Snake Island of Palawan - Atlas Obscura

Snake Island of Palawan

El Nido, Philippines

This unusual island has a winding sand bridge that only appears at low tide. 


Officially known as Vigan Island off the idyllic beaches of El Nido, Palawan, is the lone but captivating Snake Island. Unlike some other islands around the world with that nickname, this island is not crawling with venomous snakes, but it does have something that can be marveled upon.

The island’s name came from its unusual snake-like shape, particularly the sand bridge that connects it to the mainland. It is a 7.5-hectare islet that is roughly three kilometers away from the coasts of El Nido. The island features white sand beaches, crystal blue waters, lush palm trees, and a fresh sea breeze. Hiking up its hill can give you a picturesque view of the island’s pristine beaches, with the tropical mainland on one side and the ocean’s grandeur on the other. It is reachable by boat or by foot depending on the tides. This is where the marvel comes in.

The sand bar that connects the islet to the mainland can only be accessed during low tide. At high tide, the sand bridge disappears. Low tides are usually during the first half of the day with the lowest between 5–7 a.m. The sand bar is about two feet under on such hours. On the other hand, high tides start late in the afternoon but peak at around 9–11 p.m. Due to this phenomenon, the sand bar is most commonly described as the disappearing bridge.

Crossing the sand bridge gives visitors a surreal dreamlike experience. Witnessing the bridge disappear at dusk requires patience, but people wait to witness it. At present, the island is often overlooked by tourists due to bigger islands offering more activities within the province. But those that visit the snake island are in for a unique excursion.

Know Before You Go

Be respectful of the community, their culture, and the environment when visiting the place. Proper coordination with the local tour guides is mandatory before being allowed to visit the island. You can also check on tour packages that include the island as one of the destinations. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes of motor or outrigger boat from the El Nido proper to reach the island.

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February 12, 2024

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