our time in El Nido.

Then again, I could easily spend a week 
lounging around in the sand...

Hands down my favorite activity of the week was Stand Up Paddleboarding. SUP! This was new to me, and despite falling on a pile of rocky coral and shredding my leg, was the most fun I had on this recent trip to El Nido. We found an expat Canadian couple located next to Happiness Cafe in Corong Corong beach that just began running day trips using local guides. Although they offer a few different tours, my friends and I chose the river tour, which took us through mangroves and out to the open ocean. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon this activity in the few months a year that they are open in El Nido, DO IT.

Mangrove river where the paddleboard tour began

Stunning scenery all around

This was a private beach we were only able to access 
because of our paddleboard tour

Kayak rentals were available every couple of feet in Corong Corong, and since we were spending so much time stuffing our faces with hummus at Happiness Cafe, it made sense to rent kayaks from them one afternoon. After accidentally paddling up to the wrong beach and having attack dogs threatened in our direction, we ended up on Papaya Beach for the afternoon. This place was pure bliss, and was the most beautiful beach I saw in all of El Nido, which is saying something considering the entire region looks photoshopped. Papaya Beach was uninhabited and wild, save for a single juice stand offering only coconuts and rum (here we go again...). The only downside? Realizing you have to paddle back to civilization eventually.

Still smiling after a half hour of paddling in open water

Cool rock formations we paddled under

Upper body strength from yoga pays off sometimes

We paddled right up to Papaya beach


Perfect spot for some beach yoga and acrobatics

Yes, this is real life

The boat tours are super popular in El Nido, and in the end, I don't think it really matters what company you go with- they all offer the same locations. We signed up with a group called Caera, and while they packed a few too many people on the boat (it was Chinese New Year holiday, after all), the food they served us was amazing and the boat experience was very idyllic. This day trip took us to a few different lagoons and more inaccessible beaches. There are no piers or docks, so for every location on the boat trip, you just jump off the side of the boat and swim to shore. This proved to be an issue when two Chinese girls on our boat couldn't swim. Our guide dragged them around on inner tubes, which provided a lot of entertainment for the other guests. I've gotta hand it to them, those girls showed resilience- they were not going to let a little thing like not knowing how to swim stop them from having a good time on a rickety boat tour.

Hanging off the end of our boat


The gang recovering from some jellyfish stings, yikes!

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