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El Nido is one of the most beautiful areas in the Philippines, and probably the whole world. Made up of
Visiting the Philippines had been on my bucket list for a very long time. In fact, I actually planned two trips to the island that fell through. Luckily, the third time’s the charm and I finally made it to the Philippines in November of 2018. The best part is that traveling in the Philippines on a budget is totally possible. No trip to the Philippines is complete, however, without a stop in El Nido! I’ve compiled a list of my 7 best things to do in El Nido.
The island can be easily reached from Coron by ferry or you can arrive via Puerto Princesa airport and take a van.
Things to know
- WiFi can be extremely spotty in El Nido. While this is great for disconnecting in a gorgeous destination, it is good to know ahead of time.
- The best way to get around is by moped. You can rent one daily for approximately xx.
- Please be careful to not touch or kick the coral. Not only will it damage the coral, but it is also extremely painful.
Where is El Nido
El Nido is located on the northern tip of Palawan Island in the Philippines, often referred to as the most beautiful island in the world.
How to get there
There are a number of ways to get to El Nido, depending on where you are coming from, travel preference and budget.
El Nido now has its own airport (El Nido Airport) so you can fly directly from Manila on a quick 1.5 hour flight. This flight can get pricey and book up quickly, so I recommend booking early. You can find current flights here.
Another, often cheaper option is to fly to Puerto Princesa airport and take a 5.5-6 hour van. If you are going this route, please make sure to book a reputable company as the driving in the Philippines can be a bit crazy.
To find the cheapest flight options from your city, you can use the search form below:
Another easy way to get to El Nido on the island of Palawan, is by ferry. There are direct ferries from Coron. It takes around 4 hours and costs about $20 USD.
Make sure to book your boat in advance in the high season, and they book up quickly.
Best time to visit El Nido
The best time to visit El Nido is from December to March, when it is dry and not too hot. You can visit in April and May as well, but it can get very hot. While it is possible to visit during the offseason, be prepared for rainy days.
Best Things to do in El Nido, Palawan
Book a private island hopping trip
No visit to El Nido is complete without renting a boat and exploring some of the many nearby islands. Unfortunately, due to the high number of tourists in on the island, these island hopping tours can often get super crowded. This is why it is best to book a private tour!
The island hopping tours in El Nido are separated into 4 different itineraries, Tours A, B, C, and D, of the most popular destinations. The tours are typically categorized as follows: Tour A is for those seeking lagoons and beaches, Tour B is for caves and secluded islands, Tour C is for those looking to snorkel, and Tour D is a mix of islands and beaches.
There are tons of great tour companies to choose from, but it is important to make sure that they include all of the necessities for a great trip. A good island hopping tour should include a drinking water (plastic bottles are banned in the Philippines), snorkelling gear, and lunch. A typical island hopping lunch usually includes fish or chicken, rice/noodles, veggies and fruit. Be sure to let the operator know in advanced if you are a vegetarian!
If you only have time for one tour then I recommend Tour C! When I visited I was hoping to combine tours A and C, however unfortunately I found that companies no longer offer this option.
Island Hopping Tours in El Nido
Renting a private boat for your island hopping in El Nido experience is definitely the way to go! All of the group island hopping tours depart from the beach between 9 and 9:30am. Renting a private boat gives you the option of departing as early as 7am which means that you are TWO HOURS AHEAD of the other tours. This is a MAJOR perk as it means that you will beat the tourist rush at each stop. In fact, we had almost every island/beach completely to ourselves for the entire day!
After having the entire beach on the incredible Helicopter Island for ourselves (and an adorable dog) it was quite shocking to drive past the island the following day and see it packed with almost one hundred neon life vest wearing tourists dotting the island.
We booked our private tour with El Bacuit. Our boat rental cost 6,500 PHP (approximately $120 USD, in 2018). This price included a full day island hopping tour from 7am to 3pm with a full boat crew and guide. This also included a boat large enough to accommodate up to 26 people, but at least it meant that we had plenty of space to spread out! We opted out of lunch to cut the costs a bit, however the deal was still fantastic! Most companies we spoke to were charging upwards of 10,000 PHP.
Enjoy sunset drinks at Panorama
A visit to Panorama is a must if you’re looking for sunset views! The restaurant is beachfront with the perfect sunset view. Not to mention, the food is absolutely delicious and relatively affordable.
Take a yoga class at the Birdhouse
Because what is better than a sunset yoga class held high up in the trees? The Birdhouse is the perfect spot for a sunset yoga class or drink with a view.
Day trip to Nacpan Beach
A visit to the island of Palawan, is not complete without a day trip up to Nacpan Beach. Rent a scooter and take the scenic drive! Nacpan can be reached from El Nido town in approximately 45 minutes. Nacpan Beach is a 4-kilometer-long beach with coconut trees filling up the entire coastline. Be sure to watch out for sheep and cow crossing, an accident should not be on your itinerary!
Because the beach at Nacpan is so long, it rarely feels overly crowded. The sunsets here are absolutely gorgeous! But if you stay after the sun sets, be extra careful driving back to El Nido if you’re driving yourself, or consider overnighting in Nacpan.
There are a few restaurants and bars on Nacpan Beach, so you can easily spend a few hours enjoying.
Get a massage
I love massages! In fact, I’ll even make the bold claim that getting a massage makes me happier than almost anything else! If you’re like me, then you’re in luck! There are tons of massage parlors in El Nido town and they are super affordable, with the average 1 hour massage starting around $8 USD. While in El Nido I recommend indulging in a full body massage after a long day of swimming and exploring in the sun.
Go for a sunset swim at Las Cabanas
Las Cabanas is voted by many to be the best spot to catch the perfect El Nido sunset. It is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in El Nido, and one that you won’t want to miss.
You’ll find the beach littered with tourists and locals alike as the sun starts to go down. We visited Las Cabanas on our first evening in El Nido and it was truly a magical evening. Swimming in the warm waves as the sky turned a golden color, drinking fresh coconuts with our toes in the sand – definitely an evening to remember!
Book a diving tour (one of the most popular things to do in El Nido!)
Diving is one of the most popular things to do in El Nido. My boyfriend booked a series of dives with Sea Sphere Dive Center and we couldn’t recommend it more! I personally wasn’t comfortable diving, so the company offers the choice of a snorkel only tour as well at a very discounted price of approximately $20 USD. This includes a full day on the boat, plus lunch.
Rent a moped to explore
Where to stay on El Nido
There are so many choices for places to stay in El Nido, no matter what your budget is. From budget-friendly hostels to five star resorts, El Nido has it all.
Budget: Backpackers Island El Nido
Mid-Range: SANSE Boutique Hotel
Luxury: The Funny Lion – El Nido
🏘️ Book your accommodation
Booking.com will help you to book accommodation in advance and check availability
✈️ Book your flight in advance
To find the cheapest flight options, you can use WayAway and find the most suitable option for you
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