Palawan is without a doubt one of the most in demand destinations in the country. When locals and tourists talk about the beautiful places in the Philippines, Palawan is always the top choice. You can never go wrong with this beautiful Province. It guarantees you a vacation that will surely add up to your collection of timeless dreams fulfilled.
Located in the Western part of the Philippines is a province filled with so many surreal islands. Palawan is also the home to the world-known underground river that has competed countless times for its deserving place to be part of the 7 wonders of the world. The furious island of Balabac in the Southernest part is notable for its massive number of saltwater crocodiles. While in the Northern part of Palawan is the famous Coron with its stunning limestone and shipwrecks. El Nido, on the other hand, boasts off its unique crystal clear waters and lagoons. In this article, let me take you to the most beautiful places in El Nido.
About El Nido, Palawan
Tracing back to El Nido’s history, it was a hidden paradise due to its remote location from the other inhabited islands. It was in the late 1990s when it was discovered by accident. The stunning beauty of the island attracted many tourists and later became one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Best time to visit
Since El Nido is more on activities under the sun, the expected best time to visit is during the dry season from March – May. Moreover, the months from November – May is still considerable and safe to visit without the rainstorms. It is not advisable to visit El Nido during the wet season from July – October since water in the sea is murky and there’ll be bigger waves during island hopping.
Language spoken in El Nido, Palawan
Tagalog is the main language spoken in El nido, Palawan. In addition, many Filipinos can speak very well in English and are proficient in other native language like Visaya, Bicolano and Hiligaynon.
The currency accepted here is Philippine peso. Moreover, there are ATM machines and most establishments like restaurants and hotels accept credit cards. Some boatman who offers island hopping accepts USD as cash payment. But if you need to convert your money, there are money changers in the main street of El Nido.
How to get to El Nido, Palawan
El Nido can now be accessed by land, sea, and air depending on what location you’re coming from. Below are the options you can choose from to get to El Nido in Palawan.
Option 1: By Air
The fastest way to go to El Nido is by booking a direct flight to Lio Airport (ENI) in El Nido. The second closest airport to El Nido is in Puerto Princesa (PPS) which is roughly 5 hours land travel by van. However, if you’re planning to backpack Palawan and consider underground river in your itinerary this is the best airport for you. You can book a flight to PPS and do a quick city tour before heading to the underground river. After that your next stop will be in El Nido.
Option 2: By Land
If you’re coming from Puerto Princesa airport or other municipalities in the Southern part like Balabac, you can ride a bus/van to get here. The fastest land travel is by van and from PPS airport there will only be one stopover which is halfway the trip. Vans from outside the airport only leave once it’s full and the fare is estimated PHP500.00 – PHP700.00 per person for 5-6 hours.
Another option for land travel is by bus. This is a good option if you have a lot of luggage with you since bus haves bigger compartments that vans. From the airport, charter a tricycle going to San Jose Terminal where you can ride a bus to El Nido. The travel time is longer which is 6-7 hours since it has several stopovers along the way.
Option 3: By Sea
Another option to get to El Nido is by sea travel from Coron. Ride a fast craft going to El Nido. It leaves daily at noon and arrive El Nido at 3:30 PM. For advance bookings on your ferry to El Nido, click on below link and book your trip with Bookaway. Also, take note that there are no flights from Coron to El Nido airport.
Where to book your tour
We were supposed to tavel to El Nido in a DIY way but since there were 7 of us in our group, we thought it would be better to book through travel agencies. And we did not regret this since it was a hassle-free tour with Tripidito Travel. We did not need to think about anything else but our poses for our Instagram feed.
Where to stay in El Nido
As part of our booked tour from Tripidito Travel, we stayed at El Nido Elysian Place for our accommodation in El Nido. The hostel is fine and it’s just walking distance from the main street of El Nido filled with souvenir shops, restaurants and hotels. It’s also just walking distance from the port which is the jump start of all island hopping in El NIdo.
BOOK BUDGET ROOMS WITH ZENROOMS!!!
For budget travelers, if you’re looking for discounted accommodations you can book with Zenrooms. You can use the promo code below to get a 20% discount on your bookings.
- Where to book: zenrooms.com
- Promo Code (20% discount): JOANSFOOTPRINTS
Where to eat
If you’re looking for a chill place to dine with a stunning view of the islets in El Nido you might want to check out Birdhouse El Nido. Other recommended restaurants in El Nido is the Cabin Restaurant.
Additionally, for budget travelers there are carinderyas scattered all over the streets in El Nido especially at night. Just walk around the place and you’ll see restaurants offering budget meal for PHP 80.00 and above per person.
Things to do in El Nido
There are a number of things you can do in El Nido. Most people think that the only activity you can do here is island hopping. Actually, you can do more than that like trekking, sunset watching, freediving and more. Check out the suggested things you can do below.
Island Hopping in El Nido, Palawan
This is the very reason why tourists come here in El Nido and that is to do island hopping since El Nido is famous for its stunning beaches and islands. First thing you have to know is that the tours for island hopping are actually divided into 5 different tours. The reason is because there are so many islands and beaches in El Nido that you cannot visit all of them in a single day. Hence the tours you can choose from. You can so 1 tour for the whole day and the others on the next days.
Below are the list of island hopping tours offered by Tripidito:
- Tour A with lunch – Secret Lagoon, Small/ Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island and Seven Commando Beach
- Tour B with lunch – East Pangulasian, Snake Island, Cudognon Cave, Cathedral Island and Pinagbuyutan Island
- Tour C with lunch – Helicopter Island, Talisay Beach, Star Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Hidden Beach
- Tour D – Bukal beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Natnat Beach, Paradise Island, Pasandigan Beach
Sunset at Nacpan Beach
You have to know that Nacpan beach is not part of any island hopping tours in El Nido since it’s an hour way by land from El Nido. However, it is recommended to come here and spend sunset watching. This is a cool place to chill and another go-to place of tourists. To get here, you can hire a tricycle for PHP1,000.00 (USD20) and it’s good for 3-4 person. Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike if you know how to drive one. The rate is PHP350.00 for a whole day and that’s good for 2 person.
Hike at Taraw Cliff
Hiking to Taraw Cliff is another recommended activity if you’re up for adventure. The Taraw Cliff offers an overlooking view of El Nido and the port. The trek is almost an hour and a guide is required. Guide fee cost PHP500.00 for a group of 3. For more details about Taraw Cliff, you can read more here.
Freediving in El Nido
Another suggested activity you can do is freediving and/or scuba diving. I personally enjoyed this part since I just started freediving a week before our trip in El Nido. During the island hopping tours, you can ask your tour guide to advise you for freediving sites during the tour. There are snorkeling sites from 5-10 meters where you can do fun dives.
Dine at Overlooking Restaurants
Another way to relax aside from watching sunsets in Nacpan Beach is to dine in restaurants with overlooking view. I highly recommend Birdhouse El Nido for this trip. Birdhouse El Nido has a very peaceful vibe of nature and a stunning view of the beaches. Other activities you can do here is yoga. Check this place out when you visit El Nido.
Check them out here: Birdhouse El Nido
Try the Seafood in El Nido
Seafood restaurants are almost in every corner in El Nido. In fact, seafood in included in lunch buffets during island hopping tours. However, if you want to try authentic seafood during dinner after an island hopping trip or trek to Taraw Cliff, you can try in Jarace Grill Seafood and Restaurant.
Places to Visit in El Nido
To sum up the places we’ve been to in El Nido, below are photos of my most favorite tourist sites/islands in El Nido.
- Matinloc Shrine
- Small Lagoon/Big Lagoon
- Hidden Beach
- Seven Commando Beach
- Cudgnon Cave
- Nacpan Beach
- Taraw Cliff
Tips from Joan’s Footprints
- If you are planning to go here on a DIY way, best to book in advance for accommodation since the accommodation price can get really high if it’s not booked early.
- Phone receptions are available everywhere
- For budget tips, you can eat in carinderyas to lesses your expenses. Honestly they are everywhere.
- There are snorkeling gears like fins and snorkels & mask you can rent at the port for PHP100.00 per day.
- Wear coral-friendly sunblock to avoid harmful chemicals consumed by the fish while swimming or snorkeling
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