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Kayaking In El Nido: Everything You Need To Know

El Nido is a paradise in Palawan Island, in the Philippines. It’s known for its white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, steep cliffs, jungle-like vegetation, and as the entrance to the Bacuit archipelago.  

It’s so beautiful that it even features in some of the best travel movies. So if you’re looking for one of the best to do in El Nido, look no further than a kayaking adventure.

Get up close and personal with beautiful coral reefs and the stunning yet sheer karst cliffs of the Bacuit archipelago.  

While island hopping in El Nido usually gets all the credit, kayaking provides you with a completely different perspective of the same beautiful place.

Instead of being cruised around you will be the one in charge of your kayak, deciding where to go and where to stop. 

If you would like to go kayaking in El Nido, this is the guide for you! In this El Nido kayak guide I’ve included everything you need to know, including prices, suggested routes, where to rent your kayak and more!

Our kayak on an empty beach in El Nido, with clear turquoise water and cliffs behind it

Kayaking in El Nido

How to go Kayaking in El Nido

You can easily rent a kayak and do your own kayak tour in El Nido. Most hostels and hotels will have a kayak rental stall, or will be able to point you in the right direction. 

We rented a kayak from Outpost Beach Hostel for 300 PHP for the afternoon. You can also rent it for a full day for 500 PHP. Alternatively, most island hopping tours in El Nido include a kayaking portion in their tours.

This is a great option if you don’t want to kayak long distances, and prefer to have a big boat take you to the key spots and then explore them by kayak.

But you don’t have to have a guide to show you around. Renting a kayak and finding your own way around can be just as exciting, if not more so.

Click here to book an island hopping & kayak tour in El Nido!

Two boys kayaking in a lagoon in El Nido, with clear turquoise water and limestone cliffs behind them

Kayaking in El Nido

Where to go in El Nido on a Kayak

If you decide to rent a kayak and venture out on your own, here are a few of the places you should be heading to.

Lapus Lapus Beach

Lapus Lapus Beach is a tranquil white sand beach with quiet, crystal clear waters. No tours come to this beach, so you’ll often find it empty, or at most, with one or two groups of people basking in the sun.

The beach is fairly small and has an incredible backdrop. On the one side it’s fringed by jungle, and on the other by a sheer limestone cliff.

If you’re looking to get away from the main tourist spots in El Nido, Lapus Lapus Beach is the perfect calming getaway. The easiest way to get here is to kayak from Corong Corong Beach, which should take between 5 to 10 minutes.

Lapus Lapus Beach in El Nido

Lapus Lapus Beach in El Nido

Our kayak in Lapus Lapus Beach, El Nido

Our kayak in Lapus Lapus Beach, El Nido

Papaya Beach

Papaya Beach is separated from the Seven Commandos by a cliff face. It’s easy to get to but can often get a little busy in the afternoons. If you’re looking for a bit of seclusion, visit Papaya Beach in the morning or just before sunset.

 The only development on the beach is a few tyre swings (which can make for a wonderful photograph), and a small kiosk selling cool drinks.

The beach has an expansive area of white powdery sand backed by palm trees and cliffs covered in jungle vegetation.

When approaching the beach in your kayak, be sure to take a photo from the water as the scenery is absolutely stunning. While basking in the sun on the beach, enjoy idyllic views of the other archipelago islands.

If you’re paddling from Seven Commandos Beach, Papaya Beach is a mere 2-minutes away. If you’re kayaking from Lapus Lapus Beach, it’ll take you around 10-minutes to get here.

The hammock spot on Papaya Beach, which you can reach by kayak in El Nido

The hammock spot on Papaya Beach, which you can reach by kayak in El Nido

Ipil Ipil Beach

Ipil Ipil Beach is generally very quiet as it’s only accessible via boat, or in this case, via kayak. It’s a tiny beach which gets even smaller during high tide.

The water is incredibly clear in this area, so taking along some snorkelling equipment is highly recommended. 

The water stays relatively shallow quite far out, so there’s a wonderful amount of swimming space for those that like to lazily lounge around in the water.

The beach is backed by luscious vegetation, and it’s not uncommon to see a few monkeys while you’re there. Be sure to have your camera ready to snap a few pictures of these curious inquisitive creatures.

From Seven Commandos Beach it should take around 10-minutes to get to Ipil Ipil Beach via kayak. Alternatively travel from Lapus Lapus Beach which will take you approximately 20-minutes.

Drone shot of Seven Commandos Beach by my friend @solarpoweredblonde

Drone shot by my friend @solarpoweredblonde of one of the beaches in El Nido you can reach by kayak 

Paradise Beach on Cadlao Island

Paradise Beach really lives up to its name. It has a middle-of-nowhere type feel that’s hard to come by at many tourist destinations. The quiet beach has white powdery sands and glassy waters perfect for wading in.

During the three weeks we spent in the Philippines we visited many beautiful islands (Malcapuya and Siargao amongst them) but paradise beach on Cadlao Island has something special about it.

Surrounded by palm trees, the beach is stunning for sun tanning, snorkelling, and getting a taste for that island life seclusion so many people long for.

Paradise Beach is situated on Cadlao Island, so it will take you a little longer to get to. You can expect it to take around 40-minutes to travel from El Nido to Cadlao Island if you kayak at a leisurely pace.

Island hopping in El Nido, Philippines

Island hopping in El Nido, Philippines

Our experience kayaking in El Nido

Despite getting food poisoning and having to cut our El Nido kayak tour short, it was still one of my favourite days in the Philippines. We rented the kayak from our hostel and for an afternoon had complete freedom.

I loved the flexibility of being able to decide where to kayak to and how long to spend there. It’s also good to get some exercise in after days of beach parties and just sitting on the beach!

Alongside canyoneering in Kawasan Falls and swimming with turtles in Moalboal, it’s the sort of adventure activity that made me fall in love with the Philippines.

Kayaking under the cliffs of El Nido

Kayaking under the cliffs of El Nido

Where to stay in El Nido

When travelling around El Nido on a kayaking adventure, you’ll need somewhere to stay. We stayed at Outpost Beach Hostel, which is located on the beach and provides spectacular sunset views.

It has a very sociable atmosphere, as well as an on-site restaurant serving breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  

The dorm rooms are air-conditioned with hot showers. Clean linen is provided, and you’ll have access to WiFi in the common room. If you’d rather stay in your own room, you can rent a private suite which has an en-suite bathroom.

You can rent kayaks directly from the hostel at a great price, which is convenience at its finest. It’ll save you from having to transport a kayak from the town to the beach.

Sunset views from Outpost Beach Hostel in El Nido

Sunset views from Outpost Beach Hostel in El Nido

Final thoughts on Kayaking – One of the best things to do in El Nido, Palawan

Whether you were inspired by photos of tourists in clear kayaks floating through crystal clear waters, or the stunning coral reefs and sheer cliff faces, you need to give it a try for yourself.

No photo could ever do this experience justice – although there are a few that come pretty close. There’s no doubt in my mind that kayaking should be high up on your list of El Nido activities.

It’s not only fun and interactive but will give you stunning memories to last a lifetime. And not to mention the Instagrammable photos you’ll get from one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines.

Looking for more Philippines travel tips? Check out my guides:

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Photo collage of a blonde girl kayaking in El Nido and the cliffs of El Nido with text overlay saying "kayak tour in El Nido, Philippines"