El Nido is a small Philippine town in Palawan Island. But it has amazing nature. Many tourists from all over the world come here to see its unique bays, white beaches, interesting lagoons, untouched nature, and colorful reefs. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. According to some famous travel magazines, It is the most beautiful island and beach in the world. So, there are many awesome things to do in El Nido, Palawan Island, the Philippines.
I was very excited to visit El Nido because my expectation was too high. I can say that this place exceeded my expectations. It is not possible to admire here with its fun island hopping tours, white beaches, palm and coconut trees, steep-sloped limestone formed rocks.
I recommend you read those travel blogs below which contain useful information about the Philippines before going on El Nido tour.
- Best Places to Visit in Manila
- Where to Stay in Manila
- Batad Rice Terraces Travel Guide
- Places to Visit in the Philippines
- Best Things to Do in Boracay
- Boracay Nightlife
- Manila Nightlife
El Nido Travel Guide
Because many foreign tourists visit El Nido, you feel like you are in another country. All visitors love this place. Because of the intense tourist interest, I hope it will remain intact.
I stayed in this charming Philippine town for 4 days. It was a very enjoyable holiday for me. So what did I do? I made Tour A and Tour C, which are the most popular of El Nido island hopping tours. And also I visited some places around. With the recommendation of the owners of the hostel I stayed at, I also participated in the boat tour called Tur Z, which I had never heard of before. In this article, I will talk about the boat tours I attend, as well as what things to do in El Nido, where to stay, how to get to Palawan Island.
About El Nido Palawan
As I mentioned above, El Nido is a very small town. It is a nice holiday destination, although there is nothing to see in the town center. But the islands, beaches, and extraordinary nature of Bacuit Bay off the coast are completely different. You will admire the nature here. It is perfect for living like it is the summer in the middle of winter for people.
Is El Nido safe? Yes, it is safe. The town is always lively because it is one of the most touristic resorts in the Philippines. So, there are more foreign tourists than Filipinos here. So, I do not think you will get any trouble. One of the downsides of the town is that there is no ATM here. Make sure that you bring enough cash for your stay here.
How to Get to El Nido & Where is Palawan Island
Where is El Nido and how to get there? As you can see on the map below, it is a small settlement in the north of Palawan Island in the Philippines. There are multiple alternatives for transportation to get here. Therefore, you can travel easily. So what are the transportation routes to get to El Nido?
Fly to Puerto Princesa Airport
Puerto Princesa, home to one of the world’s longest underground rivers on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is the center of Palawan Island. There are daily flights from Manila to here. Speaking of ticket prices, if you buy before 1-2 months from departure, you can get cheap tickets. When I went, I bought round trip tickets for 3600 pesos. If you are lucky, you can also find the cheapest promos.
How to get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido? After going out of the airport, you will see vans, which are for 10-15 people, waiting outside. Normally they are 500 pesos. However, they can say 600 pesos. Transportation with minivans takes around 5 hours. There is also a half-hour break time for eating and resting. You can check and book transfer service from Puerto Princesa to El Nido on GetYourGuide.
Apart from vans, you can also prefer to travel by bus from Puerto Princesa. It is a little cheaper but slow compared to the vans.
Fly to El Nido Airport
That is the easiest way. There are direct flights to El Nido from Manila and Clark International Airport. By the way, Clark Airport is located near Angeles City, which is famous for its nightlife. The flight takes around 55 minutes. Although it is the most convenient way of transportation, it is the most expensive way. Therefore, if you do not have a limited budget, you can choose this way.
Fly to Coron Island
Coron Island, which is one of the top places to visit in Palawan Island, is among the most popular and tourist destinations in the Philippines. Where is Coron? Coron is located north of Palawan Island.
You can come to Coron from Manila or other cities by plane or by ferry. And then from here, you can go to El Nido by ferry. The journey by ferry takes 3,5-4 hours. You can check the ferry service and prices departing from Coron from travel2go. By the way, when you come to Coron, you wanna see Kayangan Lake, which is the most famous place. You may want to stay here for 2-3 days.
Where to Stay in El Nido
There are many places for every budget in terms of accommodation. Such midrange hotels, bungalow houses, bamboo hotels, cheap hostels, and more. The important thing is the location of the hotels. Because if you stay near Corong Corong Beach, you may have to use tricycle every time you come to El Nido city center. It was around 50 or 100 pesos if I remember right.
My accommodation was Kings Landing Hostel. If you are looking for a good hostel as a place to stay, I highly recommend it. The owners of the hostels were very helpful about everything, including booking island hopping tours.
For example; When I sent a message to let them know that I was going to check in late, they told me that was okay, and also they could even pick me up at Puerto Princesa Airport. Because they were also in Puerto Princesa for shopping at that time. So I went to El Nido with them. Despite arriving at 11-12 at the hostel, Arlene, the owner of the hostel, arranged an island hopping tour for me for the next day.
How many days to stay? I think 4 nights is enough. So that you can join all El Nido island hopping tours or you can visit villages near the town. You can check Booking and Agoda websites to book hotels or hostels in El Nido.
El Nido Nightlife
Nightlife here is not as vibrant as in Manila, Boracay, or Angeles City. The first reason for that is the town is already small and there is not a lot of space, and secondly, most tourists feel tired in the evening. Because they do boat tours of the El Nido Islands during the day. Therefore, many people prefer resting after sunset and get ready for the next day’s tour.
There are still a few places to go for nightlife in El Nido. Some of them are Sava Bar, Rooftop Bar & Boutique, and Pukka Bar. All of them are beautiful places. You can try these bars to socialize and make new friends. Philippines nightlife prices are cheap. Prices of local beers start by 80 pesos and cocktails start by 250 pesos.
Things to Do in El Nido Islands
Let’s talk about places to visit and things to do in El Nido Islands. The most famous thing is the boat tours. These tours promise you to see beautiful islands, beaches, tropical fishes, amazing reefs, and corals. Aside from that, you can also explore small villages and virgin beaches near the town by renting a motorbike.
By the way, let me give you interesting information. One of my favorite movies ‘The Beach‘ movie was filmed in Thailand. It caused an influx of tourists to Maya Bay in Phuket Island, which is famous for the movie. But the film is inspired by the Philippines El Nido Islands.
Island Hopping Tours
There are 4 main boat tours, namely ‘Tour A, B, C, and D’. The most popular ones are Tour A and Tour C. If you have limited time, do these two. I also did these two too. Plus, the owners of the hostel I stayed at advised me to do Tour Z. Although I have the opportunity to see some virgin islands and beaches, I do not like Tur Z very much. So I will just tell you about Tour A and Tour C.
Tour A route; Seven Commandos Beach, Simizu Island, Miniloc Island, Small Lagoon, Secret, and Big Lagoon. The price for this tour is 1200 pesos. It costs about $24.
Especially renting a canoe in Small Lagoon and kayaking in the lagoon and swimming are incredibly enjoyable. You can rent it either single or as 2 or 3 people. I shared the fee with a solo traveler like me to rent a canoe. It was around 200 pesos.
Tour C island-hopping boat ride route; Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Tapuitan Island, Talisay Beach, and Helicopter Island. The amount you will pay for this tour is 1400 pesos. It is also against 28 USD.
“Hidden Beach” and “Secret Beach” are the most impressive ones during Tour C. Also, Matinloc Island (Matinloc Shrine) with a legendary view is truly fascinating. Apart from that, it is a completely different experience to snorkel and see submarine creatures and colorful reefs at both tours.
Tours start at 8 am – 9 am and end at 4 pm. Things to consider before starting the tour; Rent mask for snorkeling (they will already give you before the tour though), bring water with you, buy a waterproof bag for your valuables.
Nacpan Beach (Twin Beach)
It is a beautiful beach near El Nido. You can go there by renting a motorbike or vans. Or you can come to Nacpan Beach with a tricycle driver. According to your agreement, the driver will wait for you all day and take you back to the town center. If you have a lot of time in El Nido, Nacpan Beach is one of the top places to visit.
Las Cabanas Beach
It is a beautiful beach, where is located about 15 minutes away from the town center of El Nido with a tricycle. There is a magnificent view during the sunset. One of the best activities at Las Cabanas Beach is the zipline. With the zipline, you can make the transition to another island, which is located a bit off the beach. I have not tried it, but if you have time for that, you can.
Lio Beach, which is located very close to El Nido Airport, is one of the beautiful beaches you should visit. Also, It is possible to reach here with shuttle services from the center.
If you are planning to stay on Palawan Island for a long time, you should visit Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls. The waterfalls are about 12 km away from El Nido town center. Palawan Island offers you wonderful places even for intertwining with nature besides the sun, sand, and sea tourism. So, Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls is one of the best attractions in El Nido.
Notes for Things to Do in El Nido Islands
You can book your boat tours through the hotels you will stay in. Because it will be easier. You might have a chance to bargain outside, but there won’t be much difference.
Boats do not approach the shore when boat tours start in the morning. So you have to get into the water to reach the boat from the beach. But do not worry, it is shallow. So, depends on how far your boat is, you get wet at first. Also, It will be the same when you go to other islands during the tour. Therefore, I recommend you buy waterproof bags for your valuables items that you need to protect from water. You can buy that in the street markets. You can even get wet while boat moving.
If you don’t have an action camera like GoPro, I suggest you buy a waterproof phone case to shoot underwater with your phone.
During the boat tour, you sometimes have to walk on stones, rocks, or corals. So I recommend you to bring sea shoes instead of slippers.
There may be people asking ‘Do I need to know how to swim for island hopping tour in El Nido’? The answer is ‘no, you do not’. They already give you a life jacket. So you don’t have to be afraid of it.
That is all I say about the best places to visit and top things to do in El Nido Palawan Island. If you have any questions, you can ask me below.