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El Nido Kayaking Guide: Sunset Adventure


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Mattie Hand



Welcome to El Nido, a stunning paradise located in the province of Palawan in the Philippines. Known for its crystal-clear waters, limestone cliffs, and pristine beaches, El Nido offers a wide range of activities for adventure seekers. One such activity that should be on every traveler’s bucket list is kayaking.


El Nido’s coastline is dotted with secluded lagoons, hidden beaches, and mesmerizing rock formations, making it the ideal destination for a kayaking adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner looking to try something new, exploring El Nido by kayak will undoubtedly leave you in awe of its natural beauty.


In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about kayaking in El Nido, from choosing the right kayak to safety precautions and planning your route. So, grab your paddle and let’s dive into the exhilarating world of kayaking in El Nido.


Getting Started

Before embarking on your kayaking adventure in El Nido, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what to expect and how to prepare. Here are a few essential steps to get you started:


1. Choose the Right Kayak: The first step is to select the kayak that suits your needs and skill level. El Nido offers various types of kayaks, including single and tandem kayaks. If you’re new to kayaking, it’s advisable to opt for a stable and easy-to-maneuver tandem kayak.


2. Find a Experienced Guide: To ensure a safe and memorable experience, consider hiring an experienced guide who is familiar with the area. They can provide valuable insights about the best routes and hidden gems in El Nido.


3. Plan Your Trip: Research the different kayaking routes available in El Nido and choose one that matches your preferences and skill level. Whether you want to explore secluded lagoons or paddle along the stunning coastline, having a plan in place will help make your adventure more organized.


4. Check the Weather Conditions: Before heading out, it’s crucial to check the weather forecast and sea conditions. Avoid kayaking during heavy rain, strong winds, or rough seas, as these conditions can be dangerous. Safety should always be your top priority.


5. Wear Appropriate Gear: Dress comfortably and wear lightweight, quick-drying clothing. It’s also important to wear a life jacket at all times while kayaking. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a waterproof bag to protect your belongings from getting wet.


6. Learn Basic Kayaking Techniques: If you’re new to kayaking, take some time to familiarize yourself with the basic paddling techniques. Learn how to hold the paddle correctly, how to maneuver the kayak, and different strokes to navigate through the water efficiently.


7. Stay Hydrated and Bring Snacks: Kayaking can be physically demanding, so it’s essential to stay hydrated throughout your trip. Bring a water bottle and some light snacks to keep yourself energized.


By following these steps, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on your kayaking adventure in El Nido. Now, let’s move on to choosing the right kayak for your journey.


Choosing the Right Kayak

When it comes to kayaking in El Nido, choosing the right kayak can greatly enhance your overall experience. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting your kayak:


1. Stability: If you’re a beginner or kayaking with a partner, opt for a kayak with excellent stability. Look for kayaks with a wider hull or a flat bottom, as they provide better stability and balance on the water.


2. Size: Consider the size of the kayak based on the number of people paddling. Single kayaks are ideal for solo adventurers, while tandem kayaks can accommodate two people. Tandem kayaks are a great option for couples or friends looking to share the paddling experience.


3. Maneuverability: Depending on your kayaking goals and preferences, choose a kayak that offers good maneuverability. Longer kayaks are quicker and more efficient in open water, while shorter kayaks are more nimble and easier to navigate through narrow channels and hidden coves.


4. Storage: If you plan to bring equipment or supplies with you, consider the storage options of the kayak. Look for kayaks with spacious hatches or waterproof compartments to keep your belongings safe and dry during the journey.


5. Material: Kayaks are usually made of plastic, fiberglass, or inflatable materials. Plastic kayaks are durable and resistant to scratches, making them perfect for rocky coastlines. Fiberglass kayaks are lightweight and offer better performance in the water. Inflatable kayaks are portable and easy to transport, making them a convenient choice for travelers.


6. Rental or Personal: If you’re a casual kayaker or don’t want the hassle of transporting your own kayak, consider renting from reputable kayak rental companies in El Nido. They provide well-maintained kayaks and necessary safety equipment for your adventure.


By taking these factors into account, you’ll be able to select the right kayak that suits your needs and enhances your experience while exploring the beauty of El Nido. Next, we’ll go over important safety precautions to keep in mind during your kayaking adventure.


Safety Precautions

Kayaking in El Nido can be a thrilling and unforgettable experience, but it’s essential to prioritize your safety while out on the water. Here are some crucial safety precautions to keep in mind:


1. Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Always wear a properly fitted PFD or life jacket while kayaking, regardless of your swimming abilities. This will ensure your safety in case of any unforeseen circumstances.


2. Check Weather Conditions: Before heading out, check the weather forecast and sea conditions. Avoid kayaking during heavy rain, strong winds, or when the sea is rough. Adverse weather conditions can make kayaking more challenging and potentially dangerous.


3. Stay Hydrated: Bring enough water to stay hydrated during your kayaking trip. Paddling under the sun can be physically demanding, and dehydration can quickly set in. It’s important to drink water regularly to avoid fatigue and heatstroke.


4. Sun Protection: Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen before setting out on your kayak. Wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes from direct sunlight. Reapply sunscreen regularly, especially if you’ll be in the water for an extended period.


5. Be Aware of Tides and Currents: Familiarize yourself with the tidal patterns and currents in the area you’ll be kayaking. Understanding these factors can help you plan your route and avoid areas with strong currents or dangerous undertows.


6. Stay Close to the Shore: If you’re a beginner or unfamiliar with the area, it’s advisable to stay close to the shoreline. This will help you navigate more easily and ensure that you’re within reach of assistance if needed.


7. Bring Communication Devices: Carry a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case or invest in a waterproof walkie-talkie. These devices can be essential for communicating in case of emergencies or to contact your guide or fellow kayakers.


8. Buddy System: Whenever possible, kayak with a partner or in a group. The buddy system ensures that there is someone nearby to assist you in case of any mishaps or emergencies.


9. Be Mindful of Wildlife: Respect the natural environment and the wildlife that inhabits it. Maintain a safe distance from marine animals and observe them from afar without interfering with their natural behavior.


10. Follow Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with any local regulations or guidelines regarding kayaking in El Nido. Respect the rules and guidelines set in place to preserve and protect the environment for future generations.


By adhering to these safety precautions, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience in El Nido. Next, let’s move on to planning your kayaking route in this picturesque destination.


Planning Your Route

Planning your kayaking route in El Nido is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable adventure. Here are some steps to help you plan your route:


1. Research: Start by researching the various kayaking routes available in El Nido. Look for information on popular destinations, hidden beaches, limestone cliffs, and lagoons. Read reviews and gather insights from experienced kayakers to get a better understanding of what each route offers.


2. Consider Your Skill Level: Assess your kayaking abilities and choose a route that matches your skill level. If you’re a beginner, opt for shorter and easier routes with calmer waters. For more experienced kayakers, longer and more challenging routes may be suitable.


3. Duration: Determine how much time you have available for kayaking. Some routes may require a full day, while others can be completed in a few hours. Consider your schedule and choose a route that fits the time you have.


4. Distance: Take into account the distance you’re willing to paddle. Longer routes may require more stamina and endurance, while shorter routes may be more manageable for beginners or those with limited physical fitness.


5. Points of Interest: Identify the key points of interest along your chosen route. These may include hidden beaches, limestone formations, snorkeling spots, or lagoons. Plot these points on a map and use them as reference during your kayaking journey.


6. Safety Considerations: Factor in safety considerations such as the presence of strong currents, rough waters, or areas with dangerous underwater rocks. Avoid these areas if you’re uncertain about your abilities or the current conditions.


7. Time of Day: Decide whether you want to kayak during the day or at sunset. Each timeframe offers a unique experience. Daytime kayaking allows you to fully appreciate the natural beauty of El Nido, while a sunset kayak trip offers a breathtaking view as the sun dips below the horizon.


8. Local Guides: Consider hiring a local guide who is familiar with the area and can provide guidance and insights about the best routes. They can also ensure your safety and help navigate any potential challenges that may arise.


9. Plan for Rest Stops and Snacks: Depending on the duration of your kayaking trip, plan for rest stops along the way. Pack snacks, water, and any other essentials you may need during breaks to replenish your energy.


10. Flexibility: Keep in mind that weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances may require you to alter your planned route. Stay flexible and be prepared to adapt to changing conditions to ensure your safety.


By following these steps, you can plan a memorable kayaking route in El Nido. Now, let’s move on to discussing the essential items you should bring on your kayaking adventure.


Things to Bring

When preparing for a kayaking adventure in El Nido, it’s important to pack the right gear and essentials to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here is a list of things to bring:

  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD): A properly fitted PFD or life jacket is essential for safety on the water.
  • Paddle: Bring a sturdy and lightweight paddle suitable for kayaking in various water conditions.
  • Waterproof Bag: Keep your belongings, such as phones, cameras, and extra clothes, dry and protected in a waterproof bag or dry bag.
  • Sun Protection: Pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated by bringing an ample supply of water. Pack lightweight and energizing snacks to fuel your kayaking adventure.
  • Appropriate Clothing: Wear quick-drying, lightweight clothing that protects you from the sun and allows for easy movement. Consider a rash guard, board shorts, or a swimsuit.
  • Footwear: Choose water-friendly shoes or sandals that offer good traction and can protect your feet from sharp rocks or shells.
  • Towel: Bring a compact and quick-drying towel to dry off or to use as a seat cushion during breaks.
  • First Aid Kit: Prepare a basic first aid kit with essentials such as adhesive bandages, antiseptic ointment, and any necessary medications.
  • Insect Repellent: El Nido’s lush surroundings may attract mosquitoes and other insects. Protect yourself by applying insect repellent.
  • Navigation Equipment: Carry a waterproof map, compass, or GPS device to help you navigate and stay on course.
  • Cash and Identification: Bring some cash and necessary identification in a waterproof pouch or bag.
  • Camera or GoPro: Capture the stunning scenery and memorable moments of your kayaking adventure with a waterproof camera or GoPro.

It’s essential to pack light, as space on a kayak is limited. Bring only what is necessary and avoid bringing any unnecessary valuables or bulky items that may hinder your movement or weigh you down.


By packing these essentials, you’ll be well-prepared for your kayaking adventure in El Nido. In the next section, we’ll guide you through the process of launching your kayak and getting ready to hit the water.


Launching the Kayak

Once you’ve gathered your gear and are ready to embark on your kayaking adventure in El Nido, it’s time to launch your kayak and get out on the water. Here are the steps to follow for a successful launch:


1. Find a Suitable Launch Point: Look for a designated kayak launch area or a beach with a gentle slope into the water. Avoid launching from rocky or unstable surfaces.


2. Position the Kayak: Place your kayak parallel to the waterline, ensuring that it is stable and secure. Position it in a way that allows easy access for boarding.


3. Load Your Gear: Once the kayak is in position, load your gear into the storage compartments or secure them on deck using bungee cords or straps. Make sure everything is properly secured and won’t shift during your paddling journey.


4. Stand Beside the Kayak: Stand beside the kayak, facing the bow (front) of the kayak. Keep a firm hold on the kayak to stabilize it during the launch process.


5. Board the Kayak: Carefully step into the kayak, placing one foot at a time. Lower yourself into a seated position in the cockpit area with your legs inside the kayak and your feet resting comfortably on the foot pegs or braces.


6. Push Off and Paddle Away: Once comfortably seated, use your hands to push yourself away from the shoreline or launch point. Start paddling with a steady rhythm to move away from the shore and into deeper water.


7. Adjust Your Position: Once you’re a safe distance from the shoreline, adjust your seating position if needed. Make sure your back is straight, and your knees are slightly bent to maintain stability and balance.


8. Follow Safety Precautions: Throughout the process of launching your kayak, remember to adhere to safety precautions, such as wearing a PFD, keeping a lookout for other watercraft, and staying aware of your surroundings.


Launching your kayak is an exciting moment as you prepare to explore the stunning waters of El Nido. Enjoy the feeling of freedom as you paddle away from the shore and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you.


In the next section, we’ll guide you through various paddling techniques to help you maneuver your kayak effortlessly as you venture further into El Nido’s picturesque landscape.


Paddling Techniques

Mastering the proper paddling techniques is essential for efficient and enjoyable kayaking in El Nido. Here are some key paddling techniques to help you maneuver your kayak with ease:


1. Proper Grip: Hold the paddle with both hands, keeping them shoulder-width apart. Your knuckles should be facing upward, and your wrists should be straight. Avoid gripping the paddle too tightly.


2. Forward Stroke: The forward stroke is the most basic and common paddling technique. Dip the paddle into the water vertically, close to the kayak’s bow. As you pull the paddle back, rotate your torso and engage your core muscles for additional power. The stroke should end once the paddle reaches your hip.


3. Reverse Stroke: The reverse stroke is used to stop, slow down, or move backward. Instead of reaching forward, reach backward and push the paddle away from the kayak. This will create a reverse motion and slow down your kayak.


4. Sweep Stroke: The sweep stroke is used for turning the kayak. To turn left, place the paddle in the water on the right side of the kayak, near the stern. Sweep the paddle in a wide arc away from the kayak, using your core and upper body to generate power. The opposite is done for turning right.


5. Draw Stroke: The draw stroke is used to move your kayak sideways. Place the paddle in the water parallel to the kayak’s side, with the blade perpendicular to the direction you want to move. Pull the paddle toward the kayak, using it as a lever to move the kayak sideways.


6. Low Brace: The low brace is used for stability and support. If you feel your kayak tipping to one side, place the paddle blade flat on the water on the opposite side of the tilt. Apply gentle pressure to stabilize the kayak.


7. High Brace: The high brace is used for support when leaning to the side to prevent capsizing. Raise your elbow to shoulder level, and place the blade flat on the water, perpendicular to the kayak’s side. Apply pressure to regain balance.


8. Feathering: Feathering is the technique of rotating the paddle blades to minimize wind resistance. This technique is useful in windy conditions. Adjust the angle of one paddle blade to a slight offset from the other, allowing the wind to pass through the blades more easily.


9. Cadence and Rhythm: Maintain a consistent cadence and rhythm in your strokes, keeping a balanced and efficient paddling motion. Find a pace that is comfortable and sustainable throughout your journey.


Practice these techniques to become familiar with them before setting off on your kayaking adventure in El Nido. Remember to engage your core, maintain a relaxed grip, and enjoy the rhythm of paddling as you explore the stunning coastline and hidden treasures of El Nido.


In the next section, we’ll dive into the enchanting world of El Nido’s hidden beaches, where kayaking truly comes alive.


Exploring the Hidden Beaches

One of the most enchanting aspects of kayaking in El Nido is the opportunity to explore its hidden beaches. As you paddle along the coastline, you’ll discover secluded coves, pristine stretches of sand, and breathtaking rock formations. Here are some hidden beaches in El Nido that are worth exploring:


1. Secret Beach: Tucked away behind towering limestone cliffs, Secret Beach is a hidden gem accessible only through a narrow entrance. As you kayak towards this secluded beach, the impressive rock formations create a sense of mystery and adventure.


2. Seven Commandos Beach: This gorgeous beach with soft white sand and crystal-clear waters is a must-visit. Take a break from kayaking and enjoy some relaxation on the beach. The beach is named after a group of stranded commandos who were believed to have been rescued here during World War II.


3. Hidden Beach: As the name suggests, Hidden Beach is tucked away behind towering rock walls, giving it an air of seclusion and tranquility. With emerald-green waters and an idyllic setting, this beach is perfect for snorkeling and swimming.


4. Small Lagoon Beach: Paddle your way into the mesmerizing Small Lagoon Beach, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. Here, you can explore the tranquil turquoise waters and venture through the narrow entrance into the hidden lagoon.


5. Nacpan Beach: While not a hidden beach in the traditional sense, Nacpan Beach is a stunning stretch of coastline that is best reached by kayaking from El Nido. With its long white sand beach and crystal-clear waters, Nacpan Beach offers a captivating landscape to explore.


6. Paradise Beach: This secluded beach lives up to its name, offering a slice of paradise with its powdery white sand, clear blue waters, and lush green surroundings. Paddle your way to this hidden gem and immerse yourself in its pristine beauty.


When exploring these hidden beaches, remember to respect the environment and leave only footprints behind. Take the opportunity to snorkel, swim, or simply relax on the beach and soak in the serenity of these untouched coastal gems.


In the next section, we’ll talk about one of the highlights of kayaking in El Nido – watching the mesmerizing sunset from your kayak.


Watching the Sunset

Watching the sunset from your kayak in El Nido is an unforgettable experience that takes the magic of kayaking to a whole new level. As the sun begins its gentle descent, the sky transforms into a captivating display of colors, reflecting off the calm waters. Here are a few tips to make the most of this incredible spectacle:


1. Plan Your Timing: Check the local sunset time and plan your kayaking route accordingly to ensure you’re at a prime location when the sun starts to set. Allow ample time to paddle to a suitable spot where you’ll have an unobstructed view of the horizon.


2. Choose Your Location: Consider the different viewpoints available for watching the sunset. Look for a secluded bay, a hidden beach, or an open stretch of water that offers a panoramic vista. Bali-inspired jagged limestone formations serve as a spectacular backdrop as the sun sets over the horizon.


3. Stay Safe: Ensure your safety by being aware of your surroundings and any potential hazards. As the light starts to fade, make sure you have proper lighting equipment on your kayak, such as a headlamp or navigation lights, to remain visible to other boaters.


4. Capture the Moment: Bring a camera or smartphone to capture the incredible sunset. Use the reflections on the water, silhouettes of the limestone cliffs, and the vibrant colors of the sky as your backdrop. However, don’t get too caught up in capturing the perfect shot – take moments to simply soak in the beauty and enjoy the experience.


5. Allow for Reflection: As you watch the sunset from your kayak, take a moment of reflection. Appreciate the natural beauty surrounding you, the tranquility of the water, and the sense of calm that comes with being immersed in nature.


6. Share the Experience: If you’re kayaking with a partner or a group, take the time to share the experience with them. Paddle together, watch the sun slowly sink below the horizon, and create lasting memories.


Watching the sunset from your kayak in El Nido is a truly magical moment that will stay with you long after your kayaking adventure ends. Take the time to savor the beauty of nature and treasure the peacefulness of the setting. As the sun bids its farewell, you’ll be filled with a sense of wonder and gratitude for the opportunity to witness such a breathtaking display.


In the final section, we’ll discuss the steps involved in safely returning to the launch point and concluding your kayaking adventure.


Returning to the Launch Point

As your kayaking adventure in El Nido comes to an end, it’s important to safely return to your original launch point. Here are the steps to follow for a smooth and successful return:


1. Plan your Return Route: Before setting off on your kayak journey, familiarize yourself with the route back to your launch point. Take note of any landmarks or distinctive features that will help guide you.


2. Time Management: Make sure you have enough time to paddle back to the launch point before it gets dark or before any adverse weather conditions set in. Keep track of your paddling speed and adjust accordingly to stay on schedule.


3. Navigation Tools: Use navigation tools such as a compass, GPS device, or visual landmarks to help you stay on course during your return journey. Remember to periodically check your progress and make adjustments if necessary.


4. Stick to Safe Routes: Stick to the routes that you’re familiar with or that have been recommended to you by experienced guides. Avoid potential hazards such as strong currents or areas with heavy boat traffic.


5. Maintain a Steady Pace: Establish a comfortable and steady paddling rhythm to maintain a consistent pace during your return journey. Avoid overexertion, especially if you have been kayaking for an extended period.


6. Stay Alert: Keep a vigilant eye on your surroundings, looking out for any potential obstacles or changes in weather conditions. Be aware of other boats or vessels in the area and take note of any navigation markers or buoys.


7. Communication: If you’re kayaking with others, maintain clear communication throughout the journey. Make sure everyone is accounted for and paddling together to ensure a smooth and coordinated return to the launch point.


8. Celebrate the Achievement: As you approach your final destination, take a moment to reflect on your kayaking adventure. Celebrate the accomplishment of completing your journey and cherish the memories you’ve made along the way.


9. Reorganize and Clean Up: Once you’ve safely returned to the launch point, take the time to reorganize and clean up your gear. Ensure that all items are properly stored and secure before disembarking from your kayak.


By following these steps, you’ll be able to conclude your kayaking adventure in El Nido with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Remember to respect the environment and leave the area just as pristine as you found it.


Finally, take a moment to reflect on the incredible experience you’ve had, appreciate the beauty of El Nido’s coastlines, and start planning your next kayaking adventure.


Safe travels!



Kayaking in El Nido offers a remarkable adventure, allowing you to immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of this Philippine paradise. From the hidden beaches and limestone cliffs to the captivating sunsets, every moment spent on the water is a chance to create lifelong memories.


As you’ve learned in this comprehensive guide, careful planning and preparation are key to a successful kayaking experience. Choosing the right kayak, prioritizing safety precautions, and researching routes are all crucial steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.


Exploring the hidden beaches of El Nido by kayak provides the unique opportunity to discover untouched coastal wonders. The rugged cliffs, white sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters create an idyllic setting that will leave you in awe of nature’s wonders.


Watching the sunset from your kayak adds an extra layer of magic to your adventure. The vibrant colors reflecting off the water and the serene ambiance make for a truly unforgettable experience. Remember to capture the moment, but also take time to appreciate the beauty and reflect on the tranquility of the surroundings.


As your kayak excursion comes to a close, safely returning to the launch point is crucial. Staying aware of your route, maintaining a steady pace, and practicing good communication ensure a smooth conclusion to your journey.


Kayaking in El Nido is not just an activity; it’s a chance to connect with nature, push your boundaries, and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, grab your paddle, embrace the adventure, and let the wonders of El Nido unfold before you.


Remember, whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, safety should always be a top priority. Respect the environment, follow local regulations, and leave no trace behind. With responsible and mindful exploration, you can continue to enjoy the untamed beauty of El Nido for years to come.


So, venture out onto the waters, be captivated by the enchanting landscapes, and let the spirit of El Nido guide you as you embrace the exhilarating world of kayaking.