Of all the places in El Nido, the beachfront has the most noticeable changes. There are so many more establishments as more homes were converted to businesses – either a restobar or lodge/pension.
The photos on this blog were taken on many different days over a period of two and a half months. The photos at the end of Rizal Street were taken one beautiful, sunny August afternoon; the photos of Pukka Bar and El Nido Corner were taken as early as July, as well as some photos of Sea Slugs were taken in August; and the rest of the photos were taken one windy September morning when the sun played hide-and-seek with me.
I took a walk starting off from where Rizal Street ends, with Aplaya Bar and Casa Buenavista on either sides, and ending in the small, narrow alley right after Tandikan Beach Cottages that emerges where Lonesome Carabao Lounge is.
And as more buildings and businesses were established, the more the sand turned brown. I used to swim on the beach nearly everyday, I would not want to do that now.
The beach still looks beautiful on sunny days like this…
…but nothing compared to how it used to be.
Next to Casa Buenavista is Marber’s Restaurant.
Back when Marber’s Restaurant was on the ground floor of the building where Og’s Pension is, this was Blue Karrot Beach Bar and Restaurant.
Blue Karrot has a long history, being originally owned by Rudy and Rose, and then sold off to a friend of theirs. Rose’s family now owns Makulay Lodge and Villas in Caalan, and Blue Karrot does not exist anymore, neither in this spot nor any other spot in town.
Casa El Nido has been there ever since I can remember too. It used to have a little garden on the side where there were trees, and loungers under the shade.
CASA EL NIDO
In 2006, I took a photo walk on this beach one sunny morning too. The original files of these are gone forever but here are some of the photos I took of the beach in front of Marina Garden and Sea Slugs:
The photo below shows the same beach where I took the photos above.
MARINA GARDEN BEACHFRONT INN
Marina Garden used to be all native cottages. The building with airconditioned rooms were built sometime in 2008. (Photo below: Left, 2006; Right, 2012)
I used to stay in one of their cottages because I loved the affordable, breezy rooms and spacious garden.
MARINA GARDEN COTTAGE, 2006
OGIE’S BEACH PENSION AND RESTAURANT
This same building had Marber’s Restaurant on the ground floor back in 2006, with the pension occupying the second floor.
Og’s or Ogie’s is separated by a narrow alley from Sea Slug’s Beach Bar and Restaurant.
SEA SLUGS BAR AND RESTAURANT, 2006
And here are some photos, miraculously found in some long-forgotten folder, and in their original sizes too. Photos taken with a Canon Ixus camera in March 2006.
This is how it looks now. More photos are found on the blog here.
LALLY AND ABET BEACH HOTEL
Different from Lally & Abet Beach Cottages, the beach hotel sits in between Sea Slugs and Ric Son’s.
RIC SON’S BAR AND RESTAURANT, 2006
My favorite bar and restaurant back in 2005-2006, I spent nearly every day just sitting here and having coffee, chatting with my friends Eric and Likha. It was quiet, spacious, and with a great view of the beach. When I came back in 2007 with a high school friend of mine, we spent hours over breakfast and lunch here as well. The food is good with relatively big portions. (Photo below: left, 2006; right, 2012)
I found it closed due to some labor concerns when I arrived last July and only re-opened on the first week of September, a few days before I was about to leave.
RIC SON’S BAR AND RESTAURANT, 2012
This wooden sign used to hang at the entrance on Hama Street. Now it hangs on the wall by the stairs on the beach.
EL NIDO WATERFRONT HOTEL
SUBMARINER DIVING CENTER AND HABIBI RESTAURANT AND SHISHA CAFE
HOSTEL LA BANANE
Deemed in a Trip Advisor review as the only place you can go wild in El Nido, El Toro bar is now closed.
One of my early favorite places to go to in El Nido, the photos were taken in July. Click here to read the blog on it.
SPIDER PENSION HOUSE
Nearly unnoticeable, squeezed in between Pukka Restobar and a house, is Spider Pension House. I actually didn’t know it existed, until I met someone who knew someone who was staying there.
EL NIDO MARINE CLUB
I would say El Nido Marine Club is the first dive shop in El Nido because in 2005, it was the only dive shop I knew of in town, but then maybe I just made that up. The divers, half of which are from Manila, live in the dive shop. I’ve been going with the divers of the El Nido Marine Club ever since I can remember, though I myself have not taken the time (not to mention money) to get a diver’s license. I’ll get there though. In terms of improvements, the dive shop has improved significantly, as it looks more decent now than how it used to look. I do miss the relatively spacious garden at the entrance on Hama Street. When I last passed by, they were busy building something again.
The sun had been playing hide-and-seek with me all morning so some shots were bright and overly sunny, while some had the sky overcast. But when the sun shone through and gave me this, I just really had to take the bait.
RICO’S BEACH COTTAGES
Rico’s Beach Cottages has always been the more expensive accommodations among the Fernandez cottages, namely Dara Fernandez, Gloria and Rico’s. The building is certainly newer and more maintained. I’ve never been inside though. They keep improving and adding more rooms as years pass by. At the back, at the entrance on Hama Street, they were building something again when I was there last.
DARA FERNANDEZ BEACH COTTAGES
My favorite beach cottage used to be at Dara Fernandez (then Dara Faye’s) because they had fan cottages with its own balcony at Php300/night and it was very near to our house in Osmena. I recommended their cottages to all my friends who came over. Nothing much has changed about it in the past years.
ENTALULA BEACH COTTAGES
Entalula certainly did not look like this before. So much so that I cannot remember how it looked like before. I would be tempted to say that it did not exist before, but I would be lying. The buildings are new and they keep building. Maybe I wouldn’t recognize it again when I come back next year, if not the year after next.
TANDIKAN BEACH COTTAGES
TANDIKAN BEACH COTTAGES, 2006
Although the fence looks right about the same, the cottages do not.
This is the beach in front of Tandikan Beach Cottages where we used to hang out a lot too – just sitting on the sand or a tree trunk. An alley connects the beach and the street and we found ourselves in this alley a lot.
The alley is in between Tandikan Beach Cottages and a wide empty fenced-in lot. After the empty lot is Rosanna’s Cottages, and then El Nido Beach Hotel after it.
There wasn’t an El Nido Beach Hotel back in 2006 but the building was already there. A Korean bought the property and transformed it into what is now known as the El Nido Beach Hotel.
There wasn’t an El Nido Garden Beach Hotel either, but a Japanese bought the property and built what is now known as the El Nido Garden Hotel. Back then it was just an empty lot with a wooden fence and stairs.
Although I am a little confused as to which is owned by whom. Maybe it’s El Nido Beach Hotel owned by a Japanese and the El Nido Garden Beach Hotel owned by a Korean? I’m confused really, but then, even their names are confusing. Couldn’t they have been more creative? As creative as Inngo Tourist Inn, perhaps?
Also, back then, we only used a piece of coconut trunk hoisted on two cement blocks to pass through a waterway in front of Lally & Abet Beach Cottages to get to Caalan. Now, they’ve completely cemented the beach over. It’s very convenient for all the residents at Caalan who all seem to have motorcycles.
You can see the green-roofed building – now known as El Nido Corner Restaurant, under construction at the end of the beach.
Right after El Nido Garden Hotel is Bacuit Grill. It was just an empty lot back in 2006.
And then there is El Nido Corner Restaurant, the last establishment on the beach, before you turn that corner on your way to Caalan, where there are more accommodations, some with restaurants. You may click here to view the full blog on El Nido Corner and Restaurant.
EL NIDO CORNER BEACH BAR AND RESTAURANT
And finally, I am done with this little project of mine. I thought about doing a photo walk all over Caalan as well as Corong-Corong, but I was so busy, or the weather really wasn’t that cooperative that I did not manage to.
This little project has been a little frustrating at time because of many lost files, or files reduced to as low as 50KB, or my inability to duplicate the shots, or my failure to overcome the differences in the image quality when photos are put side by side, or when photos are posted online – but overall, I have loved this little project of mine simply for the challenge that it posed. It made my stay in El Nido all the more interesting.
I was experimenting a lot. I experimented with my wide angle converter in my early days in El Nido so I’d shoot the same thing at the same angle with and without the converter. I’d shoot both in RAW and basic JPEG. In the end, I realized that taking photos isn’t just about simply pressing the shutter, it’s about what you want to do with what you get after you press the shutter. And wow, do I want to do so much.
This is a series:
- The Before-and-After El Nido Photo-documentation Project – Calle Real
- The Before-and-After El Nido Photo-documentation Project – Rizal Street
- The Before-and-After El Nido Photo-documentation Project – Sirena Street
- The Before-and-After El Nido Photo-documentation Project – Hama Street
- The Before-and-After El Nido Photo-documentation Project – Beachfront