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Home » Southeast Asia » Philippines » El Nido

EPIC EL NIDO Itinerary! (2024)

If you want to spend your holiday lazing in the sun on white-sand beaches before jumping into crystal blue waters, then El Nido is the perfect holiday destination!

This Palawan Island municipality is full of things to do and great places from which to set out. Go snorkeling in the rich tropical waters, or tour the archipelago on an exciting day trip! We’ve put together all the very best of what to do in a comprehensive El Nido Itinerary. You can also find out when to visit El Nido, learn insider tips, and where to stay during your trip!

Whether you’re spending two days in El Nido or backpacking the Philippines for two months, you will adore this island paradise! Read on to discover everything you’ll need to know to have a wonderful trip in El Nido.

el nido travel story

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Best Time To Visit El Nido

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The best time to travel to El Nido, Philippines is during the dry season. This is the Palawan island’s peak season, and it will get busy, but the weather is so perfect, and there’s so much to do, that the crowds won’t bother you. Depending on how you like to travel, you may also prefer it! 

When to visit El Nido

The driest and coldest time of year is from December to February, making this the best time to go . Why not spend Christmas basking in the sun? 

The rainy season in the Philippines can grow quite stormy and sometimes limit the activities available. If you do choose to travel during this time for the cheap flights and small crowds, be sure to keep an eye out on the weather. It can be just as fun, as long as you pick the right days to go!

El Nido is a small town, and every part of it is beautiful! Still, you can choose between neighborhoods that are perfect for island hopping, partying, lazing on the beach and exploring the lush landscape outside your door! 

Our favorite place to stay in El Nido is Corong-Corong Beach and they should be on every Philippines backpacking itinerary . If you’re staying on an island renowned for its white sand beaches, why not stay right on one of the best! This area is also great for partying because much of the best nightlife takes place right on the beach. 

Where to stay in El Nido

Step outside your room and into the water, and spend all day lazing on the sand sipping on cocktails. You’ll forget grey skies ever existed! Especially with the El Nido trip itinerary we’ve got planned.

If you want to see more of the local culture, stay in El Nido Town. You’ll have easy access to all the tours from here and most stops on our El Nido itinerary. You can also meet people, local and foreign, and find fantastic Philippines food! The accommodation in the town itself is also more budget-friendly, so broke backpackers can still afford to explore the famously beautiful area without breaking the bank!

Check out this post for more advice on where to stay in El Nido!

Best Hostel in El Nido – Outpost Beach Hostel

El Nido itinerary

With a lively, social atmosphere and a fantastic location right on Corong-Corong beach, we cannot picture a better budget option! You’ll meet new people, have a rave of a time, and spend all the time on the beach or island hopping. The rooms are lovely, and you can relax in the lounge or the in-house restaurant! 

If you prefer to stay in hostels, this is our guide to the best hostels in El Nido .

Best Airbnb in El Nido – Magestic Hut In The Jungle

Magestic Hut In The Jungle

You cannot find a better experience in the Philippines staying here. You get to stay in private hut!

This Airbnb has the number one view we have seen on the site, and it doesn’t end there. The owners are totally switched on about saving energy and using the resources mother nature gave us.

They even teach you about the permaculture, let you pick from the garden, and show you just how their solar panel system works in the tropics. And most of all, the place is geared towards travelers coming through, so they made the ideal hangout location on site.

Just sip on some coconuts or have a San Miguel while you meet new people staying nearby or on the location. As for location, there’s nothing better than having the option to go hiking in your backyard, but if you are looking for some social life there are some awesome coffee shops within walking distance with the choice of neat little cafes that will definitely have halo halo, – a must-try local dessert!

Best Budget Hotel in El Nido – Cuna Hotel

Cuna Hotel

La Cuna has bright, spacious rooms, comfortable beds, and terrific staff. It is El Nido’s best budget hotel, with a great pool and plenty of amenities. Dine and drink in your room or at the hotel bar or restaurant, and relax in the peaceful, in-town hotel. 

Best Luxury Hotel in El Nido –  Balai Adlao

El Nido itinerary

This charming hotel is situated in the center of El Nido. A few minutes walk from everything you could want, the hotel is a perfect home base! Enjoy a buffet breakfast, a private balcony, and great services. The hotel is ideal for solo travelers and couples, and it’s the best place to stay in El Nido in three days! 

El Nido is such a small town that you certainly don’t need to catch public transport! You can comfortably walk everywhere, or even rent a bicycle and explore the greater El Nido area by bike! Most hotels rent out bicycles, which means they are also a very convenient option.

If you’re spending more than three days in El Nido, you may want to explore beyond the island! We’ve found some great tours for that, but catching public transport and exploring on your own is also a great option. While you cannot discover many of the little islands and snorkeling coves on your own, you can visit the other areas on Palawan island .

El Nido itinerary

The island is massive, and it can take almost a day to cross it by bus or van, so choose your destinations wisely! The vans are like large taxis, and can take some time filling up. They will usually stay in one town until they are up to capacity, so if you choose to travel this way, hop into one that looks pretty full!

The bus is the cheapest and second most popular option for inter-town travel on Palawan. They travel every one to two hours, so you’ll never have to wait too long!

Las Cabanas Beach | Big Lagoon | Small Lagoon | Zipline | Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls | Full Moon Party

Day one in El Nido combines all of the island town’s best activities: swimming, tanning, and beach parties! If you’re wondering what to do in El Nido, look no further! 

Day 1 / Stop 1 – Swim and Tan on Las Cabanas Beach

  • Why it’s awesome: Pristine beaches and gorgeous coastal waters.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Get breakfast at the casual Las Cabanas Beach Resort.

One of the main reasons we love to visit El Nido is for the absurdly beautiful beaches! That means they have to be first on the list. Step out of your hotel and onto the sand or make the short walk from town. 

The waters are warm and clear and the scene picturesque. Take a dip in the water before relaxing on the sand or on a lounger! You can spend all day here, but since there’s so much to do, we recommend a few hours to rejuvenate and shed all your stress. Afterward, you will move onto the rest of the thrilling day’s activities on your El Nido itinerary!

el nido itinerary

Most beaches have bars and cafes lining a section of them and loungers available. So, you can enjoy a mojito or a beer while you catch that tan.

Be sure to apply a lot of sunscreen, as the sun here is very hot. You will also want waterproof so that you can dive into the water whenever you feel a little warm! For more advice on what to bring to El Nido, check out our Philippines packing list !

Day 1 / Stop 2 – Kayak in the Big Lagoon

  • Why it’s awesome: Limestone cliffs and crystal make this one of the most gorgeous stops.
  • Cost: A kayak costs USD $27 for the day, or USD $8 per hour
  • Food nearby: Pack a picnic- the Big Lagoon is left untouched by restaurants and eateries!

Rent a kayak or join a tour of El Nido’s Big Lagoon! The lagoon is massive and impressive, with limestone cliffs rising up on every side, and clear water revealing equally interesting formations below the water!

You can spend hours here exploring nooks and crannies and jumping off your boat into the ocean. There’s both deep and shallow water, so people of all ages and swimming abilities will be comfortable. 

Big Lagoon

You can also grab a snorkel in El Nido to better explore the Lagoon below the water. As soon as you’re tired, you can climb back into your kayak and paddle over to the next exciting area!

This is one of the most picturesque natural places in the world, so don’t forget your best travel camera ! You can also hire a local to row for you so that you can find the best parts of the giant lagoon easily and save all your strength for swimming.

Insider Tip: There are spiny sea urchins in much of the lagoon, so be sure to stick to the deeper areas, or find a shallow spot that’s clear of them!  

Day 1 / Stop 3 – Explore the Small Lagoon

  • Why it’s awesome: The Small Lagoon is so beautiful and very close to El Nido town.
  • Cost: Like the Big Lagoon, a kayak costs USD $27 for the day, or USD $8 per hour.
  • Food nearby: Pack a picnic to enjoy, because there are no restaurants around!

This local paradise is one of the best El Nido attractions! Rent a kayak or go with your tour group to spend hours in this little lagoon. The visibility is superb, and the crystal waters stay pristine no matter the weather. This makes it a great place to visit during those rainy months!

The water is warm and much of the lagoon is shallower than the other snorkeling spots. There are sometimes small jellies, which are wonderful to see but will stop you from swimming! They are so ephemeral and sweet though, you won’t be too bothered!

Small Lagoon

The views are amazing, and there’s so much to see and admire. It gets quite crowded during peak season. That’s why we’ve made it a later stop for the day so that you miss both the hottest time of the day (and the busiest)!

Like its larger partner, this lagoon has plenty of great cliff jumping spots and gorgeous limestone formations, as well as a few caves to explore.

Day 1 / Stop 4 – Zipline

  • Why it’s awesome: Combines adrenaline-pumping fun and great views.
  • Cost: USD $10 one way.
  • Food nearby: Grab a snack at The Beach Shack!

Get your adrenaline pumping on a zipline! The El Nido zipline stretches across the beach and the bay to the nearby Snake Island. At 750m long, it’s such a great way to see the sights as you fly along!

Once you’re on Snake Island, why not stay awhile and do some snorkeling. You can then walk back to the mainland at low tide, or swim back to shore! It’s an easy swim being so close, but if you’d prefer, you can also be pulled back up the zipline, for an additional USD $8.


The walk up to the zipline platform is steep, but only takes 5-10 minutes, so it’s suitable for everyone. You can also reach it by scooter or tricycle if you’re renting one for the day!

Your departure is Las Cabanas Beach, which is a great place to return for a beer and a bit of relaxing after the activity!

Insider Tip: Wear walking shoes rather than slip slops. The short trek up is steep and rocky.

Day 1 / Stop 5 – Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls

  • Why it’s awesome: It’s a beautiful waterfall and a lovely walk.
  • Food nearby: Pack a picnic to enjoy at the falls.

Leave the beach behind and explore deeper into Palawan island! We love this El Nido itinerary stop not only for the waterfall but for the walk there. It’s a light hike. You’ll stroll through exotic vegetation and spot some creatures before coming up onto the impressive waterfall. You’ll also be walking through the river several times, so prepare to get a little wet!

Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls

You can swim in the small pool, and take plenty of photos (it’s a great Instagram opportunity). If the water flow isn’t too heavy, swim under the waterfall! The falling water feels like a massage on your shoulders and head.

The hike is a casual forty minute walk through the wilderness. This is the only stop on your itinerary for El Nido that goes deep into the jungle, so enjoy the adventure! You can hire a guide to avoid getting lost or throw caution to the wind and explore alone.

Day 1 / Stop 6 – Full Moon Party

  • Why it’s awesome: You can party all night with free-spirited folk.
  • Cost: Free entrance!
  • Food nearby: Find local food and drinks at Marimegmeg Beach Bar.

If you book your trip to El Nido during the full moon, you’re in great luck! If you haven’t booked your flights yet, see if you can catch this monthly event. The full moon parties are legendary, and it’s one of the best things to do in El Nido!

Don your brightest clothes, get a little luminescent paint and glitter, and embrace the free-spirited fun! With drinking, dancing, and the opportunity to meet and bond with new people from all over the world, this is guaranteed to be a fantastic night. 

Full Moon Party

The beach party includes live reggae bands and great DJs who know just how to keep the party going all night. You’ll also see fire dancers and giant bonfires, where you can dance or sit and enjoy the night. 

If you’re not in El Nido, Palawan during full moon, don’t fret. You may not have all the best the island has to offer, but beach parties are a common sight in El Nido, and there’s always something going on!

el nido travel story

Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

Cathedral Caves | Shimizu Island Snorkeling | Vigan Island | Balay Cuyonon Museum | Sibaltan Mangroves | Ille Cave | RoofTop Bar and Boutique

The second day on our two day itinerary in El Nido will take you snorkeling and island hopping, as well as exploring some of the mainland! Set out on a self-led El Nido walking tour and explore all the great sights in and beyond the town and municipality. 

Day 2 / Stop 1 – Cathedral Caves

  • Why it’s awesome: The gorgeous soaring rock formations are really impressive.
  • Cost: Boat rentals are negotiable, but expect to pay ~ USD $80.
  • Food nearby: Boat tours include lunch, but if you’re going yourself, pack a picnic.

On day two of your El Nido itinerary, catch a boat to the gorgeous Cathedral Caves for a natural wonder that competes with Europe’s best cathedrals! The cave is almost hidden to the eye from outside, so you will need a guide. Once you get inside though, the stone ceiling soars up in spires and chutes!

Cathedral Caves

You can’t swim here, but there is so much beauty to marvel at. It’s the perfect stop before you head a little out of El Nido to snorkel, the next activity on our El Nido itinerary! Be sure to bring your camera.

Insider Tip: If you’re only looking for places to swim, skip this stop- it’s absolutely gorgeous, but strong currents and the possibility of sea snakes make it unfit for swimming!

Day 2 / Stop 2 – Go Snorkeling off Shimizu Island

  • Why it’s awesome: Shimizu island has some of Palawan’s best snorkeling!
  • Cost: Pay an environmental fee of USD $10
  • Food nearby: Find something tasty at the vendors who sell fresh-tasting food at the beach.

A must-see on our two-day itinerary in El Nido, Shimizu Beach, has as much to admire under the water as above it! Explore the underwater wonderland, admiring the multicolored fish that make the coral home. 

You’ll find creatures large and small swimming around the otherworldly metropolis. The corals here are still alive and vibrant with color. Swim slowly and see everything you can. Who knows, maybe you’ll even see a cuttlefish or an octopus, changing its color and texture to suit its location?

Shimizu Island

The island itself is small and charming, and locals have set up small cafes and shops to cater to those that snorkel and swim here. The rocky landscape is also very interesting to explore, and you can jump off the small cliffs into the water (if you find a safe place). Remember to never  walk on coral. Only bring children to this activity that are old enough to respect the coral.

You can spend all day here and want for nothing, whether you’re renting a boat and doing the trip on your own, or joining a tour. One of the best places to visit in El Nido, this lovely island is the perfect place for all ages to explore! 

Day 2 / Stop 3 – Vigan Island

  • Why it’s awesome: Explore the little island separated from El Nido by a sandbar.
  • Cost: Free access!
  • Food nearby: Get lunch at The Nesting Table, just off El Nido’s coast, or find ‘street’ food on the little island.

No trip to El Nido is complete without visiting Vigan Island! Also known as Snake Island, this is one of the top El Nido points of interest. It can be reached by walking along a picturesque sandbar at low tide or swam to at high tide. 

The island’s nickname, thankfully, does not arise from a proliferation of snakes! Rather, it was dubbed that because of the snake-like shape of the sandbar that leads to it. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy the sun and swim in the clear shallow water!

Vigan Island

On the walk up to the viewing deck at the island’s highest point, you’ll walk through a lovely Mangrove forest! See if you can spot any of the indigenous monkeys. Remember, if you do spot these beautiful creatures, don’t try to touch them as they are wild!

>It’s a terrifically calming stop on the El Nido itinerary, and very photo-worthy. Just avoid peak times, as it can get very busy!

Day 2 / Stop 4 – Balay Cuyonon Museum

  • Why it’s awesome: It’s a great opportunity to see how the locals lived.
  • Cost: Admission is by donation so you choose how much to pay!
  • Food nearby: Get something light and local at Efrena Beach Restaurant in Sibaltan town.

We think it’s always important to learn a little about the local culture and history when you go on holiday! It allows you to appreciate everything you see in a far deeper way and with valuable context.

This small museum shows how Cuyunons lived and how some continue to live, after arriving on the island thousands of years ago! The museum, a traditionally-styled replica of a Cuyonon homestead, is situated right on the beach in the town of Sibaltan. 

It’s an interactive museum, allowing you not only to learn about how the Cuyonons lived but experience it yourself! The museum was established so that local Cuyonons can learn where they come from and maintain an element of their traditions and culture, and so that those touring El Nido can learn more about them as well!

Day 2 / Stop 5 – Sibaltan Mangroves

  • Why it’s awesome: Beautiful and ethereal, kayaking among the mangroves is amazing!
  • Food nearby: You can find some fantastic food at Tangway Resto Gallery.

For a totally different aesthetic, rent a kayak or join a boat trip of the Sibaltan river running between Mangrove plantations . These beautifully bending trees line the riverbank for a kilometer, and they are a really lovely sight! 

Sibaltan Mangroves

You can rent a kayak or two from the friendly locals and explore the river on your own- there’s nothing too dangerous in the waters or surroundings, so a guide is not necessary although you may prefer to have one so that you know just where to go!

This lovely stop is another example of how little El Nido optimizes for tourist attractions and retains a natural, authentic atmosphere. It’s a relief when you grow accustomed to destinations where you can see nothing without forking out some cash!

Day 2 / Stop 6 – Ille Cave

  • Why it’s awesome: It’s a network of caves and a museum!
  • Cost: Free.
  • Food nearby: Enjoy casual local cuisine at the nearby Minnuya Restaurant.

Few people planning a trip to El Nido know about the fascinating Ille Cave! This jacked limestone tower is surrounded by forest and fields and offers some of the most interesting mainland views! 

The site contains so much history that it’s been made into a museum! Many artifacts have been found in the cave, and it was certainly once used for shelter by ancient tribes. You can find many of the artifacts still housed here with displays and descriptions! Archeologists continue to research the area, so there’s new information all the time.

Ille Cave

Stroll through the impressive chambers and discover hidden gems! The hike up takes about forty minutes, and it’s challenging and difficult. You can come here with a guide, or you can find it yourself if you’re willing to spend a little more time looking for it! Locals can always point you in the right direction.

Insider Tip: While you’re there, you should definitely make the extra walk up to the top of the mountain. It’s not far and the incredible views are well worth it. But wear hiking shoes, as the terrain is rocky!

Day 2 / Stop 7 – RoofTop Bar and Boutique

  • Why it’s awesome: Great vibes, good music and plenty of cocktails.
  • Food nearby: The food at the bar itself is amazing and very well priced.

If you’re looking to have some nighttime fun with a laid-back atmosphere, RoopTop is the best bar in town. You can go barefoot, relaxed, and enjoy cocktails and good people without a thought of leaving.

The bar plays reggae and chill dance music. They also serve a great variety of drinks and are known for their perfect, strong Cosmopolitans. Likely to become your go-to place for a few drinks in El Nido, the RoofTop Bar welcomes all! 

If you’re looking to party hard and dance all night, it may not be where you’ll spend all your time. Even then, it’s the perfect first stop.

The three-story bar offers plenty of space to relax, with futons, couches, and floor pillows arranged around tables. The happy hour lasts long and the views are lovely. You really can’t go wrong with this stop on our El Nido Itinerary!

El Nido itinerary

Outpost Beach Hostel

With a lively, social atmosphere and a fantastic location right on Corong-Corong beach, we cannot picture a better budget option!

  • Reception (limited hours)
  • Airport Transfers

El Nido Yoga Class | El Kusina | Mountain Biking | Canopy Walk | Sailing El Nido’s Ocean

With three days in El Nido, it’s time to experience more of the local culture and lesser-known El Nido landmarks! These activities and attractions are a wonderful way to get to know the locals better and experience more than the average tourist.

Go to an El Nido Yoga Class

  • Choose between a morning and evening yoga class so that your day is free.
  • Relax and get in touch with your body while challenging it in this beautiful setting.
  • Classes are designed for complete beginners to the highest levels!

What better way to relax in paradise than with a yoga class with views over the island and ocean? We love this activity in the itinerary for El Nido because it’s such a different experience to most, and there can be no better place for us to recommend a little yoga! 

If you enjoy regular yoga and have a few flexible skills up your sleeve, you can join one of the more advanced classes. If you’ve never done it before but like the idea of doing some calm exercise to work off those great boozy nights, the beginners classes are fantastic!

El Nido Yoga Class

You can take the class before or after an island hopping tour or a day spent swimming and enjoying the sun! Our favorite is the evening class, because the only way to improve a well-run paradise-setting yoga class is to throw in a sunset. It will certainly give you a good night’s rest. Of course, it’ll get you loose and limber for the night’s dancing!

There are a few yoga places you can choose between in El Nido. Our favorite is Namaste El Nido – their instructors are professional and good, their different classes are suited to different skill levels, and the view from the yoga rooms is beautiful!

Another great option is the simply named Yoga El Nido. Here the views are even more impressive, and their instructors are also fantastic. This studio, however, is only open from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

Take a Cooking Class at El Kusina

  • Learn how to make delicious Filipino food and learn about their lifestyle.
  • Enjoy a few rounds of rum while you cook up a storm!
  • Start with a visit to the local market and choose your fresh ingredients.

We always love taking cooking classes while we travel! What better memento to bring home than the ability to cook some of your favorite local dishes! This way the amazing memories can sink in every time you make a little Filipino cuisine.

El Kusina is the oldest running cooking class in El Nido, and depending on when you go, you may find it’s the only one! The experience is fantastic. Nina runs the classes with modern equipment in a simple, traditional setting. She and her partner started the classes to address a lack of tourism activities in the town itself. 

It’s a wonderful way to learn about the workings of Filipino food and cooking practices . You’ll also learn more about the local Filipino culture, and get a new appreciation for the beauty of El Nido!

At El Kusina, you can choose between private sessions and a spot in public ones! Both are brilliant, as you can either meet and have fun with new people, or bond with the group you came with! You’ll learn how to cook five different dishes, including starters, mains, and a pudding. You’ll even get the online cookbook, so you’ll never forget how to make it! The classes take four to five hours, and you can choose to do it in the morning or the evening.

Mountain Biking through the Forest

  • Fantastic adventure activity and way to experience El Nido in a different way.
  • Rent a bicycle for a couple of hours or for the whole day and explore Palawan.
  • You can choose between a bicycle tour or self-led adventure.

If you have any experience with mountain biking , you’ll know how different it is to ordinary road biking and how fantastically fun! Rent a bicycle at one of the rental places dotted around El Nido, or get one at your hostel- most accommodations provide them at a reduced fee!

Palawan has a good amount of mountain trails ideal for mountain biking. If you have an experience, or are at minimum lead by someone with a fair bit of experience, then find a trail map and pick up some bikes! If not, we suggest you join a group. El Nido tours are organized daily, and you can join or create a group. You can also get a tour guide with your bicycle rental and tour Palawan that way!

Mountain Biking through the Forest

The best part about exploring Palawan beyond the beaches is that you’ll come across hidden villages nestled among the hills! Cycle among tropical rainforests and spot the creatures that make it home. Then say helo to the locals and see if you can buy a memento. The jungle is pristine and the villages virtually untouched by the outside world. 

You can take it easy and follow trails that tackle only slight uphills. Alternatively, challenge yourself to a day of hard riding and see some of Palawan’s best mountain views!

El Nido Canopy Walk

  • A safe way to see the limestone cliffs of El Nido from up high.
  • Spectacular and Instagrammable views over the island!
  • Can feel physically challenging, but you have time and a great guide.

A fantastic way to see El Nido is from above! Trek the canopy walk to get the best views in El Nido. The walk takes about an hour and includes some steep sections which can be physically challenging but the view from the top is so worth it! Just pace yourself and bring plenty of water. 

Once you’re at the top, you’ll have views all along the canopy. Every moment is worth a photo, so don’t forget your camera! You can also include the dream catcher section, and we think it’s well worth the little extra cost. Here you can stand, bounce, or lie on a network of ropes in the structure of a dream catcher, but what it catches is you! What a dream!

Canopy Walk

Despite the uphill, this is not a very challenging walk, and experienced hikers may find it a little boring. You can always take the day and hike up well-marked trails to the top of the limestone cliffs. Just keep in mind that it’s safer to have a guide, as the cliffs can be treacherous, and you should only go if you have a full day to dedicate to the activity.

Sailing El Nido’s Ocean

  • Beginners can take a course to learn to sail in idyllic conditions off El Nido’s coast.
  • You can also join a two day expedition to explore beyond Palawan.
  • Watch or join in on weekly Sunday sailing races. There are activities for everyone.

Another fantastic El Nido activity is sailing on a catamaran! This is an absolutely awesome way to experience Palawan’s gorgeous bays. Find secluded beaches all to yourself and watch the turquoise water pass you with a light spray!

You can rent a catamaran for a few hours or for the day and learn to sail on your own. The catamarans are very handy, because their double hull makes even complete beginners tip with difficulty.

Sailing El Nido’s Ocean

You can also take a sailing course for an hour, and learn all the ins and outs of it! You can then go take a well-deserved rest and move onto a swim and tan, or then rent the catamaran and take it out for a spin on your own! If you’re spending the weekend in El Nido, be sure to check out their Sunday sailing fun! It’s a popular activity both for locals and tourists.

For something completely different, go on an overnight sailing-camping trip! No experience is needed, and you’ll spend the day sailing, and the night on a private island. If you don’t like camping, you can also choose to stay at a cottage on Snake Island!

All meals on the trip are included, and you can go with a group of two through twenty! This is such a unique way to experience Palawan. Enjoy the challenge and relax with a laid-back itinerary!

El Nido is considered a very safe place to travel! The island paradise experiences very little violent crimes. Petty theft does occur, and it’s always a good idea to keep your cash and valuables safe and carry as little on you as possible. Most hostels and hotels have lockers available- unless you’re sure yours has one, bring a padlock.

An important safety warning is to avoid drinking tap water. Like on most islands, the water can be unsafe to drink and lead to a very uncomfortable vacation in El Nido, if not hospitalization. Don’t stress, you can buy water at every corner, and most hostels provide it for purchase or for free!

Keep in mind that ATMs are hard to find in the island town. It’s better to come prepared with cash in the local currency. You will also find that bartering lowers the prices of many products, as locals are trying to make some extra money from tourists’ ignorance about local prices.

Jellyfish and sea urchins may share parts of the ocean with you when you go. There is also at times broken glass in the sand from inconsiderate tourists. Wear slip slops or rock shoes to ensure you don’t cut your feet! However, if you do get stung , apply vinegar to help with the pain.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance for El Nido

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

el nido travel story

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Go beyond a three day itinerary in El Nido, and explore the greater Palawan! These day trips take you to the nearby islands and to some of Palawan’s other great towns.

Island Hopping Tour A Lagoons and Beaches

Island Hopping Tour A Lagoons and Beaches

One of our favorite day trips from El Nido! This is the perfect day out, and you’re back before the nighttime celebrations begin! Spend the day cruising among the islands and jumping off your boat into the warm turquoise waters. 

You’ll have plenty of time to snorkel and spot some fantastic fish and coral reefs. Maybe you’ll even see a turtle lazily gliding by! Island hopping is everyone’s favorite activity in El Nido, Palawan and for good reason. Spend the day experiencing all the best of paradise!

This El Nido tour package includes a barbeque lunch on one of the islands and a very laid-back itinerary. All you need to do is make sure you’re on the boat before it sets off for the next island!

Puerto Princesa Underground River Day Tour

Puerto Princesa Underground River Day Tour

For something totally out of the ordinary, take a tour of the Puerto Princesa Underground River ! The eight-hour trip takes you through the incredible river- the longest navigable underground river in the world!

The tour includes kayaking through the sequence of caves in an otherworldly adventure. You’ll see a unique ecosystem of fauna and flora as you delicately explore. The tour also includes a buffet lunch of Filipino delicacies! 

You will have to make your way to Puerto Princesa City for this tour. The trip takes about four hours, so it’s a good idea to stay in this area for an extra day. You can easily find a bus or taxi to make the trip! 

Puerto Princesa: Half Day City Tour

Puerto Princesa Half Day City Tour

While you’re in Puerto Princesa, catch a tour to see all the best of the charming coastal city! Join a walking tour that will take you to all the city’s highlights and attractions, or you can do a driven tour to tick more off and enjoy a rest.

Tours stop at the lovely Roman Catholic Cathedral, the weaving centre where you can learn about traditional Filipino weaving practices, and the World War II fort! You’ll also get to taste local delicacies, like hopia ! 

With an enthusiastic local guide, this is the perfect way to spend the day before returning to El Nido. 

Coron: Town Tour with Maquinit Hot Spring

Coron Town Tour with Maquinit Hot Spring

Another of the best day trips from El Nido is this town tour! The colorful town of Coron is a beautifully photogenic place to visit. The tour takes you to all its top highlights, and then on to the saltwater hot spring!

Here you can relax with gorgeous views and a pleasantly warm soak. Trek up the 700 step climb to the Mount Tapyas Viewing Deck, where you’ll enjoy unparalleled views over Coron! It’s a beautiful sight, and one you shouldn’t miss while on this side of the island! 

The tours start in Coron, so you’ll have to catch a bus or van to the town. That’s why our next day trips sets out from here too! If you want to stay the night in Coron, read our guide on where to stay in Coron .

Coron: Barracuda Lake, Skeleton Wreck, Twin Lagoon Boat Tour

Coron Barracuda Lake, Skeleton Wreck, Twin Lagoon Boat Tour

Explore the thriving life that make an old shipwreck home on this brilliant Palawan tour from Coron. This is another one of our favorite island hopping tours, and includes a  visit to an old wreckage where you can swim among the newly formed corals and imagine what once was.

You’ll have a fantastic local-style buffet for lunch on one of the islands! Stop at some of the areas best snorkeling and swimming areas, and enjoy a day out on the boat.

One of our favorite parts of these island hopping tours is that even the snorkeling masks are included, so you can enjoy the trip without concerning yourself about any of the little details!

Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt  except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

Find out what people want to know when planning their El Nido itinerary.

Why should I visit El Nido?

Because it’s one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever set your eyes on in the entire world! It’s pure vibes!

What is the best thing to do in El Nido during summer?

Summer is all year round but the rainy season does hit hard here. Island hopping is what it’s all about and it’s best in the dry season.

How do you travel around El Nido?

Hop on one of the tricycles, which are a bit like a tuk tuk and are super cheap and a fun way to get around!

What are the most fun things to do in El Nido?

Island hopping of course is the most popular, but you can also explore Ille Cave and kayak through Sibaltan Mangroves.

It may be small, but El Nido, Palawan is an incredible place to visit! There’s so much to do, and there’s a surprising variety of activities to fit into a three day itinerary in El Nido. We’ve put together all the greatest activities and day trips, so that you don’t have to wonder what to do in El Nido!

Palawan is certainly a holiday destination for those looking for an island paradise. This means that there are not hundreds of activities for every kind of traveler, but there’s much more than enough to keep you entertained! Spend time lazing on the perfect sand beaches, snorkeling in the crystal clear water, and exploring the island’s natural beauty and historic culture.

This El Nido itinerary can be used for those spending only one day in El Nido or a whole week! Space out the activities after day two, or fit everything into a weekend. You’re bound to have a brilliant island vacation!

el nido travel story

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Rhenz Caguioa

Rhenz Caguioa

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Hello .. I come across your blog while I was searching info for travelling to El Nido in next month. your post is very informative and loaded with all necessary details especially for the backpackers. Thank you so much for sharing it. I really enjoyed reading and also appreciate your efforts to share such long and informative details.

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10 Best Things To Do in El Nido, Palawan

10 Best Things To Do in El Nido, Palawan

El Nido in Palawan houses the most beautiful locations in the world. Hidden lagoons, limestone formations, sandbanks, stunning islands, and white beaches with blue water are just the tip of what the 7,641 islands in the Philippines have in store for you. The El Nido island hopping tours are the most popular reason to visit this little town, but there is more! Find out about all the things to do in El Nido in our complete travel guide.

Things to do in El Nido, Palawan

El Nido is located at the northern tip of Palawan Island. Together with Coron, it’s become one of the most popular locations to visit in the Philippines. Plan to spend 3 to 5 days here.

Here are all your hotel options in El Nido.

things to do el nido island hopping tour

1. El Nido Island Hopping Tour

A protected area called Bacuit Bay, hosting 45 paradise islands, has been named one of the most beautiful destinations in the entire world. Tours A, B, C & D all visit different islands, and all tours are stunning.

Stunning lagoons, movie-like islands, and beautiful wildlife – you’ll find it all in these island hopping tours in El Nido . This is a must-do in every Philippines Travel Guide .

Book your island hopping tour in advance

philippines travel guide el nido island hopping

2. Rent a Kayak and Discover Secret Beaches

Rent a kayak and explore secret beaches around Cadlao island. The island across town has stunning wildlife like monkeys, big lizards, and hornbill birds. For a unique experience, rent a clear kayak in El Nido .

Please note: Taking plastic bottles to the islands is not allowed. Read more tips on how to reduce plastic while traveling .

el nido clear kayak

3. Duli Beach – Pristine White Sand Beach

Duli Beach is an unknown 2-kilometer-long white beach in the far northern tip of El Nido, Palawan. There is a 50 PHP (1 USD) entrance fee to the beach.

10 Best Things To Do in El Nido, Palawan

The waves are good for beginner surfers; lessons are offered at Duli Beach. There are a few little drinks & a food shack. However, we don’t recommend getting food here. We and many others got sick from a simple rice & veggies dish.

Tip: Love the tropics? Don’t miss traveling to Siquijor Island .

el nido Duli Beach

To get to Duli Beach, rent a motorbike in El Nido and drive a beautiful one-hour route up north.

Read:   2 days things to do in Coron, Palawan

4. Boat from El Nido to Coron

Picture yourself gliding over crystal clear waters between El Nido and Coron (or vice versa) along some of the untouched beauty of the Philippines.

Embark on a 4-day expedition with Big Dream Boatman to explore crystal-clear waters, hidden lagoons, and abundant marine life. As you traverse the archipelago, you’ll find opportunities for adventure, moments of quiet reflection, and glimpses into the vibrant local culture. With Big Dream Boatman, you’re not just a tourist but a curious explorer. Be sure to book this journey in advance, as it’s a popular way to travel to El Nido.

Discover the expeditions of Big Dream Boatman here

5. Zipline Between Islands

Fly from one island to the other via a 750-meter-long zip line. How cool is that?! At Las Cabañas Beach, they offer this experience for 500 – 1100 PHP (~ 16 USD). It’s a thrilling, magical flight and a real must-do if you are into a bit of adventure. Take the flight around sunset for the best experience.

things to do el nido island hopping

6. Hike Taraw Cliff

Climb up to the highest point of El Nido. For this tough 2-hour hike, it is recommended to hire a guide and wear proper shoes before you climb up these sharp rocks. Once at the top, you will have an incredible view over the entire area.

travel guide el nido town

7. Nacpan Beach, El Nido Palawan

Nacpan Beach is one of the best beaches in El Nido. A great 45-minute motorbike ride from town takes you to the 4-kilometer-long beach with coconut trees along the entire coastline. The tip of Nacpan splits into Calitang Beach, where small beach shacks sell fresh coconuts, seafood, and beach beds.

philippines travel guide el nido nacpan beach

Nacpan can handle a lot of people, so it never feels too crowded. But if you don’t feel like joining the crowd, drive to Duli Beach instead. Sunsets on Nacpan are beautiful, but we don’t recommend you drive back to El Nido in complete darkness. It is also possible to visit Nacpan beach as part of an exciting jeepney day tour visiting multiple beaches and and the Bulalacao Waterfalls ( book a tour here ).

Book this popular hostel on Nacpan Beach

nacpan beach el nido

8. Corong-Corong Beach Walk

One of our personal favorite things to do in El Nido is to walk on Corong-Corong Beach during sunset. It is the quietest beach in town. Start following the coastline from Corong-Corong Bay all the way down to Boodle Fight Cafe to have a delicious Filipino dinner.

things to do el nido corong corong beach

9. Watch the Sunset at Las Cabanas

Las Cabanas Beach is one of the most popular and developed beaches in El Nido. It is great for sunbathing, swimming, and having drinks or food at one of the many beach bars, and it’s the best beach to watch the sunset.

The tricycle fare is 150 PHP (2.60 USD) for two persons from town. We recommend getting a motorbike for 500 PHP (8.80 USD) per day instead.

el nido Las Cabanas beach

10. Visit the public market

Every (early) morning at 4 AM, the local market sells fresh fruits, veggies, fish, and meat. Before heading on any motorbike trip, like towards Nacpan Beach, go get some fresh, uncut fruits there as a snack. Fresh, uncut fruits have no risk of holding bacteria. The market is located near Corong-Corong Beach on the side of the main road.

things to do el nido local market

El Nido Travel Tips

El Nido town is all about relaxing and exploring its surroundings with El Nido Island hopping tours . The town itself is not that exciting but has been developing rapidly over the last few years. It owns a handful of good restaurants, it is safe, and there is no risk of Malaria.

things to do el nido puppy

ATM El Nido has one large ATM, the BPI Bank , in the center of town. A few smaller ones are pretty much always empty. Take enough cash.

Motorbike Rental The best way to explore El Nido is by motorbike. The tricycles overcharge big time, so spending 350 – 500 PHP (6-9 USD) on a motorbike is a very good deal. We rented ours at Bella’s rental and can highly recommend them.

Travel Insurance Don't forget a travel insurance for your Philippines trip! Heymondo covers medical emergencies, theft, delays, cancellations, lost luggage, and more, with 24/7 worldwide assistance and medical chat. As a Salt in our Hair reader, we've got you 5% off! Check Heymondo here

nacpan beach road palawan

WiFi Posting Instagram Stories of your beautiful trip to El Nido is quite the task. There are some cafes and hotels that offer a steady WiFi connection, but be prepared and get a SIM card instead.

Environmental El Nido is trying its absolute best to reduce the impact on the environment. It is not allowed to smoke on the streets nor on the island hopping tours, and they completely banned single-use plastic.

Read more about it in their sustainable tourism magazine .

el nido travel story

Water in El Nido Good to notice is the area seems to have an ongoing freshwater problem. Numerous people have an upset stomach because food gets cooked in tap water, which is not clean enough. Please always check TripAdvisor reviews and avoid the risk.


Amidst the island’s lush scenery, you’ll find an array of fresh seafood and delicious Filipino classics. Some of our favorite restaurants were:

  • Boodle fight ♥️♥️♥️♥️
  • Art Cafe ♥️♥️♥️♥️
  • Bella Vita ♥️♥️♥️
  • Happiness cafe ♥️♥️♥️

things to do el nido travel guide restaurants happiness bar

How to Get to El Nido

El Nido is accessible via boat, minivan, or direct flight.

There are a lot of different options that we wrote out for you in a separate article. Read all you need to know about getting to El Nido here .

Book your transport tickets online

travel guide el nido transportation

Where to Stay

Choose a hostel or hotel on one of the beautiful beaches in El Nido.

Hotels in El Nido 😴

Cuna Hotel

Best Time to Visit

December to March are generally the best months weatherwise to visit El Nido. April and May are very hot but as well very good months to visit. Because the high season is a short period, prices will rise double during these months.

By purchasing through our links, you support us at no additional cost. Thank you for your support. ♥️

  • Find Hotels via Booking.com
  • Find a Rental Car via Sunny Cars
  • Find Flights to El Nido via Skyscanner
  • Get a Travel Insurance via Heymondo
  • Book Tours & Attractions via GetYourGuide
  • Book a Bus/Train/Transfer via 12Go

Explore Islands around El Nido by Clear Kayak

The most beautiful resorts & hotels in el nido, best things to do in coron, palawan.

Looking for more travel information? Plan a chat with us for personalised travel advice or get an answer from the Salt in our Hair Travel Community on Facebook.

Loving your blog! I’m planning on going to the Philippines for my honeymoon in October. Do you think it’s a good time to go? We would go around mid October. I’ve been getting mixed reviews online about the weather in October.

Thank you! October is right on the end of Typhoon season so you should expect a bit of mixed weather. End of October or early November would be a better if that’s an option for you. Have the best time!

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EL NIDO PALAWAN Travel Guide with Sample Itinerary & Budget

EL NIDO PALAWAN Travel Guide with Sample Itinerary & Budget

By continuing to read this article, you agree to double check with the authorities or other concerned entities for the latest updates.

Here’s our DIY EL NIDO PALAWAN TRAVEL GUIDE BLOG! In this post, you’ll find sample EL NIDO ITINERARIES, breakdown of expenses, and recommendations on hotels, resorts, tours, and things to do. Hope this helps you plan your next Palawan trip!

When I was a child and conjured up an image of a tropical paradise in a daydream, this looked exactly like this world.

When our boat glided through the waves, it was as though we sailed into a karst world straight from a fantasy film. As we moved closer, the cliffs appeared to magically part, as if ushering us in, inviting us to come in and see what the island had to offer. As we moved, these magnificent giant rocks slowly revealed white, sparkling beaches adorned with coconut trees. In this world, “ugly” is either banned or non-existent. (Then I thought, “Holy eff, what am I doing here?”)

“This is my Narnia,” I mumbled to myself, thinking that the many years I had spent in the closet finally paid off. I chuckled.

How I got here was a matter of fate. El Nido was nowhere under my radar at the time. I was under a foolish impression that only the filthy rich could afford it. But as I was simply browsing the web, I chanced upon a piso sale. I wasn’t enslaved by travel then. A full-time corporate job had the whip in a tight grip. But it was the perfect moment. A classic corporate-slave-meets-freedom moment. Every stress that work had brought me over the past few weeks was blown away by the wind, washed away by the waves of El Nido.

Back then, El Nido was a bit different. It wasn’t as crowded or as developed. I could walk down the length of the town’s main street without running into another tourist. Back then, it wasn’t easy to reach. There weren’t that many flights, and the ride from Puerto Princesa would eat up over seven hours on a half-unpaved road.

el nido travel story

But as I stood in the middle of it, I knew this would be the first of my many affairs with El Nido. Over the next few years, El Nido would be my go-to place whenever I needed a little bit of uplifting, even despite not being easily accessible. I returned almost every year. That’s the thing about El Nido: it’s playing hard-to-get. But it’s the kind of destination you’d want to marry.



The municipality of El Nido encompasses the northernmost tip of the main island of Palawan and the 45 rocky islands dotting Bacuit Bay. A protected area, El Nido is a treasure trove of marine life and spectacular seascape, earning it a consistent place among the best beach destinations in the world.

Although a first-class municipality, El Nido remains a quiet town. The town proper is tiny, with very few big establishments other than small travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, and stores. The nearest city is Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, which is five hours away.

Together with Coron and Puerto Princesa, El Nido is part of the popular tourism triumvirate in Palawan. These are the three most visited destinations in the province. El Nido sits in the middle, accessible from both Coron to its north and Puerto Princesa to its south.

el nido travel story

More info you need to know:

  • Language : Tagalog is spoken by the majority. But English is widely understood and spoken. A significant fraction of the population also speaks Cuyonon and other Visayan languages.
  • Time zone: UTC+8 (Philippine Standard Time). Same time as Singapore and Malaysia; one hour behind Japan.
  • Currency : Philippine peso (PHP, ₱). PHP100 = USD 2, EUR 1.75, SGD 2.75, MYR 8.25, IDR 28,200 (as of March 2020).
  • Modes of payment : Cash! Most establishments prefer cash. Only a few resorts and restaurants accept credit card transactions. Many tour agencies are on cash-only basis.


Best area to stay in el nido.

El Nido’s poblacion is composed of four barangays (villages): Buena Suerte, Corong-Corong, Maligaya, and Masagana. Together, they occupy two small peninsulas that jut out into Bacuit Bay.

What most people refer to as the “Town Proper” is actually the settlement parallel to the beach in Brgy. Buena Suerte. Just next to it is Brgy. Masagana, best known for several more resorts and Calaan Beach. Corong-corong lies on the southern cape, with its nooks and crannies filled with fine sand.

There are four main areas where you can stay:

  • Town Proper (Buena Suerte) . This is where most of the action is. Its streets are flanked with tour offices, small hotels, and restaurants. Of all these areas, it was the first to be developed. It also has a teensy bit of nightlife.
  • Corong-Corong . Tucked in the southern beaches of the poblacion, it has that isolated tropical paradise feel. It’s the area nearest the bus terminal.
  • Calaan Beach (Masagana) . Resorts have also begun flourishing in the area, but just like Corong Corong, it doesn’t feel crowded either.
  • The Islands . Accommodations on the islands are mostly luxury resorts, which are totally expensive, so let’s pretend they don’t exist. LOL

If you’re in El Nido for some peace and quiet, stay in either Corong-Corong or Calaan. But if you just want convenience, the town proper is still the best choice.

Top Budget Resorts & Hostels

My favorite place to stay in El Nido is SPIN DESIGNER HOSTEL . It’s clean and well-maintained, has friendly service, and an environment that is conducive to forging friendships with other travelers. Because it’s in the town proper, almost everything I need is within easy reach.

el nido travel story

Coincidentally, SPIN HOSTEL is one of the top-rated properties on Agoda, so I guess I’m not the only fan. Here are the rest of the highest ranking budget accommodations as scored by online users. Note that not all of these are in the areas we think are ideal, but they have the best scores among the affordable properties.

  • Spin Designer Hostel. Town Proper. Our best hostel experience in El Nido. Perfect for backpackers and solo travelers. Offers dorms and private rooms, with fantastic common areas. Check Rates and Availability! ✅
  • Cabanas de Nacpan Camping Resort. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • The Cavern Pod Hotel & Specialty Cafe. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • Pawikan Hostel El Nido. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • AngelNido Resort. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
  • David’s Guest House. Check Rates & Availability! ✅

Aside from these, you can find basic, no-frills dormitories that offer beds for P800 and below per night. One of these is At The Moment Hostel in the town proper and Dormitels.ph in Corong-corong (P800 per night), but I haven’t tried either.

Search for more El Nido Hotels!

Klook TPT2024


Manila to el nido (direct flight).

AirSwift is the only airline that flies from Manila directly to Lio Airport in El Nido. They operate up to four flights per day.

An off-peak one-way fare is at P5100 (including taxes, a meal in Manila, and welcome snacks El Nido). An additional P200 is collected for 10kg baggage allowance.

el nido travel story

At the airport, you can travel by tricycle to the city center. Travel time: 30 minutes. Fare: 200.

San Vicente Airport to El Nido

Another way to access El Nido is via the newly opened San Vicente Airport, located in a neighboring town. Philippine Airlines flies daily from Clark to San Vicente. Travel time is 1 hour 40 minutes.

At San Vicente Airport, you can ride a van to El Nido departing at 1pm. Fare is P400.

It will terminate at the station in El Nido. From there, you can take a tricycle to your hotel or resort. Fare is P50.

Puerto Princesa Airport to El Nido

If Airswift’s rates are a bit taller than your budget, you can fly to Puerto Princesa instead. Then travel by land from there.

Puerto Princesa (PPS) has an international airport that is now much bigger and more equipped. Flights to PPS are generally cheaper than direct flights to El Nido. And they can go extremely low during seat sales. AirAsia and Cebu Pacific Air offer the lowest fares but the published rates don’t include baggage allowance, seat selection, and meals. Philippine Airlines’ have all these add-ons included in their published rates.

To reach El Nido from Puerto Princesa International Airport, you have two options: by van and by bus.

el nido travel story

This is probably the most popular option among tourists because it’s slightly faster. If you book in advance, the van can pick you up at the airport and take you straight to El Nido in 5-6 hours.

Klook offers two transfer services: regular and DayTripper.

el nido travel story

If for whatever reason you can’t book with Klook, here are the companies offering this service:

  • Eulen Joy Express Contact No.: +63 915 829 3735 Facebook page
  • Lexxuss Shuttle Contact No.: +63 917 686 1118 Facebook page
  • Fort Wally Travel & Tours Contact No.: +63 917 276 2875 Facebook page

Travel time is usually 5-6 hours . Based on experience, these vans are fast. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. I sometimes find myself saying a silent prayer in the middle of the journey. And I’m not even religious!

Regular fare is usually between P550 and P600 . However, Fort Wally sometimes brings the cost down to P450 when they have a promo. Locals usually get a discount.

Some of these vans don’t leave until they’re full . But it doesn’t take that long these days.

All van journeys stop halfway for a quick restroom and snack break.

The bus is another option. It’s my preferred option, actually. Buses are more comfortable now than before, more comfortable than the vans (at least in my opinion). Wider legroom, cooler temperature, and just bigger breathing space overall. Haha. The downside: it’s slower, taking 6-7 hours. And there are fewer journeys per day. But if you’re not in a big hurry, it’s a great option.

Here’s how to take the bus to El Nido.

  • Walk to the gate of the airport.
  • Hail a tricycle and ask to be taken to San Jose Terminal. Fare is P120 per ride. Split the cost if you’re a group. Alternatively, you can take a trike+jeepney combo, which is cheaper. But since I’m guessing you have heavy bags in tow, just go straight to the San Jose Terminal.
  • Board a bus to El Nido.

Two bus companies to choose from: RoRo Bus and Cherry Bus.

RoRo Bus Ordinary: P290 Airconditioned: P380 Operating hours: 5am-9pm Frequency: Every 2 hours

Cherry Bus Ordinary: P385 Airconditioned: P480 Operating hours: 4am-10pm Frequency: Every 2 hours

Both buses will make several stops along the way to pick up more passengers, the longest will be in Roxas.

The bus will terminate at the station in El Nido. From there, you can take a tricycle to your hotel or resort. Fare is P50.

Coron to El Nido

Montenegro Fastcraft launched in September 2016 a new Coron-El Nido (and vice versa) route, which cuts the travel time to only 4 hours. Schedule and rates below.

el nido travel story


One great thing about El Nido is that most key attractions, especially the islands and beaches, are grouped into tour packages. The tours are also regulated and standardized. Boatmen and travel agencies must abide by the rules and guidelines that they set in order to provide a smoother and more consistent service to tourists. A price ceiling is in effect, which means tour operators cannot sell tours at rates higher than what has been set by the government.

The two most visited spots in El Nido are the Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon of Miniloc Island, both used to be part of Tour A, which covers Miniloc Island. For the longest time, Tour A was the most popular island tour, attracting more tourists than all the other three by a mile. In effect, these sites are prone to overcrowding. To address the problem, in November 2018, the local government split the two apart and reassigned Small Lagoon to Tour D.

If you’re alone or a small group, you will be merged with other smaller groups to fill a boat. If you want a private boat, you can charter one too.

These rules apply:

  • You can visit only one premium spot per day. Premium spots are: Big Lagoon (Tour A), Small Lagoon (Tour D), and Secret Beach (Tour C). You can’t visit Big Lagoon and Secret Lagoon on the same day. You can’t visit Secret Beach and Small Lagoon on the same day, either. Combination tours are now prohibited.
  • Pre-registration is required for visitors going to Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, or Secret Beach. This allows the government to monitor and manage the volume of tourists. To register, just give your name and contact details to the tour operator when you book and they will register for you.
  • Additional fees are collected at certain spots. Yes, these are on top of the tour rate and the eco-tourism development fee (environmental fee). We’ll indicate these fees below.
  • Book in advance. Only a limited number of visitors are allowed on a premium spot on any given day.
  • Lunch is included in group tour packages. The boatmen will prepare lunch on one of the stops during the tour. Lunch must be composed of the following: grilled fish, grilled pork or chicken, rice, vegetables, and fruits (usually bananas, watermelons, or pineapples). WATER is usually not included, so bring your own.

Here are the details of each tour. I’ve been fortunate enough to try all of these tours!

I also included Klook links for Tours A, B, C, and D below. Klook’s offers are lower than the standard rates and include hotel pickup.

If it’s your first time in El Nido, choose Tour A .

el nido travel story

Tour A takes you around the limestone paradise of Miniloc Island and its Big Lagoon. The sights at Miniloc are usually the ones perfectly captured in postcards. There are a couple of beach stops: one in Simizu Island and another at the 7 Commandos Beach in mainland El Nido.

Simizu Island is the usual lunch stop. But if it gets too crowded, the boatman picks an alternative, usually Payong-Payong Beach. But if you really want to see Simizu (or Payong Payong), just let the boatman know so he wouldn’t skip it.

You can go kayaking around Big Lagoon! Let the boatman know beforehand that you intend to kayak so they can prepare the units for you before you leave town.

Stops : Big Lagoon and Hidden Lagoon on Miniloc Island, Simizu Island or Payong Payong, and 7 Commando Beach.

Usual Price : P1200/person

Additional fees: P200 Big Lagoon fee. P200-250 for optional kayak rental.

el nido travel story

Although half of the stops of this tour are caves, its most well-known attraction is Snake Island, which is actually a narrow sandbar that connects mainland Palawan to neighboring Vigan Island.

Stops : Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave, Entalula Island, Cathedral Cave, and Popolkan Island

Usual Price : P1300/person

Additional fee: P100, Cudugnon Cave entrance fee.

el nido travel story

If you’re powder-chasing, sun-worshipping beach bum, Tour C might be a better bet. Its main attractions are its fine, white beaches that hug the jagged coastline of Matinloc Island and Helicopter Island.

el nido travel story

The highlight of the trip is the Secret Beach , a hidden pocket of fine sand enclosed by towering karst cliffs, which is widely believed to have inspired author Alex Garland to write his novel The Beach , at least according to legend.. It is accessible only via a small opening that requires visitors to swim through it. Some of my friends got injured on the way.

Note, however, that Matinloc Island is a bit farther, which is why it costs more. Also, it faces the violent West Philippine Sea, exposing the passengers to bigger waves. If your time allows you to multiple tours, make sure to do Tour C first if the weather is pleasant . Boatmen are more likely to cancel Tour C during inclement weather. The waters circled by Tours A, B and D remain calm most of the time.

Stops : Matinloc Shrine, Matinloc Island, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Tapuitan Island, Helicopter Island

Usual Price : P1400/person

Additional fees: P100, Matinloc Shrine entrance fee.

el nido travel story

Tour D was the last that I tried because I had always treated it as a last resort. Tour D explores the beaches of Cadlao Island and a few on mainland El Nido.

Small Lagoon is the new addition to this tour. It used to be part of Tour A but was reassigned to Tour D in order to manage visitor traffic in premium spots.

Stops : Small Lagoon (Miniloc Island), Nat Nat Beach, Pasandigan Cove, Paradise Beach, Ubugon Cave, Bukal Island, Cadlao Lagoon

Price : P1200/person

Additional fees: P200, Small Lagoon fee. P200-250 for optional kayak rental.

el nido travel story

Tour E: Nacpan Beach & Nagkalit-kalit Falls

el nido travel story

Aside from the island attractions, El Nido has a lot of treasured hidden inland. This time, no need to hop onto a boat. You can simply hail a tricycle or rent a van. Here are the rates:

Tricycle tour : P1500, good for up to 4 pax Van rental : P3000, good for up to 12 pax Motorcycle rental : P500 per day

The rates above cover transportation only. Food is not included. Rates are PER TRIP, not per person. If you’re a group of four sharing a tricycle ride, each should only pay P375.

Stops : Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beach, Nagkalit-kalit Falls, Las Cabanas or Marimegmeg Beach

To book, contact Northern Hope Tours at +63 927-735-3221 (Globe) and +63 939-902-2216 (Smart).

Taraw Cliff

el nido travel story

One of the things I haven’t done in any of my visits is to climb Taraw Cliff, famous for what many consider the most breathtaking view of El Nido. With steep and knife-like rocks, the original trail is also notorious for being dangerous. I have never mustered enough courage to do it. Maybe a few years ago, when I was young, nimble and healthy, I would do it without batting an eyelash, if I had the chance. But now that I’m a walking gelatin, maybe not. That’s not cowardice. That’s just being self-aware. Hahaha

Anyway, apparently, there exists a SAFER trail! If you approach the mountain through Ferrata Nature’s Canopy Walk . The jump off point is within the town proper so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

They also provide guides and helmets to guests. The viewpoint isn’t as high as the one at the end of the other trail, but it is said to be close enough. But it’s far safer. Yeah, I said that before. Just reiterating.

Hours open: Daily, 8am-5pm Price : P500


El Nido seems to not have a distinct, world-famous cuisine, but it has an emerging food scene, led by boutique restaurants. I can’t count the number of food places that I have tried here over the past several years. Those fostering a unique vibe win in El Nido. Whether it’s a spectacular view or the character-filled interiors, the most popular dining places in El Nido are those that go beyond food and adds a little something to the experience. Sadly, however, most of them are overpriced, charging P350-P450 for a meal that is forgettable at best.

el nido travel story

Two restaurants stand out in my memory: Trattoria Altrove and Artcafe.

  • Trattoria Altrove is an Italian restaurant in the town proper (a short walk from Spin Hostel, but they have another branch in Corong-corong). I was with a group of friends when I dined here. Everyone on our group ordered something different and we loved every single dish served to us, from the wood-fired oven pizza to the risotto. A pizza costs somewhere between P320 (margherita) and P650 (with truffles), while pasta between P300 and P350.
  • Artcafe is one of the oldest restaurants (and shops) in town, best known for their view of Cadlao Mountain and the beach. I’ve only dined here once and when I did, I got drunk. I don’t remember what I ordered anymore or whether it was good or not. But I remember the beer. Artcafe serves local craft beers from Palaweno Brewery. I tried all the varieties available that night, which explains why I don’t remember anything. Sorry about that. Haha

Not all restaurants in El Nido cater to the aspirational Instagram-influencer in you. Your practical side would be glad to know that there are cheaper options too. Typical carinderias serve dishes for less than P100. Places like IBR Fast Food may not be IG-worthy (LOL) but they serve a filling meal for P90-P150. Tapsilog and pansit, anyone?


el nido travel story

Below are two sample El Nido itineraries, which you can use as basis for your own. Just make the necessary adjustments to match your preferences. Also included is the breakdown of expenses.

This itinerary assumes the following:

  • You’re a party of 2 , splitting some expenses.
  • You’ll be staying at SPIN HOSTEL dorm or any room in the town proper for P1000 per night.
  • You’re coming from Puerto Princesa Airport and traveling by bus to El Nido on your first day. This means that much of your Day 1 will be spent in transit. You’ll arrive in El Nido in the early afternoon and give you plenty of free time after that. Use this time to scan, compare, and book tours.
  • You’re taking the overnight bus to Puerto Princesa on your journey back . This way, you get to maximize your last day and save one hotel night. Your flight should be in the early morning of the next day.
  • You’ll be paying the standard rates of tours . You can haggle for much lower rates especially if you’re a big group. But for this itinerary, I decided to just use the standard rates so you have extra budget allowance.

4-Day El Nido Itinerary

For me, this is an ideal itinerary. Given everything that I know now, if I would be visiting El Nido for the first time, this is how I would do it. This itinerary won’t give you the cheapest trip, but it will allow you to experience the best of El Nido at a relaxing pace.

Day 1: PUERTO PRINCESA TO EL NIDO 07:20 am – Arrival at Puerto Princesa Airport 08:00 am – Ride tricycle to San Jose Terminal, P60 (P120/2pax) 08:30 am – Buy food for the road, P120 09:00 am – Board Bus to El Nido, P480 03:00 pm – Arrival at El Nido Terminal 03:10 pm – Trike to Hostel, P25 (P50/2pax) 03:30 pm – Hostel check-in 04:30 pm – Pay environmental fee at tourism office, P200 05:00 pm – Walk around town, book tours 06:30 pm – Dinner at Altrove, P400 07:30 pm – Back to Hostel, chill 09:00 pm – Good night!

Day 2: TOUR A 06:00 am – Wake up call 07:00 am – Breakfast, FREE 09:00 am – Start TOUR A, P1200 + 200 05:00 pm – Change clothes, rest 06:00 pm – Dinner at IBR Fast Food, P150 08:00 pm – Back to hotel 09:00 pm – Good night!

Day 3: TOUR C 06:00 am – Wake up call 07:00 am – Breakfast 09:00 am – TOUR C, P1400 + P100 05:00 pm – Change clothes, rest 06:00 pm – Dinner and booze at Artcafe, P500 09:00 pm – Good night!

Day 4: TOUR E, DEPARTURE 06:00 am – Wake up call, early check out 07:30 am – TOUR E, P750 (P1500/2pax) 11:00 am – Early lunch, P250 12:00 pm – Continue Tour E 04:30 pm – Freshen up, pick up bags 07:00 pm – Dinner, P150 09:00 pm – Trike to Bus Terminal, P25 (P50/2pax) 10:00 pm – Bus to Puerto Princesa, P480 04:00 am – Trike to Airport, P60 (P120/2pax) 05:00 am – Check in, Airport Terminal Fee: P200 07:20 am – Flight out

If you follow this itinerary, prepare to shell out P9750 (USD193, EUR171, SGD266) per person excluding airfare and kayak rental.

Much of the budget is eaten up by the tours and the food. You can still bring the total cost down by limiting your meal budget.

3-Day El Nido Itinerary

This is a budget itinerary. In this case, you’ll be spending only 3 days in El Nido and limiting your food expenses to only P150 per meal.

Day 1: PUERTO PRINCESA TO EL NIDO 07:20 am – Arrival at Puerto Princesa Airport 08:00 am – Ride tricycle to San Jose Terminal, P60 (P120/2pax) 08:30 am – Buy food for the road, P120 09:00 am – Board Bus to El Nido, P480 03:00 pm – Arrival at El Nido Terminal 03:10 pm – Trike to Hostel, P25 (P50/2pax) 03:30 pm – Hostel check-in 04:30 pm – Pay environmental fee at tourism office, P200 05:00 pm – Walk around town, book tours 06:30 pm – Dinner, P150 07:30 pm – Back to Hostel, chill 09:00 pm – Good night!

Day 2: TOUR A 06:00 am – Wake up call 07:00 am – Breakfast, FREE 09:00 am – Start TOUR A, P1200 + P200 05:00 pm – Change clothes, rest 06:00 pm – Dinner, P150 08:00 pm – Back to hotel 09:00 pm – Good night!

Day 3: TOUR E, DEPARTURE 06:00 am – Wake up call, early check out 07:30 am – TOUR E, P750 (P1500/2pax) 11:00 am – Early lunch, P250 12:00 pm – Continue Tour E 04:30 pm – Freshen up, pick up bags 07:00 pm – Dinner, P150 09:00 pm – Trike to Bus Terminal, P25 (P50/2pax) 10:00 pm – Bus to Puerto Princesa, P480 04:00 am – Trike to Airport, P60 (P120/2pax) 05:00 am – Check in, Airport Terminal Fee: P200 07:20 am – Flight out

This itinerary will set you back around P6500 (USD129, EUR114, SGD178) per person excluding airfare and kayak rental.

You can even reduce the total cost by taking an ordinary bus instead of an air-conditioned one, or by staying at a much cheaper dorm.


  • Pay the P200 environmental fee and keep the receipt . You only need to settle this once so don’t lose the receipt. Someone sometimes checks if visitors have paid for this before boarding the boat for the tour. If you can’t prove it, you might be asked to pay again.
  • Puerto Princesa Airport collects a P200 terminal fee . Make sure you don’t spend every single peso you have in El Nido.
  • Tip your boatmen . What they do isn’t easy. If you enjoyed their service, show your appreciation. When I have successfully negotiated down the cost of tours, I usually just give the amount that I saved to the boatmen as tip.


Is el nido safe.

El Nido has a very, very low crime rate. But please don’t leave your belongings just anywhere. There are also no hospitals here, so please be very careful. The nearest major medical center is in Puerto Princesa. Also, there are no terrorists in El Nido.

When is the best time to visit El Nido?

January to April. These dry months are the sunniest. However, this period is also the peak season, especially March and April, which are widely considered the “summer” months in the Philippines. For me, the most ideal time to visit El Nido is January-February. Weather’s still fine but the place isn’t crowded.

el nido travel story

Thanks to its location (and isolation), mainland Palawan isn’t hit by typhoons as often as the other parts of the Philippines. It’s wired differently. November sees the start of the dry season for the rest of the country, but it’s still pretty damp in El Nido. Short and passing rain showers are also expected in the afternoon even on some “dry season” days.

Are there ATMs in El Nido?

Currently, there are some ATMs in El Nido. But it’s always best to withdraw while in Manila or Puerto Princesa.

If you’re using a foreign/international card to withdraw and get pesos, beware of Dynamic Currency Conversion. More info here: BEWARE OF THIS WHEN USING ATM!

Are there money changers in El Nido?

Some restaurants and pawnshops exchange major currencies to Philippine pesos.

However, it is best practice to already have pesos before you arrive because they’re not always available. Exchange while you’re in Puerto Princesa or Manila.

Can I visit Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon in one day?

No, not anymore. This was possible because they used to be part of the same tour, Tour A. But in November 2018, Small Lagoon was reassigned to Tour D in order to minimize tourism impact and manage visitor traffic.

To monitor, pre-registration is now required for those visiting Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and Secret Beach. When you book a tour, the operator will collect your personal details and they will take care of the rest.

Where can I book Combination Tours?

It is already prohibited. For travelers staying in El Nido for a short time, combination tours allowed them to see as much of El Nido as they can. Common combo is Tour A/C. But this is no longer allowed. If a boatman offers this tour, they are operating against the rules.

How’s the connectivity in El Nido?

Most hotels offer free wi-fi but they can be slow.

Both Globe and Smart have good reception in main settlements like the town proper, so it’s better to just use cellular data.

What type of electrical plug is used in El Nido?

220V, 60Hz. Socket Type A, mostly. Electricity supply in El Nido can be erratic. Power outages are not uncommon. Ask your hotel if they have a backup generator so you’re not in the dark in case of blackout.

el nido travel story

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  • TALISAY BEACH: El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
  • The Secret Beach of Matinloc Island: El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
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Thank you for sharing! This is great. :)


Hi! How will you know the operator of the tour if you book via Klook?

Yosh Dimen

No prob! Enjoy El Nido!


I always check your blog to have an idea of how to enjoy the trip with a limited budget! I always wanted to go to Palawan whether El nido or Coron. I am just having second thoughts as I always have my yearly vacay on rainy season (I am an OFW, btw). Have you tried visiting Palawan during monsoon season? July-Aug?

Hi Weywey, yep, I once did a 2-week trip in Palawan. It was sunny on my first several days (Puerto Princesa, San Vicente), but it eventually got rainy on our last days (El Nido).


Thank you for creating this blog! Just wondering though what are your top 3 picks out of tours a, b, c, and d. Thank you!

A & C. :)


Hi. Just wanna ask if you book the tour/s when you were there at El Nido na? Or you can book it in advance? Thank You

You can do both. If you decide to book it in advance, may mga links sa post above where you can book tours.

Imad Barhoun

Your post is GREAT, i got all the info i need to visit this place, many thanks.


Hi Yoshke! Thanks for the super helpful post. between the two: El Nido and Coron, which place is more sulit and more enjoyable for a first time traveler to Palawan? Mag attempt sana kami ng PPS-El Nido-Coron iti pero mukhang EN pa lang, solve na. Saka mas ok sa limited budget.Your suggestion is highly appreciated! :)

Hi Anneska, what are your entry and exit points? :D

Jose Lee

Thank you for your really useful report. I am thinking to spend my days in Coron since I have wrote that is wilder and there is less tourist compare to el Nido. Could you provide your thoughts about it?

Hi Jose, both Coron and El Nido now are very touristy, although yes, Coron may have more less touristy spots than El Nido.

But what’s good about El Nido is you can also visit San Vicente/Port Barton from there. San Vicente/Port Barton are really off the beaten path, so if you don’t like touristy places, they are worth checking out.

Thank you very much for your time & advice. All the best.

No problem! :)


I like your blog! So detailed. Looking forward on this El Nido adventure.

Thanks, Kara!


How do I get from San Vicente airport to El Nido?


Hi, we plan on travelling from Puerto Princesa to El Nido via the last bus trip so we will be arriving in El Nido in the early hours. Would you know if there are any hotels in El Nido that accommodates early check in (as early as 6AM)? Same question for Puerto Princesa. Thanks!

Hi Myra, I think most hotels allow early check in IF there are rooms unoccupied that morning. It still depends on the availability. Happened to us once, we arrived at Spin Hostel around 8:30am, but since there were rooms that were unoccupied that morning, they checked us in immediately.


We used to rent a boat in one of the resorts in El Nido which gave us the option to visit all the premium spots in one day. That was in 2017. I don’t know if you can still do that.


Hi, If we ever book hotel in any location and we book our tour a and c thru klook including hotel pick-up will they still be able to pick us up on our hotel? And how are we going to use our klook voucher just in case cause I haven’t use it even once eh or much better mag book na lang kame kapag andun na kame? Thank you! And my last question is shall we just book our own tour instead to avail some packge online?

Hi Anthony, yung tours sa Klook, they cover downtown El Nido only (town proper). May extra charge pag outside downtown.

Pwede rin na dun ka na sa El Nido magbook if di ka pa sanay sa Klook.

Whether online or book your own tour on site, same lang sya kasi standardized ang tours. Nagkaka-iba lang sa presyo.


Hi, any recommendation where I can book ahead or where to book for a combot tour a and c? It’s not offered in klook kasi.. is Corong corong far from the town proper of ever we decide to stay in Corong but also wanted to have some nightlife back in town? Thanks in advance

Apparently, di na allowed ang combo tours ngayon.

Hi Maria, I don’t have any contact. But what I usually do for combi tours is shop around pag andun na.

Kaya naman i-tricycle ung Corong Corong from town proper.


Hi! I noticed on your 3days itinerary that you availed COMBO tours for 2000 / pax only. How is that possible? Where did you avail it po? Thanks!

Hi Anne, ino-offer sya talaga ng mga tour operators dun sa El Nido. Yan yung rate na chinarge sa amin. Wala akong contact nung bangkero though.


I’ve heard that there’s new regulation in EL Nido hindi na raw allowed ang combo tours. December 2018. need to verify pa :)

Asked rin po ako if update ang fare sa bus?

By the way very informative ang blog.

Thanks for Sharing

Hi Dukez, yeah, bawal na raw ang combo tours. :(

We’re still checking if may nagbago sa bus fares na since our last update.


Planning to go to El Nido this February, and we are in the dark on how to do things coz it’s our first time, you’re blog helped a lot. Salamat!

Thanks din, Nally! Enjoy El Nido!


hi planning to go to el nido via san vicente.. ask ko lng po is it still safe for female solo traveler???superb thanks.. ur blog is a great help esp. for 1stimer like me


Thank you for sharing a very detailed info..

P.S the k looks link doesn’t work for me

Hi Pinky! Thanks.

Which link exactly?

Ghie Peg

Thank you for sharing. I’ll be celebrating my birthday here with a very special someone. Our first in Palawan :)

Wow! Enjoy! Hope you have an unforgettably romantic time! :D


Kinilig ako when I saw your photos!! First time el nido traveller and such helpful tips from you…thank you!

Thanks, Jamie! Enjoy El Nido!


Hello! We’re planning on touring El Nido and our entry and exit point is San Vicente. Are there buses/ shared vans sana from El Nido going back to San Vicente at night time?

Hi Angela, not sure if meron pag gabi.

phil james orozco

hi planning to go to el nido via san vicente.. ask ko lng po is it still safe for Male solo traveler???superb thanks.. ur blog is a great help esp. for 1stimer like me


Just a feedback on ATMs since the bliog only mentioned of 1 ATM at El Nido. There are already a lot of ATMs in El Nido, however tourist should be wise enough to choose an ATM that will not charge a lot because of Dynamic Currency conversion. ATMs may give you an option to withdraw in your home currency but this will charge you for as high as 6.9% of your withdrawal amount.


it is a big help for someone planning for a family trip, my best regards!

Lay Tarifa

Good Day May i kindly ask which tour operator you used in El Nido please? Thank you

Merlan Nazareno

thanks for sharing your el nido experience…it’s a big help for a 1st time travellera like me….i learned a lot from your blog… more blessing to you and ur family…

You’re welcome po. Kaya lang po baka may mga nag-change na po dito kasi since pre-pandemic pa po ito last naupdate.


This is very helpful! Thank you sir! Sana may update kayo for 2022 in preparation namin sa 2023 trip hehehe

Hi Tyronne, naku sa 2023 pa kami balik. When is your trip? If mauna kami, baka maabutan mo pa yung updated guide haha.


wow nice thanks po sa reply sir!! Sa August po ang ticket namin :-)

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Journey Era

20 Awesome Things To Do El Nido: The Ultimate Guide

Jackson Groves

Posted on Last updated: June 23, 2023


20 Awesome Things To Do El Nido: The Ultimate Guide

Palawan is the crown jewel of the Philippines and El Nido is arguably the most impressive spot in Palawan. With it’s dramatic, enormous limestone cliffs, unbelievable lagoons, and pristine beaches it truly is paradise on earth.

What makes El Nido even more appealing is that it can be done on a very tight budget for a backpacker or you can enjoy luxury hotels. Either way, the island-hopping tours, the key feature of an El Nido experience, are $15-$20 per day no matter what your budget is. The town itself of El Nido has a simple charm with reggae bars, beach restaurants, and a low-key atmosphere. 

I’ve been to El Nido twice and on both my visits stayed for at least ten days, which was a great amount of time to explore on land and on the sea! I’ve done all of the island-hopping tours except tour D (although I’ve kayaked most of Tour D) and visited many of the beaches and hikes on land. In this blog post, I’ll share with you many of the awesome things to do in El Nido. There are several great beaches, an insane hike and of course the four incredible island0-hopping tours. 

Table of Contents


1. Make sure you do at least two island hopping tours and one of them needs to be Tour B or Tour D. A and C are great but can be popular and crowded. Tour B and D are both awesome, just different and not as grand scale in the attractions the offer.

I highly suggest these as you have a more relaxed day but of course, do either A or C for that epic El Nido adventure. If you have time do three or four.

2. Make sure you do one or two day-trips inland. There are lots of surf beaches and things to explore and with a $5 bike rental, you will have a great expedition.

3. If you are in okay shape, DEFINITELY hike Taraw Peak. One of my favorite (short) hikes in Asia. Epic. Epic. EPIC.

4. One day hire a kayak from El Nido Town and explore Cadlao Island at your own pace without the craziness of the island-hopping crowds. Chill out on the islands and take it easy.

So with those tips covered, I’ll know head into all of the best things to do in El Nido. I’ll start first with the island hopping because it is phenomenal but after the island hopping you will find the beaches, hikes and other things to do in El Nido as well as my suggestions on where to stay.

el nido travel story


Island hopping in el nido, palawan.

I was lucky enough to experience Tour A , Tour B   and Tour   C , but have not yet made it on Tour D. However, even the day I paddled out on a kayak was amazing so don’t stress about which ‘letter tour’ will be the best. It’s El Nido, you are going to be visiting lagoons and beaches that will blow your mind no matter what tour you are on.

To book your EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING A TOUR you can Click Here to check the availability and book online (It’s just $18 USD)

  • It includes Three Lagoons at Miniloc Island, Shimizu Island, Snorkel with turtles at Seven Commando Beach, BBQ Lunch

To book your EL NIDO   ISLAND HOPPING B TOUR you can Click Here to check the availability and book online (It’s just $18 USD)

  • It includes Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Cudugnon Cave, BBQ Lunch

To book your  EL NIDO   ISLAND HOPPING C TOUR you can Click Here to check the availability and book online (It’s just $18 USD)

  • It includes Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Talisay Beach, BBQ Lunch

To book your  EL NIDO   ISLAND HOPPING D TOUR you can Click Here to check the availability and book online (It’s just $18 USD)

  • It includes Cadlao Island, Pasandingan Beach, Small Lagoon, Natnat Beach, BBQ Lunch

Below I will show you what each tour looks like and describe the locations you will visit so that you can decide which tour you are keen for.

Tour A : Most popular and includes big and small Lagoon. Key attractions but can get crowded. Awesome day! View my full blog post about Tour A: Click Here

Tour B: A more relaxed day with off-beat island locations, hardly any crowds, epic landscapes. View my full blog post about Tour B: Click Here

Tour C: Second most popular, great snorkeling and the secret lagoons and beaches are amazing. View my full blog post about Tour C: Click Here

Tour D: Shorter tour much closer to El Nido, underrated and less crowded.

El Nido Island Hopping Tour A

Seven commando beach.

Coconut trees lined Seven Commando beach and we, of course, sipped on a few after a quick snorkel. Our boat docked here for a 45-minute chill/exploration session. Many people snorkeled but we just hung out on the beach and had a swim.

The rocks in El Nido are incredibly sharp, Seven Commando Beach was no exception. Wear shoes if you are planning on exploring in caves and on rocks like us.

On my second visit to Seven Commando Beach, I also did a beach clean-up. El Nido is making great changes but trash on the islands still remains prevalent.


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Cruising up the lagoon was our first real look at how dramatic the cliffs and landscape was in El Nido. The lagoon has a narrow and the boats manage to navigate alongside each other as everyone on board arches their necks checking out the intense cliffs. The boat glides across the glassy water, almost crystal as the narrow entrance finally opens up into a giant lagoon. The boat did a slow circle in the lagoon letting us take in the sights before heading back out the narrow stretch.

View full blog post:   THE BIG LAGOON IN EL NIDO, PALAWAN

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Our guides had been cooking on the grill all morning as we cruised around from island to island. It was time to see what they had produced. It was an absolute feast.

I’ll be honest I’ve been on some tours where you get a cruddy sandwich and a bag of chips. This blew it out of the water. Grilled pork and chicken, fresh grilled fish and fruits and of course an abundance of rice.

There was plenty for everyone as we sat around on the logs watching monitor lizards amongst the trees. A bit of exploration post-lunch never hurts and we found a very shallow spot for a couple of jumps.

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This spot was amazing but probably my least favorite as there were more than fifty tourists crammed into a tiny lagoon at once. We had to swim to a small hole and clamber through. One through sun shone down into a tennis court-sized lagoon, totally enclosed by sharp cliffs. It was a great spot but a little bit of an anti-climax.

However, the beach around the corner once back out of the lagoon was really cool. The landscape here was by far my favorite spot of the day and I camped on my favorite spot at the front of the tour boat as we left snapping a few shots to capture the entire scene. I have never seen anything like it before in my life.

The second time I visited Secret Lagoon in El Nido on Tour A , I was armed with a drone. It gave me a whole new perspective on the lagoon and the scale of the beach. I’ve added those photos below.



Our last stop of the day would be the small lagoon. By now I had become a bit desensitized to the majestic beauty all around me. But the small lagoon hit another chord.

We were offered kayaks as we arrived but also given the option to swim. Being the cheap guys Jorden and I were of course we swam. It wasn’t too far just a few hundred yards both ways.

Swimming through this lagoon was beautiful, calming and a great way to end the day. We went as far in as we could and just spend a while floating on our backs taking in everything around us.

The second time I visited Small Lagoon was actually with the Red Bull Cliff Diving team, which was a whole new experience. They had set up ladders to a platform and were jumping from 21m and 27m for their competition. I’ve put the video below about this epic experience.


el nido travel story


Pinagbuyutan island.

Pinagbuyutan Island is probably my favorite island in El Nido. It has huge towering cliffs that shoot straight down dramatically over the small stretches of the beach below. There’s nothing more than a shack and coconut trees on this desolate island.

When we rolled in there was just one local selling coconuts and no other tourists. It stayed that way for most of our visit.

We walked around the edges of the island in between the tall grass and scattered palms.  This is how island hopping is supposed to be. Quiet, relaxing and away from the crowds. Luckily for us, we were in no rush and actually spent several hours at Pinagbuyutan Island. 

There are also some great snorkeling spots just off the shore with beautiful reefs waiting to be discovered below the surface.


el nido travel story


One of the stops on Tour B in El Nido will be Entalula or Papaya Beach. Both are awesome and we hung out at Papaya Beach. It is quite similar to Seven Commando Beach, which you will find on Tour A. Beautiful clear water, a nice sandy beach with a backdrop of coconut trees. 

This is a great stop to relax and chill on the beach with your friends. There aren’t too many activities here other than just hanging out and maybe sipping on a coconut from the local stand. 

We did a beach clean-up at this stop and collected several large bags of trash. El Nido is making great changes but trash on the islands still remains prevalent. I have posted the video of the cleanup below.

el nido travel story


Snake Island is an epic spot, one I didn’t even know about until we arrived. So often in El Nido, all of the focus is on lagoons and secret beaches that anything else is almost pushed to the side. Anywhere else in the world and Snake Island would be the number one attraction.

This beautiful island arcs out into a sandbar that connects to the mainland at low tide. This area reminded me of a mini French Polynesia with the steep, green hills as a backdrop to the cerulean blue water. 

I really enjoyed this spot and flying the drone here was so much fun with something to look at in all directions. Snake Island was a great surprise and not a spot I had seen before so it was great to be exploring something a little different in El Nido on Tour B.


el nido travel story


On Tour B there are two caving opportunities. The first cave is Cudugnon Cave, which was actually super cool. The boat parks on the beach and then you crawl through a little hole into a hidden area inside the cliffs.

Here there are amazing rock formations and you can actually keep climbing up pretty high. It was remarkable that this cave exists hidden inside the cliff walls, out of view from passing boats. 

el nido travel story


The second cave was pretty wild. Cathedral Cave was incredible and one of my favorite caves I’ve visited in the Philippines. You jump off the boat and either swim or kayak in. We swam inside despite our guide saying there were snakes. I’m still not sure if he was serious or not!

Inside huge stalagmites and stalactites hang from the roof and grow from the floor. It is mindblowing to look around at the rock formations inside this sea cave. Under the surface, the water has a luminescent glow so definitely bring your snorkel to enjoy this cave.

We explored it all the way to the back where things get quite creepy and gross but it is here that you can see the luminescent glow of the blue water on the walls. Make sure you go all the way to the back of the cave to look back towards the entrance to check that out.


el nido travel story


Helicopter island.

The first island on the itinerary of Tour C in El Nido is the famous Helicopter Island. It isn’t hard to figure out how this island earned its name with a distinctive helicopter shape, visible from a side profile. It is incredibly busy… always but you can still have a great time here. You can hang out here on the beach or go for a bit of a walk but the best way to explore Helicopter Island is with your snorkel and mask.

When your boat docks walk down towards the left (while facing the island) and then snorkel around the corner. Here you will get away from the crowds and be able to explore some beautiful coral. There are also some unique shelves and rock formations under the cliffs if you go far enough. I embedded a video from my underwater exploration at Helicopter Island below.

            View this post on Instagram                         A post shared by Jackson Groves (@jackson.groves) on Apr 10, 2019 at 6:14am PDT


Matinloc Shrine is a bit of a weird stop on an island hopping tour and it is probably the least impressive thing to do on Tour C. It is essentially an abandoned shrine.

Your captain will likely ask if you do indeed want to visit or just go snorkeling/visit another beach. I believe it costs extra to visit as well. All you do is get off and go look inside the abandoned building. Bit of a waste of time when there are beautiful beaches, reefs, and turtles nearby!

We chose to visit a nearby beach instead (no extra fee) and went snorkeling and exploring. The beauty of the area near Matinloc Shrine is that there are lots of different beaches, coves, and snorkel spots so your captain should be able to pick a  spot that isn’t crazy crowded!

Our captain took us to an amazing snorkel spot and beach but we just hung out on the boat and ate there. We snorkeled after but there was no need to get out and unpack the food we just ate it straight on the boat. I can’t remember the name of this spot for the life of me but most of the tours will choose lunch at one of a few spots.


Hidden Beach is a cool little cove hiding behind the karst limestone cliffs. Your boat will drop you at the entrance and you swim/wade through the water until you make your way into the cove after about 200m.

It is usually very crowded in here although it is incredibly beautiful. If this cove was empty it would be one of my favorite places in El Nido but both times it has been full of life jackets and hundreds of people so it is often a bit more manic than magic. Nonetheless, I’ve always enjoyed sitting on the sand here and admiring the jagged cliffs and the beautiful scenery. 

On my second visit to Hidden Beach, we did a cleanup and carried out 1.5 bags of trash and even swam out with it. It’s great to leave places better than when you found them and added a challenge to our Hidden Beach experience.


Our final stop of the day was right next to Matinloc Shrine again where our captain told us there was a great reef. He wasn’t wrong and our guides even spotted a couple of turtles for us to swim with. There was a huge drop-off and it was an epic spot for free-diving and getting a closer look at the coral below.

There were some really cool table corals and lots of fish in this area. We were the only tourists enjoying this spot, which is what I liked about Tour C in El Nido. It seemed a bit more flexible than Tour A, which was all about the lagoons. Tour C was a bit easier to change depending on what you were interested in.

el nido travel story


Expect extreme humidity. That’s what to expect! Holy hell this was the most humid climb of my life. But seriously, expect a short, steep intense climb and then to enjoy an epic, epic view for sunrise on jagged rocks. If you like adventure and miss this one in El Nido, you messed up!

The trail winds through the small neighborhood before throwing you into the jungle. From the first minute, you are clambering more than following a trail or ‘climbing’. The jagged rocks mean that you are constantly concentrating so you don’t misplace a step as they are unforgiving.

There are sections that are relatively vertical but nothing too extreme. There were lots of amateur hikers and climbers both male, female, young and old on the trail so don’t be scared of this hike because of the sharp rocks.

There were a  few sections that were a bit sketchy but there is always something to hold on to. I’d say the level of difficulty for this hike is moderate to above average because of the rock clambering. I don’t want to discourage you from climbing Taraw Peak but some people may struggle or get frightened so I made sure to take these two photos in probably the two most sketchy spots.

Once we cleared the final little ascent the view opened up and what a view it is. You have a birds-eye view over El Nido town and the entire bay, where the island-hopping boats are all lined up for another day of touring. We could see all the way out to Cadlao Island and beyond. 


el nido travel story


A moped costs 350 Pesos or $7 USD. We split that between two people and you have your transport sorted for the day for a few dollars. Gasoline is usually only a couple of dollars. You will need to leave your passport with the rental person but that is fair, remember you have their bike!

Nacpan Beach is about 30 minutes away from El Nido town and one of the most pristine beaches in the area. The water clarity is perfect and coconut trees and chill cafes and bars line the beach. Down to the right is empty shoreline to hang out on and down to the left is a small hill to explore.

I remember hearing that there was great shrimp at Nacpan Beach and I can testify that it is true. My lunch was beautiful and I topped it off with a mango smoothie for good measure. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo, but let’s be honest you can’t taste a photo. Just trust me to get the shrimp.

el nido travel story


After Nacpan Beach our next stop was Duli Beach.. or so we thought. It was a 30-minute drive and after 40 minutes we thought we had finally arrived. The beach looked amazing but our map told us we had actually arrived at Verde Safari Beach. It was a blessing in disguise as this was an amazing stretch of shoreline that was entirely empty. A few fishing boats were resting on the shore in front of rows of coconut palms.

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With less than an hour before the sun would set we finally arrived at Duli Beach. A few small huts were scattered along the beach and only two local kids were trying to surf the whitewash. Jorden and I grabbed the GoPro and headed out deep into the thick of the action.

The locals thought we were drowning and were preparing a rescue before I came back and told them we were fine. Jorden headed in and I spent the entire sunset floating around in the impact zone. The waves were big but not barreling clean. This was one of my favorite nights from our one month trip in the  Philippines .

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Almost every night I stayed in El Nido, I would run the 5kms from El Nido town up and over the hill to Las Cabanas beach for sunset. It became one of my favorite things to do in El Nido. It’s an incredible vibe down there with huge palms on the beach and the sun sets out over the horizon.

There is even a zipline over the water. I never had my camera as I was always running but have a few basic photos from my phone. Trust me this is one of the best sunset spots in El Nido.

el nido travel story


(Value) Spin Designer Hostel :  Let’s go for Spin! This rad hostel is located at the bustling town of El Nido. This property is highly recommended by many travelers as the service is superb.

Spin Designer Hostel also provides a shared kitchen with a barbecue facility. It is value for money and very close to shops and beach. If you stay here you will make friends with like-minded strangers and be in the prime location for the nightlife, island hopping and hiking  Taraw Peak . The beach literally steps away.

(Most Insta-worthy) Panorama Resort :  Panorama Resort is an exotic boutique resort tucked between Corong-Corong Beach and Maremigmeg Beach, is a 3-star property that features a panoramic view of the mountains in El Nido. The resort is very insta-worthy and has a lot of amenities including a private beach, outdoor and indoor swimming pool, and free WiFi. It offers an amazing sunset view and chill vibe to guests.

(Luxury Resort)   Las Cabanas Beach Resort :  This incredible beach resort is situated perfectly on the shore of Las Cabanas beach in El Nido. It offers a peaceful sanctuary from the harsh realities of the outside world. The resort is picturesque and provides easy access to island hopping and other activities.  It has rooms with sea and garden views, and the beachfront cottages are single standalone units.


You want to go island-hopping in El Nido but aren’t sure whether TOUR A,B,C or D will be better? Take a look at my El Nido Island Hopping Guide that compares all of the four tours to help you pick the best one for you.

Wondering what there is to do in El Nido? I’ve been twice and spent almost 30 days in El Nido so I’ve got some great recommendations for you in my Travel Guide to El Nido: 20 Awesome Things To Do

Which region will you choose for your accommodation in El Nido? I’ve broken each region down and given you suggestions for budget, value and luxury in El Nido Town, Lio Beach and Las Cabanas Beach in this guide: Where to stay in El Nido

My Review and photos of: Tour A

My Review and photos of: Tour B

My Review and photos of: Tour C

The most epic activity you can do in El Nido on the land is to hike up Taraw Peak and I share the photos and tell you how you can use the same local guide as me in this blog post:  Hiking up Taraw Peak – What You Need to Know

Sunday 24th of December 2023

Hi, we're planning to visit Palawan next year. Unfortunately, due to our schedule in Puerto Princesa and Coron, we won't be able to explore El Nido extensively. However, we do plan to stay overnight in El Nido. We have some extra time from the morning until noon before heading to Coron. Is it feasible to visit beaches within the town during this time? What would you suggest?

Monday 4th of December 2023

I'm curious to know why you didn't mention the Taraw Hike was dangerous, and you need a guide.

Wednesday 13th of December 2023

@Nico, he mentioned both in the full blog post. https://www.journeyera.com/taraw-peak-cliff-el-nido/

Sunday 24th of September 2023

Hey mate, I will be going there next weekend, and I'm trail running training, so will need to do a 24km long run. I would love this to include some beach runs, beautiful views, even potentially the Tarawa hike, though it sounds like I couldn't run that very easily. Any ideas?

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

Awesome guide can't wait for my visit! Thanks for this!

The Adventures of Nicole

The El Nido Travel Guide

Updated December 2023,  The El Nido Travel Guide was originally written in December 2018

El Nido has easily become one of the Philippines’ most recognizable hotspots, and rightfully so– it’s absolutely stunning, ( this should come as a shock to most of you since we all know I’m not a beachy holiday destination type ). Truth be told, I’ve been sitting on this information for quite a bit of time now. I’ve been to El Nino twice and will be back again, so sit back, get to planning, and enjoy this El Nido Travel Guide!

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First Things First: How To Get To El Nido

There are a number of ways to get to El Nido. The easiest is by a direct flight, but there are ferries, as well as an option to reach Puerto Princesa and take a bus the remainder of the way. For those looking to take the guesswork out of getting to El Nido, check out these transport packages to El Nido on Bookaway .

By Flight + Van

Easily the most common way to reach El Nino is by flight to Puerto Princesa and then by van to El Nido. There are frequent and cheap flights to Puerto Princesa from Manila and other cities in the Philippines. Flights can vary in price depending on how far out you book. Shuttle vans will set you back 850 PHP per person, each way.

By Direct Flight : There are direct flights to El Nido from Manila on  AirSwift , as well as Cebu and Boracay. Direct tickets are a bit more expensive than those flying into Puerto Princesa.

Manila Flights

  • Daily flights to El Nido from Manila: 8:00, 12:00, 16:00, 17:35
  • Daily flights from El Nido to Manila: 6:30, 9:55, 11:00, 14:00
  • Price are: low season- ~5,300 PHP and high season ~7,500 PHP
  • Flight time Manila-El Nido: 1 hour

Cebu Flights

  • Daily flights to El Nido from Cebu: 15:15
  • Daily flights from El Nido to Cebu: 12:55
  • Prices are: low season- ~4,500 PHP and high season- ~6,300 PHP
  • Flight time Cebu-El Nido 1 hour 30 minutes

Ferries go back and forth between El Nido & Coron, taking about 8 hours. A ferry from Coron to El Nido will cost you 1,700 PHP per person, each way.

It is possible to reach Coron by ferry from Manila as well for 1,350 PHP per person on up. It is run by 2Go Travel and runs on Tuesday and Friday, the ferry continues to Puerto Princesa as well. The ferry returns to Manila from Coron on Wednesday & Saturday.

Note that ferry cancellations due to bad weather are very common.

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Where To Stay In El Nino

  • There are many accommodation options in El Nido ranging from backpacker hostels to nice hotels to fit most budgets. The most popular area to stay in is El Nido town, which is handy for those who plan to get by on foot.
  • Good, quieter options are Corong-Corong Beach, Marimegmeg Beach, and Sibaltan Beach. These are easily reached by the numerous tricycles around town or if you rent your own motorbike/scooter.

Shop accommodations around El Nido on booking

Where To Go & What To See

The biggest attraction to El Nido is getting out and exploring the scattering of gorgeous islands nearby by boat. Note that there is a 200 PHP Eco Tourism Development Fund fee that must be paid on your first trip to the islands and to visit several sites around El Nido that is valid for 10 days. If you book a tour they will include this as an additional fee on the price if you don’t already have one.

As of November 2018, The Department of Environment & Natural Resources has banned all combination tours and party boats. These changes reflect the desire to protect El Nido from the damages of over-tourism. It no longer possible to visit Big and Small Lagoons in the same day, and you will need to book Tour A in advance with a tour operator as they will need to register your name with the Protected Area Office.

Tour A will cost an additional 200 PHP that is paid to the Protected Area Office to visit premium locations of either Big Lagoon or Small Lagoon.

Shop El Nido Tours Here

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Tour A: Beaches & Lagoons

This tour will bring you to see stunning beaches and amazing lagoons hidden from plain view. A Tours range in price from 1,000-2,000 PHP per person for a day tour on a boat with about 20 other passengers.

There will be an additional 200 PHP fee on A Tours as required by the Protected Area Office as an entrance fee for visiting either Big Lagoon or Small Lagoon.

Tour A Stops Include :

  • Big Lagoon OR Small Lagoon*
  • Seven Commando Beach
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Shimzu Island
  • Talisay Beach

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Tour B: Beaches & Caves

Tour B is less popular but includes wonderful islands that are typically less crowded. You’ll get to explore some cool caves and visit the lovely sandbar of Snake Island. B Tours range in price from 1,000-2,000 PHP per person for a day tour on a boat with about 20 other passengers.

Tour B Stops Include :

  • Snake Island
  • Pinagbuyutan Island
  • Entaluta Island
  • Popolkan Island
  • Cudognon Cave
  • Cathedral Cave

Looking to explore more of Ocean? Check out my  budget guide to Palau

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Tour C: Secrets & Shrines

Tour C is an easy favorite with visits to beaches that are completely hidden from view and an epic shrine. C Tours range in price from 1,000-2,000 PHP per person for a day tour on a boat with about 20 other passengers.

Tour C Stops Include :

  • Matinloc Shrine
  • Hidden Beach
  • Secret Beach*
  • Helicopter Island

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Tour D: Secluded Beaches

The D Tour is least popular but with that said you can get out to some less crowded spots making it worth the while. D Tours range in price from 1,000-1,500 PHP per person for a day tour on a boat with about 20 other passengers.

Tour D Stops include :

  • Cadlao Lagoon
  • Paradise Beach
  • Pasandigan Beach
  • Natnat Beach
  • Bukal Beach

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Tour E: Inland Twin Beaches & Waterfalls

This tour is offered around town, but can easily be done DIY by renting a scooter. The inland tour usually costs about 1,300-1,500 per person if doing it with a tour operator.

Tour E Stops Include :

  • Nacpan & Calitang Beach
  • Nagkalit-Kalit Falls

*Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon are premium locations. You will need to pay an additional 200 PHP for each visit to either one. Note that you may not visit both in one single day. These locations are only open to visit between 7 am-4 pm, and tours must be booked in advance so that your name can be registered.

**It is likely Secret Beach will eventually join Big Lagoon & Small Lagoon as a premium stop.

Hike Taraw Peak For Sunrise

The top of Taraw Peak gives awesome aerial views of Bacuit Bay below. Typically you will start this hike very early in the morning in the dark in order to reach the summit as the sun peeks above the horizon at about 5:50 am.

The hike takes about 2 hours to reach the top and a local guide is recommended. Guides will charge 350 PHP per person for the trip up there.

Chill On Las Cabanas Beach

Las Cabanas Beach sits just south of Corong-Corong. It seems to stretch on nearly forever and is typically pretty quiet. There are some guesthouses that have popped up behind the beach as well as restaurants and bars.

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Go Ziplining

From Las Cabanas Beach it is possible to zipline over to little Depeldet Island and walk along the isthmus of sand back to Las Cabanas. Prices start at 500 PHP per person.

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El Nido Day Trips & Outlying Areas

There are some great things to do outside of El Nido. These are all easily accessed by motorbike/scooter.

Nacpan & Calitang Beaches

The stunning Twin Beaches north of El Nido Town. For the best views hike up the hill to the east where you can see both beaches. Some tour boats offer trips out here as  Tour E , which cost 1,300-1,500 PHP per person.

Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls

Two waterfalls and a pool to cool off in after the hour or so hike to reach this point? Perfect! Make sure and bring a bottle of water with you. 300 PHP per person to visit with a guide.

Bulalacao Falls

3 waterfalls not too far from Nagkalit-Kalit Falls. About 90 minutes roundtrip and the possibility to swim in the pools around the falls. 400 PHP per person to visit with a guide.

Archeological site with cave paintings and remains dating back to 12,000 years ago. It’s also possible to hike to the top but is quite treacherous in areas. 400 PHP per person to visit with a guide.

Makinit Hotsprings

Located just a short stroll from the main road if you’re headed towards Nacpan Beach.

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7 Day El Nido Travel Itinerary

Here is a rough itinerary for those headed to El Nido. Mix and match days as needed!

Day 1: Welcome To El Nido Town, Relax On The Beach & Catch Sunset

Get situated at your accommodation, grab some lunch at one of El Nido’s restaurants and catch some sun at one of the nearby beaches.

Day 2: Tour A

This seems to be the favorite tour of most visitors to El Nido, and easy to see why as it brings you to some very unique beaches and lagoons not quite like anywhere else.

Day 3: Tour D

Now that you’ve taken in some of El Nido’s most famous sites on Tour A, now visit some of the lesser-known and visited sights on Tour D.

Day 4: Nacpan Beach & Waterfalls or Inland Tour E

Rent a scooter and head out to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls for a quick hike and swim before continuing on to the Twin Beaches of Nacpan & Calitang. Just be careful and don’t wreck your bike as I did on my 2016 trip ( I have several scars to prove it ). If you’re not that adventurous you can set up an Inland Tour ‘E’.

Day 5: Tour B

Today go explore more of El Nido’s islands and check out the caves and beaches offered on Tour B. For those not interested in island hopping today, use this day to explore more of El Nido Town, Las Cabanas Beach, go zip lining, trek Taraw Peak, cruise on scooters or just relax.

Day 6: Tour C

Take in the rest of the beautiful islands of El Nido on this day. Tour C is actually my personal favorite with secret beaches and shrines.

Day 7: Morning Trek Up Taraw Peak, Relax At Las Cabanas Beach & Say Goodbye

Get an early rise and begin the two hour trek to the top of Taraw Peak ( sunrise is typically around 5:50 am ) and enjoy a magical sunrise over the stunning Bacuit Bay. After you descend back to sea level make your way over to Las Cabanas to relax and get some sun before you say goodbye to El Nido.

Got More Time?

Make sure to take a Tour D trip and take your time exploring more of the outlying areas like Ille Cave, Bulalacao Falls, Makinit Hotsprings & more.

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El Nido Travel Budget

Since there are several options to reach El Nido, these prices do not include the costs of getting there and away. I’ve included a breakdown of prices for different categories:


  • Backpacker hostel dorm bed : 600 PHP/night
  • Decent Double With A/C : 2,000 PHP/night
  • Splurge On A Bougier Double Room : 5,000 PHP/night

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  • Tricycle Taxis : 300 PHP one way for trips to Corong-Corong and Merimegmeg and 1,500 PHP for return trips to Nacpan including waiting on you
  • Scooter/Motorbike Rental : 500 PHP/day
  • Island Hopping: Tour A, B, C or D will cost you roughly 1,500 PHP/day. These also include lunch.  Check out tour options here .
  • Budget : 450 PHP/day if sticking to Filipino dishes and fast foods
  • Midrange : 1,000 PHP/day for midrange sit-down places. There are heaps of restaurants offering up dishes from all over the world in El Nido

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El Nido Travel Tips & FAQ

  • There is an ATM in town but it doesn’t hurt to stock up on cash before your arrival
  • Electricity is available 24 hours/day, most of the time. Outages aren’t uncommon. Grab an external battery before you leave home
  • Buy a waterproof bag for electronics at shops or stalls in El Nido Town
  • The internet and wifi sucks in El Nido, if you need to be connected at all times rethink your travel plans… Though who would come here and want to be on the internet?
  • Don’t skip out on an island hopping tour, this is how you get to the most beautiful parts of El Nido
  • Book tours that include Big or Small Lagoon in advance. Don’t forget you can no longer visit both on the same day
  • Book in advance if you plan to visit in the high season (November-March)
  • I don’t recommend anything less than 3 days in El Nido
  • Don’t forget you’ll need to pay the 200 PHP/person ETDF fee that is good for 10 days. You will also need to pay the 200 PHP PAO fee for each visit to Big or Small Lagoon
  • There is a medical clinic in El Nido, the Dr isn’t on staff on evenings and Sundays but is reachable if having an emergency. I know because I wrecked a motorbike on a Sunday evening and waited until Monday morning to get stitches

Have Any Questions Not Answered In This El Nido Travel Guide?

Ask any of your El Nido travel questions comments below!

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1 thought on “el nido travel guide & itinerary: palawan, philippines”.

Hi Jane, Palawan is just lovely. I too have not visited Coron but I would love to. We were supposed to visit the last time I was in the Philippines, but we ended up running out of time. I hope things can start returning to normal again there soon.

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The Bamboo Traveler

The Ultimate El Nido Itinerary & Travel Guide

by Julie Mar 16, 2020 Itinerary , Philippines

Aerial drone view of a beautiful tropical lagoon filled with kayaks and surrounded by jagged limestone cliffs (Small Lagoon, Miniloc Island, El Nido)

El Nido is one of the hottest (most popular) beach destination/place to visit in the Philippines right now. It’s even more popular than Boracay. In this 5 day El Nido itinerary guide, I’m going to show you how you can explore some of the Philippine’s most amazing islands and beaches.

Situated on the west coast of Palawan island and only about 1.5 hours by plane from Manila, El Nido is famous for its stunning limestone islands with their hidden lagoons and secret beaches dotting Bacuit Bay. Imagine Halong Bay in Vietnam or Yangshuo in China but in the middle of the clearest and bluest water you’ll ever see in your life. And that’s Nido.

I spent 10 days in El Nido exploring the town and surrounding area. The El Nido itinerary I’ve come up with is one that should satisfy those who are looking to see the most important sights, get some time to relax on the beach, but also find some less touristy spots in Palawan.

If you’re looking for where else to visit in this beautiful country, check out my 15 favorite destinations in the Philippines .

For a list of ALL my Philippines itineraries and travel info check out my Philippines Travel Guide page. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Please see this website's  Disclosure for more info.

Table of Contents

1.  When to visit El Nido

2.  How to get to El Nido

3.  How to get around El Nido

4.  El Nido Itinerary

4.1  Day 1 – Island Hopping Tour A

4.2  Day 2 – Nacpan Beach

4.3  Day 3 – Sibaltan Tour

4.4  Day 4 – Las Cabanas

4.5  Day 5 – Island Hopping Tour C

5.  Where to stay in El Nido

6.  Where to eat in El Nido

7.  What to pack for your trip to El Nido

8.  More Information about traveling in Palawan and the Philippines

PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting travel insurance. During my travels over the past 2 years, I've been using SafetyWing for my insurance. They're very affordable for all ages, and digital nomads can use their insurance long-term.

When to visit El Nido

End of November – Beginning of March – It’s the coolest time temperature-wise; you might experience occasional rain showers and rough seas at times while other times things will be dry and calm; I was there at the end of January and it was hot in the morning and early afternoon and then it sometimes got cool and windy in the late afternoon, making swimming in the ocean uncomfortable; you’ll see lots of Europeans tourists

End of March – May: the driest season; Filipinos like to come here at this time; the weather is hot but the sea is calmer and you don’t have to worry about monsoon rains

June – Beginning of November: monsoon season; prices drop and seas become rougher and there are frequent rain showers

Serena Street in El Nido, Philippines


Palawan may be the Philippines ’ most popular tourist destination at the moment, but it also has one of the country’s least developed road systems. Some locals and hotel owners told me it’s because Palawan’s corrupt governor siphoned off funds for his own benefit. Some of the roads to popular destinations are still unpaved and some of its most beautiful places can only be accessed by motorcycle because of the rough roads.

* Prices are for April 2020

  • Manila / Cebu – El Nido:   You can fly from Manila or Cebu directly to El Nido. BUT flights are pricey. US$130-$175
  • Manila / Cebu – Puerto Princesa – ( Port Barton ) – El Nido: A cheaper way to get to El Nido is by flying from Manila to Puerto Princesa (US$50) and then taking a van to El Nido (550 – 700 pesos / US$11-$14). The van takes 5-6 hours. You can also insert a stopover for a few days in the lovely and remote beach town of Port Barton (600 pesos / US$12).
  • Manila / Cebu – Coron – El Nido : An alternative is to fly into Coron (US$70) and then take a ferry to El Nido (1,800 pesos / US$36 – buy a ticket from Isla Expeditions on Serena Street). Coron is one of the best places for diving in the Philippines as it’s home to many shipwrecks from WWII.
  • Manila – Puerto Princesa – El Nido: The boat from Manila leaves each Friday at 7 pm. It takes 24 hours and costs 2,689 pesos (US$54) for tourist class. You can then take a van to El Nido.
  • Manila – Coron – El Nido: Another popular way to get to Coron is by ferry. The ferry leaves Manila every Friday at 7 pm. It takes 11 hours and costs 1,400 pesos (US$28) for tourist class.

For info on how to get to/from the airport in Manila, check out my First-Timers’ Guide to Getting Around the Philippines .

You can also find out more info on getting to and from El Nido in my Port Barton post. 

PRO TIP: When purchasing plane tickets for the Philippines, check to see whether the ticket covers checked baggage. If it doesn’t, it’s cheaper to purchase it online rather than at the airport.

I experienced this the hard way. I thought I had purchased checked baggage online BUT when I got to the airport, Air Asia said I didn’t and charged me 1,100 pesos. Online it would have cost me 430 pesos.

AND airlines in the Philippines have strict carry-on baggage limits of 7 kg. They DO check and if you’re over the weight, they charge you a lot!


I’ll explain how to get to each of the beaches here, but overall you’ve got a few options. None of them are great. First, if you can, renting a scooter or motorcycle is the best. You can do this for around 300 pesos per day. BUT if you’re like me and can’t drive one, you can get around by tricycle (tuk-tuk), free shuttle bus (Lio Beach), or van (Nacpan Beach).

The free shuttle bus to Lio Beach leaves from this place (near Frendz Hostel) .

el nido travel story

El Nido Itinerary

Here’s my suggested itinerary for 4 to 5 days in El Nido. You can do this itinerary in any order. I’ve arranged the activities this way because you’ll need a day of rest at the beach after doing an island hopping tour. The tours can be exhausting. It’s best not to do 2 tours in a row. 

The A, B, C, and D tours take place every day, but the Sibaltan Tour (don’t skip this one) takes place only on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. 

Day 1 – Island Hopping Tour A

Start your island-hopping adventure with Tour A. Yes, it’s the most popular tour and there’s going to be an annoyingly large number of people. BUT you want to start with this one because the places you’ll visit you will never see the likes of again in your life. Big lagoon and secret lagoon are magical and unique. By day 5 you might be too exhausted of the island hopping tours and you might be tempted to skip it.

people in canoes paddling to Big Lagoon in El Nido

What you’re supposed to see on Tour A:

1.  Big Lagoon – brilliant – the best part of the tour – you need to pay 350 pesos for a kayak

2.  Secret Lagoon – cool – wear water shoes here because you need to walk and swim over lots of rocks

3.  Shimizu Island – snorkeling – the coral is dead here so there aren’t that many fish

4.  7 Commando Beach – this is a beautiful beach with crystal clear water

5.  Payong Payong Island – we didn’t go here; instead, we went snorkeling at Advance Reef and so quite a lot of colorful fish and coral

lunch on tour A in El Nido

How much does the island hopping tour cost?

These are prices from January 2020 if you buy in El Nido.

  • Tour: 1,200 pesos (US$24)
  • Entrance fee to Big Lagoon: 200 pesos (US$4)
  • Environmental tax : 200 pesos (US$4) (a one-time fee that covers all tours for the next 10 days)
  • Kayak rental:  250 – 350 pesos per kayak (US$7) – pay this at Big Lagoon

The total cost of the tour can be up to 1,950 pesos (US$40).   Ouch!

PRO TIP: If you buy Tour A on Klook , the price may be cheaper (it was when I checked – US$17.35) than buying from your hotel or an agency. BUT it doesn’t include the US$4 entrance fee to Big Lagoon, the US$4 environmental tax, and the US$5 to $7 kayak fee.

What’s included in the price of Tour A?

Check what’s included in the price of your tour. Some tour companies don’t include the price of the entrance fee for Big Lagoon, while others do.

When I bought my tour, I paid 1,600 pesos upfront and then when I got to Big Lagoon, I had to pay the extra 350 pesos to the kayak rental place.

The price of the tour usually includes lunch and snorkeling gear.

The only time you might need cash is at 7 Comando’s Beach where you can buy a cold drink and a snack.

boat and beach on 7 Commandos Beach

Where can I purchase Tour A?

All tour companies go to the same places no matter where you buy Tour A.

You can buy them from your hotel or hostel or from the numerous travel agencies around El Nido.

I bought mine through my hostel, Happiness Hostel . They use R&R Tours.

You can also buy through Klook , which also used R&R Tours when I was there. As mentioned earlier, they seemed to be cheaper than what I found in El Nido.

PRO TIP:  Here's a list of essential items to pack for all of your island-hopping tours while in the Philippines:

  • Dry bag - You're going to get wet while in the boat and your things will get wet if you don't have a dry bag. Leave your backpack at your hotel.
  • Waterproof bag or pouch for your cell phone especially for your visit to such places as the Big Lagoon and the Secret Lagoon in El Nido.
  • Water shoes - It's important to have a pair because sometimes you'll need to be walking on rocks to get to your destination. You'll thank me later for bringing them.
  • Sunscreen - Make sure to put it on 30 minutes before being in the sun and/or water. Banana Boat worked the best for me. You can buy it in the Philippines, too, but it's pricey (500 - 700 pesos depending on the store--shop around!)
  • Mask and snorkel - OPTIONAL - Most tour companies provide you with a mask and snorkel, but if you want to bring your own, I highly recommend the full face mask and snorkel . It's ideal for those who aren't confident swimmers.

Day 2: Nacpan Beach

On the second day of your itinerary, head out to the best closest beach to El Nido–Nacpan Beach. It’s a beautiful, long beach with clear water and nice soft sand. Nacpan Beach is located in Nacpan village, a dusty town of unpaved roads and a few shops and restaurants. The beach is surrounded by just a handful of hotels and hostels.

BUT it takes 30-45 minutes by public transportation to get to the beach. So, it can be inconvenient. If you stay out here, you’re stuck with few dining options.

You have to pay an environmental fee of 50 pesos (US$1) to visit Nacpan Beach. You’ll pay the fee when you arrive in Nacpan town.

Nacpan Beach in El Nido

Getting to Nacpan Beach:

You have two options without a motorcycle:

  • You can hire a tricycle for 1,200 pesos (US$24) round trip.
  • You can take a van that will pick you up from your hotel for 600 pesos (US$12) round trip. Here’s the van schedule from January 2020.  

el nido travel story

Where to hang out at Nacpan Beach

When you arrive at Nacpan Beach (facing the ocean), you’ll see to the left tons of people and you’ll see to the right an empty long beach . Turn right and just keep on walking and you should find a beautiful spot all to yourself.

Nacpan Beach in El Nido

How’s the swimming at Nacpan Beach?

The water is as clear as an aquarium, but it’s also shallow, which is not ideal for swimming. And sometimes the waves can get big. When I was there, the waves were a bit rough in the morning but they calmed down towards the end of the day. 

sunset in Nacpan Beach

Make sure to stay to watch the sunset. It’s quite magical! 

There are also places to eat on the beach. I had a pizza at Sunmei Restaurant. It was ok. They put tons of cheese on it but not enough sauce, so it was kind of bland. You can also have a bite and a drink at the infamous party hostel called Mad Monkey Hostel. 

Day 3: Sibaltan Tour

The highlight of my time in El Nido was taking the Sibaltan Tour. Sibaltan is on the opposite side of Palawan from El Nido. It’s an untouristy and unspoiled section of the Palawan. It’s like visiting your own private slice of paradise.

This tour should NOT be skipped.

a sandbar off an island in Palawan

On the tour, you’ll do the following:

  • Snorkel and/or kayak over a reef teeming with the most colorful and abundant fish I’d seen in Palawan. And you won’t have any other tour boats around you.
  • Visit a deserted island with the second most beautiful sandbar you’ll see in the Philippines (the first is off the coast of Malapascua). The water is so warm and so crystal clear it’s like you’re swimming in a pool or a bathtub.
  • Visit a primary school at a traditional fishing village . This was a great cultural experience that is a nice break from beaches.

This tour is very new and only one business does it, meaning there aren’t going to be other tourists around. It’s ideal if you’re not going to do a 3-day or 5-day island hopping tour from El Nido to Coron.

You can read all about the tour in my comprehensive guide to the Sibaltan Tour through Happiness Hostel. 

If it’s too windy, though, the coast guard won’t allow the boat to go out or you might not be able to do the snorkeling part of the tour. I was lucky and we had really calm seas.

Little Maosanon Island on Sibaltan Tour

Where to purchase the Sibaltan Tour 

The tour right now is only available from Happiness Hostel . You don’t need to stay there to buy the tour. It only takes place on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. It cost me 1,950 pesos (US$40) . The tour includes all forms of transport and lunch. The tour lasts from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Day 4: Las Cabanas

I was pretty beat after every one of my Island Hopping adventures and needed a day to recuperate. So, I suggest taking it easy on day 4 and heading out to Las Cabanas (a.k.a Vanilla Beach) for some good R&R. This beach is only 15 minutes by tricycle from El Nido. An alternative is a visit to Lio Beach.

Las Cabanas is a great place to swim, relax on the beach, see a spectacular sunset, and grab a drink and a meal on the beach.

Las Cabanas Beach in El Nido

Getting to Las Cabanas Beach: The best way to get there is to take a tricycle from El Nido . It takes around 15 minutes. It cost me 150 pesos (US$3) one way. When you return, you can just pick up one of the very many tricycles that are waiting for customers outside of McDonald’s at Las Cabanas (150 pesos). You can’t miss it.

When you get dropped off at Las Cabanas, you’ll see a shopping complex with a McDonalds. Just keep on walking through the corridor of the shopping mall until you get to the beach.

You can lay out your towel and swim on the beach right in front of the shopping complex. There are some beautiful views of the limestone rocks and islands of Bacuit Bay including Helicopter Island.

sunset at Las Cabanas

Alternatively, you can turn left and keep on walking down the beach passing the ziplining and X hotel. You’ll come to a fairly empty beach with some shallow water and few tourists. You can lay your towel down here or you can keep on walking, passing a bunch of rocks and a fancy hotel with its own dock for boats. Here you’ll come to a really empty beach with a stunning view of the limestone islands and with some decent swimming.

el nido travel story

Make sure to stay for the brilliant sunsets. You can grab a happy hour drink at Maremegmeg Beach Bar while watching the sunset.

rice bowl with tuna

After the sun has gone down, head to one of the restaurants at the shopping complex. I had an excellent meal at Local Provisions Kitchen and Mini Bar ( Google Maps ).  

I’ve also heard great things about the Nesting Table.  But I’d probably go here for lunch for their amazing view of Bacuit Bay. 

PRO TIP: When you arrive in the Philippines, you can buy a SIM card at the airport . There are 2 companies used throughout the Philippines: Globe and Smart . Each of them gives you 10 or 12 GB of memory for 30 days for 1,000 pesos (US$20). I used 2 GB in 30 days.

If you have to "add load" (add minutes or data) for some reason, you can do it at a convenience store around the Philippines. Tell them you want to "add load". You need to give the clerk your phone # to complete the transaction (I usually store my SIM card # in my Contact List).

BUT that's not it. You then need to register your phone . If you have Globe, dial *143#. I usually have the store clerk or someone at my hostel or hotel help me complete the registration. If you don't register after every time you add data to your phone, the minutes and data disappear.

Day 5 – Island Hopping Tour C

If you’re staying for a fifth day, I’d suggest getting in one more island hopping tour and that is Tour C. I’m suggesting this one over Tours B and D because here you’ll visit some unique places and see some stunning limestone rocks and island scenery. Tour C goes out pretty far into Bacuit Bay, giving you more of an opportunity to surround yourself among the amazing limestone rocks and islands.

Hidden Lagoon in El Nido

Here’s what you’re supposed to see on Tour C:

  • Helicopter Island – snorkeling – the coral is dead so you’ll see very few fish
  • Hidden Beach – sightsee – this is probably the scariest and most interesting part of the tour – you need to swim and walk over huge rocks. If the ocean is rough, the waves can throw you upon the rocks. If you’ve got good guides they’ll help walk you over them –
  • Talspay Island – Here you’ll have lunch on the beach and snorkel – but again the coral is dead, so there’s not much fish.
  • Secret Beach – We couldn’t visit Secret Beach because the sea was too rough.
  • Star Island – After Secret Beach, you’re supposed to go to Star Island, but we went to some reef for more snorkeling. I didn’t go snorkeling because it was too cold and windy.

Helicopter Island beach in El Nido

You can purchase your tour through your hotel or hostel or at any of the travel agencies around El Nido.

Cost of Tour: 1,400 pesos (includes entrance fees, lunch, and snorkeling gear)

Environmental Fee: 200 pesos (if you did Tour C, you don’t need to pay this as long as you STILL have the environmental fee pass)

PRO TIP: You can also purchase Tour C through Klook . Sometimes tours through Klook are cheaper than purchasing El Nido. BUT you may need to pay an additional 200 pesos for the environmental fee.

Where to stay in El Nido

The good thing about El Nido is that there are lots of stylish albeit noisy and expensive hostels (US$20) for you to choose from. The good ones sell out quickly. The bad news is the mid-range hotels are of quite poor quality. There are lots of problems with surly staff and dirty bathrooms. Expect between US$50 to US$80. Then there are lots of gorgeous high-end luxury hotels.

There are 5 areas to stay in around El Nido: El Nido town (noisy but convenient), Nacpan Beach (quiet with nice beach), Las Cabanas (pricey), Corong Corong (poor beach), and Lio Beach (few choices)

I personally would stay on Nacpan Beach .

El Nido town – convenient, but very noisy; lots of partying; lots of restaurants; I stayed here but wouldn’t do it again. You can’t swim or lie out on the beach.

  • Budget: Happiness Hostel (US$20) ( AGODA | BOOKING.COM ) – friendly staff, clean rooms, comfy pod beds, but it gets noisy until midnight. The common area is small and at night it turns into a party. AND there’s no WiFi in the rooms because management says people watch Netflix and keep others awake.
  • Mid-range: Amakan  ( AGODA | BOOKING.COM )– I didn’t stay here but a friend did and she said the private rooms were great. I stayed at MaryGold Hotel (US$55), which is right on the beach, but it’s REALLY NOISY and the staff is UNFRIENDLY.

el nido travel story

  • Budget + Mid-range:   Seaside Hue Resort  ( AGODA | BOOKING.COM )– This place has both dorm and private rooms. It’s right on Nacpan Beach.
  • Mid-range:   Jack’s Place  – ( AGODA | BOOKING.COM ) – Jack’s Place has private rooms; It’s often sold out. If you’re looking for a place on the beach, this is a good choice.
  • Luxury:  Nacpan Beach Glamping – ( AGODA | BOOKING.COM )  If you want to splurge, Nacpan Beach Glamping is a perfect choice. It’s on the beach.

el nido travel story

Las Cabanas   Beach – 15 minutes from El Nido; quiet but mostly expensive accommodations

  • Luxury: The Birdhouse  – ( AGODA | BOOKING.COM )– The Bird House is such a cool unique hotel! Stunning views. If you’ve got the money, it’s a nice splurge.

el nido travel story

Private Remote Islands – You can have a unique experience and stay in a bamboo hut on your own remote tropical island

  • The Island Experience – ( AGODA | BOOKING.COM )   –  This hotel has bamboo huts on Darocotan.
  • Backpackers Island El Nido – ( AGODA | BOOKING.COM ) – Here’s another opportunity to sleep in a simple hut on Darocotan Island

Where to eat in El Nido

El Nido has some good restaurants for western and vegetarian food. Expect to spend at least 350 pesos per dish (US$7), which is more expensive than other destinations in the Philippines (250 pesos (US$6). I wasn’t able to find very good Filipino food, though. I ate at two places and although the food is cheaper (150 pesos

If you want to get drinks, El Nido has lots of Happy Hour deals at two for one drinks (200 – 250 pesos). Rum and cokes are especially cheap at around 60 pesos.

Here are the restaurants I tried while in El Nido. I recommend getting the pork tacos at the Hub (look for Frendz Hostel).

a bowl of granola

  • Happiness Café – vegetarian restaurant – excellent food, but very pricey; try the falafel sandwich; their breakfasts are fun
  • Art Café – Italian (pizza, pasta) – this restaurant is expensive, the menu is uninspiring, the service is unfriendly , and the food is just not good; the ONLY reason you should go here is for their fast WiFi. They have THE best WiFi in El Nido
  • taste – Vegan restaurant – I went here for breakfast – I had the muesli and it’s just about THE best muesli I’ve ever had in my life – expect to pay at least 300 to 400; it’s pricey and their WiFi is unreliable
  • The Hub – Mexican, Italian food – excellent food , good Happy Hour special (200 pesos for 2 drinks – buy 1 get 1 free) but horrible service ; try the tacos but with pork and not chicken;
  • Tuk Tuk Thai – thai food of course – not good food at all; skip this place; expect to pay at least 350 for a dish
  • Chicken Schwarma place – I don’t remember the name of the place; it’s on Serena Street; the food is good; it’s food to go
  • Angel Wish – I didn’t eat here, but my friend did and raved about the seafood and the price; It was always busy, busy, busy when I walked by
  • IBR Restaurant – Filipino food – My first and last taste of sisig; not good but price was decent
  • Silog Republic – when you’re walking by this place, the barbecue chicken looks good and the price is decent, but the food isn’t inspiring

What to Pack for Your Trip to El Nido

Full face snorkel mask.

Vaincre 180° Full Face Snorkel Mask Panoramic View Anti-Fog,Anti-Leak Snorkeling Design with Adjustable Head Straps-See Larger Viewing Area Than Traditional Masks for Adults Youth (Black L/XL)

Waterproof Dry Bag

Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag - Roll Top Waterproof Backpack Sack Keeps Gear Dry for Kayaking, Beach, Rafting, Boating, Hiking, Camping and Fishing with Waterproof Phone Case

Water Shoes

Water Shoes Womens Mens Barefoot Unisex Aqua Socks Slip-on for Indoor Outdoor Snorkeling SWS002 dot Black

Final Thoughts

El Nido is a fascinating destination. You’ll have so many one-of-a-kind experiences—remote islands, colorful tropical fish, secret lagoons, and hidden beaches. I am sure you will have an adventure of a lifetime.

Feel free to leave your questions here or tell me about your own experiences in El Nido!

More Info on the Philippines:

  • Learn how to take public transportation and a Grab and taxi around Manila -  First-Timers Guide to Getting Around Manila
  • Manila Itinerary: 2 Days Exploring the Culture and History of Manila  - In this guide, you'll get a detailed step-by-step itinerary for seeing the sights in Manila.
  • Port Barton Itinerary: What to do for 3 Days in Port Barton  - Find out how to discover the most beautiful beach in the Philippines.
  • One of my favorite experiences in the Philippines was an island-hopping tour of Sibaltan. Get the details here:  Sibaltan Tour: Finding Your Secret Paradise in Palawan, Philippines
  • El Nido Itinerary: An Adventure of a Lifetime - Learn where to go, what to eat, where to see, and of course, what to do in El Nido.
  • Bohol Travel Guide: Exploring the Natural Wonder of the Philippines will tell you exactly what to see and do in Bohol, how to get there, where to stay, and much, much more!
  • Siquijor Itinerary: Exploring the Island of Fire will give you the skinny on everything you need to know to travel to Siquijor.
  • Malapascua Itinerary: Plan Now! Go Later! will help you plan your trip to Malapascua and Kalanggaman Islands.
  • Find out what my 15 favorite places to visit in the Philippines are.
  • Solo Travel Guide for the Philippines will give you some pointers on how to best travel solo in the Philippines cheaply and safely and still have a kick-ass time!

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El Nido bay and Cadlao island, Palawan, Philippines

What a comprehensive guide to a beautiful part of the world! I look forward to visiting some day, to take in the stunning sights and experience the culture.

El Nido looks beautiful! Would love to visit!

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Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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  • Philippines

El Nido travel blog — The fullest El Nido travel guide for first-timers

el nido travel story

The Philippines is known as an island nation with countless beaches, along with large and small islands stretching out. That’s why this country has attracted a large number of tourists thanks to the charm of beaches of all shades, from wild and rustic to brilliant and charming. And if you are looking forward to discovering a beautiful place with beaches, turquoise lagoons that have all the above colors abroad, then come to EL Nido once.

  • Top 12 most interesting things to do in El Nido, Palawan
  • Philippines itinerary 9 days — Suggested itinerary for 9 days in Philippines explore: El Nido – Coron – Cebu
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el nido travel story

So, is El Nido worth visiting, how to visit El Nido, what to do in El Nido and how to plan a perfect trip to El Nido for the first-time perfectly? Let’s check out our El Nido travel blog (El Nido blog) with the fullest El Nido travel guide (guide to El Nido, El Nido guide) from how to get to El Nido, best places to visit, best time to come, what to eat as well as top things to do in El Nido to help you maximize your trip as follows!

el nido travel story

The northernmost coastal town in the Palawan province should be on the list of tourist destinations in the Philippines because it is a place with beautiful islands, white sand beaches and many lagoons surrounded by the most beautiful limestone ranges in Asia.

El Nido is also the gateway to the Bacuit Archipelago, which is home to 45 islands and islets, each with a unique geological formation. Among the countless archipelagos in the Philippines, El Nido is one of the three longest archipelagos in the country and is located in the northern area of Palawan, southwest of Manila.

el nido travel story

The archipelago owns nearly 50 beaches with diverse ecosystems. Before its current popularity, El Nido had its main source of income from fishing. Today, tourism industry has become the main economic source, local authorities also limit the construction of new hotels to protect nature and the environment. Besides, El Nido is also known for its tourist exploration activities such as swimming, diving, and kayaking.

Overview of El Nido (# el nido travel blog)

el nido travel story

El Nido is a municipality in the northernmost part of the province of Palawan, Philippines. It has impressive natural beauty, from breathtaking lagoons, white sand beaches, rocky islets and towering limestone boulders to glassy waters filled with rich marine life. With its rich pristine beauty, El Nido receives countless compliments from visitors. This tourist destination has also been mentioned many times as one of the most wonderful islands and beaches in the world.

el nido travel story

El Nido consists of more than 40 islands scattered throughout the Bacuit Archipelago. Each island has unique geological wonders that are both breathtaking and pristinely majestic. The waters surrounding this place are a beautiful combination of blue colors.

El Nido is very famous in the world for its clear blue beaches and beautiful coral reefs. For me, after visit once, I just want to stay in this paradise forever and never return. The beauty is truly captivating, the cost is cheap, it is truly a trip of a lifetime.

Nacpan beach at sunset

When it comes to the Philippines, you can’t miss El Nido. It owns many beautiful islands, clear water, along with unique underwater flora and fauna such as coral, Nemo fish, Dory fish,… and is considered one of the paradises on earth.

When traveling to El Nido, visitors often go to Coron island. These are the two most famous destinations in Palawan. With a limited time of 5 or 6 days, people usually only choose one of the two. But if possible, I recommend spending 2 weeks to go to both.

el nido travel story

Although it is a first-class metropolis, the town still has a peaceful and comfortable atmosphere. If you are passionate about modern convenient life, El Nido is not a great choice. However, if you want to explore nature and want to relax, then try experiencing self-sufficient travel in El Nido. Over the years, it has received a record number of tourists in the region, more than 500,000 visitors per year.

In Palawan, Puerto Princesa serves as the gateway to El Nido and along with Coron, these three areas are the most visited areas in Palawan.

el nido travel story

A few interesting things about EL Nido (# el nido travel blog)

Of the countless archipelagos that make up the Philippine island nation, El Nido is one of the country’s three longest archipelagos and is located north of Palawan, southwest of Manila. This is both a class 1 urban area and a nature protected area of the Philippines.

el nido travel story

Specifically, this archipelago owns nearly 50 beaches with a full range of ecosystems. And one thing you will definitely get when traveling to EL Nido is a check-in background that cannot be better with beautiful islands undulating in the clear sea water, or the white sandbars in the heart of the most beautiful limestone ranges in Asia.

Many times, tourist places in EL Nido are among the top places worth visiting, or have the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia and Asia, so you can rest assured. This trip will definitely be worth what you spend.

el nido travel story

Some reasons to travel to El Nido (# el nido blog)

  • You can come to EL Nido for any personal reason. But most tourists choose this place because of its attractive beauty
  • EL Nido is home to the most beautiful beaches in Asia
  • Great sea for diving with rich ecosystem and clear water
  • Enjoy fresh seafood
  • Enjoy stunning views in a relaxing, peaceful space
  • Explore mysterious caves and lagoons
  • Experience the beaches that are ranked among the most beautiful in the Philippines and the world
  • The cost of traveling to EL Nido is not high compared to other beaches in Europe, America or Australia

When is the best time to go to EL Nido? (# el nido blog)

el nido travel story

Although nature has gifted this island nation with picturesque beaches, there are times when nature does not favor it. Summer is the time when the sea is the most beautiful, the waves are calmest and safest. If not, you can come between December and March but be careful that the waves are a bit big at this time.

I went in February and thinking it was beautiful. Of course it’s beautiful, but the sea is quite rough. Before I go, searching online, everyone said this time was the best time to visit. But after asking the locals, March, April, May are the best months to come because during this time the sea is calm, the waves are not big, diving and taking photos is easy.

el nido travel story

Regarding price, like the rest of the Philippines, the cheapest time to travel to El Nido is from June to October. The period during the rainy season has a humid climate, not suitable for exploring the beauty of EL Nido. However, airfare and hotel prices are often much cheaper.

How to get to EL Nido?

el nido travel story

From Vietnam, you can book flights to Mactan-Cebu International Airport or Manila International Airport first and then take a boat or plane to EL Nido. Airlines operating this route are usually Philippine Airlines, Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Singapore Airlines,…

And book your flight tickets early. Because ticket prices will range from $205 – $290 along with flight time depending on the waiting time which can be 3 hours or more than 24 hours. Therefore, when you book early, you can hunt for tickets quickly and cheaply.

From Puerto Princesa to El Nido

After arriving at the airport, you will have two options. One is to book a flight to Puerto Princesa (the capital of Palawan – about 7 hours by car from El Nido) with flight time from Manila to Puerto Princesa about 1 hour 20 minutes and ticket price only about $45. Then take a bus, shuttle bus, coach or taxi for about 5 more hours. For each means of transportation, please refer to this information to make it easier to choose:

  • Bus: Traveling time is about 6 hours with a cost of about $12/ticket.
  • Passenger car: It takes about 5 hours 30 minutes, ticket price $15/ticket.
  • Taxi: Takes about 5 hours 30 minutes, cost about $115.
  • Minivan: If you don’t stop in Puerto Princesa to explore for a day, after landing you can go outside the airport gate to catch a minivan (16-seat car) to get to El Nido. Outside the gate, there are many vans for you to choose from, the price is around 550~600php/person. There will be a lunch stop along the way.

Puerto Princesa Airport front view and a Van Transfer to El Nido

The road is quite far so it will be quite tiring for those who suffer from motion sickness, but I spent the whole trip admiring the scenery on the side of the road. People’s houses grow many beautiful flowers, many roads along the coast and downhill are also very spectacular.

By air (# el nido travel guide)

As for the second way, you can buy a ticket to fly directly to El Nido airport. It only takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, but flights are usually less frequent and ticket prices are slightly higher, about $85 – $150. From the airport, it will take about 30 minutes to El Nido town.

You can use the airport shuttle service to El Nido town if you choose this way. But in general, you should prioritize the first way.

el nido travel story

But note, because the flight from Manila to El Nido is a short flight, the type of plane used will be ATR 42 or ATR 72, the engine propeller is exposed, the passenger capacity is only from 40 to 80 passengers. Therefore, the flight will be a bit shaky, you should prepare anti-sickness medicine before boarding the plane. In return, you will admire the beautiful scenery of El Nido from above. The number of flights is also fixed at 4 per day and the price will be a bit high. AirSwift is also the only airline operating this flight.

resort in el nido-philippines1

From Coron to El Nido (# el nido travel guide)

Ferries from Coron to El Nido depart once a day, 3 times a week, operated by MBCA / Overcomer. Travel time is from 7 to 8 hours. You should book ferry tickets before departure date.

Getting around El Nido

el nido travel story

Popular means of transportation in El Nido are jeepneys and tricycles (a motorbike with a covered vehicle on the back). The fixed price for getting around El Nido town is $0.20 (~PHP 10). Besides, motorbikes help you conveniently move even on the steepest and most difficult roads. Motorbike taxis, called “habal-habal” by locals, are commonly used by tourists to move quickly from one place to another. They often park right in town or circulate to find customers.

If you want to experience the many interesting things in this worth place of visit, you can choose to take a jeepney to tour the city for only $0.16/first 4km and $0.49 for the next kilometer. In addition, you can also take a taxi, bus or rent a motorbike to travel on your own for your convenience.

el nido travel story

Tips: My experience is don’t ask the price if you don’t want to charge overprice. Just hop on and show your place you want to go. If it’s close, pay 20php, if it’s far (near Las Cabanas), pay 50php.

In fact, it’s even cheaper, but I think this price is more worth the distance. Get off the car and pay like that. Occasionally, a driver will frown and criticize, just tell him “Usually I still go at that price, what do you think it is this my first time going to a tricycle?”. But if you asked him how much it cost to get here, he would double it.

It’s best to just catch a tricycle on the street where the price is easier to pay, instead of catch it at the stands in the village, not cheap at all.

In general, if you’re lazy and don’t mind the price, just go because there are no other public vehicles here.

el nido travel story

If you come to El Nido with a small group, renting a tricycle is a good choice. Because they can carry four people. This means of transport is also easy to find around town.

If you have motorbike driving skills, renting a motorbike yourself can be cost-effective, and you can use it for the duration of your stay or a whole day to explore El Nido. This is a good choice for solo travelers or couples.

What to do and where to go in El Nido?

Nacpan and calitang.

el nido travel story

Just one beach is enough to mislead tourists, but Nacpan and Calitang combine to create a masterpiece, Twins beach. With such pristine, peaceful and romantic beauty, just setting foot there is enough to forget all your troubles.

el nido travel story

You can get here by renting a motorbike or three-wheeled vehicle (Tricycle). Among them, Nacpan beach is more famous and is considered the most beautiful beach in the area with a coastline stretching 4 km. Twins Beach is a suitable destination for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

el nido travel story

Las Cabanas Beach

el nido travel story

A beach that has attracted a lot of attention lately is Las Cabanas. 5km from El Nido town, known for its creamy white sand and coastal coconut groves.

el nido travel story

Dolarog Beach

One of the beaches with the most visitors is Dolarog. This is because this beach has exceptionally clear blue sea water. Moreover, it is located next to the lush tropical forest and the location can see the Bacuit archipelago, so you can combine many activities of swimming, checking in, and watching the sunset right in the fairy land.

el nido travel story

It is a beautiful beach located next to a lush tropical forest, offering visitors panoramic views of the Bacuit Islands and beautiful sunsets. The beach is famous for its wild natural beauty and is suitable for young children because the water level is quite shallow.

Seven Commandos Beach

Talking about the beach with the most beautiful scenery in this archipelago, we must name 7 Commandos. The water color here is so incredibly clear that you can see your feet clearly. There are also unique limestone rocks, white sand beaches and shady coconut groves, creating an extremely good scene for healing the mood.

el nido travel story

It is a popular destination for many tourists and is part of the tours offered in El Nido. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in El Nido with crystal clear water, interesting limestone rocks, white sand beaches and shady coconut groves.

el nido travel story

It is a pristine, uninhabited beach like Nacpan. Although it is not an easy place to get to, it will definitely bring great experiences to you.

el nido travel story

Corong-Corong Beach

Located right in El Nido town with a coastline stretching over 3km.

el nido travel story

An interesting experience that can effectively help you reset your mood is to try watching the sea from above. There is a 750m long Las Cabanas Zipline connecting from Las Cabanas beach to Dependent Island for you to experience. The cost will depend on the style you want and ranges from $10 – $15.

el nido travel story

Las Cabanas Zipline is a 750m long zipline starting from Las Cabanas beach and Depeldet island. Zipline prices depend on the type of zipline you want. The popular sitting style costs 500 pesos (10 USD) one way, and the Superman style costs 700 pesos (13 USD).

Taraw Cliff

el nido travel story

In addition, there is a place that is the best in itself and also helps you see the beauty of the best El Nido: Taraw Cliff. This location is located right in town and about 40 minutes by car from the sea. And one thing you should pay attention to is that you should use the Ferrata Canopy Walk to get to the top safely.

el nido travel story

Another tip is both quality and economical is that you can book a 1-day El Nido island tour for convenience. You don’t need to worry about missing out on anything great, you don’t need to prepare too much and the cost is only from $20.

night life in el nido-palawan-philippines2

The islands of El Nido are known as paradise on earth and are very famous for their many beautiful landscapes. When the sun goes down, it’s time to go out to experience the nightlife. There are two main places to enjoy nightlife in El Nido. One is Marimegmeg beach with bustling bars. If you just want to sip a few cocktails, just head to some of the bars in town near the beach.

The nightlife in El Nido is quite bustling, you can easily find a cafe, bar or restaurant that suits your style to relax and enjoy after a long day of water activities.

night life in el nido-palawan-philippines1

Some other places to visit

El nido town.

el nido travel story

Canopy Walk

el nido travel story

El Nido island tours

The islands and beaches in El Nido will usually be grouped into different tours including Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, Tour D, etc. However, the best places to visit include in Tour A and Tour C. In addition, you can also book Tour A and Tour C or Tour B and Tour D packages to experience camping on the island, which is also very interesting if there is no time limit. Details of locations in the Tour.

In addition, you will enjoy lunch on the boat or on the island prepared by the tour guide on the boat and a local resident. Typical coastal foods and eating utensils are also made from natural materials or reusable dishes are brought along. This contributes to preserving nature and the environment on these islands. It can be said that the people and government here have done very well in developing sustainable tourism and preserving the most intact nature.

The best places to visit including in “Tour A” and “Tour C.” So, if you are not limited by time when visiting El Nido, choose both Tour A and Tour C.

You can’t go to El Nido without taking a island hopping tour – that is, renting a boat to visit places around the island.

El Nido island tour packages:

Tour A — Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Seven commandos island.

Big Lagoon big lagoon el nido

The way to Big Lagoon is through quite shallow water, and to get in you have to rent a kayak or… swim.

el nido travel story

  • El Nido Tour A Lagoons & Islands

Small Lagoon

el nido travel story

Secret Lagoon

Secret Lagoon

The entrance to Secret Lagoon is small and slippery, with quite sharp rocks

Next to Secret Lagoon is a very beautiful corner to take photos, unfortunately I didn’t notice that the camera was getting steamy so it was blurry.

el nido travel story

Shimizu Island

el nido travel story

Shimizu Island is only for viewing, there is no place to get on

el nido travel story

Seven Commandos Island

el nido travel story

Seven Commandos is the final place of tour A I went on. It’s afternoon, it’s 4 pm and the sun is starting to shine less. The sea without sunshine looks gloomy. So when you go to the beach, you have to go on a sunny day to be beautiful

Tour B: Entalula beach, Pinagbuyutan Island (most beautiful island), Snake Island, a certain cave that can only be viewed from the outside.

Snake Island is also very beautiful, it has a beautiful sand line connecting 2 islands in the middle of the sea. In Vietnam, there is also Diep Son Island, but it is nothing compared to Snake Island.

Pinagbuyutan Island

el nido travel story

Pinagbuyutan Island has green grass as beautiful as in a movie. The island of my dreams. Come to this island, please take tour B. My lens is not wide enough to capture this place

el nido travel story

Snake Island

el nido travel story

  • El Nido Tour B Caves & Islands

Tour C: Helicopter island (because it looks like a helicopter, I think it looks more like a whale), Matiloc Shrine, hidden beach, Tapiutan island, Star Beach.

el nido travel story

  • El Nido Tour C Hidden Beaches & Shrine

Tour D — Cadlao Lagoon, Paradise Beach, Pasandigan Beach, Natnat Beach, Bukal Beach.

You can combine 2 tours together, for example “ Combo Tour A+C ” and “ Combo Tour B+D .”

Tour booking information

Usually, tour prices in El Nido are the same, tour A is about 1,200 pesos, tour C: 1,400 pesos, in general the only difference is the boat and the tour seller or the guide tour, but the itinerary is the same. In addition to the tour fee, you also have to pay an additional 200 pesos environmental fee (pay once and use it all for the tour).

You can book a tour anywhere, but I used Klook’s tour ( tour A here , tour C here ) because their price is 100 pesos cheaper than the selling price there, so those who go in a large group can buy it. to save money for dinner.

El Nido-palawan-philippines4

All tours last nearly a full day, departing from around 9:00 am – 3~4:00 pm. The average cost is about 1200~1400php depending on the place, including lunch, diving goggles, environmental protection fee… The boat drivers and servers are also very polite and kind, so at the end of the day, you should tip them another 100php to be nice.

Please note that if you buy a tour at a hotel or in town, most prices are high. I advise you to go near the port and ask Joanna’s house to buy a tour. She usually reduces the price to only 1000php. Even when buying tickets to Coron, she sells them cheaper.

What to eat in El Nido?

If you are looking for the answer to the question of what makes EL Dino so fascinating to tourists, the following specialties are also part of the answer. So, if you have the opportunity to come to this beautiful sea, you must try these dishes:

  • Fresh seafood
  • Traditional oven-baked pizza
  • Filipino style meat stew
  • Adobe is eaten with white rice
  • Halo halo – fruit mix in syrup
  • Arroz Caldo porridge – chicken

A delicacy that makes El Nido famous is bird’s nest soup. In fact, the name El Nido means “nest” in English. It is made from the saliva of the Balinsasayaw bird, which forms its breeding and breeding nests in the crevices of the El Nido limestone mountain. This is an expensive dish and a must try when you come here.

In addition, pizza and traditional Filipino dishes are also extremely attractive.

el nido travel story

If you walk around El Nido town in the evening, enjoy the local cuisine here. Especially the Pizza that any visitor to El Nido must try.

There are many traditional eateries in town, also known as turo-turo or “point-point” in English. There are many different dishes for you to choose from and pay when you order. Meals cost between 60 – 75 pesos (1 USD) and include rice, meat, soup or vegetables. While bars and restaurants have prices ranging from 150 – 300 pesos (6 USD) per meal.

el nido travel story

  • Art Cafe – visited at least once by everyone and is the best WiFi spot in town. The menu at Art Cafe is extensive, including seafood, pizza, pasta and salads.
  • Rooftop – is a colorful bar/restaurant located above a clothing store on El Nido’s main street. Although it’s a bit more expensive, it will be an enjoyable experience.
  • Agape – Located in a great location right on the beach and is one of the few restaurants that serves lunch. Try the seafood pasta and Greek salad here.
  • Angel Wish – is one of the cheapest seafood restaurants in El Nido and will save you a lot of money.
  • Squidos – fresh seafood with famous stuffed squid.
  • Bacuit Grill Bar and Restaurant – is an outdoor dining facility, perfect for those who want to watch the sunset over the bay.

In addition, you can try streetfood, which are Filipino barbecue-style dishes, and go to the beach near the port in the afternoon.

There are also a lot of foods along M. Quezon Street, most of which are Western dishes. On this street there is a delicious ice cream shop, please try it.

Suggested El Nido itinerary 5 days

My itinerary for reference:

  • Day 1: Hanoi – Manila – Puerto Princeas – El nido (arrive in El nido around 5pm)
  • Day 2: Take tour A, spend night in town
  • Day 3: Rent a motorbike to go to Nacpan, return early in the afternoon to zipline at Las Cabanas and watch the sunset
  • Day 4: Tour C and evening in town (actually had to change to tour B because tour C was canceled)
  • Day 5: Get on the boat to Coron (8 hours), about 8:00 a.m., arrive at Coron at 3 or 4 p.m.

Besides island hopping, you should spend a day renting a motorbike to go to Nacpan beach (650php/day).

This beach is super beautiful with a kilometer long white sand beach, about 30km from El Nido town (I will remember this beach all my life because it is so beautiful).

You should rent a motorbike to feel the beauty along the way. On the way to Nacpan, there is a section where you have to turn onto a quite small dirt road, so pay attention to Google maps to use. If you’re afraid of driving to explore, rent a trycicle to get there.

el nido travel story

Next to Nacpan beach there is a very beautiful Twins beach, but this area is currently banned from entering. You can go around to get in but there are still people blocking you from climbing the small hill.

If you have one more day, you should use it to hang out around town. In the afternoon, go to Las Cabanas beach to play zipline and watch the sunset. This is the best sunset viewing spot on the island, the beach is also beautiful.

There is another spot near the town center: climbing Taraw to see the whole town from above. To go this way, the ticket costs about 400php/person.

Where to stay?

El Nido includes four villages: Buena Suerte, Corong-Corong, Maligaya and Masagana located entirely on two small peninsulas. El Nido has many accommodation options for any budget. From high-end resorts, hotels, luxury to mid-range, motels. You can also choose a homestay or camping to experience local life.

The “El Nido Town” that people commonly know is actually the Buena Suerte settlement parallel to the beach in Barangay. Meanwhile, Masagana is famous for its many resorts and Caalan beach. And Corong-corong is located on the southern tip with fine white sand. In general, hotels in El Nido are quite expensive.

The town center, known as El Nido Town Proper or “Poblacion”, bustles with hotels, restaurants and the best nightlife in El Nido.

el nido travel story

You can stay in 4 main areas:

  • Town of El Nido (Buena Suerte). This is where the most activities are held. You can find many hotels along the beach and nearby streets, suitable for those with a budget or mid-range travel budget. The area is close to many restaurants, bars, shopping and tourist offices.
  • Corong-Corong. It feels like an isolated tropical paradise, nestled in the southern beaches of El Nido, the closest area to the bus station.
  • Caalan Beach (Masagana). The resort has begun to thrive, but is still quite sparsely populated, much like Corong Corong.
  • Islands: Accommodation on the islands is mainly luxury and expensive resorts.
  • The area around Las Cabanas beach, this area is mainly a resort, quiet, and quite far from the port. Every day if you need to go to the tour center, you will have to take a tripcile quite a distance. Room prices are often high because of the resort, but pretty.
  • Town center: Central but cheaper than Las Cabanas, nice rooms are quite expensive but many cheap rooms for those who like to travel, near the port, near the town center with many bars, cafes, bustling and bright I really enjoyed going to the port.
  • Accommodation at Caalan beach is great for first-time visitors to El Nido because it has both a beachside feel and is easily accessible at a low cost. Corong-Corong Beach offers a peaceful seaside atmosphere suitable for those who want to relax gently. Meanwhile, accommodation in Nacpan often caters to those looking for luxury with high-end resorts.

Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.

  • El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island ( Booking )
  • Cuna Hotel ( Agoda , Booking )
  • Sea Cocoon Hotel ( Agoda , Booking )
  • S Resort El Nido ( Agoda , Booking )
  • Rosanna’s Pension ( Agoda , Booking )
  • One El Nido Suite ( Agoda , Booking )
  • El Nido Resorts Lagen Island ( Agoda , Booking )

el nido travel story

Check out more top and best hotels in El Nido on Agoda.com or Booking.com

How much does it cost to travel to El Nido?

The cost of self-sufficient travel in El Nido, Philippines, can vary depending on many factors such as length of stay, type of accommodation, experience and personal preferences. Below is a cost estimate for an economical self-guided trip to El Nido:

  • Accommodation: 22 – 65 USD per night, depending on accommodation type and tourist season.
  • Food: A simple meal at a local restaurant can cost from 2 – 4.5 USD.
  • Tickets for sightseeing and activities: 26 – 78 USD for each island hopping, diving, and day tour activity.
  • Transportation: 13 – 30 USD per day, depending on the vehicle you choose.

resort in el nido-philippines2

By choosing economical services and accommodation, you can travel to El Nido on your own with a budget of about 65 – 130 USD per day. However, consider your personal finances and preferences to plan a suitable trip. If backpacking, the cost can be cheaper, about $25 – $75 per day.

Note: The above costs do not include air tickets.

Some things to note before you go

  • Because there are many water activities, make sure you are fully prepared with sunscreen, swimsuits, and common medications. In addition, the weather in this region is also a typical humid tropical monsoon climate, so make sure you bring enough hats and jackets.
  • The number of ATMs on the island is also limited, you should withdraw money in advance in Puerto Princesa or Manila to have cash ready in advance when needed. When you arrive at the airport, you can buy a local SIM card to get a 4G internet connection. This helps you access information, navigate, and stay in touch easily throughout your journey.
  • The most popular network operator in the Philippines are Smart and Globe. When purchasing, you can ask the staff at the counter to activate your SIM card.
  • Like the rest of the Philippines, tipping is not mandatory in El Nido. Most establishments include a service fee, but gratuities are still appreciated by the service team.
  • Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon are two famous tourist attractions in El Nido Philippines. To regulate visitor traffic and minimize environmental impact, Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon cannot be visited on the same tour on the same day.
  • In addition, you also need to learn about new special regulations in El Nido before you come. This will help you avoid unnecessary problems.
  • Local ATMs are often out of cash: Cash is widely circulated in every part of the Philippines, and El Nido is no exception. There are only a few ATMs in El Nido and they often run out of money so you need to withdraw and bring plenty of cash just in case. Most visitors will use the BPI Bank ATM on Real Street.
  • Only high-end establishments and luxury resorts can accept electronic payments or credit cards.
  • Is there a fee to visit attractions in El Nido? Yes, most island and beach attractions charge a green fee (in addition to the entrance fee). Additionally, there are currently three premium locations in El Nido, namely Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon and Secret Beach, all with additional fees.
  • Note on health issues: There are a few cases of visitors being poisoned at El Nido, you should be careful to only eat and drink at clean, reputable establishments and avoid eating raw vegetables or fruits that have not been washed with clean water. We should prepare a bag of medicine for common diseases in our suitcase to avoid getting sick here.

El Nido-palawan-philippines3

El Nido is not only a destination of discovery, but also a journey that takes us to immerse ourselves in the mystical beauty of nature and the sincerity of the local community. Come to El Nido and experience the most beautiful memories with the valuable experiences we have shared with you.

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to El Nido you can refer to

  • El Nido Tour A + C
  • El Nido Tour D Lagoons & Beaches
  • Tour A El Nido, Palawan
  • Tour El Nido Land
  • One-Way Fast Ferry Ticket Between Coron and El Nido
  • El Nido Nacpan and Duli Beach
  • Puerto Princesa to El Nido Van Transfer (Shared or Private)
  • El Nido Tours in a Luxury Speedboat
  • Shared Van Transfer between El Nido and Port Barton
  • Tour El Nido C + A
  • El Nido Tour A,B,C,D w/ Envi&Lagoon Fees (No Hidden Charges)
  • Tour A of El Nido, Palawan

el nido travel story

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El Nido, Palawan: Tourist Spots, Food, Tours & Itinerary


I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging but it’s not me , it’s the biggest media and travel sites that declared El Nido as one of the best island and beach destinations in the world.  And there are still a lot of raves and accolades, but the list might not be enough.

What I am trying to say is, if you’re planning to visit the Philippines, don’t forget about El Nido. For Filipino travelers, El Nido should be the ultimate destination in your bucket list!

El Nido Hotel Ocean Vista Inn

The Story of El Nido

Formerly known as Bacuit, the town was renamed El Nido in 1954, a name that derives from swiftlets’ nests found in the crevices of limestone cliff.

But its splendor has long been hidden to the world until a sea accident happened in 1979 that led to its discovery. Now, El Nido is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines known for its wonder of nature.

How to get to El Nido

The best way to go to El Nido from Manila is via Puerto Princesa. Book a flight, and once you’re at the Puerto Princesa Airport, there are vans that offer direct travel to El Nido. We were able to get the service of Eulene Joy van for only 450Php per person. Travel time is 6 hours. We were there last November so it was off-peak season, that’s why I think we were able to get that price.

But usually the fare is about 550 Php to 600 Php base on van services like Lexus Van and also Day Tripper Vans.

READ THE BLOG POST: 15 Best Resorts in El Nido

If you are the adventurous type and you want longer travel and waiting time, you can try traveling by bus. Outside the airport, you can hail a tricycle to take you to the terminal for about 150 Php.

Also,  for an affordable 8 Php fare, tell the driver to drop you off at Junction 1, and from there ride a multi-cab going to the bus terminal named as  San Jose Bus Terminal for 13 Php each. The fare is cheaper with buses at about 380 Php for ordinary and 480 Php for Aircon. Bus companies are Cherry Bus and Roro Bus.

By Direct Flight via AirSwift

This is the only one airline that flies from Manila to Lio Airport El Nido, it’s Airswift! It’s easier access I know, but with the price of about 7,000 Php, not recommended for budget travelers Haha!

Read: Manila to Puerto Princesa by Ferry 

Tourist Spots in El Nido

It was fun roaming around the town, eating at restaurants and carinderias and also meeting new friends in El Nido, but definitely the best thing to do in El Nido is to try the island hopping tours.

El Nido offers 4 island hopping tours or packaged tours namely tours A, B, C and D which has its own unique beauty to boast. Tour A is all about Lagoons! For Tour B, it’s the caves. Beaches are the hottest attractions in Tour C. While for Tour D it’s the islands of Cadlao.

Here are the attractions from each Island Hopping Tour. During our 4 Days Travel to El Nido, we were able to experience Tours A and C, which are also the most popular.

Like I said Tour A is all about adventures while exploring the secret and hidden lagoons of El Nido. It was 8AM when we met with the tour organizer, Northern Hope Tours, together with the other tourists near the port to start our awesome island hopping experience. Here are the attractions we visited.

7 Commandos Beach

7 Commandos Beach El Nido Palawan

Though tour A is known for Lagoons, our fist stop is actually an Island, a beach. It was a good way to start our tour, like a prologue to an awesome adventure in the paradise of El Nido.   ( READ STORY:  7 Commandos Beach of El Nido, Palawan )

Big Lagoon El Nido Palawan

The entrance to the Big Lagoon was definitely a sight to behold. Those towering cliffs with green vegetation surrounding the crystal clear water. One of the most picturesque places in the tour.  ( READ STORY:  Big Lagoon of El Nido: Just like a Fantasy Movie )

READ THE BLOG POST: AirSwift Flights to El Nido 2023

Shimizu Island

Shimizu Island El Nido Tour a Palawan

Coined as the favorite island of the boatmen. Haha they were the one who told me that. Well, obviously because this is where we had our lunch. The food was delicious, with all those grilled fishes and liempo with ensalada, veggies and fruits! Aside from the food, Shimizu island has a charm of its own.

Shimizu Island El Nido Palawan

READ STORY:   Shimizu Island, El Nido : Our Boatmen’s Favorite Island

Secret Lagoon

Secret Lagoon El Nido Tour A Palawan

We passed through this hole on these huge rocks and limestones until we reached the secret lagoon. The place was truly enchanting.

Secret Lagoon El Nido Tour A Palawan

READ STORY:  Exploring the Secret Lagoon of El Nido

Small Lagoon

Whoah! Small Lagoon was all about enjoying nature’s grandeur while kayaking, you’ll pass through this small entrance of limestones until reaching the small lagoon.

READ STORY :  What I learned while Kayaking at Small Lagoon, El Nido

We finished the tour at around 4:30 PM and we all had a big smile on our faces. If you need a more detailed post about Tour A, check this article,   El Nido Tour A: Breathtaking Lagoons.

This is all about the Caves! Here are the attractions when you avail the tour B.

el nido travel story

Snake Island. Photo Courtesy of Travelblog.org

  • Snake Island
  • Cudugnon Cave
  • Pinagbuyutan Island
  • Cathedral Cave

READ THE BLOG POST: 15 Best PALAWAN TOURIST SPOTS (Last Ecological Frontier)

This is a personal favorite because this is where I found and experienced some of the best beach adventures! Here are the highlights.

Helicopter Island

Helicopter Island El Nido Palawan

We started off the tour at Helicopter Island. The name of this island is pretty obvious, it’s because ot looks like a helicopter, especially from afar while you’re on a boat going to the island. But aside from that it’s limestone cliffs, fine beaches and underwater world will surely captivate you.

READ STORY:   Helicopter Island of El Nido, Palawan

Hidden beach

hidden beach El nido palawan

Going there…

An unforgettable experience. Behind those huge rocks and cliffs is a paradise, a beach hidden from the outside world.

Hotels in Palawan? Click here!

El Nido palawan Philippines

Talisay Beach

Talisay beach Tapiutan Island Elo Nido Palawan

A relatively smaller beach from Tapiutan Island where tourists take their lunch. Though it has shorter shoreline, it’s still filled with the same beauty as the other El Nido islands.  ( READ STORY:  Talisay Beach, Tapiutan Island in El Nido )

  Secret Beach

Secret Beach El Nido palawan

This is one of the best adventures in El Nido. Imagine swimming and passing through this hole and then inside, you’ll find a beach. Mindblowing.

Secret Beach El Nido palawan

oh ha! oh ha!

READ STORY:   The Secret Beach of Matinloc Island, El Nido

Snorkeling at Matinloc Island

El Nido matinloc island underwater

just keep swimming.

The tour originally includes Matinloc Shrine, but for some reasons, our guides said that we will snorkel instead. Well, I don’t have problems with that. At least we were able to experience the underwater madness of El Nido.

El Nido matinloc island underwater

READ STORY:  El Nido’s Underwater Madness

For a more detailed story of Tour C, check this article –  El Nido Tour C : Secret and Hidden Beaches

This is an island hopping of the Cadlao islands. Here are the attractions of this tour.

Nat nat beach El Nido Palawan

Nat Nat Beach. Photo courtesy of elnidopalawan.net

  • Bucal Beach
  • Pasandigan Beach
  • Nat Nat Beach
  • Paradise Beach

TOUR E – El Nido Land Tour 

Aside from Island Hopping Tours, El Nido is filled with more stunning beaches, waterfalls and other attractions. That’s why there’s the Tour E or the Land Tour. You can avail this through the tricycle drivers or even tour operators in town. Don’t worry there are tons of tour operators there. When you avail the land tour, here are the destinations to expect. 

  • Las Cabanas and Marimegmeg Beach
  • Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls
  • Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beach
  • Kuyawayaw waterfalls
  • Mt. Manslawit
  • Bulalacao waterfalls

El Nido Tours Prices

This summarizes the price of each island hopping tour in El Nido. All island hopping tours include buffet lunch and snorkeling gear. Prices may vary by tour agency, but this is the standard one imposed by the local government.

  • Island Hopping Tour A – 1,200 Php (24 USD)
  • Island Hopping Tour B – 1,300 Php (26 USD)
  • Island Hopping Tour C – 1,400 Php (28 USD)
  • Island Hopping Tour D – 1,200 Php (24  USD)
  • Land Tour (Tour E)  1,500 Php (30 USD) 

There are a lot of restaurants and karinderia (eatery) in El Nido that offer Filipino and international cuisines. But the standout for me because of its afforadable and quality of food is IBR Fast Food . Their serving is generous in affordable prices. If you’re on the budget and still wants to eat something delicious, go for IBR. It’s just near the beach located at the center of the town. For more restaurants in El Nido, check this article. 

Where to stay in El Nido

Our travel to El Nido was like months of preparation of checking the affordable and best hotels and accomodation. We also got some recommendation from friends and also checked out some blogs. Here are the recommonded hotels based on your needs as a traveler like if you’re looking for budget friendly, mid-range hotels and the luxury hotels.

Budget Friendly to Mid-range hotels in El Nido

  • Our Melting Pot – One of the most popular hostels among backpackers. Located in El Nido town, just a walking distance to the beach and at the center of everything, this hostel is known for affordable accommodation and an avenue for travelers to meet new friends from all around the world.
  • Swiftlets Inn – One of the best in terms of quality for affordable hostels in El Nido. They serve breakfast every morning, and is popular for hands-on service from the staff and even from the owners. 
  • Ocean Vista Inn – They have a spectacular view of the El Nido beach. Another quality yet affordable hotel in El Nido. Located near the beach and just a walking distance to the town, shops and restaurants. Check my review,  Ocean Vista Inn and its breathtaking view
  • Spin Designers Hostel – When it comes to hotel’s design and comfortable rooms, this hostel is one of the best choices. Also located near the town so you’re near to everything you need.
  • Ipil Suites – Fully furnished, and near thebeach and the town. Another worthy accomodation in El Nido.

Luxury Resort and Hotel

When it comes to luxury, on the top of the list is the Miniloc Island Resort . Located in the secluded island of Miniloc, this haven is perfect  for lavish and ideal relaxation.

El Nido Itinerary

We stayed there for 4 days and we had an awesome trip. Here is a summary of our itinerary

4D3N itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrival in El Nido, Explore the beach and town
  • Day 2 – Tour A
  • Day 3 – Tour C
  • Day 4 – Nacpan beach in the morning. Then leave El Nido 🙁

3D2N Itinerary 

  • Day 1 – Arrival in El Nido. Explore the town and the beach
  • Day 2 – Tour C
  • Day 3 – Nacpan Beach. Leave El Nido

5D4N Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrival in El Nido. Explore the beach and the town
  • Day 2- Tour A
  • Day 3 – Tour B
  • Day 4 – Tour C
  • Day 5 – Nacpan or/and leave El Nido

READ THE BLOG POST: 15 Best Beaches in the Philippines

El Nido travel Tips and more info

  • ATM  – For a long time, there’s no ATM in El Nido. But not anymore! Now, there’s BPI in town, and also an ATM of RCBC at the Municipal Hall.
  •  Credit Cards – Still, few establishments accept credit card. It would be better to stack some cash.
  • Electricity – Electricity is now 24/7. Unlike before it was only 2pm to 6am.
  • Camera – Don’t forget to bring underwater cam or action cam when you do the island hopping.
  • Food in El Nido – Food in El Nido is quite expensive, that’s for Filipino backpacker’s perspective. But luckily, there are eateries in El Nido that are of quality food yet very affordable. Just look around. Or else, look for IBR restaurant. It’s recommended!
  • Currency Exchange – If you need currency exchange, there are several pawnshops and currency exchange shops in town. Please do your research on the currency exchange rate.
  • Internet – Wifi and Mobile Data internet is still slow in El Nido. And you’re in the Philippines, one of the countries in Asia with slow internet connection.
  • Dry Bag for Cam – If you need to bring your cam, buy a reliable dry bag

Big Lagoon El Nido Palawan

I left El Nido feeling like there was a hole in my heart. This paradise has given me my needed relaxation and reflection on my life, my dreams and aspirations. I’ll definitely be back. And since this haven is getting more popular to the world each day, the best time to experience El Nido is now. I hope this travel guide helps.

Stay inspired. Get out of your cubicle and  explore the beauty of the Philippines.

Disclosure: Thank you Northern Hope Tours . Our El Nido tour was complimentary. All opinons,as always, are my own.

More El Nido Blogs:

  • Coron to El Nido by ferry 
  • Puerto Princesa to El Nido by bus and van 
  • Montenegro Lines: Coron to El Nido 

More Beaches in PH

  • Bolinao Tourist Spots DIY Travel Guide
  • Jomalig Island Budget DIY Expenses and Itinerary
  • Laki Beach: Your New Getaway in Bataan
  • Masasa Beach Budget DIY Expenses and Itinerary
  • Cabongaoan Beach and Death Pool in Burgos, Pangasinan

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Tonkin-Travel Vietnam

Thanks for the great post! I’m so excited to explore Palawan in November. I think it’s much more beautiful than Halong Bay in Vietnam.

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May breakdown po kayo sa budget for 4D3N? And itinerary na din po? Thank you. I love your blogs. Plan namin sundin yung iba. Ang galing kasi ng pagkagawa especially for Jomalig and Masasa. Kaso I cant find the budget and iti for El Nido 🙁

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This Island Life® - Because it's always summer somewhere®

The ultimate guide to island life in El Nido, Philippines

el nido travel story

With over 7,500 idyllic islands making up the tropical archipelago of the Philippines, you could island hop to a different island every day for 20 years. So with limited time and an overwhelming amount of islands to choose from, I narrowed my adventure down to Palawan Island with a specific destination in mind. El Nido.

I’ve travelled to a lot of beautiful tropical islands in South East Asia. I’ve sailed around the limestone cliffs in Thailand, hiked to the summit of an active volcano in Indonesia, swam in crystal clear water off Cambodia, and kayaked past floating villages in Vietnam, but nothing prepared me for the beauty of the Philippines. And nothing prepared me for the effect that El Nido would have on me.

Located at the tip of Palawan Island, El Nido is the gateway to the spectacular 45 islands and inlets that make up the Bacuit archipelago. Huge limestone cliffs dominate the landscape with clear aqua water and coral reefs waiting below. There are hidden beaches, beautiful lagoons and moments in the sunset that you’ll never want to end.

Some say the islands of El Nido were the real paradise behind the famous novel and blockbuster movie ‘The Beach’, with author Alex Garland writing the novel while he was there. According to local legend, it was a secret beach on Matinloc Island that you can only access by swimming underwater through a narrow crevice in a rock wall that inspired the novel.

Spanish for ‘the nest’, El Nido is named after the edible nests of swiftlets found in the crevices of its limestone cliffs. The nests, which are actually made out of bird saliva that has dried and hardened, are the gourmet ingredient in bird’s nest soup – a very expensive dish that is a delicacy across Asia. Costing up to USD$3,000 per kilogram, edible bird’s nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans. Every day Filipino climbers risk their lives to ascend up the sharp cliff sides to harvest the nests from the caves high above the ocean.

While El Nido has started to gain more attention over the last few years with publications like Condé Nast Traveller and National Geographic rating Palawan as the ‘Best Island in the World’ and El Nido as one of the best destinations on the planet, it still feels relatively untouched. Don’t get me wrong, the Bangka boats go out everyday with island hopping tourists and there are hotels and accommodation options all over El Nido. But unlike some of the busy island hopping in parts of Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam where it’s impossible to take in a view or snap a photo without someone in it, we were able to enjoy beaches, lagoons and sandbars all to ourselves – something I didn’t think was possible anymore in South East Asia.

There are incredible adventures to be had on the mainland (Palawan Island), but El Nido is famous for island hopping. When you get there you’ll soon see that while there are many different tour operators, they are all selling the same four island hopping tours creatively named, Tour A, B, C and D. Tours A and C are the most popular – Tour A takes you to the Small, Big and Secret Lagoon, and Tour C takes you to Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach and Helicopter Island. We only did Tour C (through El Nido Art Café ), and did everything in Tour A ourselves as we were staying at a private island resort that was a short kayak from all three lagoons, as well as some of the other tour hotspots that were close by like Snake Island which is part of Tour B.

The archipelago of El Nido truly is paradise and is one of the hardest places I’ve ever had to leave. It’s a destination that will leave you feeling inspired, with every adventure and experience leaving its mark on you. So to help you experience this island paradise for yourself, here’s my island hopping guide to what to see, where to eat and where to stay in El Nido.

1. El Nido’s Small Lagoon

The Small Lagoon is one of the main attractions in El Nido that’s right near Miniloc Island where we were staying. You enter the picturesque lagoon by swimming or kayaking through a small opening in the rocks. These photos were taken just after we paddled through to the other side where we were greeted with incredible clear turquoise-coloured water that was lined with limestone cliffs.

2. El Nido’s Big Lagoon

Along with the Small Lagoon, the neighbouring Big Lagoon is one of El Nido’s must-see experiences. While staying on Miniloc Island, we got up at the crack of dawn and kayaked to The Big Lagoon as the sun was coming up. We had the lagoon to ourselves for a few hours before all the tour boats arrived. We then kayaked back to Miniloc Island and headed back for a second look on the resort boat. It’s just one of the benefits of staying a short kayak and boat ride away on the incredible Miniloc Island.

3. Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the Philippines. With four kilometres of soft cream-coloured sand, swaying coconut palms, clear aqua water and small surfable waves, it’s the kind of place you’d see if you closed your eyes and imagined paradise. Nacpan Beach is one-half of the famous ‘Twin Beaches’ – walk to the southern end of the beach, past a tiny fishing village and you’ll reach the point where Nacpan Beach merges with the smaller Calitang Beach. There’s a lush green hill that you can walk up that will give you a spectacular view of both beaches. Read more.

4. Las Cabanas Beach

Las Cabanas Beach is a beautiful chilled out picturesque beach that’s a short 10-minute tricycle ride north from El Nido Town. Tiny bars, restaurants and bungalows line the beachfront, with palm trees overhanging the ocean where local kids can be found splashing in the warm tropical waters alongside the tourists. The beach is famous for its spectacular sunsets, so make sure you head down for sundowners at one of the bars and restaurants on the sand for the best show in town. Read more.

5. Island hopping by zipline in El  Nino

While I’ve ziplined in beautiful destinations like Hawaii and Thailand, this is zipline is hands down the most picturesque I’ve ever seen. Never before have I experienced island-to-island ziplining where you can fly superman-style across a spectacular coconut palm-fringed beach. This was my first time zipping in the superman position and I couldn’t think of a better location to do it in than soaring high above Las Cabanas Beach over the ocean to Depeldet Island. Read more.

6. Matinloc Island

Matinloc Island is a beautiful island that’s famous for its unique Catholic shrine – a sacred monument built in 1982 to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s also home to the secret beach that inspired Alex Garland’s novel ‘The Beach’, as well as spectacular views of Tapiutan Strait and Tapiutan Island.

7. El Nido Town

While the super cute town of El Nido is the gateway for island hopping around the Bacuit Archipelago, the town itself is worth exploring and not just to use the ATMs or to book your tours. Walled by limestone cliffs the tiny bustling town is home beachfront restaurants, bars, and super cheap massages that are the cure for being on a scooter all day.

Where to eat in El Nido:

Le Plage Sunset Bar & Restaurant

The food in the Philippines was a bit hit and miss, but we managed to find a few great places like Le Plage Sunset Bar & Restaurant – a French place on the beach in Corong-Corong that’s a 10 minute scooter or tricycle ride out of El Nido town. This ceviche and margarita were the perfect starter. Details here. 

Santeria Guesthouse

Built amongst a cashew nut plantation, Santeria Guesthouse is an oasis amongst the trees. We were riding our scooter around the island and were about to turn back when we saw a sign for a B&B that turned out was the number one on Trip Advisor. We made a pit stop for lunch and it ended up being the best meal we had in the Philippines. There are no photos because I basically inhaled it, but this entire property was something really special. Details here.

Trattoria Altrove

Before I went to El Nido, I hadn’t eaten pizza for about five years. But that all changed when we discovered Trattoria Altrove. With a street-level brick oven, this Slovenian-owned pizza joint is the place to go in El Nido town for authentic pizza and pasta. The restaurant gets super crowded so be prepared to wait at least 30 minutes for a table. Next door is a little takeaway bottle shop where you can grab an icy cold San Miguel while you wait. Details here.

Where we stayed:

Luxe: Miniloc Island by El Nido Resorts

If you’re heading to El Nido, you’re going to want to check out El Nido Resorts – a group of four sustainable island resorts in the El Nido that have been developed to sit in harmony with the beautiful natural landscapes. We stayed on Miniloc Island – one of their more rustic resorts in a dreamy overwater bungalow. While the island is incredibly beautiful and a destination in itself, the best thing about Miniloc is how close it is to some of El Nido’s most popular attractions like the Big and Small Lagoons. An overwater bungalow like the one we stayed in is around AUD$890 per night for two – but that’s all-inclusive, so all your meals and non-motorised water sports are included. Details here.

Mid-range: Cadlao Resort

Cadlao Resort is a boutique resort in El Nido with beautiful tropical gardens in a unique hideaway location. The best thing about this resort is its incredible views of Cadlao Island – a mountainous island that looks like it’s been relocated from Tahiti. At a towering 640 metres above sea level, it’s the highest peak in El Nido. Located at the end of the main beach off a tiny street only accessible to tricycles and motorbikes, Cadlao Resort is quieter and more private than the hotels closer to El Nido town. The resort has a rocky beach, which is a little tricky to swim off. But where it lacks sand, it makes up for it with two impressive pools surrounded by palm trees. Bungalows start at around AUD$250 per night. Details here.

Budget: Las Cabanas Beach Resort

At AUD$175 per night for two, Las Cabanas Beach Resort isn’t exactly budget, but with no hot water, air-con or room wi-fi and limited electricity, it does have that vibe. Our beachfront cottage may not have had any mod cons, but it did have front row seats to the best sunsets in El Nido and the ocean right on our doorstep. There’s nothing better than falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves gently lapping the beach. Details here.


  • Bring as much cash as you will need to El Nido. When we were there (January-February 2016) the dual ATMs were super unreliable – most of the time they were either not working or had run out of money. Plus, the line up to use the ATMs was often hours long, wasting precious beach time. There are a few souvenir shops and restaurants in town where they will charge your credit card and give you cash back – expect to pay a 10% fee. The petrol station had a similar service, but it’s a bit more hit and miss – when we tried, they had run out of money and told us to come back the next day.
  • Bring a GoPro or waterproof camera – some of the best beaches and lagoons in El Nido are only accessible by swimming or kayaking in and you’ll want to capture every moment of your island hopping adventures.
  • Invest in a good dry bag to keep your things protected while you’re island hopping. You can pick up a cheap one in El Nido, but if you want to take your SLR camera island hopping with you, I recommend getting a waterproof camera bag. I use the Lowepro DryZone Duffle 20L – it basically folds flat in my suitcase and I couldn’t do without it on island life trips.


The best way to get to El Nido on Palawan Island in the Philippines is to fly to Manila. From Manila you can get a direct flight to El Nido that takes around one hour. The flights from Manila to El Nido are through AirSWIFT and they book out fast, so make sure you don’t leave it until the last minute or you could find yourself on a bus that takes up to 12 hours. Details here.

Philippines camera kit courtesy of  Canon Australia  and  GoPro Australia:

  • Cameras: Canon EOS 5D Mark III , Canon EOS 70D and the GoPro HERO4 Silver Edition.
  • Lenses: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM.

My dad is a former “buciador” (bird’s nest gatherer) in El Nido. He retired at the age of 50 but he had been doing it since he was a teenager.

I was born and raised in El Nido but have recently moved here in the States. I miss the El Nido life where you know almost everyone. You belong in a community. From your house, you can just walk to church, to school, to market, to store, to the beach, to your friends, what a simple life!

That’s so amazing that your dad was a buciador! I can’t believe you grew up in El Nido – it really is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I love that it has such a strong community vibe – I can see why you miss it. I hope you get to visit your home again soon. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

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el nido travel story

The Archipelago of La Maddalena [Travel Guide]

El Nido bay, Palawan island, Philippines.

El Nido is the primary base for exploring Palawan’s star attraction, the stunning Bacuit Archipelago. Tiny swiftlets build edible nests out of saliva in the immense limestone cliffs that surround the town proper – hence the name, El Nido (nest in Spanish). The town proper has an ordinary beach, but is home to an emerging restaurant and bar scene. Brooding Cadlao Island looms just offshore.

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Nacpan beach in El Nido.

Nacpan Beach

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People watching the sunset on the Maremegmeg beach at El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.

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Balay Cuyonon

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Town Hall

El Nido's administrative centre.

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Project Gora

El Nido Travel Guide with Itinerary and Budget (2024)

  • Post author By Project Gora
  • Post date January 8, 2024

el nido travel story

Planning a trip to El Nido, Palawan? This El Nido Travel Guide will help you plan and also give you an idea about the expenses you might expect for your visit. This isn’t a long guide so please do check it out until the end. I promise I only included the essentials. Enjoy!

Consistently voted as one of the “Most Beautiful Islands in the World”, El Nido is everyone’s dream island destination. Adorned with imposing limestone cliffs so characteristic of Palawan, it boasts incredible biodiversity both above and below the surface.

I first travelled to El Nido in 2013 went it wasn’t that known among foreign and local tourists. Since then, it became one of the most popular islands in the Philippines . It became too touristy that I wasn’t able to recognize the once laid-back town when I came back. The ugly face of tourism boom welcomed me. Fortunately, it isn’t representative of El Nido as a whole.

Table of Contents

How to get to El Nido

How to get around el nido, where to book an island-hopping tour, where to stay in el nido, where to eat in el nido, el nido travel guide: sample 4d/3n itinerary and budget, from manila to puerto prinsesa or el nido.

The most popular way to get to El Nido is by taking a plane. From Manila, it’s about an hour flight to Puerto Princesa International Airport , Palawan’s main airport. From there, take a shared van to El Nido (travel time is 3-4 hours and one way fare is from $10 or 600 pesos). Alternatively, you may take a direct flight from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 to Lio Airport . Air Swift operates daily flights from Manila and fares vary depending on the season. Expensive, yes, but this is the fastest way to get to El Nido. 

Tip: If you decide to take the Puerto Prinsesa route, get the earliest flight from Manila so you’ll get to El Nido before lunch time. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly to Puerto Prinsesa daily. There are van transfers from Puerto Prinsesa to El Nido as early

seven commando beach

From Coron to El Nido

I know travelling to a new place can be nerve-wracking and, micro-managing the trip is inevitable. If you want to pre-book your ticket for a fast ferry from El Nido to Coron or vice versa, then Bookaway.com is a great option for you. The booking process in this app/website is quite simple. You just have to select the departure/arrival points and travel date, and it will give you various transportation options – from bus, van, flight, car, taxi and ferry.

Note: Fares in their website are a little higher compared to getting tickets directly. However, if you love the convenience of doing basically everything online, then this is a good alternative.

Nacpan Beach in E Nido

Although there aren’t many transportation options in El Nido, you can absolutely get by by renting a motorcycle. The roads are in great condition except the roads leading to Nacpan Beach. For less than $10 (500 pesos) per day, you can rent a motorcycle. Gas is only a few dollars which can already last for a day of adventure. Another option is by taking a tricycle, which costs less than $1 (50 pesos) per ride depending on the distance. 

el nido travel story

There are 4 main island hopping tours – A, B, C, and D. Having tried all island tours, I recommend that you start with “Tour A” and “Tour C” as these two routes include the best islands and lagoons. 

  • El Nido Tour A ($21.50 / 1,200 pesos): Small Lagoon or Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Payong-payong, Secret Lagoon and Seven Commando Beach
  • El Nido Tour B ($23 / 1,300 pesos): Pinagbuyutan Island, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave, Snake Island, and Entalula Island
  • El Nido Tour C ($25 / 1,400 pesos): Secret Beach, Hidden Beach,  Matinloc Shrine, Helicopter Island, and Tapiutan Island
  • El Nido Tour D ($21.50 / 1,200 pesos): Small Lagoon, Natnat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Pasandigan Cove, and Paradise Beach
  • Small Group Island-hopping Catamaran Tour
  • Small Group Island-hopping Speedboat Tour

There are numerous accommodation options in El Nido, from small guesthouses to luxury resorts. Whatever your budget is, there will surely be somewhere that will fit your needs. If you are looking for a place right in the center, then choose the seaside backpacker street (main town or Poblacion). More accommodation options are located in Calle Real, located just on the opposite side of the main street. If you want to stay somewhere off-the-beaten, then Nacpan Beach is a great choice.

Here are some of the best places to stay in El Nido, based on TripAdvisor reviews:

  • Sea Cocoon Hotel – a mid-scale hotel located just a few minute walk from the beach
  • Spin Designer Hostel – one of the most Instgrammable hostels in Palawan
  • Mad Monkey Hostel – a budget hostel along Nacpan Beach
  • Nacpan Beach Glamping – an Instagrammable glamping site located in the palm tree–filled property in Nacpan Beach
  • El Nido Resorts Lagen Island – a luxury island resort located in Lagen Island
  • El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island – a luxury island resort surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and a vibrant coral reef system in Miniloc Island
  • El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Island – an eco-luxury island resort hidden in Bacuit Bay
  • Qi Palawan – a Boutique resort set in the undiscovered area of Sitio Palabuayan

vegan food in El Nido

Years ago, El Nido is not known for its food scene. If anything, it is more known for just a couple of great restaurants like Altrove. When I came back, I learned that the bars and restaurants are thriving and that more and more specialty eats can be found here. I splurged on food during our trip and I have no regrets!

Here are some of the restaurants I was able to try and WILL recommend:

  • The Nesting Table – I loved the cozy vibe of this restaurant and their emphasis on locally sourced ingredients.
  • Taste El Nido – The Vegan Cafe PH – I’m not vegan, but I definitely enjoyed my meals here. Their eggplant lasagna, mac and cheese, COFFEE (legit coffee) and smoothie bowls (smooth red and cool blue) were both nutritious and packed with flavor.
  • THE CAVERN Pod Hotel & Specialty Cafe – This cafe’s unique ambiance and selection of coffee, pastries, and light meals made it the perfect spot to unwind and relax after a long day of exploring El Nido.
  • Bella Vita El Nido – Italian food lovers won’t want to miss Bella Vita. Their wood-fired pizzas and homemade pasta dishes were both delicious and authentic.
  • Altrove – I loved that Altrove’s menu included a variety of dishes from all over the world. It was a great spot to try something new and the food was always top-notch.
  • Big Bad Thai Bistro & Bar – I’m a big fan of Thai food, and Big Bad Thai did not disappoint. Their authentic dishes such as Tom Yum and Pad Thai were packed with flavors and very filling.
  • Happiness Beach Bar – This beachfront bar and restaurant was the perfect spot to grab a cocktail and watch the sunset. Highly recommend their Shakshuka, Pita Falafel, Amaretto Sour, and Happiness Salad.
  • Ashoka – Authentic Indian Cuisine – As an Indian food fan, I was thrilled to find Ashoka. Their Chicken Tikka Masala and Garlic and Cheese Naan were made with the freshest ingredients and always hit the spot.
  • Gusto Gelato + Bistro – After a hot day of exploring, I loved grabbing a refreshing scoop of gelato from Gusto Gelato. They had a wide range of flavors, as well as light bites and sandwiches. I personally liked their Eggs Benedict and Affogato.
  • Osaka Castle El Nido Sushi & Ramen – Highly recommended for you Japanese food lovers! Their spicy salmon poke bowl, Osaka original Takoyaki and ramen were both delicious and filling.

kayaking in El Nido

Travel to El Nido (Day 1)

  • Earliest Flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa
  • Van from Puerto Princesa Airport to El Nido – $10 (600 pesos)
  • Tricycle from Van Terminal to hotel – $1 (50 pesos)
  • Check-in to your chosen accommodation – $50 per night (9,000 pesos good 2 for 3 nights) *estimated accommodation costs only
  • Lunch at El Nido Town Beach
  • Tricycle to Las Cabanas Beach – $1 (50 pesos)
  • Sunset and dinner at Las Cabanas Beach

El Nido Island Hopping Tour (Day 2)

  • Breakfast (book a hotel with free breakfast)
  • Pay environmental fee at the beach – $4 (200 pesos)
  • Tour A : Small Lagoon or Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Payong-payong, Secret Lagoon and Seven Commando Beach – $21.50 (1,200 pesos)
  • Back to accommodation

El Nido Island Hopping Tour (Day 3)

  • Tour C : Secret Beach, Hidden Beach,  Matinloc Shrine, Helicopter Island, and Tapiutan Island – $25 (1,400 pesos)

Back to Puerto Princesa (Day 4)

  • Rent a motorcycle or charter a tricycle to Nacpan Beach – $10-$20 (500 pesos per motorcyle or 1,200 pesos for tricycle charter)
  • Pay environmental fee – $1 (50 pesos)
  • Lunch and check out from accommodation
  • Take a tricycle to terminal $1 (50 pesos)
  • Travel from El Nido to Puerto Princesa – $10 (600 pesos)
  • Dinner in the city
  • Take a tricycle to Puerto Princesa Airport – $1 (50 pesos)
  • Flight from Puerto Princesa to Manila (best to get a later flight so you can still explore El Nido before making your way back to Puerto Prinsesa)

If you follow this El Nido Travel Guide, budget around 10,000-15,000 pesos ( $180-270 ) per person . If you have more time to spare, you can certainly do island-hopping for 3 days to maximize your stay and see more of El Nido’s best attractions!

Disclaimer:  This El Nido Travel Guide budget can be achieved if you have at least one travel companion. Only the basic expenses will be included in the total calculation (tours and entrance fees, accommodation, transportation and transfers) Other personal expenses such as airfare, food, alcohol, souvenirs, shopping, and the likes are not included. Also, please note cost fluctuate depending on season. Information was up to date at the time of writing.

Enjoying the trip so far? Continue your adventure in Palawan!

After an awesome trip in El Nido, continue your journey to Coron and discover the best diving sites in the Philippines. The trip from El Nido to Coron presents an incredible opportunity to explore more of Palawan’s paradise. Alternatively, discover some of Palawan’s off-the-beaten destinations like Port Barton , San Vicente or Balabac.

That’s it my dear readers! I hope this El Nido Travel Guide will help your trip planning. Feel free to leave a comment below, send a DM on my Instagram or message me on Facebook if you have questions, comments or suggestions! 

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By Project Gora

Hey there! My name is Milet Miranda, and I'm a full-time corporate employee during weekdays and a traveler during weekends (and holidays...you get the picture). I'm a foodie at heart and I love joining food tours. When I'm not traveling, you'll find me walking my dogs or biking around my neighborhood.

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3 days in el nido: the perfect travel itinerary.

Cazzy Magennis

Located on the island of Palawan, a visit to El Nido is definitely one of the most popular things to do in The Philippines , thanks to its gorgeous beaches, water and epic island hopping tours.

But with so much to do, it's hard squeezing it all into such a short trip!

Well, if you want to plan a fantastic El Nido Itinerary, here's my guide on how to spend 3 days in El Nido ...


Why visit El Nido?

Why not! As mentioned earlier, El Nido is one of the more popular areas in The Philippines, and there’s a reason for that, it’s amazing! 

If you seek beautiful clear blue waters, stunning beaches, amazing snorkelling, a great vibe and much more, then El Nido should definitely make it on your Philippines itinerary. 

3 days in el nido

Planning the ultimate 3 day El Nido Itinerary

Okay, so this El Nido itinerary is based on 3 days. This is because 3 days is what we spent in El Nido and we think we got to experience a lot.

What I will say is that if you intend on doing ALL 4 of the island hopping tours that El Nido has to offer, then you’re going to need around 5-6 days in El Nido….but this itinerary is for those who are seeing all of Palawan in a shorter period of time. 

seven commandos beach

El Nido Itinerary: Day 1

Day 1 starts with exploring the beautiful island of El Nido. The best way to see what El Nido has to offer is to rent a moped. You can do this in the main town of El Nido and it’s typically 500 pesos for a day , but we also rented for half a day at 250 pesos.

You should always remember to get helmets too! 

First stop : Las Cabanas Beach: This is a very beautiful beach in El Nido, one that’s perfect for relaxing, or even catching a sunrise if you can face getting up early! 

Second stop : Bulalacao Waterfalls : You’ll typically be asked to take a guide to the waterfalls in El Nido nowadays and the waterfalls aren’t extremely high or as powerful as other famous waterfalls in The Philippines, but they are a short trek and a great spot to swim and cool down under the hot stun. 

Third stop: Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls : When we visited here, the guide said it took around 40 minutes to walk to the waterfall and that you visit a couple on the trek. We actually didn’t have enough time, but you are required to take a guide in order to pass through the land to find the falls. You’ll see lots of people offering the same service, which I guess means you can probably barter on the price. 

Fourth stop: Nacpan Beach: I think this is my favourite place in all of El Nido and should 100% be on your El Nido itinerary! This is the perfect place to enjoy a stunning sunset, then grab a romantic dinner on the beach, or a booze filled one with friends! I suggest you head there around an hour before sunset so you can swim and relax in the water, then get ready for an epic view.  

Optional extra stop : Taraw Cliff, Brad and I didn’t actually visit this point, and basically because I didn’t actually know it existed.

It does require “scrambling” up a cliff to reach the viewpoint, so it’s not for the faint hearted but the views do look amazing. It should take around 30 minutes up then your return journey. 

relax at nacpan beach in el nido

El Nido Itinerary: Day 2

Your second day in El Nido will take you on one of the many El Nido island hopping trips on offer. Actually, we only did one island hopping trip in El Nido and that was Tour A. 

Tour A Stops at: 

Big Lagoon: Really awesome spot that you can rent out yellow kayaks to explore 

Secret Lagoon: This is another cool spot, but watch out for the tiny stinging jellyfish that infest the waters

Seven Commandos Beach : An awesome place to grab a cheap rum and coke alongside a game of beach volleyball! 

Shimizu island : Beautiful white sand beaches, perfect for relaxing and it’s typically the location for your BBQ island lunch which is awesome in The Philippines. This a great spot for snorkelling too! 

Tour A begins early and you finish just before sunset, so it really does take a full day of your El Nido itinerary. When you return, you can head into town for a delicious bite to eat (some brilliant Greek restaurants in El Nido!) and perhaps a cocktail by the beach. 

Book your tour online here (It’s actually cheaper than in person!)

Check out my full guide on El Nido Tour A : how to book and what to expect...

el nido palawan

El Nido Itinerary: Day 3

Day 3 on our El Nido itinerary can be a variety of things, you could either drive around the island to discover some of the other beautiful beaches that El Nido has to offer, or you can head out on another island hopping tour. I would have liked to have done another island hopping tour, but we didn’t plan it well! 

The two I would recommend are tour B and tour C. 

Tour B Includes:  

  • Cudugnon Cave
  • Pangulasian Island
  • Cathedral Cave
  • Pinagbuyutan Island
  • Snake Island

Buy your tour online here. 

Tour C includes: 

  • Helicopter Island
  • Matinloc Shrine
  • Secret Beach
  • Tapiutan Island
  • Hidden Beach

Big Dream Boat Man- a better alternative

If you don't want the fuss of swapping tours, or sharing the boat with loads of people, and simply want a more authentic experience, then I suggest you check out the guys at Big Dream Boat Man!

They offer multi-day excursions starting in either Coron or El Nido, and it's perfect if you hate organizing things, and want to see the best of what El Nido has to offer. You'll get to see some of the more famous sites, but you'll also get to go "off the beaten track" where there will be less crowds and more of a chance to connect with your surroundings and the beauty on offer.

The reviews for this company are crazy good, and if we had of found them on our travels, we would have headed out with them! We have full intentions of doing so in the future. But if you want something that's not associated with mass tourism, then you're gong to love this trip. Limited to 18 people, the chance to make friends, connect with locals, eat amazing food and do make a better decision for the environment, a trip with BigDreamBoatMan is a good choice!

Check it out here.

sunsets in el nido

Getting around El Nido

Getting around El Nido is fairly easy and you’ve got a couple of options: 

  • ‍ Moped: It’s super easy to get around El Nido via moped. You can rent them from the town for around 500 pesos for a day or 250 pesos for half a day. If you’re renting for a couple of days, then you’ll be able to secure an even better deal. Don’t forget your helmets!
  • ‍ Tuk-Tuk: Tuk tuks are super cheap in El Nido and if you’re just heading around the town then it’s a set fare of around 30 pesos per trip (This was true as of 2019).  You can arrange for a tuk tuk to take you further out, but it will cost more.  ‍
  • Shuttles: There are various shuttle companies who offer shuttles to different spots in El Nido, for example you can get the Nacpan beach shuttle to and from the beach, which is cheap, and useful if you want to have a couple of cocktails on the beach (don’t drink and drive).

For more advice on getting around The Philippines you can check out my complete guide here.  

planning an el nido itinerary

Where to stay in El Nido

El Nido has lots of choices when it comes to finding somewhere to rest your head. Whether you’re looking for a hostel, romantic hotel for two, basic cheap accommodation, or even something more unique like “glamping”, they’ve got it all.

You can check all the best places to stay in El Nido with our awesome guide !

Budget for El Nido

You’ll be happy to hear that El Nido is actually very reasonable when it comes to budget. You could easily survive on a budget of around $30 per day, and that would include a nice place to stay, 3 meals a day and your moped rental!

If you choose to do the tours, they only cost around $12-20 which isn’t too bad either.


I highly recommend you get a local sim in The Philippines as the Wifi is known to be the worst in all of Southeast Asia and I can confirm that’s true. You can actually get a sim card ahead of time right here. 

My second and final tip is to purchase some water shoes and a water bag. Both are super cheap and the water shoes will be perfect for island hopping and walking through rocks, on the boats etc, and when you are heading off and on boats, you can protect your cameras/phones etc with your water bag! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post on 3 days in El Nido! Hopefully this will help you plan your adventures a little better and don’t forget you can check out my complete guide on the best things to do in El Nido for even more inspiration. 

Any questions or comments then simply drop a comment below.

Happy travels! 

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2024 EL NIDO TRAVEL GUIDE: Tourist Spots, Itinerary & Expenses

You are currently viewing 2024 EL NIDO TRAVEL GUIDE: Tourist Spots, Itinerary & Expenses

  • Post author: Glen Nomad
  • Post comments: 0 Comments
  • Post last modified: January 15, 2024

Our comprehensive El Nido Travel guide featuring the island’s tourist spots, hotels, restaurants, and more.

Famous for its pure white sand, crystal clear waters, coral reefs, and majestic limestone formations, El Nido is a slice of paradise that both local and foreign tourists love to visit. Every vacationer should make it a point to check out the lagoons, islets, and other stunning natural sights here.

Here’s our El Nido travel guide to help you plan your future visit to one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

When is the best time to visit El Nido?

El Nido is an all-year-round travel destination so you can pretty much visit the town any time of the year. But, if you want to enjoy it more, the best time to go is during the summer season which usually starts in March and ends in May. 

el nido travel story

How to get to El Nido?

There are a number of ways to get to El Nido from different parts of the Philippines. This El Nido travel guide lists down common ways to get to El Nido from Manila , Cebu, Davao, and Coron .

How to get to El Nido from Manila

There is now a direct flight between Manila and El Nido via Airswift. Flights are limited and quite expensive so flying to Puerto Princesa is still the most common way of going to El Nido. From Puerto Princesa, you can take a bus or van to El Nido. The travel time is around 5-6 hours. Vans take a shorter time to reach El Nido. You can book a seat here by bus or van .

How to get to El Nido from Cebu

There is also a direct flight from Cebu Mactan International Airport to El Nido via AirSwift. Again, flight frequency is limited so flying via Puerto Princesa from Cebu is still the most common way.

How to get to El Nido from Coron

There are boats that operate from Coron to El Nido and vice-versa. You can opt to take a fast craft, passenger ship, and outrigger. Here’s the boat schedule from Coron to El Nido .

There is also now a direct flight from Busuanga/Coron to El Nido via Airswift. Check out our Coron Travel Guide if you haven’t been there.

How to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa

El Nido is around 5-6 hours away from Puerto Princesa. If you are traveling on a large group, you can charter a van for around Php5-7,000, one-way. If you are traveling solo or with a small group, taking a public bus or shared van is another option. There are vans from Puerto Princesa Airport that can take you to El Nido. You can also take a tricycle to the Puerto Princesa Integrated Bus Terminal to catch a bus or van to El Nido. Book a van or bus

How to get around El Nido

The most common mode of transportation in El Nido is tricycles. You can either share a ride with strangers or charter a trip if you are going to get out of the town proper. If you are more than five people, I highly suggest you rent a van for a more convenient journey.

Alternatively, you can also rent a scooter so you can move around the town freely.

Where to stay in El Nido?

Budget hotels and cheap hostels in el nido.

Frendz Hostel

Frendz Hostel El Nido is located about 5 minutes walk from the center. It offers a great view of both the town and the sea and it’s an ideal place for visitors who are looking for a hippie vibe accommodation in El Nido.

A bed in a mixed dorm starts at around Php1,300 (USD25) a night Check availability and book

Frendz Hostel is one of the best places to stay in El Nido

Alocasia Hostel

If you are looking for a cheap place to stay within the town center of El Nido, you can check out Alocasia Hostel. It is conveniently located very close to the island hopping jump-off point. 

Room rates at around Php1,300 (USD25) a night for a standard room. Check availability and book 

Alocasia Hostel is one of the budget-friendly hotels in El Nido

Spin Designer Hostel

Located not too far away from the town center, Spin Designer hostel offers affordable and comfortable accommodation catered especially to budget travelers.

Rates start at P750 (USD15) for a 1 Person in 4-Bed Dormitory – Mixed Check reviews and availability

Spin Designer Hostel is one of the top-rated hostels in El Nido

Mid-range Hotels in El Nido

Lime Resort El Nido

Lime Resort El Nido is one of the newest hotels in El Nido located in Corong-Corong, about 15-20 minutes away from the town proper. It offers a breathtaking view of Bacuit Bay and El Nido sunset. It features an infinity pool, a sky bar, a sky deck, and rooms with a view of the bay.

Room rates start at around Php6,000 (USD115) for a deluxe room Check availability and book  OR see more photos from our recent stay at Lime Resort

The infinity pool of Lime Resort El Nido

Luxury Hotels in El Nido

El Nido Resorts – Pangulasian Island

El Nido Resorts – Pangulasian Island is an eco-luxury island resort in Bacuit Bay, El Nido featuring breathtaking views of the sunrise and the sunset. It offers a total of 42 deluxe rooms built in contemporary Filipino architecture. Check out our list of Luxury Resorts in Palawan . Room rates: Php28,000 per night Check availability and book

El Nido Resort's Pangulasian Island

El Nido Group Tours

El Nido is easy and convenient to explore. Whether you are in a big group or traveling solo, you can always book a reliable tour agency for that memorable and wonderful experience while on the Island. Gotmarked Tours offers affordable El Nido tours. You can message them on their FB page at: Gotmarked Tours

el nido travel story

El Nido Tour A

Discover the islands, lagoons, and beaches of El Nido through a whole day of island hopping. Explore the clear waters of Miniloc Island and enjoy the beaches of Shimizu Island, Seven Commandos, and of course the magnificent view of El Nido Big Lagoon. The Small Lagoon was used to be a part of this tour but it has now been moved to Tour D. This tour includes a lunch on the beach.

Joiner tour starts at Php1,050 – BOOK NOW

Secret Lagoon

El Nido Tour B

El Nido Tour B allows you to explore Snake Island, Pinagbuyatan Island, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave, and Papaya Beach. This tour starts at around 9:30 am and will usually end at 3 pm.

Joiner tour at only Php1,100 – BOOK NOW

Snake Island

El Nido Tour C

El Nido Tour C allows you to explore the islands of Dilumacad (Helicopter Island) and Matinloc, known as one of the shooting locations of the movie Bourne Legacy. You will also have a chance to visit the Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, and Talisay Beach. This tour starts at 9 am and ends at 3 pm.

Joiner tour at only Php1,175 – BOOK NOW

Hidden Beach

El Nido Tour D

El Nido Tour D will take you on an unforgettable island hopping experience through some of the most gorgeous lagoons and beaches in Palawan. If you join this tour, you will visit Cadlao Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Bukat Beach, Natnat Beach, and Paradise Beach.

The price of Tour D is only P1,200 per head Book your El Nido Tour D with Gotmarked Tours

El Nido Luxury Tours

Fancy exploring the island on a speedboat or catamaran? You can get on a private luxury tour in El Nido for a more memorable experience. Just choose between the two tours below:

el nido travel story

Top Tourist Spots in El Nido

Nacpan beach.

Essentially a part that makes one of two intertwined—so-called twin—beaches, the Nacpan Beach makes for the better of the two for being bigger and encompassing a long stretch of land, dotted and lined with tall palm trees.

Nacpan Beach, El Nido, Palawan

How to get there: The cheapest way to go there is by renting a motorcycle and drive your way to Nacpan Beach. The rental cost is around Php600 for a day. If you don’t want to drive, you can charter a tricycle for around Php1,000 for two people. Travel time is around an hour.

Taraw Cliff

No adventure in El Nido is ever complete without one braving the area’s highest peak, the Taraw Cliff. With a height that overlooks the overall town of El Nido and a fortress-like image from below, Taraw Cliff never ceases to amaze regardless of which angle you are from it. If you want a perfect view, try to start hiking as early as 5 AM.

Alternatively, you can also do a Taraw Cliff Canopy walk .

When we speak of the ocean, it always gets deeper the farther you go from the coast. But for a long stretch of shallow seawater that seems to outsize its smaller counterpart, the Big Lagoon makes for a very interesting visit to the shallow areas of El Nido. This is a must-visit tourist spot in El Nido and kayaking is a must activity to get to the Big Lagoon. The kayak rent is only Php300 (USD6) for two people.

How to get there: Join El Nido Tour A.

The Big Lagoon is the best tourist spots in El Nido

Small Lagoon

Basically the smaller of the two prominent lagoons in El Nido. Although the Small Lagoon is little in size, it makes up for its unique structure that makes visiting it an equally impressive experience.

How to get there: Join El Nido Tour D.

El Nido's Small and Big Lagoon are two of the most popular tourist spots in El Nido

Seven Commandos Beach

As intriguing as its name may sound, there are no military operations taking place on this coast. The name actually harkens back to a tale that speaks of seven soldiers who were stranded on the island which some might openly dispute. Regardless of the island’s name, however, the main highlight of being on this shore is its unique scenery as highlighted by the perfect mixture of verdant trees on land and clear seawaters.

How to get there: Join El Nido Tour A.

Seven Commandos Beach is one of the top tourist attractions in El Nido

Pinagbuyutan Island

Made of mostly rocky formations carpeted with greeneries on most of its surface, the Pinagbuyutan Island has an imposing presence from a relative distance. But take the bold steps to get close and you shall see the ground of powdery whites that is a hallmark on almost every beautiful island in the area.

How to get there: Join El Nido Tour B.

Pinagbuyutan Island

Secret Beach

Not many people who are not native to El Nido knew of the Secret Beach, hence its name. Although the shore itself is not entirely hidden when seen from the sky, its rather unusual entrance—which requires a bit of swimming—makes it relatively obscure, particularly to any unsuspecting person.

How to get there: Join El Nido Tour C.  

Secret Beach in El Nido, Palawan

Corong Corong Beach

El Nido is booming in the tourism business. Nowhere is this more evident than in an area where hospitality business establishments thrive such as around Corong Corong Beach. Yet, for an island where solitude makes for a prevailing theme, the Corong Corong Beach’s rather wide expanse is never too crowded.

How to get there: Corong Corong Beach is close to El Nido town proper. You can hail a tricycle from the town proper and alight at the drop-off point or you can charter a tricycle for around Php70.

Cathedral Cave

Having an inner view that mimics a cathedral, the Cathedral Cave makes for a picturesque place on an island. But, as a home to known venomous sea snakes, it is a place where swimming is strictly forbidden.

How to get there: Join El Nido Tour B.  

Cathedral Cave in El Nido, Palawan

Cadlao Island

Embodying a beauty that is akin to Tahiti, only smaller, the Cadlao Island can be quite easily mistaken as a place in French Polynesia. Apart from the sea, the main highlight of Cadlao Island is the snorkeling paradise of Ubungun Cove.

How to get there: Join El Nido Tour D.  

Talisay Beach

Talisay Beach is one of the lesser-known beach destinations in El Nido, but it actually surprised me in so many ways. It is a known lunch stop of most boatmen during El Nido Tour C. It is situated near Matinloc Shrine, a more popular tourist spot in El Nido.

Talisay Beach in El Nido, Palawan - one of the top tourist spots in El Nido

Maregmeg Beach

If you are looking for a nice spot to watch the stunning sunset of El Nido, then head over to Maregmeg Beach. It’s located about 30-45 minutes away from El Nido town center. If you are taking a trike, it will cost you Php150 (USD3) per trip, one-way.

Sunset at Maregmeg Beach

Where to Eat in El Nido

El nido boutique artcafe.

El Nido Artcafe is probably the most popular restaurant in El Nido. Must try on their menu are Seafood Spaghetti, Seafood Basket, Pizza Pancetta, and Chicken Tikka Masala. Check out El Nido ArtCafe Menu

Seafood Spaghetti at El Nido Art Cafe

Frendz Sky Bar and Restaurant

If you want good food and an amazing sunset view then Frendz Sky Bar and Restaurant might be the perfect place for you. Must-try is their sizzling tanigue, quesadilla, and sizzling squid. They also offer popular international dishes like pad thai, nasi goreng, kebab, and a lot more. See Frendz Restaurant Menu

Sizzling Tanigue at Frendz Restaurant

Lime Resort Sky Bar

Head to Corong-Corong and dine at Lime Resort’s Sky Bar. It offers a breathtaking view of El Nido sunset so make sure you arrive early. You can try their pasta and pizza and a glass of your favorite drink.

el nido travel story

Gusto Gelato

For your sweet cravings, head over to Gusto Gelato. They offer different flavors of gelato like dark chocolate, mint chocolate, salted caramel, and a lot more!

Gusto Gelato in El Nido, Palawan


Whether you are spending a weekend in El Nido or going all out the whole week, we got you covered. Most visitors to El Nido stay for at least 3 Days and 2 Nights. If you want to experience the best of El Nido, we suggest you stay at least 5 days 4 nights so you can do all the tours as well as visit other equally gorgeous beaches on the mainland.

3D2N Itinerary

If you have a tight schedule and can only stay on the island for 3 days and 2 nights, we highly suggest you take Tour A and then visit Nacpan Beach and Maregmeg Beach. If you are adventurous and love hiking, you can also take an early hike to the peak of Taraw Cliff. Yes, you can do all of these in 3D2N. See detailed 3D2N El Nido itinerary

el nido travel story

4D3N Itinerary

Staying on the island for 4 days and 3 nights is the most common itinerary for local tourists. If you have this much time, you can take 2-3 island hopping tours depending on your departure from the island. Ideally, we suggest you take two tours: Tour A and Tour C then visit Nacpan Beach and Maregmeg Beach. You can also hike to the top of Taraw Cliff if you are an adventurous traveler. If you’re leaving El Nido at night on your last day, you can take the Tour B. See the detailed 4D3N El Nido itinerary

el nido travel story

5D4N Itinerary

You can go all-in with El Nido Tours with a 5D4N itinerary for as long as you leave the island late afternoon or at night on your last day. Experience the best of the island by joining Tour A which highlights the Big Lagoon; Tour B island escapades; Tour C for hidden beaches; and Tour D for the Small Lagoon and Cadlao Lagoon. See detailed 5D4N El Nido itinerary

5D4N El Nido Itinerary

Expenses for 5D4N

  • Airfare from Davao to Puerto Princesa (fly-through with 20kg baggage via Cebu Pacific): Php4,700
  • Breakfast at NAIA: Php300
  • Van transfer Puerto Princesa to El Nido: Php700
  • Lunch along the way to El Nido: Php150
  • Accommodation at Alocasia Hostel (Triple room with breakfast for 3 nights): Php5,760/3= Php1,920
  • Van rental to Nacpan Beach: Php3,700/3 (Cheaper if you go by trike) Php1,233 each
  • Meals and drinks at Nacpan Beach Php200
  • Dinner at Art Cafe: Php500
  • Tour B: Php1,300/head
  • Trike to Maregmeg and back to the town proper: Php300 (Php150 one-way) Php100 each
  • Dinner at Frendz Resto: Php440
  • Tour C: Php1,400/head
  • Dinner by the beach at Bundatan Restaurant: Php1400/3=Php467 each
  • Cocktail at Tribu Kuridas Php200
  • Tour A: Php1,200/head
  • Trike to Lime Resort: Php70/2=Php35
  • Overnight at Lime Resort El Nido: Php5,000/3=Php1,667 each
  • Early dinner at Lime Skybar: Php2,200/3=Php733 each
  • Trike Fare from Lime to Mcdo: Php300/3 (roundtrip)= Php100 each
  • Late night snack to McDo in Maregmeg Php150
  • Van transfer from El Nido to Puerto Princesa: Php700
  • Airfare from Puerto Princesa to Manila (using CEB Travel Pass): Php900
  • Airfare from Manila to Davao (using CEB Travel Pass): Php1,200

Total Expenses : Php20,295 Expenses without airfare : Php13,495

If you are traveling on a tight budget, you can reduce your expenses to only around Php11,000 plus airfare. Just stay in a hostel for the whole duration of your trip. We moved to Lime Hotel on our last night so our expenses have gone up a little bit.

Tip: Travel with at least one companion and you will spend even less. If you are traveling solo, you can also opt to stay in hostels with shared rooms.


Thank you for reading! We hope you find our El Nido Travel Guide useful. Consider following us on our social media channels for travel updates and travel inspirations.

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Glen Nomad is a travel blogger and the founder of Escape Manila, one of the top travel blogs in the Philippines. He has visited all 82 provinces in the Philippines and has explored 53 countries across Asia, North & South America, East Africa, Europe, and Australia. Follow him on IG at @escapemanila

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Philippine Gem: A Complete Guide to El Nido, Palawan

“ El Nido is known as the Philippines’ last frontier, and if you’re looking for magnificent beaches in an unspoiled setting, it’s a perfect place for you to vacation.” – Tripadvisor

Do basic research before your trip and you will surely read nothing but good words for the paradise that is El Nido, Palawan . Boasting its clear waters, superb snorkeling sites, pristine beaches and a laidback atmosphere, the photos you will get to see during your long-distance exploration will make you want to jump right in those awesome landscape shots.

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in El Nido .

el nido getting there

El Nido is in general an accessible destination, and routes depend on your point of origin. In this article, we shall briefly discuss the most widely traversed paths on the road to this local pride.

(CHEAP OPTION) A common touchdown point for travelers is the Puerto Princesa Domestic Airport. Popular carriers such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia offer low rates to Puerto Princesa. I was able to purchase a return ticket for as low as Php300 – a few weeks before my travel dates!

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Puerto Princesa .

(OTHER OPTION) Enjoy the luxury of landing directly in El Nido in the comfort of a chartered plane. One-way fare costs around Php7,000. For more information, email this address .

Cargo/Passenger Ferries travel from Manila to El Nido via Coron. More about it here .

el nido transportation

El Nido is about 5 hours away from Puerto Princesa. Several modes of transportation are made available for the traveling crowd:


Conveniently located near the airport exit, the van terminal to Puerto Princesa is hard to miss. If booked in advance, a representative will be waiting for you as you exit the airport and assist you on your way to the terminal (which is just a breezy 3-minute walk) EULEN JOY charges Php600 per trip. It is best to call in advance for slot reservations, although walk-in passengers are most welcome.

Eulen Joy offers trips every 2 to 3 hours starting from 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Call their booking office at 0926-6998700.

If your flight to Puerto Princesa is arriving in the late afternoon (most flights with promotional fares do) CHERRY BUSES have trips as late as 9:00 PM. Call 0935-8666569 for more details.

RORO BUSES , on the other hand, offer trips as early as 4:00 AM. Get in touch with them at 0998-1846761.

e nido locals

El Nido locals are generally pleasant and accommodating. At times, you get to see and test a community’s prevalent culture by the way it treats you especially when you look (and act) like a clueless tourist in the neighborhood. As with El Nido, what probably struck me is their way of “doing business” or “offering services” to you – in a polite, smiling manner, very far from the usual aggressive approach of business people elsewhere.

el nido

Know more about Philip as we move along in the article. He will be more than happy to welcome you to his humble roots.

el nido local life

A week is not enough to get a decent grasp of the island lifestyle. With the towering stilts in your backyard and the sound of crashing waves as your alarm, you can’t help thinking how good life is, right?

By mere observance of a traveler, the day starts at about 6 AM, when you can already hear students rushing to the nearby school and inn caretakers sweeping the backyard with their trusty brooms.

People and tourists alike roam around early in the morning to catch the laidback sunshine vibe. A land tour in the area will make you appreciate the place even more.

“Are you sure we’re just leaving our vehicle on the side of the road, without any chain lock?”, the city girl in me asked. Our guide just smiled. “Paranoid urban settlers. How can they live life with too much threat?” he must have thought.

el nido getting around

“Habal-habal” is a popular means of transport in El Nido. It is a motorcycle, covered or uncovered, transporting about two people (plus the driver) at a time. The price range varies, depending on the distance and any negotiations made before the trip.

Dependable tricycles can also be found in the area. Short distances will cost you about Php20, provided you pick up your ride at the proper terminals.

Vehicles for rent are widely available in El Nido, too. A popular choice for tourists is motorbikes-for-rent.

el nido accommodations

Booking accommodation in El Nido is made hassle-free by the wide choices available both online and onsite. El Nido’s offerings have gradually improved in the course of five years, wherein more local properties are being converted and reconstructed to accommodate the varying needs of the modern tourist.

Related Article: List of Best Hostels in Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron

Two Monkeys Travel Group recommends:


ocean vista el nido

Conveniently situated in Buena Suerte and right in front of the tour boat dock, Ocean Vista is a nice inn owned and managed by Philip, our El Nido host.

The lot formerly housed the family’s home, and when Philip saw the need for additional accommodation in the area, he decided to convert the place into a three-story inn. Two floors are dedicated to family and sharing rooms, while the third floor is perfectly conceptualized as a bar overlooking the vast waters and towering cliffs of El Nido.

Give it three to five years more, and Ocean Vista will have a spacious section specifically dedicated to backpackers.

ocean vista el nido

Contact Philip at 0917-5616080. A proper website is under construction; meanwhile, you can contact the team on Facebook. (Mention our blog and they can give you a discount!)


Together Pension – a simple, convenient, and well-maintained pension house; also near the tour boat docks. Good choice for unfussy travelers on a budget (but without sacrificing comfort.) Check their reviews on Tripadvisor .

el nido together pension

What is El Nido without island hopping?

The divine tours of El Nido are one of the most sought-after arranged tours in the Philippines. The destination has breath-taking underwater sceneries and spectacular islands to boast about, so in order not to miss such beauty, make sure to do a weather check before coming to this destination.

Several instances have been reported wherein tourists were not able to go on already-booked tours because of Signal 1 typhoon warnings from the municipality. Yes, the officials and tour operators take weather announcements from the bureau very seriously, and even if you reason out that seems to seem evident, or worse – you rent a local’s unauthorized boat just to push through with your tour – chances are there will be no one giving in to your appeal. Stay safe and follow regulations, yes?

el nido sealand venture


Before joining the accommodation providing sector, Philip has already made a name for giving professional and fun island tours through his business Sealand Venture. Its office is situated right near the bay wherein tours commence (with Ocean Vista now as its backdrop). Aside from its office’s accessibility to tourists, Sealand Venture also takes pride in its well-trained staff and safe vessels. Rates are found below:


Included in the tour rates are as follows:

Licensed boat, Licensed in-house tour guide (1 tour guide per 6 persons), Passenger insurance , Picnic lunch, Drinking water, Mask/snorkel, Towels, Hotel pick-up

All tours start at 9:00 AM. Lunch commences at one of the stopovers at about 1:00 PM. Expect to arrive back in town by 4:00 PM. As with combination tours, two tours will have to be squeezed in on a 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM time frame. No tour boats are allowed to go past 6:00 PM.

In a dilemma which island tour to choose? If you need to choose…

ONLY 1 TOUR – Go for Tour C

el nido tour c

Why: Based on reviews and local recommendations, Tour C is the most picked option among all tours. It features good diving sites and varied sceneries. Our tour guide said that most postcard-worthy photos that we see all around media are in Tour C. The view of El Nido atop the Matinloc Shrine cliffs is a must-see.

ONLY 2 TOURS – Go for Tours A & C

el nido tour a

Why: Personally, in picking the best tour, it was a close call between Tours A and C. A definite good addition to your already-awesome Tour C would be Tour A’s Small and Big Lagoons. You can rent paddleboards and kayaks in this area for about Php200.

ONLY 3 TOURS – Go for Tours A, C, and B

el nido tour combo

Why: Make your visit even more memorable by adding in Tour B. On this tour, you get to explore the Cudognon cave from the inside and walk through Snake Island’s sandbar.


Why: Don’t get me wrong – Tour D is also remarkable, but its offerings are not as grand as the three’s. Upon snorkeling in the aforementioned tours, you tend to expect that all snorkeling sites are as superb as the others. What you can experience in Tour D, you can also experience in the other tours.

el nido las cabanas

Rainy season? Do not fret. Inland tours are almost always available!

Get personal advice from a trusted local. Contact Philip at 0917-5616080 or drop him a message on Facebook.

el nido food

There has been no major disappointment about offerings during our stay in El Nido. It has a lot to offer, cuisine type-wise:

“I’m craving for…”


Location :  Click here

Must-order : Any flavor of their hand-tossed brick oven pizza, Mushroom risotto

Price range : Php 400 to 500 for a group of 3 small eaters


Must-order : Seafood curry, stuffed squid

Price range : Php 500 for a group of 2 hungry tourists

el nido food


Must-order : Delicatessen Bagel

Price range : Php 250 for a person who would like to splurge on food


Must-order : Quesadillas partnered with their local and foreign liquor brands

Price range : Php500 per person for a night of adult fun

el nido food


Must-order : Honey calamansi crepe, Assortment of muffins

Price range : Php 100 for a person who likes desserts so much

For travelers on a tight budget , there will always be a trusty nearby carinderia at every turn, and food choices vary daily. You only have dinner to think about, anyway, as breakfast would almost always be included in your accommodation and lunch will be served during tours.

el nido essentials

Aside from your usual travel must-have, these are some essential items you might want to highly consider bringing with you when you come to El Nido:

  • Powerbanks (One thing you need to take into consideration when going to El Nido is its recurring electricity blackout. Know the “no-electricity schedule” once you arrive. Although most establishments do have their own generator sets, some small businesses still do not have theirs.)
  • Waterproof pouch for your mobile phone (The Php50 pouch in Divisoria worked fine.)
  • Waterproof or underwater camera (That DSLR will almost always have to stay in your bag during tours, except if it is properly geared for water activities. If you have no waterproof camera, there are some for rent in the area – talk to your Tour Provider beforehand.)
  • Extra money during tours (You will be asked to pay a one-time environmental fee. Allot a sum for tips as well, if you are the kind who gives.)

el nido why go back

If you have seen all tours…

There will always be that one tour that will emerge as your favorite. Why not go back, take that tour and linger longer? Better yet, bring your friends and family who have not been to this paradise before. You’ll be with a new set of explorers – who knows what awesomeness that brings?


If you have seen all tours, but just ‘dropped by’ at the Secret Beach (which cannot be accessed during high tide)…

I believe it is worth going back to. It will not be ‘secret’ for anything, right?

e nido under the sea

If you have picked only one or two tours…

Take a chance on the other tours that you missed. Anyway, in a year or so you will find yourself daydreaming about El Nido again!

el nido with family

If you were not able to take any tours due to unforeseen circumstances…

Need I say more? El Nido is waiting for you, my friend!

e nido sealand venture

A Note of Gratitude: Two Monkeys Travel Group would like to thank Mr. Philip Morales of Ocean Vista Inn & Sealand Venture for a superb El Nido experience!

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Palawan .

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11 thoughts on “ Philippine Gem: A Complete Guide to El Nido, Palawan ”

Hi I’m going to have a enjoyable trip. Thanks for the guidance.

This is the best for long distance travelers to explore everything.

thank you for writing such a nice post on El Nido! I’m planning a trip to the Philippines for 2019 and I’m still doing a lot of research to see what I can do during my 3 weeks there! I want to do some diving, I’ve heard that Paglugaban is a fantastic cave to explore, but I really want to see all the best that this part of the world has to offer.

Very informative El Nido blog I’ve read so far! Readers would really dream of going to El Nido upon reading your blog. Keep it up…

Hi Pauline! My boyfriend and I were looking to go to El Nido at the end of the year. I’ve read some disturbing things about safety in the area and was wondering if you could shed some light on precautionary measures to take. Is it ideal to go what with the occurrence of kidnappings etc…any info. Would be muchly appreciated!

Hello Ameera, As someone that has been to El Nido and to many parts of the Philippines, El Nido is not the area you need to worry about. The island of Palawan is massive. The island is roughly 65o kms long. El Nido is at the northern tip of the island, and the security threat comes from the far southern tip of the island. I will be traveling to El Nido in August and I always feel more safe in El Nido than I do in many parts of America. The people of Palawan are some of the most generous people in the world. They may not be the richest (monetarily) but if you are in need, many will give you the shirt off their back.

Hi Pauline! I am having a hard time figuring out Airswift’s baggage allowance. If I bring 20kg in December (prior to Dec. 15), how much (extra) would I have to pay? How about after Dec. 15? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Wow!!it’s really amazing…I can’t wait to go there..We’re planning to go to El Nido month of oct.this year..Beautiful..

hi, i just wanna ask which camera did you use during your tour? all your pictures are amazing!!

thanks, jeff

What an informative post! I have a question though. If I’m traveling on a budget, should I go to El Nido, Coron, or Puerto Princesa? Thanks! 🙂

Hi Faith! Thank you =) Ironic as it may seem, El Nido is out of the list then, and it would be a battle against Coron and Puerto Princesa. The expense of travelling to El Nido from the airport is the sole factor I considered for you. Aside from that, the three will require almost the same budget from you. I guess it will totally depend on the cost of your flight tickets. Frequent seat sales – by observation this point goes to Puerto Princesa.

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8 Things to Know Before Visiting El Nido, Palawan

You’ve probably seen photographs of the stunning limestone formations around El Nido rising majestically above the turquoise water. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines and for good reason, the nearby islands and beaches are absolutely stunning.

But the actual town of El Nido leaves something to be desired. The infrastructure has not yet caught up with the massive influx of tourists. This means a lot of construction, contaminated water, questionable toilets, and high prices.

Check out our list of things to know before you visit El Nido so you can properly prepare for everything that you’ll encounter during your upcoming trip. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: Things to Know Before Visiting El Nido, Palawan

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

Getting to El Nido

Things to Know Before Visiting El Nido, Palawan: Walking on the Beach, Hidden Lagoon, El Nido, Philippines

El Nido is situated at the northern end of Palawan island in the Philippines. Palawan is an extremely popular tourist destination thanks to El Nido, but most flights to the island land in the main city of Puerto Princessa.

Previously there were only two ways to visit El Nido. You could fly into Puerto Princessa and ride in a minivan for five hours on a windy bumpy road. Or you could fly to the island of Busuanga and take the ferry from Coron to El Nido which is a 3-4 hour boat ride.

Luckily, these days there is a third option. A new airport has been built just 15 minutes outside of the town of El Nido (Airport code: ENI) and AirSWIFT operates numerous flights a day between El Nido and other popular tourist destinations in the Philippines, including Manila, Boracay, Busuanga (Coron), and Cebu .

1. EL Nido Island Hopping Tours are Pretty Standardized

Things to Know Before Visiting El Nido, Palawan: The Big Lagoon, El Nido, Philippines

There are four island hopping tours to choose from when you visit El Nido – Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D. Each tour offers different destinations, but all of the tour boats follow roughly the same schedule. If you sign up for Tour A, you’ll leave at around 9 am and head directly to either the Big Lagoon or Small Lagoon. There you’ll have to contend with the 20 or so other people in your boat as well as the 20 or so other boats in the lagoons.

Even if you decide to hire a private boat, it’s difficult to convince them to take you anywhere that is “off the beaten path.” The Coast Guard is strict and your boat captain has to provide them with their detailed itinerary in the morning. So even if you see a beautiful island nearby, they’ll be hesitant to stop if it’s not on the predetermined itinerary.

If you want to avoid the hoards of other tourists, hire a private boat and request that they leave early in the morning. The Coast Guard office opens at 8 am and the big tour boats don’t depart until 9 am, so you can get an hour’s head start.

2. If it Rains There’s Nothing to Do in El Nido

Things to Know Before Visiting El Nido, Palawan: Kayaking in the Small Lagoon, El Nido, Philippines

The most popular activity when you visit El Nido is to go island hopping either in a private boat or as part of a tour group. And the diving off the coast is amazing as well. If you’re not on a boat, you’ll be lounging on one of the many beautiful beaches nearby. Many of the restaurants are open-air and offer beautiful views of the sea during sunset.

But depending on the time of year that you visit El Nido, you may encounter massive amounts of rain or even a typhoon (if you happen to get really unlucky). Normally when we get caught in rainy weather, we use that time to catch up on emails or write new blog posts. But considering that Wi-Fi is so scarce in El Nido, you’ll have a difficult time even doing the simplest things online.

Download a few movies or a full television series prior to leaving Puerto Princesa. You can keep yourself entertained in case of bad weather. Another option is to visit the Underground River, but it’s a long day trip from El Nido.

3. It’s Expensive (Compared to Other Cities in the Philippines)

While there are plenty of hotels in El Nido, most seem to be overpriced for what you get. The cheapest rooms available will cost you around $30 USD and will be incredibly basic – a bed with only a top sheet, air conditioning, and hot water.

You can opt for more expensive hotels but the increase in quality doesn’t align with the increase in price. Your mattress will be just as hard, the Wi-Fi just as spotty, and the views about the same. If you pay more for a room, make sure you get a pool to make it worth your while.

Restaurants cater to foreigners and reflect Western prices as well. Plan on spending around 350 PHP (~$7 USD) per entree. Wine ranges from 150-200 PHP ($3-4 USD) and cocktails are usually 200-300 PHP unless you stumble upon a good happy hour deal.

But the boat tours are where you’ll really blow your budget while visiting El Nido on the island of Palawan. Group tours A-D (see below) will run you 1,200-1,500 PHP per person (~$23-27 USD) and the cost to hire a private boat for two people will be in the range of 5,500-7,000 PHP (~$105-133 USD). Add on the environmental fee (200 PHP/person), fees to visit certain islands, and tips for your boat crew and you’ve got an expensive day!

Where to Stay in El Nido

El Nido Mahogany Beach Resort, Philippines

El Nido Mahogany Resort & Spa

El Nido Mahogany Resort & Spa  is located just south of Corong Corong beach on the way to Las Cabanas beach. You’ll find well-appointed bungalows and friendly staff.

Check Prices on Booking.com

Buko Beach Resort, El Nido, Philippines

Buko Beach Resort

Buko Beach Resort  is another stunning beachfront property just south of El Nido proper. The cottages are spacious, the pool sits right at the edge of the beach, and the sunsets are exquisite!

4. You’ll Probably get Sick, at Least Once

Things to Know Before Visiting El Nido, Palawan: Palm Tree Sunset in El Nido

When checking TripAdvisor for restaurant recommendations in El Nido, you’ll undoubtedly see a few reviews stating that the restaurant gave them food poisoning. There were even hotel reviews we read that said the rooms harbored the norovirus. And nearly everyone you meet will have some story of getting ill during their time in El Nido.

I got sick almost immediately upon arriving in El Nido and I’m still not exactly sure what caused it. I only dined at well-rated, Western-style restaurants and I only consumed bottled water.

Take the following precautions to keep yourself healthy in El Nido:

  • Brush your teeth with bottled water
  • When dining out, make sure that the restaurant uses filtered water in their ice prior to ordering shakes, cocktails, or iced coffee
  • Keep your mouth closed in the shower
  • Avoid raw veggies or fruits that may have been washed with unfiltered water

You can go into any pharmacy in most countries in SE Asia and walk out with antibiotics. But that is unfortunately not the case in the Philippines. You’ll need to find a medical clinic and get an actual prescription if you think you have giardia or another illness that cannot be cured by standard over-the-counter medication.

Typical symptoms of giardia may include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps, bloating, and/or gas

5. ATMs in El Nido Often Run out of Money

Cash is king in all of the Philippines and El Nido is no exception. You’ll be required to pay for any excursions and most of your food with cash. There are only three ATMs in El Nido and they often run out of money or are out of order. Most people use the BPI Bank ATM on Real Street which means there’s usually a line to withdraw money. There are also two lesser-known ATMs at the Municipal Hall on G. Del Pilar Street.

Plan ahead by getting plenty of money out prior to leaving Puerto Princesa in Palawan and book your hotel on Agoda or Booking so you can prepay with a credit card.

6. The Internet Is Terrible

Most hotels and restaurants in El Nido advertise “free Wi-Fi”. But once you sit down and order something you’ll find that the WiFi is either incredibly slow or nonexistent. Before heading to this area of the island, be sure you get all of your work done and notify your friends and family that you’ll be off the grid for a bit so they don’t worry.

Your best bet for the internet is to unlock your phone in advance and purchase a prepaid SIM card. There are two SIM card options in the Philippines; Smart and Globe. Both offer incredibly cheap prepaid internet packages that start at around 50 PHP (~$1.00 USD) per Gigabyte of data. Smart seems to have better coverage in the El Nido, Palawan area.

The best Wi-Fi option that we found in El Nido was at the Casa Cecilia Cafe but you’ll be required to spend at least 150 PHP (~$3.00 USD) per person to access the password. That should be no problem as they offer delicious mango shakes for that exact price. 

Art Cafe is known for having good internet in El Nido but they limit the number of devices that can connect at one time. So if the restaurant is busy you likely won’t be able to sign on.

7. Western Food is Prevalent in El Nido

There are so many fantastic (albeit pricey by Filipino standards) restaurants in El Nido that you’ll have a difficult time deciding where to eat. You’ll find everything from pizza to ramen to Thai food, and everything in-between. However, what you won’t find a lot of is Filipino food .

And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Filipino food can be quite heavy and it’s great to have so much variety in a small town. That being said, be sure to try the tocino (sweet cured pork) with garlic rice at least once for breakfast during your stay in El Nido.

Our favorite restaurants in El Nido, Palawan:

  • Republica Sunset Bar – is the perfect place to watch the sunset while enjoying a cold beer! Try the sashimi, it’s a fairly large portion for the price.
  • Bella Vita El Nido – this darling little beachfront restaurant serves delicious pizzas and has happy hour from 3 pm – 5 pm daily.
  • Happiness Beach Bar – we loved sitting in the swing seats at the bar while dining on shakshuka and hummus!
  • Altrove – many argue that they serve the best pizza in all of El Nido.

8. The Stray Dogs are in Poor Health

Stray dogs are a staple all over South America and SE Asia so if you’ve traveled a bit you’re probably quite used to seeing them around. But generally, you find them to be in decent health. The locals feed them, they are treated kindly, and some countries even spay and neuter their strays.

But the stray dogs in El Nido seem to be in very poor health. Many are sickly and/or injured. If you are a dog lover, seeing this will break your heart.

We hope this post helps you prepare for your upcoming trip to El Nido, Palawan!

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Things to Know before Visiting El Nido, Palawan

About the Author:

Valerie Wheatley

Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag. Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her! These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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17 thoughts on “8 things to know before visiting el nido, palawan”.

el nido travel story

El Nido does have a beach, it’s ok. The main reason the ATMs are not working is “brownout” . I’ve been to El Nido many times and I’ve never had any stomach problems, but I imagine it’s a possibility. There are Filipino restaurants but not on the seafront. If you go In November or December, it’s the end of the wet season when the typhoon track is further south and it’s possible to have a weakened typhoon passing over the North of Palawan and lots of rain. The island hopping tours are a procession but they are still extremely memorable and unique. 10 years ago there were zero ATMs there and the road was very rough and muddy north of Taytay !

el nido travel story

Do you have one on Boracay?

el nido travel story

Really useful info – thank you. Do you have any suggestions for long term stays – 1-3 month accommodation providers please?

el nido travel story

I’m from the USA and have been there and plan on going back. I didn’t get sick there, but I am extremely choosey in what I will eat. Sterilizing the fruits and vegetables is important. Many dogs in the Philippines are zombie dogs, perhaps feed, but beware—the most beautiful place on earth, El Nido.

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Kayaking at Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

Top 14 Things to See and Do in El Nido Palawan: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

Jessa Tek-Ing

1. Chill at Nacpan Beach

2. marvel at the beauty of big lagoon.

  • 3. Kayak in Small Lagoon
  • 4. Dip in the Secret Lagoon

5. Discover the Hidden Beach

6. find the secret beach, 7. relax at shimizu island.

  • 8. Lounge in Seven Commandos Beach

9. See the View from Matinloc Shrine

  • 10. Lie on the Sandbar of Snake Island

11. Catch the Sunset at Las Cabanas Beach

12. climb the taraw cliffs, 13. plunge into nagkalit-kalit waterfalls, 14. dive and explore the marine life, experience the beauty of el nido.

Aerial view of El Nido's limestone karsts and clear blue waters at Small Lagoon

Explore one of the best island destinations in the world found in the Philippines' Palawan province, El Nido. Find out why El Nido island hopping tours are a must-do for visitors traveling to the Philippines from from different parts of the world.

One of the  top tourist destinations in the Philippines , both for local and international explorers alike, thanks to its undeniable and exotic beauty is El Nido  in Palawan.

This quaint little beach town located in the northernmost part of mainland Palawan has developed to become a travel destination, with more convenient access to more flights and a wide array of El Nido resorts  and El Nido hotels  (some of which offer  Philippine luxury vacation packages ), some of the best beach resorts in the Philippines , Philippines honeymoon resorts , and backpacker hostels that cater to everyone's budget, El Nido has opened its doors to wanderers from all walks of life.

  • Find El Nido tours and activities you can add to your itinerary
  • See destinations for solo travel in the Philippines

Imagine deserted powdery white sand shores with clear and turquoise waters, breathtaking limestone cliffs, secret islands, and dramatic sunsets – truly El Nido should be on every traveler's bucket list because of its unspoiled beaches

See our popular El Nido Tours and Activities

Private el nido palawan lio airport to or from any el nido town hotel transfer service, palawan el nido shared island hopping tour a with lunch & transfers | secret lagoon, shimizu island, private puerto princesa airport to or from el nido town transfer service.

El Nido weather is almost always in summer mode, making it a great year-round destination. The main attraction of El Nido is several island-hopping destinations that you can easily travel to. 

More than the many beautiful islands off its coast, the island also satisfies adventure-seekers and nature lovers by offering exciting  tours in El Nido such as cliff climbing, kayaking, trekking to waterfalls, and lounging on pristine Palawan beaches in the main island.

  • Boracay to El Nido Philippine tour packages
  • Boracay to Palawan Philippine tour packages
  • Puerto Princesa to El Nido tour packages
  • Cebu to El Nido Philippine tour packages

Experiencing El Nido is like getting lost in a dream, one that you wouldn’t want to wake up from. Its grandeur and charm will surely let you have a taste of paradise and heaven on earth. Can’t wait to explore El Nido yet? Start preparing your trip with this list of all the things to do in El Nido that you should not miss when you explore this exquisitely gorgeous tropical destination.

Traveler kayaking in El Nido, Palawan

Deserted golden sand, clear blue waters, and a surreal view of the ocean await you at Nacpan Beach. Just the thought of lounging under the sun in this paradise makes you wish for that dreamy escapade. It's why joining an  inland trip in Nacpan Beach  is worth the wait. 

The 45 minutes to 1-hour drive from the El Nido town proper is well worth it once you set foot in this slice of heaven. Read a book, listen to music, or watch the waves kiss the shoreline as you take in the beauty that Nacpan Beach has to offer. Local and foreign tourists rave about the 4-km long Nacpan Beach in El Nido because of the laid-back vibe here. 

Nacpan Beach is part of the Twin Beaches with the adjacent Calitang Beach. You can climb up to the highest point and see the view of the two beaches. If you're trying out Nacpan Beach tours, buy some drinks or snacks in the beach bar as you work on your tan. The sunset in Nacpan Beach is also a must-see, the cherry on top for a perfect tropical getaway in El Nido, Palawan.

Top 14 Things to See and Do in El Nido Palawan: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

  • Book a  direct flight to El Nido  for your upcoming Palawan itinerary
  • See other Palawan tours you can try
  • Check out this  El Nido land tour to Nacpan Beach, Lio Beach & Bulalacao Waterfalls

Top view of Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

This majestic lagoon in Miniloc Island looks like a scene straight from a destination movie. It's like you're transported to a different dimension where you're surrounded by towering cliffs lined up to watch over you. It is one of the highlights of an El Nido Big Lagoon Private Tour .

As you enter through the Big Lagoon, everything is a sight to behold – the crystal-clear blue water, the ray of light peeking through the top of the cliffs, and the luscious limestone formation. It has become famous for being featured in several movies and postcards because of its beauty, as seen from drone shots to kayak views.

Top 14 Things to See and Do in El Nido Palawan: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

See our popular El Nido Island Hopping Tours

Palawan el nido shared island hopping tour c with lunch & transfers | secret beach, hidden beach.

Due to the local government's efforts to keep the pristine condition of El Nido islands and avoid overcrowding, island-hopping boats are not allowed to go inside of the Big Lagoon anymore. The time spent and the number of tourists is also strictly controlled.

  • Check out other destinations where you can experience island hopping in the Philippines
  • Read our article on Port Barton resorts

Tourists, however, can board kayaks and paddle their way through the shallow entrance that will lead to a giant natural pool with turquoise waters surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.

3. Kayak in Small Lagoon 

Travelers kayaking at Small Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

Another Miniloc Island destination is the famous Small Lagoon. As the name implies, it is relatively smaller compared to the Big Lagoon, but can't be discounted when it comes to the beauty and charm it exudes.

Unlike the Big Lagoon where the opening can be easily entered, the Small Lagoon has a smaller entrance. You can swim or ride a kayak and go through a crack on a limestone wall to get inside during your Small Lagoon tour .

Top 14 Things to See and Do in El Nido Palawan: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

Once you’re inside, you can take a dip or kayak around the peaceful waters of Small Lagoon and enjoy its calm surroundings with the sound of nature as your default soundtrack. Its serene turquoise waters that make up a natural pool in the middle of cliffs are the perfect spot for floating or kayak rides.

Similar to the policies implemented in Big Lagoon, the number of tourists and time spent in Small Lagoon has limitations as well to keep its enchanting vibe. 

  • Boracay to El Nido flights Clark to El Nido flights

4. Dip in the Secret Lagoon 

Secret Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

This unique natural pool in El Nido's Miniloc Island is also known as the Hidden Lagoon. This popular El Nido Big Lagoon has a sweet surprise that awaits you once you enter a small opening on the majestic limestone cliffs.

When getting here, your boat will make its way to a small white sand beach in the southern part of Miniloc Island. You'll pass through a hollow rocky cave-like opening so be extra careful and dock your head. You can easily wade into the opening if it's low tide.

  • Check out our  Puerto Princesa to El Nido tour package with Port Barton island-hopping side trip
  • Book an  El Nido island-hopping tour on a party boat

Once inside, you'll be greeted by a small natural pool surrounded by remarkably high limestone cliffs –  this is the Secret Lagoon.

You can dip in the natural cold pool and bury your toes in its beautiful white sand. Unlike the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon, the water here is cooler because of the cliffs that cover it from the sunlight.

However, a Hidden Lagoon tour  is done during low tide, the water is only knee-high deep and activities are limited to quick dips or picture taking. But the mysteriousness of the Secret Lagoon is what makes it a worthy destination. 

Top 14 Things to See and Do in El Nido Palawan: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

​ Similar to the Big Lagoon, you will need to board a kayak or swim from your boat to get to this Hidden Beach. The pristine small stretch of white sand beach called the Hidden Beach is usually a part of Matinloc Island Premium Private Tour .

Boats cannot fit in the entrance to go to the Hidden Beach. Since the distance from where the boats dock and the beach itself is quite far; the best way to get inside is by riding a kayak from your boat where you'll pass through towering karst cliffs.


The crystal clear water here is more shallow than the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon and is excellent for a relaxing swim. The white sand of Hidden Beach lined with lush greenery is also the right spot for sunbathing or building sandcastles if you have kids with you.

Travelers swimming at the Secret Beach in El Nido, Palawan

El Nido isn't done yet with hidden and secret places! A highlight and must-see during an El Nido speedboat island hopping tour  is the Secret Beach. This hidden enchanting beach in El Nido is said to have been the inspiration behind the novel "The Beach," by Alex Garland. It was then adapted into a film starring Leonardo di Caprio. 

Once your boat arrives, you'll see nothing but a big wall of limestone cliffs with no beach in sight. To see the Secret Beach, you'll need to swim through the hole under the towering cliffs. A sweet surprise in the form of a hidden unspoiled beach awaits you behind the wall that surrounds it.

Be careful when swimming through the hole, especially if the waves are strong. Kayaks cannot go in through the hole, so your only option is to swim. Your tour guide will provide you with life vests and assist you as you make your way inside. But the struggle will be all worth it when you see the immaculate Secret Beach. 

Shimizu Island in El Nido, Palawan

Shimizu Island (also spelled as Simizu Island) is the perfect stop for you to relax in its cool white-sand beach or whip out your snorkeling gears to explore its colorful marine life. In fact, a Shimizu Island tour  will let you lounge on one of the  best beaches in El Nido and a popular lunch stopover as well.​

You can spot here different species of fish in various shapes, colors, and sizes. You can explore the beauty of Shimizu Island underwater by snorkeling or you can relax and lounge by its white sand beach.

The island-hopping tour usually includes lunch at this island stop. You can swim some more or take a nap under the shade of the limestone cliffs as your boatmen and guide clean up and prepare to leave for your next stop.  

8. Lounge in Seven Commandos Beach 

Beach view of boats at Seven Commandos Beach in El Nido, Palawan

The 320-meter long Seven Commandos Beach is said to have been named after seven soldiers who were stranded here during World War II. You can visit this when you book a Big Lagoon tour . 

Seven Commandos Beach is a postcard-worthy white sand beach lined with coconut trees and a massive wall of limestone cliffs in the background. It's the perfect last stop for tourists to lounge by the sand with a freshly opened coconut in hand. 

The Seven Commandos Beach has a shore wide enough for tourists to play beach volleyball or work on their tan. The beach is also known for its gentle waves; you can relax by the crystal-clear waters after a tiring day of kayaking in the lagoons.

It's also the right spot for snorkeling because of the calm waters and precious marine life. But you can always opt to have a lazy afternoon on its shores and enjoy the tropical island life.  

Matinloc Shrine in El Nido, Palawan

Unlike the beaches and lagoons of El Nido whose main highlights are their pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. This island-hopping stop in a Matinloc Island Premium Shared Tour is a unique one.

The Matinloc Shrine, specifically the Shrine of Our Lady of Matinloc, is an abandoned spiritual oasis that sits on top of Matinloc Island and offers one of the best views of El Nido.

There's also a mini-museum on the island where you can learn about the shrine's history. The story says that a Matinloc devotee had a vision of a dome with 12 pillars and inside was the image of the Virgin Mary.


The way to the viewing deck is through the limestone cliff staircase, so make sure to wear your slippers or aqua shoes. Once you reach the top, you can climb further to the jagged cliffs to see a 360° view of the neighboring islands and the blue waters of El Nido. 

10. Lie on the Sandbar of Snake Island 

Aerial view of the sandbar at Snake Island in El Nido, Palawan

Snake Island, aptly named because of its s-shape white powdery sandbar that connects a small island to the mainland of El Nido, is a popular attraction included in a Cave Exploration Private Tour . The sandbar only appears during low tide and is truly a sight to behold. 

Snake Island excursions feature gorgeous sandbar strip, hidden in Bacuit Bay, which is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll as you take in the breathtaking view. Dip your feet in the sand or lounge by its shores as the waves meet from both sides gently crash into you. Not to worry though, there are no snakes in Snake Island. Its other name is Vigan Island. The beauty of Snake Island and its serene vibe make it a must-try when in El Nido. 

Top 14 Things to See and Do in El Nido Palawan: Stunning Beaches, Islands & Lagoons

See our popular El Nido Snake Island Tours

Palawan el nido shared island hopping tour b with lunch & transfers | snake island, cudognon cave, palawan el nido beaches & caves island hopping private tour to snake island, hassle-free 5-day el nido palawan package at seda lio 5-star hotel with island hopping & snorkeling.

Las Cabanas Beach in El Nido, Palawan

The beach is lined with several bars and restaurants. You can buy drinks and snacks while waiting for the sunset or chill and enjoy the laid-back vibe of this El Nido tourist spot. 

Some of these bars and restaurants also have bean bags or chairs by the beach where you can grab the perfect spot for sunset-watching. Our tip is to find a seat by the far left to get the best view of the sunset. 

If you want a different way to enjoy this beach in El Nido, you can also try the Las Cabanas zipline where you can be treated to an incredible view. At night, you can also enjoy romantic dinners or chill drinking sessions by the beach here. 

View from Taraw Cliffs in El Nido, Palawan

There are two ways to climb the Taraw Cliffs: the regular hike or by a Canopy Walk. But both will require you to face your fear of heights. The regular hike up the Taraw Cliffs will have you ascending its steep and sharp limestone rocks. Doing this hike will require a guide and proper hiking shoes, so you have a better grip. 

An alternative and much safer way to see the view from the Taraw Cliffs is by doing the Canopy Walk. Compared to the regular hike, a canopy walk tour provides you with safety equipment like helmets and harnesses. There are built-in walkways in the cliffs that you can explore to get the best views. This option is an excellent activity for inexperienced hikers.  

Aside from the islands, beaches, and lagoons of El Nido, you can also dip into the natural pool of Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls. The hike to the waterfalls is an adventure itself, but the cool temperature of the water compensates for the effort of trekking to the place. 

"Nagkalit-kalit" translates to "Nagsaglit" in Tagalog which means "taking a moment." You will surely forget the time as you adore the beauty of the waterfalls and the joy it offers to tourists who stumble upon it.

Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls is located in between El Nido town proper and Nacpan Beach. It’s usually a stop in El Nido inland tours. From the main road, you will have to trek for about 20-45  minutes in the jungle and rivers to reach the waterfalls. Once you arrive at Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls, you can choose from the big or the small falls and plunge into the natural pool for a refreshing swim.  

While Palawan’s  Coron is regarded as a top diving spot, El Nido also offers several underwater adventures for diving enthusiasts. There are over 40 diving spots that you can choose from in El Nido. From coral gardens, tunnels, steep vertical walls, sandy flats, to deep dives, El Nido has them all for you. 

  • Cebu to Coron to El Nido tour
  • Coron to El Nido tour
  • El Nido to San Vicente tour
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Most of the diving spots in the island are around its islands and beaches that are included in  El Nido island-hopping tours . The most popular diving site in El Nido is South Miniloc, where you can find vibrant coral gardens. You might even get the rare chance to spot sea turtles.

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Kayaking at Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan

Take it from us; El Nido will leave a mark on you. If you think that falling in love at first sight, isn't real, think again because El Nido will cast a spell on you. Its effortless natural beauty, charming tropical island vibe, and breathtaking sceneries along with the warmth of its people will surely find a way to your restless heart. We're sure that El Nido will be on the top of your favorite travel destinations once you explore it for yourself.

  • Manila to Puerto Princesa flights
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Start planning your island getaway to El Nido and tick it off your travel bucket list. To make your itinerary planning more relaxed and your adventure more convenient, make sure to research  El Nido tours and activities from El Nido island hopping tours to inland activities. Check out glamping resorts in El Nido for a unique experience.

See our popular El Nido Vacation Packages

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What is the history of El Nido Palawan? |

El Nido is one of the best-known islands in Palawan, Philippines. It’s a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists who come to escape from polluted cities or just buy cheap souvenirs on this little island paradise. The first time I arrived at El Nido was during my backpacking days in 2008 where I had no idea what to expect but it was still exciting seeing so many foreigners around me!

El Nido is a small island in the Philippines. It is known for its white sand beaches and turquoise water. The culture of El Nido is heavily influenced by Spanish colonialism, but also has some indigenous influences.

What is the history of El Nido Palawan? |

The town was given its current name “El Nido” on June 17, 1954, as a result of swiftlet nests discovered in the caverns of its 250 million-year-old limestone cliffs, as a result of Republic Act 1140. The Spanish term “El Nido” means “The Nest.” The Gordon family established a modest resort on Pangalusian Island in 1982.

People also wonder what El Nido is famous for.

El Nido is a renowned tourist attraction on Palawan’s northern coast. The pure white beaches, towering limestone cliffs, gorgeous mountains, fascinating caverns, stunning animals, lovely lagoons, and lush coral garden that make up Bacuit Bay have attracted a lot of interest from all over the globe.

The issue therefore becomes, what is Palawan’s history? Rule of the United States of America. America established civil administration in Northern Palawan after the Philippine-American war of 1902. The province was renamed Paragua. The province was rebuilt in 1903 to incorporate the province’s southern half, and it was renamed Palawan, with Puerto Princesa as its capital.

Similarly, what is the significance of El Nido?

The Spanish, who landed in Palawan in the 18th century, gave the town the name El Nido, which means “the nest.”

Is Puerto Princesa home to El Nido?

El Nido is a renowned tourist resort in Palawan’s northwestern region, around 230 kilometers from Puerto Princesa. You’ve definitely seen photographs exhibiting the jaw-dropping beauty of this Filipino gem, which is known for white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and gorgeous limestone structures.

Answers to Related Questions

Is El Nido or Coron the best place to visit?

Coron is significantly smaller than El Nido, and although it does not have the same number of beaches as its bigger competitor, it does offer a more tranquil atmosphere of sincerity and serenity. It also contains places like the Maquinit Hot Springs, which are a wonderful way to conclude the day.

How long do you plan on staying in El Nido?

Coron or el nido: which is better.

In comparison to El Nido, Coron is more laid-back. Come to El Nido if you want to party. This little hamlet on the coast isn’t as crazy as Boracay (thank goodness), but it does have a few decent places to let your hair down. Along the beach’s lengthy beachfront, there is also fireancing.

In El Nido, what language is spoken?

El Nido Languages & Dialects. The main language is Filipino, which is largely based on Tagalog. In addition, many people are very proficient in English, Visayan languages (Visayan, Cebuano, Ilonggo, and Waray), and Bicolano.

Is El Nido a safe place to visit?

In terms of El Nido, it is safe since there have been no terrorist attacks there.

How much does El Nido cost?

As a result, a one-week stay to El Nido for two persons costs on average $24,885 ($489). These typical travel rates were gathered from previous travelers to assist you in planning your own trip budget. Include these figures on your webpage. For one individual, a one-week trip to El Nido costs roughly $12,443.

Is the island of Palawan expensive?

MANILA – With a nightly fee of $100,000, a recently established private resort in Palawan may likely be the most expensive resort in the world (approximately P5,200,000).

Is it worthwhile to go to El Nido?

El Nido’s islands are spectacular. Phenomenal is the only word that comes to me. They aren’t superior to other island chains, but they are distinct and worth seeing. You may stay at a cheap hotel for a reasonable price.

In El Nido, how many beaches are there?

El Nido, one of the country’s most diversified ecosystems, is protected because of its distinctive flora and wildlife, as well as its pristine geologic formations. Limestone cliffs, which are home to swiftlets, are one of them. There are 50 beaches with white sand.

Is Palawan a safe place to visit?

When it comes to safety, the Philippines is no different from any other nation. Some regions are seen to be more hazardous than others. However, in comparison to the rest of the Philippines, Palawan is regarded as one of the safest and most tourist-friendly destinations in the country.

In El Nido, where should you stay?

El Nido’s Best Accommodations

El Nido Mahogany Resort & Spa is located just south of Corong Corong beach on the way to Las Cabanas beach. You’ll find well appointed bungalows and friendly staff. Buko Beach Resort is another stunning beach front property just south of El Nido proper.

In El Nido, how many islands are there?

There are 45 islands total.

Is there an airport in El Nido?

El Nido Airport, commonly known as Lio Airport, is a private domestic airport in the Philippines that serves the El Nido area in the province of Palawan. AirSWIFT, a private company that conducts flights to Manila, Cebu, Clark, and Caticlan, owns the airport.

Who is the owner of El Nido?

Ayala Land is a company based in the Philippines.

What is the cost of a van ride from Puerto Princesa to El Nido?

What is the Time to Travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido?

Is El Nido on the island of Luzon?

El Nido, located in Palawan, Philippines, southwest of Luzon Island, enters the ranks of the world’s top beaches, which are listed below in order of importance: Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos.

What is the address of the airport in El Nido?

El Nido tourists enter Palawan via the city, Puerto Princesa, which is situated in the middle of the island. Direct flights from Manila, Cebu, Davao, Seoul, and Taipei arrive at Puerto Princesa International Airport (IATA: PPS), from which passengers may take a bus, van, or another aircraft to El Nido.

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Hey Folks! I'm Olivia from California, United States. I'm a blogger, travel lover, I can travel anywhere, whether it's a new place or already visited. I love meeting new people, clicking photos of every movement, and documenting my adventure. I also, write about travel, travel movies, the best places to visit, etc. Read my stories.

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How To Get To El Nido, Palawan In The Philippines

El Nido, Palawan is a pristine, exotic island destination in the Philippines that can be reached by air, van, bus, or ferry.

It’s not hard to get there, but there are a bunch of different options so the process can be a bit confusing. There are also some old pages floating around out there with conflicting or outdated info.

Hopefully this post clears some things up about how to get to El Nido!

Contents hide Where To Stay In El Nido How To Get To El Nido Palawan • Direct Flights • Van From Puerto Princesa • Bus From Puerto Princesa • Ferry Boat From Coron • Multi-Day Sailing Expedition More Palawan Travel Tips

Where To Stay In El Nido

Maligaya Beach Bungalows

Maligaya Beach Bungalows

El Nido Moringa Resort

El Nido Moringa Resort

Frendz Hostel El Nido

Frendz Hostel El Nido

Karuna El Nido Villas

Karuna El Nido Villas

How To Get To El Nido Palawan

• direct flights.

The easiest, fastest, and most expensive (but recommended) way to get to El Nido is one of the direct flights sold by AirSWIFT.

However, the El Nido airport (ENI) is not served internationally, so you’ll first need to fly to one of the big cities in the Philippines — Manila or Cebu — and go to El Nido from there.

You can shop for flights to the Philippines at Skyscanner.

AirSWIFT is a boutique airline that owns and runs the El Nido airport as a private airport, so it’s the only airline company you can fly with to get there.

It’s a bit strange how that works, and the monopoly does drive up the prices, but in this case at least it simplifies things!

(Tip: Sit on the left side of the plane if you want the best island views when flying in from Manila!)

The El Nido airport (also called Lio Airport) is not served internationally, so this means you will need to fly there from one of the following domestic airports in the Philippines:

  • Manila – Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) Flight duration is 1h 15m and costs 6,800 PHP ($130 USD)
  • Cebu – Mactan–Cebu International Airport (CEB) Flight duration is 1h 40m and costs 5,650 PHP ($105 USD)
  • Coron – Francisco B. Reyes Airport (USU) Flight duration is 40 minutes and costs 4,000 PHP ($75 USD)
  • Cataclan/Boracay – Godofredo P. Ramos Airport (MPH) Flight duration is 1h 5m and costs 6,150 PHP ($115 USD)
  • Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS) Flight duration is 40 minutes and costs 2,400 PHP ($45 USD)

The Lio airport is located just 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from El Nido town, and the drive from the airport to town takes about 20 minutes.

When you arrive at the airport, there will be motor tricycle drivers waiting to transfer you to town, or your hotel can arrange a pickup for you if you ask them.

Shop Now: El Nido flights at Skyscanner

Plane at the Lio airport in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

• Van From Puerto Princesa

The second way to reach El Nido is by taking a van from Puerto Princesa. This is one of the most popular ways to go.

You can reach the Puerto Princesa Airport (PPS) by taking a flight from Manila (MNL) or Cebu (CEB).

Vans are waiting at the PPS airport and go daily to EN, or some companies can arrange to pick you up at a hotel in PPS.

From Puerto Princesa, the drive north covers about 270 kilometers (170 miles). The trip takes 5-6 hours by van and costs 875 PHP (~$17) per person.

Drone view of Entalula Beach and boats in Palawan, Philippines

• Bus From Puerto Princesa

The third option to get to El Nido is to take a bus from Puerto Princesa.

As above, you can reach the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS) by taking a flight from Manila (MNL) or Cebu (CEB).

From the PPS airport, the bus terminal is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away, so you will need to pay a tricycle driver to transfer you there.

The two bus companies are Cherry Bus and RoRo Bus. The bus drive from Puerto Princesa to EN takes 6-8 hours, and costs 500 PHP (~$10 USD) per person.

Beach hammock in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

• Ferry Boat From Coron

Coron is El Nido’s less famous cousin to the north, and it shares some of the same incredible Palawan scenery.

Many people visit both places in the Philippines on the same trip, in which case taking a fast ferry to El Nido from Coron can make sense. The boat journey from/to Coron takes about 4 to 5 hours.

There are multiple companies running a ferry route between the two places now, and you can book tickets online at Biyaheroes.com or Bookaway .

Read More: Coron To El Nido Ferry Boat

Drone view of Cadlao Island in Palawan, Philippines

• Multi-Day Sailing Expedition

If you have time, another very interesting way to get to El Nido Palawan is with a multi-day sailing trip that lasts up to 4 days and 3 nights, taking you all the way from Coron to El Nido, or vice versa, while seeing some of the islands in between.

This can be a great way to go island hopping in paradise without the crowds and time constraints of a simple day tour, and you get to see a lot of nice new islands that are off the beaten path and not included on the main day tours. It’s also a fun way to meet other travelers.

There are several companies offering multi-day trips in Palawan, but one of the highest rated is Big Dream Boat Man . They’re based in Coron, and they also have sailing expeditions that go all the way to El Nido, stopping at some amazing places along the way!

Book Now: Coron Palawan Sailing Expeditions

My woman on a boat at Cadlao Island in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

More Palawan Travel Tips

I hope this was helpful for planning your own Palawan trip. Looking for more information on this amazing island in the Philippines?

Don’t forget to check out my full El Nido Travel Guide with free tips, photos, and more!  

  • El Nido Palawan Island Hopping Guide
  • Coron Palawan Island Hopping Guide
  • Coron vs El Nido - Which Is Better?
  • My Philippines Travel Guide – Tips, Info & Photos

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I’ve not previously heard of El Nido, but the Philippines is on my radar as they are growing some great cocoa there. Thanks for connecting and enabling me to discover your blog.

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Sure thing, thanks Doreen! I hope you do get a chance to check out the Philippines sometime, and especially El Nido!

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What a great post. I love El Nido. It’s fantastic that you addressed the so many confusing information on how to get to El Nido. Great job!!

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I land in Manila and wanted to go to Boracay and El Nido but I’m confused where to start. I’m arriving on Mar 11 late evening so would probably leave to one the island on 12th and my return flight is from Manila on Mar 20 so I prefer to be back on the 19th. I’m assuming I only have time to see 2 island unless I can squeeze another island in close to the other 2

Hi Sandy. Sure, that should be plenty of time to see El Nido and Boracay, but probably too rushed to add a third place. I would do El Nido first since it has more to see and do. And then spend some time relaxing in Boracay before you end back in Manila. Cheers

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