I, myself have been wandering why it is talked about. I’ve heard foreigners wanting to go there, or have been there and found it beautiful but packed with tourists. Plus, a number of people are comparing it with Coron Palawan, another part of Palawan that I love. With the curiosity and the love of travel, I decided to go to El Nido Palawan for 5 days and 4 nights with a good friend, Channel.
So with this, I’m finally done with my El Nido Palawan Travel Guide and Itinerary plus with expenses! I’ve divided these into sections so that you’ll be able to skip parts that you know already, or know where to find them when needed.
In this El Nido Palawan blog post or shall we say El Nido Palawan travel guide, hopefully you'll be able to get the most and best out of your visit in this Philippines top tourist destination. In this guide you'll know where is El Nido, the El Nido Palawan resorts we're staying at and your other El Nido Philippines hotels options, the points of interests, and of course our El Nido Palawan itinerary and expenses in this trip.
Where is El Nido?The Philippines looks like an upside down letter Y, and one of the branches is the province of Palawan, and El Nido is in Palawan. It’s actually just a tiny part of that branch, but a beautiful part.
How to get to El Nido Palawan?You can actually get there by air or by sea, but of course the fastest way to get there and the common way is by air. And yes, there are direct flights going to El Nido Palawan but it will cost you about more than 5 times if you just go to Palawan by air then travel by land or sea to El Nido. Here are your options on how to go to El Nido Palawan.
By AirA private airline is operating flights to El Nido, and that is from Cebu and Manila. It is previously known as ITI but now it is formally known to be Air Swift (not sure if it’s just renaming or just new owner).
The El Nido Airport is a small airport which is about 30 minutes away from the town. So, you can just then take a tricycle that waits outside to the town directly to your hotel. But I honestly didn’t see any building other than the guard house there when I passed by. But I could see the runway.
By LandYour land trip will start at Puerto Princesa, so yes, you need to fly to Puerto Princesa City (Palawan) which will take a 5-6 hours road trip going to El Nido which costs us P600. But there are times that the charge is different which ranges from P500 – P900 depending on the season I guess and the type of vehicle. If you want to go cheaper, there are also buses going there but of course the van and shuttle are more comfortable – and faster.
The van have a terminal in El Nido, they’re not able to go inside the town since it’s just a tiny town with a small road, not ideal for multiple vehicles to go around. But from there you can just take a tricycle to your hotel.
Sadly for us, our flights have been delayed that we arrived in Puerto Princesa City around 5pm, so we arrive in El Nido Palawan around 10pm – the positive side though is that in the morning, we’re surprised with the view.
How to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa? Simply exit to the airport and just in front of it, there will be a number of van operators offering it, I do highly suggest that you book it ahead so there will be someone waiting for you and you're able to reserve your spot. Especially if it's peak season. If you prefer the local way, there are buses going to El Nido, it's cheaper but the trip is longer. If you're flying with Cebu Pacific Airlines, they now offer on flight booking for their tourist transport partner, which is the same company we hired for this trip.
If your flight is delayed, no worries. Just contact them and inform them that your flight is being delayed and there will be a van waiting for you.
Your travel blog flew in Puerto Princesa City via AirAsia using the route Cebu to Manila, Manila to Puerto Princesa, and vice versa. Though there are flights going directly from Cebu to Manila, we opt for this since AirAsia wants to be a part of our journey.
By SeaSome of the travelers go to El Nido by sea from Coron Palawan. They go to Coron then jump in to El Nido – you can also do the other way around. I have no details on how long the trip will be but I think it’s a ship, so you might need to stay overnight but there are also boats traveling but it is also a long trip but no overnight at the boat. Will update this El Nido blog post if I’d be able to gather more about this.
But what I know is if you’re going to Coron from El Nido there are boats available for P1,500 that departs 8am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and lunch is included.
How to Get Around in El Nido?You can actually just walk around El Nido. I know, Filipinos are not fond of walking but try it! It’s a great way to discover a place and get to know more about it. But there are motorcycles available to be rented and tricycles available to bring you where you want to go in the city or outside the town.
Where to go and What to do in El Nido?Before letting you all know where you can go and what you can do in El Nido Palawan, I'd like to ask you to please respect and don't abuse the place, not only in El Nido but everywhere. Don't loiter in the water, keep your garbage, and throw it properly. So it will not only be you who'll be able to see and enjoy the place. So that in the future, maybe your kids, your grand kids, will be able to see what you've seen.
Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time
Surprisingly, the 5 days trip in El Nido Palawan is not enough to complete all the El Nido Palawan things to do. But we only have 3 days actually to just roam around there and try out some activities so there are tours and must do in towns that we’re unable to do. There are a number of El Nido Philippines points of interest that you can visit that are mostly beach and water activities, but here are the top must do’s in El Nido Palawan:
El Nido Tour A: Lagoons and BeachesDestinations: Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Simizu Island, and 7 Commando Beach
Best for: snorkeling and kayaking
The El Nido tour A is the most popular island hopping tour in El Nido, so the destinations or stops you’ll go to might be crowded and packed with tourists. It is popular because of its beautiful rock formations of its limestone and turquoise waters.
El Nido Tour B: Caves and CovesDestinations: Pangulasian Island, Cudognon Cave, Cathedral Cave, Snake Island, and Pinagnutuyan island
Best for: snorkeling and sun bathing
We haven’t tried this (yet) but it is said to be the third most popular island hopping tour because of the sandbar that forms like snake connecting two islands.
El Nido Tour C : Hidden beaches and ShrinesDestinations: Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Talisay Beach, Helicopter Island
Best for: snorkeling
The El Nido tour C is the second most popular tour in El Nido Palawan, so expect that it can also be packed with tourists. Do check out and walk around the Matinloc and Helicopter island for Instagram worthy photos.
El Nido Tour D: Island BeachesDestinations: Nat Nat Beach, Pasandigan Cove, Cadlao Lagoon, and Bukal Island
Best for: snorkeling, not so young, kids, kayaking, and sun bathing
It’s the not so popular tour in El Nido, but the great thing about this is that you can enjoy the destinations you’ll go to because of this. Others evens say this is their favorite tour because it’s not so packed with tourist and they were able to appreciate the tourist spots more.
El Nido Tour E: Inland TourDestinations: Nacpan Beach, Calitang Beach, Merimegmeg Beach
Best for: swimming, sun bathing
Rate: 1,500 + 300
Nacpan beach is an hour away from the El Nido town proper, a beach that has 3 km stretch of powdered soft sand. I had a “jaw dropping” moment here, best to go here and have your lunch. The restaurants here offer delicious Filipino foods.
Another destination that you may visit in this tour is the Marimegmeg Beach or the Las Cabanas (same destination or area). It’s best if you go here before the sunset, so you can capture and see the beautiful sunset of El Nido. It’s a great way to end your day here after a long tiring day.
You may also enjoy the 750m zipline in Marimegmeg for P500 going to the opposite island. This is one of the things I really want to go back to there and try it myself. We’re just in short of time.
There are other destinations and activities in El Nido that is not so popular but locals there said that is great to try there. And they are:
Tarraw CliffRate: P500
It is only popular for those who are physically fit. People who are not like me. If you’re planning to do this, please do be aware that this is really hard, it is said to have a difficulty level of 9 because you have to climb the rock that are pointy and sharp with no ropes or harness, or anything on you that can help you just in case.
Duli Beach, Mariposa Beach, Dagmay Beach (Verde Safari)Have about 40 minutes motorcycle (not tricycle) ride from the El Nido town. Take a walk from the long stretch of the beach, from Dagmay, past by Mariposa, and end to Duli is 1 hour. These beaches are deserted but said to be really beautiful and have big waves sometimes that you can actually surf.
There are also Nagkalit-Kalit Falls and Makinit Hot Springs. I have no information about them but will update this El Nido blog post about it when I talked to a local there or tried it myself.
I've also found another number of El Nido activities and possible tourist spots but I am not sure about it yet, so I'll update you guys once I return back to El Nido.
Where to Stay in El Nido?There are a number of different accommodations in El Nido, it all depends on your budget and how much of your comfort you can give up just to save. I’ll be posting soon the cheap accommodations in El Nido Palawan but as of now, I have my list of 36 Hotels in El Nido. I’ll try to make other lists too like Beach front accommodations, or hotels with pools in El Nido but I hope that will help for now.
We actually stayed at Caalan Beach Resort, it’s a bit far from the town but we loved our stay there way too much that we don’t mind walking about 15 minutes from the town. We had the most stunning view, happy people serving and entertaining us. For Filipino’s who just don’t want to walk, no worries, they have their own tricycle that can bring you to the town but it’s not always available right away since they’re also using it for their arriving guests and other tasks. Trust me, you’ll love walking in El Nido.
Channel and I do highly recommend Caalan Beach Resort, it’s a family friendly resort and the staff there are amazing. We actually want to go back there and stay there again, and even when my family will come with me I’ll also recommend staying there.
Where to Eat in El Nido?There are a number of restaurants there in El Nido. It even took us an hour to decided where and what to eat. There are also restaurants that serves international dishes, so it really depends on what you like to eat for the day. But the recommended places to eat in El Nido are:
- Altrove - Pizza
- L'Assiette - French/Asian food
- Sea Slugs - Filipino and American food.
- Deli Nido Café – they’re new but they offer the best coffee and service in town. Try their BLTC sandwich!
Itinerary and Expenses in El NidoWe’re just able to spent 3 days around El Nido, but we did leave for 5 days. The 2 days were spent for the time going and leaving El Nido – so that’s the down side if you don’t go for the direct flight.
With the number of activities and tours you can do from above, you may switch it from what we’ve tried and done during our stay there.
Day 15:00 pm Arrival in Puerto Princesa City
6:00 pm ETD from Puerto Princesa City via Van (P600)
10:30 pm ETA in El Nido Palawan
11:00 pm ETA in Caalan Beach Resort (via tricycle) (P40)
Please note that our flight has been delayed and there are more flights from Manila going to Puerto Princesa comparing to Cebu. So you might be able to leave earlier than us if you’re lucky.
Day 26:30 am Breakfast (free/included at Caalan Beach Resort)
7:30 am Pick up at hotel
8:00 am Assembly at the Northern Hope Tours office
8:30 am Start of El Nido Tour C (P1,400)
4:00 pm End of El Nido Tour C (ETA at El Nido Town)
5:00 pm Chill and Eat at Deli Nido Café (P200)
7:00 pm Eat at Squidos ( P300)
8:00 pm Back to the resort
Day 36:30 am Breakfast (free/included at Caalan Beach Resort)
7:30 am Pick up at hotel
8:00 am Assembly at the Northern Hope Tours office
8:30 am Start of El Nido Tour A ( P1,200)
4:00 pm End of El Nido Tour A (ETA at El Nido Town)
5:00 pm Chill and Eat at Deli Nido Café (P200)
6:00 pm Back to the resort
7:00 pm Buy pizza at Altrove (shared expenses) (P300)
8:00 pm Eat at the resort
Day 47:00 am Breakfast (free/included at Caalan Beach Resort)
9:00 am Pick up at hotel
10:30 am ETD to Nacpan Beach (P1,500 tricycle/2 = P750)
11:30 am ETA in Nacpan Beach
12:00 pm Lunch (P200)
1:00 pm Walk the Nacpan Beach to Hill
2:00 pm Nacpan beach swimming
3:00 pm ETD to Merimegmeg (P300 tricycle /2 = P150)
4:30 pm ETA in Merimegmeg and chill
6:00 pm ETD to Deli Nido (P200)
7:00 pm Dinner (P200)
8:00 pm Buy Pasalubong
10: 00pm Back to the Resort
Day 57:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am Wait in Deli Nido for van pick up
10: 00 am ETD to Puerto Princesa (P600)
3:00 pm ETA in Puerta Princesa
3:20 pm Lunch at the airport (P300)
5:00 pm ETD from Puerto Princesa City
Total Daily Basic Expenses: 6,640
Accommodation (Ocean View Room – 2,700/night / 2 = P5,400)
Fins rental – 100 / day = P200
Aqua shoes rental – 100 / day = P200
Total Expenses P12,440
Please note that you can save more if there’s 4 of you since the room can accommodate up to 4 persons. The tricycle too I think can accommodate 4 persons.
The air ticket is not also included. Book during seat sale of major airlines to save a lot.
What to Bring in El Nido?Don’t know what to bring in El Nido? Lucky you I know what you need there, I was like a girl scout there. Prepared for (almost) everything.
Here are some things you need to bring for your El Nido Palawan adventure:
- Towel (some resorts may let you borrow theirs)
- Swimming Attire
- Seasick Medications (if you have one)
- Swimming Shoes / aqua shoes
- Waterproof Camera (GoPro for rent is also available at Northern Hope)
- Waterproof bag (to put your things in it)
- Snorkel (provided by the travel agency but you may also bring your own)
- Booties or aqua shoes (available for rent at Northern Hopes if you dont have your own)
Best Time to Visit El Nido?In the Philippines, usually June to November/October is typhoon or rainy season. That's why I avoid those travel dates as much as possible since there are flights cancelled and of course you can't enjoy much and take that tropical and exotic picture of the place.
But the best time to visit El Nido is of course during their peak season, it's around November to May. December to February are mostly foreigners, from March to May are mostly Filipinos are there - since it's summer for the Filipino, no classes for the kids.
We were there on February, that's why if you notice there are a lot of foreigners in my videos. But there are some Filipinos too of course, but I felt more like a foreigner in my own country because there are more foreigners than Filipino.
It's not recommended to go to El Nido Palawan during the rainy season since there are tourist spots that you might not be able to visit because it can be dangerous if the tide is too high or the wind is too strong (the waves might just push you to that pointy and sharp but beautiful stones, and usually they're very beautiful places. Plus, your pictures will look dim, not that sunny and summer looking photos.
TIP: First 2 weeks of June is okay, and some flights are cheap. Last 2 weeks of November is also safe to travel since usually the typhoon is not around that time anymore.
Why Visit in El Nido?El Nido Palawan is blessed with beautiful beaches and rock formations. The corals is not that beautiful anymore in the tours that I’ve tried but it’s a great destination for someone who loves snorkeling, diving, swimming, the beach, and beautiful views. It’s a place where you can make those beach lovers on Instagram drool on your photos.
So if you love beaches, being under the sun, and the ocean, don’t get seasick then this is a must visit destination for you!
As a Cebu blogger, living in area surrounded with beach, and a number of activities that you can do. I find El Nido as one of my favorite destinations in the Philippines.
Exotic Philippines Contacts in El Nido PalawanHere are my contacts in El Nido from the travel agency in El Nido to our accommodation. They totally helped us enjoy our time there, hopefully you'll go with them too.
Exotic Philippines toured El Nido with:
Northern Hopes Tours
Tip: Book ahead the tours you want to get to avoid going for smaller boats (e.g. fisherman's boat). Have a guaranteed spot since your time is gold.
Exotic Philippines Stayed at:
Caalan Beach Resort