El Nido – All the Top Things to do in this Paradisiac Island
El Nido is a gem located in the north part of Palawan Island, Philippines. It’s surrounded by magnificent natural scenery: stunning lagoons with incredible rock formations, crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and idyllic islands, which all combined make it a true paradise on earth. Most of people come to El Nido to go island hopping, but this small island town with one of a kind atmosphere has much more to offer. Read on to find out what else you can while visiting El Nido, as well as the best bar and hotels recommendations.
Go Island Hopping
It’s the most popular thing to do in El Nido as most of the mind-blowing locations are actually located in the surrounding areas. To see spectacular lagoons, some of the idyllic beaches and stunning rock formations, hop on a boat in the morning and cruise around the islands.
↬ Note : Did you know that there are 7641 islands in the Philippines? ?
↬ Read : El Nido Guide – the Paradisiac Island Hopping
Visit Nacpan Beach
Nacpan Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the land, located 30 min motorbike ride from El Nido. The beach is surrounded by palm trees, has large white sandbanks and usually doesn’t get too crowded. There are cafes and restaurants on the beach serving fresh catch of the day. We’ve heard that shrimps are the speciality.
↬ TIP : As the road to the beach is not in great conditions, we would recommend you to go there for lunch and head back before it gets too dark, if you aren’t staying in the area. That being said, the sunsets there are pretty amazing.
Try out glamping
Glamping is a type of camping, but with more style ?. It’s the perfect way to connect with nature, and yet be comfortable. The best glamps in El Nido are located right next to Nacpan Beach. It’s super fun to stay in a beautiful tent, just steps away from the beach. If you decide to stay here, make sure to watch the sunset from Nacpan Beach as it’s one of the best spots on the island.
If you’d like to experience glamping in El Nido, we recommend: Cabanas de Nacpan Camping Resort – Nacpan Beach Glamping
↬ TIP : Cabanas de Nacpan offers a great deal, as the price includes a motorbike rental.
Swim and surf at Duli Beach
Duli beach is a pristine white sand beach on the far north of Palawan, 40 minutes drive from El Nido. It’s just a bit further than Nacpan Beach, so you can visit both on the same day. The waves there are good for surfing, even for beginners. You can rent a surf board at one of few little huts.
Hike Taraw Cliff for the best view of El Nido
If you’d like to take a break from the beach and the water, hiking the Taraw Cliff is a perfect alternative. The hike takes about 2 hours and it’s a great idea to do it for sunrise. Like this, you will be back in El Nido in time to have breakfast and you could even take off for island hopping the same day.
You should hire a guide for this hike, it’s not too complicated, but the rocks are very sharp and guide will show you the most safe route up. The views on the El Nido bay and nearby islands from the top are breathtaking.
Kayak to the nearby island
You don’t necessarily need to be on a boat to explore this beautiful scenery laying closeby of El Nido bay. Rent a kayak and paddle to the Paradise Beach on Cadalo Island. You can enjoy the beautiful white sand beach and turquoise waters for as long as you’d wish. If you kayak in the morning there is a great chance you’ll be all by yourself and most boats stop here in the afternoon. And morning also means calmer water, and more fishes and turtles… ?
↬ TIP : While booking a hotel have a look at the activities they offer. Many hotels offer kayaks to they guests free of charge.
Watch the sunset at Las Cabanas beach
Las Cabanas beach is one of the most popular beaches in El Nido. It’s located just 5 km from El Nido and you can get there by motorbike, tuk-tuk or even by walk. The beach is surrounded by palm trees and has a unique vibe. It’s a perfect place to relax, suntan and swim in crystal clear waters. It’s also one of the best places to gaze at sunsets.
↬ TIP : For an extra thrill try the zipline between the islands!
Have dinner on the beach in El Nido town
El Nido beach changes a lot from day to night. If you come after dusk, you’ll find countless tables put directly on the sand, in front of the restaurants. All of them serve freshly caught sea food and fish. It’s a real feast!
El Nido itself is not really a charming town… In fact, when we arrived there the very first day, we couldn’t believe that people call this place a paradise. We found out later that the real beauty lies just a short boat ride away in the nature. The town is expanding and developing. There were many construction sites in the centre when we were visiting in March 2018. We would not suggest hanging out there during the day, but rather visit the nearby beaches or just go island hopping. El Nido becomes lovely after dusk when people wander the streets looking for restaurants and bars. (And when the concrete jungle isn’t so visible)
How to get to El Nido
El Nido is located on the north of Palawan Island. The easiest way is to fly directly to El Nido. The only company that operates flights arriving to the city is Air Swift. You can fly directly to there from Manila, Cebu, Boracay and Coron. However the flight are always very expensive and don’t depart often. You can check the schedule here.
The cheapest way is to fly to Puerto Princessa, the capital of Palawan and then take a bus shuttle to El Nido. It’s not the easiest and fastest option, as the drive takes 6 hours, but the mini van is comfortable and you can save a lot of money traveling this way. You can find the cheapest flight on skyscanner.com .
↬ Read : How to save money on your travel bookings
There is no need to pre book the van shuttle in Puerto Princessa. As soon as you exit there will be many drivers just outside of the airport collecting passengers going to El Nido. There isn’t a specific timetable for vans departure: they leave as soon as the van is full. You will stop half way at a rest stop to use toilets and get some snacks.
If you travel from Coron, the easiest and cheapest way to get to El Nido is by ferry. Montenegro Fast Ferry Coron – El Nido departs each day at 12 PM and the journey takes 3,5 h. The boat departs from Coron Ferry Terminal and arrives at El Nido Ferry Terminal. Once in there, you can walk to your accommodation or take a tuk-tuk. The one way ticket costs 1848 PHP (32 EUR).
Getting around El Nido
We highly suggest renting a motorbike or a scooter to be mobile on the island. Most of the roads are in good conditions and the rental is pretty cheap costing around 350 PHP (6 EUR) per day.
Tuk-tuks are a popular way of transportation and it costs from 150-250 PHP to get to around in the city.
Money & ATM
While traveling around the Philippines, it’s good to have plenty of cash as lots of places do not accept credit cards. That being said, in El Nido, you will be able to pay by card in most hotels, but only few bars and restaurants will accept them.
All the activities must be payed by cash only.
There is one ATM in El Nido and the queue is usually pretty long. There are a few money exchanges around the town. Look out for the signs.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit El Nido is from December to May, which is considered dry season. The wet season starts in June and lasts till November. The prices will be much higher in the high/dry season.
Without a doubt El Nido is a paradise on Earth. The government of the Philippines has taken precautions to keep this majestic place as clean as possible. They have introduced regulations for island hopping as well as other actions. Please be aware that smoking on the streets of the city and during island hopping is forbidden. the same goes for the usage of single use plastic, including plastic water bottles. We kindly ask of you to respect the nature and people while on your dream holidays. Do not litter and do not leave anything behind.
↬ Read : Simple hacks to be eco friendly while traveling
Where to eat
There is a great choice of restaurants and bars in El Nido. Here are few of our picks:
Happiness Beach Bar: enjoy a drink or meal sitting in fun swings at this hipster style cafe.
Art Cafe: good food with nice deck and vies on the EL Nido Bay.
Angel Wish: serves daily catch on the beach.
Altrove: the best pizza in town. Be aware of the long queues.
Sava Beach Bar: great beach bar. Plus for happy hour 1+1.
The Nesting Table: great restaurant on the Las Cabanas beach.
Bella Vita: Good place to eat while at Coron Coron Beach.
Where to stay
El Nido has a great variety of places to stay, from luxurious to simple options. However the best places get booked weeks in advance, therefor we suggest you book in advance to get the best deals.
↬ Find all hotels in El Nido on booking.com
We recommend: Cadlao Resort and Restaurant – Villa Dali Resort
Where to next?
Hop on a ferry to Coron to continue on your 3 weeks in the Philippines itinerary.