With pristine beaches, enchanting lagoons, jaw-dropping scenery and vibrant nightlife, it is no wonder that El Nido has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in The Philippines. Most visitors come to El Nido for the infamous island hopping tours. Cruising through the Palawan archipelago, marvelling over the awe-inspiring limestone formations, is an unmissable experience.
We spent almost a week enjoying all that El Nido has to offer, and in this ultimate travel guide to El Nido, we will share all of our tips and tricks to ensure you have a truly awesome time.
ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO EL NIDO, PALAWAN
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HOW TO GET TO EL NIDO
By Air – There are daily flights available from Manila, Coron or Cebu using Sky Jet Air. You can find a small desk upon exit of the airport where you can organise tricycles to your final destination; there was a short wait of approx. 10 mins and we paid 250PHP into El Nido town.
By Land – Another popular route is to fly into Puerto Princessa and then travel via minivan to El Nido. This can be organised at the airport or via 12go Asia & expect to pay around 500PHP/pax.
By Boat – El Nido is accessible via boat from neighbouring Coron Island. The fast boat takes 4 hours, whereas the slow boat takes double the time at half the price. The same services are available in the opposite direction.
*Travel Tip – While travelling around the Philippines can seem like a daunting task, 12go Asia makes planning your route much easier.
COST: Fast Boat: 1700PHP/pax & Slow Boat: 800PHP/pax – you can book online using 12go Asia.
WHERE TO STAY IN EL NIDO
TOP CHOICE – Amakan Bed Bunk & Breakfast – One of the more premium options in the town, and although the rooms were a little cramped (not unusual for El Nido town), they were extremely clean and comfortable. There are a variety of room options available, including dorms, and room prices include free buffet breakfast
MID RANGE PRIVATE – Bulskamp Inn – Perfect for those looking to escape the bustle of El Nido Town.
HOSTEL – Spin Designer Hostel – Recently voted the best hostel in the whole of the Philippines, Spin is a relaxed hostel, offering basic private rooms & dorms with free breakfast included.
For more places to stay in El Nido, you can check the latest prices here.
THINGS TO DO IN EL NIDO
With an abundance of picture-perfect islands to be found amid the Palawan archipelago, it is no surprise that the Island Hopping Tours are the number 1 thing to do in El Nido. However, with so many tours to choose from, how do you pick the right tour for you?
Thankfully, we enjoyed a lot of island hopping in El Nido, and we have put together a separate article detailing our favourite tours. From relaxing tours visiting blue lagoons and pristine beaches; to adventurous tours exploring hidden caves & snorkelling with marine life, we have got you covered.
For more information on Island Hopping in El Nido, please see full blog post: ISLAND HOPPING IN EL NIDO
Nacpan is an endless beach of golden sand, pristine waters and towering palm trees. Located approximately 15km outside of El Nido Town, it is one of our favourite beaches in all of SSouth-EastAsia.
The beach has become increasingly popular in recent years with a number of resorts opening along the bay; however, the beach is so vast that it’s easy to escape the crowds. It also provides a mesmerising view of the infamous Philippines sunsets.
For more information on Nacpan beach, and details of how to get there, be sure to check out the full blog post: NACPAN BEACH IN EL NIDO
NACPAN BEACH MAP LOCATION
LAS CABANAS BEACH
Located a short 15-minute tricycle ride from town, Las Cabanas is a considerably smaller beach than Nacpan; however, equally as beautiful and charming. The water is also very calm, so you can enjoy a relaxing swim, snorkelling or even paddleboarding.
For the adrenaline junkies, be sure to check out the Las Cabanas zip line, one of 7 ways to zipline in the Philippines. This particular Zipline launches you across Las Cabanas beach and onto a neighbouring island. It’s quite pricy at 500-700PHP per person, however, the astonishing views are more than worth it.
Finally, Las Cabanas is an amazing spot to watch the sunset. There are a number of cool beach bars serving food and drink throughout the day, so grab your spot early for the best views.
LAS CABANAS BEACH MAP LOCATION
EL NIDO BEACH
El Nido Beach is located within El Nido Town, however, we wouldn’t recommend spending the day here with Las Cabanas just 15 minutes away. The water isn’t very clean due to the number of boat tours that depart from here daily; however, you can find some nice bars and restaurants dotted along the strip.
EL NIDO BEACH MAP LOCATION
BEST PLACES TO EAT AND PARTY IN EL NIDO
One of the many charms of El Nido is the number of good restaurants and its lively nightlife scene. Our favourites include Happiness Bar, Glow Juice Bar, and V and V Bagels but you can check out the following article for more information: WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN EL NIDO
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- WIFI in Coron, & well pretty much anywhere in The Philippines, is extremely slow. You can buy a local SIM card which is slightly faster, but don’t expect miracles. We found the best cell signal at the top of Mount Tapyas! SIM cards are available to purchase from the airport, phone stores or convenience stores.
- There are only 2 ATMs in the town, and they seem to be out of service quite a lot of the time. It is therefore advised to carry a comfortable amount of cash on you at all times. Furthermore, you increase your chances of being able to get money if you carry both a visa and a MasterCard. Usually, they are accepting one or the other!
- It is extremely common for the town to experience power cuts throughout the day & night – most hotels & restaurants have back up generators, but not all.
- El Nido’s residents are extremely passionate about maintaining the beauty of their home. On your tour, it may be tempting to take a souvenir from one of the beaches; however, please don’t. You can be FINED if caught with anything like this at customs. Also, please keep all litter ON the boat, so the staff can collect at the end of the day
KEEPING FIT IN EL NIDO
Keeping fit and active while we travel is extremely important to us, therefore we always try to find a way to get the heart rate pumping. Space is limited in El Nido town, however, we would wake early and go for a run or do yoga on the beach. Alternatively, there is a gym located near the beach called Peak Corner Gym who charge 100 pesos for a session.
WHAT TO PACK FOR EL NIDO
Unsure of what you might need to pack for your adventures in El Nido? Don’t worry, we have got you covered. Below are the essential items that we carry with us on every adventure. But to ensure you don’t leave behind any of those backpacker essentials, here is our free printable packing list.
1. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
It is no secret that single-use plastic is causing irreversible damage to our ecosystems, it is therefore imperative that as travellers, we try to minimise our consumption as much as possible.
We always carry a reusable water bottle and you will find that most hotels or hostels have a refill station. Not only is it better for the planet but you’ll save cash too!
We Recommend: Stainless steel Insulated Water Bottles
2. VERSATILE WALKING SHOES
When going on any backpacking adventure, we always carry some versatile walking shoes with us. We personally love the 2 in 1 shoes by Aleader as not only can we wear them hiking, but they act as water shoes too!
We Recommend: Aleader 2 in 1 Hiking Shoes. Use code OURTASTEFORLIFE15 for 15% off your order.
3. GOPRO ACTION CAMERA & ADVENTURE KIT
If you want an action camera that is durable and safe to take in the water, then look no further than the Go Pro. Small, lightweight, and easy to handle, you really ought to carry one of these with you on any backpacking adventure. Check out our full photography travel kit.
We Recommend: GoPro Hero 7 (White) Action Camera + Adventure Kit
4. QUICK DRY MICROFIBER TOWEL
They really do dry fast! Ultra-compact and lightweight so you can take to the beach easily. Not just the beach, this item is great for hiking, swimming, any outdoor adventure!
We Recommend: Microfiber Travel Towel
5. UNIVERSAL ADAPTOR
When you are travelling long-term across multiple countries, it’s hard to keep up with which adaptors you need to carry. Not only does our universal adaptor work anywhere in the world, but we can also charge multiple devices at the same time. This is a backpackers essential.
We Recommend: Universal Travel Adapter with Dual USB Charging Ports
It should go without saying; however, when enjoying the beach, it’s important to be mindful of the environment. It is no secret that some of our planets fragile ecosystems are at risk of extinction. There are many small steps you can take to becoming a responsible traveller, check out the Eco-Travel essentials here. It is our duty as travellers, that we reduce our footprint where we can, here are some tips:
- Do not leave anything on the beaches, or take anything away – unless you’ve purchased it from a local supplier.
- Wear Reef Safe Sunscreen.
- Try to avoid touching coral, sea life or anything in the ocean… unless it’s plastic, take it away and dispose of properly.
More on Philippines
Planning a trip to the Philippines? Check out some of our other articles to help plan your trip:
- ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO BORACAY
- 21 Unmissable Tourist Spots in Coron, Palawan
- ISLAND HOPPING TOURS IN CORON
- 8 ADVENTUROUS THINGS TO DO IN LEGAZPI, PHILIPPINES
- ETHICALLY SWIM WITH WHALE SHARKS IN DONSOL
- A SIMPLE GUIDE TO THE PHILIPPINES
Did you enjoy our ultimate travel guide to El Nido Palawan?
Let us know. That concludes our ultimate travel guide to El Nido Palawan. We hope you enjoy your time in this magical city. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here, where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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