Watersports in El Nido

Diving, Kayaking, and Island-Hopping Around El Nido and Bacuit Bay

Surf Kayaking
••• Photo © by John F. Kasbar

Water sports in the Philippines islands of El Nido derive their charm from the area's natural beauty. The Bacuit Bay and archipelago around El Nido has been designated as a marine reserve, allowing adventurers to kayak or scuba-dive in almost undisturbed waters, surrounded by intimidating karst cliffs and an abundant flowering of marine wildlife.

Divers enjoy the company of countless species of tropical fish, colorful coral, and even the occasional sea turtle or dugong.

Kayakers will gape at the white sand beaches and soaring limestone cliffs. Whatever your passion, a shop is on hand at El Nido to serve your needs.

Island-hopping

There's no point to visiting El Nido if you don't go island-hopping. There are about forty islands off El Nido in Bacuit Bay, each with their own special surprises, all of which need a hired boat to reach.

The boats-for-hire situation - where to rent them, and how much they cost - is more fully explained in the following article:

Scuba Diving

Dive boats are very easy to find in El Nido, and for as low as $25, you can hire a dive boat complete with basic dive equipment and a dive master, inclusive of two dives in Bacuit Bay.

Two dives aren't enough to get your fill of El Nido - Bacuit Bay and its islands offer over 20 dive sites to choose from, with a wide range of diving conditions. Visibility maxes out at 10 to 30 meters in the Philippine summer, between March and May.

(Dive Buddies Philippines - El Nido has a longer list of dive sites in El Nido, just to give you an idea what you'll find there.)

El Nido's status as an officially protected area ensures the preservation of native coral and the proliferation of marine wildlife. Here in El Nido, it's not a strange thing to meet a wandering sea turtle or drift past a school of yellow-lined snapper.

El Nido is also a great place to learn scuba diving: three PADI dive shops operate out of the town, all offering PADI courses for novice and expert alike. No two shops offer the same rates, so inquire if they have the services you want for the budget you have.

Kayaking

Motorized watersports are banned in the El Nido protected zone; good thing, too, because nothing beats a kayak for exploring Bacuit Bay and its hidden treasures.

Some boat operators will offer kayaking as part of their package; the El Nido Pumpboat Owners and Operators Association's Package "A" takes you to the Big and Small Lagoon on Miniloc, the best places to Kayak in Bacuit Bay. (See the Island-Hopping in El Nido article for a complete list of island-hopping packages and rates.)

Once you arrive, ask the boat pilot to cut the engine, and you'll drift into a different dimension accentuated by towering karst cliffs and glowing blue waters, with audio provided by the waves, the monkeys in the distance, and the occasional bird flying by.

You can ditch the boat entirely, and try kayaking from town into the different beaches nearby, like Seven Commandos Beach and Ipil Beach.

Kayaks may be rented in town for PHP 450 a half-day, or PHP 750 a whole day. The following providers offer the requisite equipment for hire, plus tour services and more.