Everything You Need To Know About El Nido

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Palawan garnered worldwide reputation as a top island destination thanks to the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in the new 7 wonders of the world list but this bio-diverse province offers more than what regular people knows of. There's the ever famous Coron Island, and all her natural wonders, in the northern part of the province, the not so known utopia for backpackers the Port Barton for some solitary & budget friendly getaway, the newly discovered paradise in the southern part the municipality of Balabac with all her stunning islands and, last but definitely not the least, the monolithic limestone paradise of El Nido. This destination checks most of my bucket list for what an island paradise should be and no picture can justify the true beauty of El Nido. The hype is real and El Nido rightfully deserves all the attention she receives. I collated all of the necessary information you need of this paradise in this post to get the most out of your stay.


WHAT TO DO 

El Nido is brewing with so many activities and places to visit. Thanks to the influx of tourists the local government and business owners always come up with some new & creative ways to entertain tourists. It helps as well that this spot is blessed with so many hauntingly beautiful islands, beaches, caves and lagoons that would take days even weeks to completely visit all of them. 


PLACES TO GO


  • Nacpan Beach inland, available in tour E or rent a tricycle, twin beach
  • Calitang Beach — inland, available in tour E or rent a tricycle, twin beach
  • Taraw ( Tarao ) Peak inland, closed for climb as of now, option : Canopy Walk 
  • Bacuit Bay — inland, navigated by foot, for sunset watch, the beach of the town of El Nido
  • Corong-Corong Bay — inland, navigated by foot or ride a tricycle, for sunset watch
  • Las Cabanas Cove — inland, navigated by foot or ride a tricycle, new! for sunset watch & zipline 
  • Nagkalit-kalit Falls — inland, available in tour E or rent a tricycle, dries up during summer
  • Big & Small Bulalacao Falls — inland, rent a tricycle & guide
  • Makinit Hotspring — inland, available in tour E or ride a tricycle
  • Small & Big Lagoons of Miniloc Island — island, available in tour A, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
  • Payong-Payong Beach —  island, available in tour A, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
  • Shimizu Island  island, available in tour A, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
  • Seven Commandos —  island, available in tour A, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
  • Pangulasian Island —  island, available in tour B, Php 1,300.00 per pax 
  • Snake Island —  island, available in tour B, Php 1,300.00 per pax 
  • Codugnon Cave —  island, available in tour B, Php 1,300.00 per pax 
  • Cathedral Cave —  island, available in tour B, Php 1,300.00 per pax 
  • Pinagbuyutan Island  island, available in tour B, Php 1,300.00 per pax 
  • Hidden Beach — island, available in tour C, Php 1,400.00 per pax 
  • Secret Beach — island, available in tour C, Php 1,400.00 per pax 
  • Star Beach — island, available in tour C, Php 1,400.00 per pax 
  • Matinloc Shrine — island, available in tour C, Php 1,400.00 per pax 
  • Helicopter Island — island, available in tour C, Php 1,400.00 per pax 
  • Cadlao Lagoon — island, available in tour D, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
  • Pasandigan Beach — island, available in tour D, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
  • Bukal Beach — island, available in tour D, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
  • Paradise Beach — island, available in tour D, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
  • Natnat Beach — island, available in tour D, Php 1,200.00 per pax 
THINGS TO DO



  • Beach Bumming with the inland beaches  there are so many inland beaches that you can enjoy in El Nido if you don't like to island hop.
Twin Beach of Nacpan & Calitang
Twin Beach of Nacpan & Calitang : the most solitary & beautiful inland beach but quite far from the town. The only restaurant in the beach here offers quite an expensive menu and takes time depending on the number of people who ordered. You can avail the inland tour E for Php 1,200.00 per pax or rent a tricycle for Php 1,000.00 - Php 1,500.00 good for 4 people / van for Php 2,000.00 - Php 2,500.00 for 10 - 12 people.

Las Cabanas Cove
Las Cabanas Cove : if you love the party crowd and also perfect for sunset watch. Expect it to be crowded with people and resorts. Most tourists crowd out the shores by doing topless sunbathing (even women). The beautiful & gigantic limestone monoliths are visible in some parts. Kayaking, sailing, snorkeling & zip-lining are offered here as well. You can avail the inland tour E for Php 1,200.00 per pax or rent a tricycle for Php 1,000.00 - Php 1,500.00 good for 4 people / van for Php 2,000.00 - Php 2,500.00 for 10 - 12 people.

Corong Corong Bay : perfect place for sunset watch and easily be navigated by foot from the main town of El Nido.

Sunrise scene in Bacuit Bay
Bacuit Bay : the main beach of the town of El Nido that is usually filled with island hopping boats and is a beautiful spot for sunrise & sunset as well. I wouldn't advise to go swimming here because it was once reported positive of the coliform due to improper sewage management.
  • Island Hopping the local government set a standard for the island hopping to avoid confusion and is uniform in all agencies even the pricing. The prices and destinations are posted below and lunch is inclusive.
Tour A Php 1,200.00 / person
Tour B Php 1,300.00 / person
Tour C Php 1,400.00 / person
Tour D Php 1,200.00 / person
TIP! You can combine 2 island hopping tours depending in the tour agency you have chosen. The most recommended combination is between Tour A & C if you have limited time in El Nido for Php 1,600.00 per pax in the tour agency we got which already has 8 destinations and lunch.

© El Nido LGU 
  • Snorkeling majority of the islands in the tours are ideal for snorkeling especially those who have shores. Clown fish and their sea anemones are plenty in Talisay Island and I spotted some angel fish in different colors & patterns in Helicopter Island.
  • Kayaking the small & big lagoon in Miniloc Island is an ideal spot for kayaking both have a picturesque appeal and experience is worth it with some breathtaking scenery that can only be reached by a kayak. Kayak rent is Php 300.00 / hour
  • Scuba Diving there are many dive shops in the main town you can choose from. The average cost of the dive package if Php 3,600.00 per pax inclusive of some gears, lunch, boat and environmental fees.
  • Free Diving if you are into this kind of activity you can do it during island hopping just bring your gears with you.
  • Cliff Diving perfect to do this in Miniloc Island, Matinloc Shrine and any other islands of your choosing.
Sunset scene in Las Cabanas Cove
  • Sunset Watch inland beaches of Nacpan Beach, Las Cabanas Cove, Corong-Corong Bay and Bacuit Bay.
  • Chase Waterfalls there are 2 waterfalls to choose from which usually dries up during summer season. Nagkalit kalit Falls is the closest to town and easiest to navigate which don't need a guide. Bulalacao Falls is quite tricky and definitely requiring a guide so you won't get lost in the forest but this one is so much worth it!
  • Canopy Walk to Taraw Peak Php 400.00 per pax
  • Mountain Climbing to Taraw Peak closed as of now due to an accident last January 2016.


WHERE TO STAY


There are so many accommodations to choose from in El Nido and varies depending in your budget. The moment we were dropped off by the bus at around 4am we walked for around 10 minutes to the town center for exploration purposes and we see so many accommodations lining up in the main road. This is something you shouldn't worry when you're in El Nido. It seems the people have turned their property to an accommodation for tourists. The price ranges from Php 400.00 to the expensive resorts of Php 15,000.00 per night. Since I am a budget traveler and cannot afford those resorts I will just recommend the budget friendly ones from those we've experienced ourselves and those highly recommended by my traveler friends. 


TRIED!





CASA CECILIA 
    Rizal Street El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
    casacecilia.ph@gmail.com
    0907-692-9798 / 0926-203-2413
Location : Center of the Town
Room Rates : Php 1,800.00 - Php 5,000.00 per room
WiFi : Yes
Brief Review : Front desk is very accommodating. Rooms are spacious & bed is very comfortable but the AC didn't work well in our room. The bathrooms are good with hot & cold shower. WiFi is bad in the rooms but I heard from my mates that it works well in the lobby. Breakfast is supposed to be a full Filipino Breakfast but they serve us just pancakes because of the shortage of ingredients. They did accommodate us before the check-in time and tried to help us find a cheaper accommodation in the next day. 
Review Score : 6/10


TANDIKAN BEACH COTTAGES 
    Calle Hama, Barangay Masagana El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
    janeflim34@yahoo.com / tandikan_elnido@yahoo.ocm
    0919-944-6312 / 0916-711-1027

Location : Beachfront
Room Rates : Php 1,500.00 - Php 3,000.00 per room
WiFi : Yes
Brief Review :  Ate Jane was very accommodating when we asked about El Nido so that's why we decided to stay in Tandikan Beach Cottages. She provided us a ride in the inland day tour for Php 2,500.00 per van, also the combination of Island Hopping Tour A & C for Php 1,600.00 per pax ( which serves a really good lunch and the guide is the best! ) and a transportation service going to Port Barton for Php 700.00 ( which we did not took for reasons it is expensive you can find Php 500.00 if you search thoroughly in the town ). So if you want convenience in all of that in a justifiable price this is your best bet. We took the cottage fronting the beach. The rooms are okay with two big comfortable beds and sleep fine at night. The AC is working quite well. The bathroom is small with no option for a hot & cold shower. The WiFi is a bit slow in the rooms and surprisingly in the lobby as well. My biggest complaint is the breakfast which is not good and I've noticed they serve a different breakfast with the foreigners. They never offered us any option for the breakfast when we checked-in. 
Review Score : 7.5/10



"RECOMMENDED"



THE ENTALULA COTTAGES 
Calle Hama, Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
0920-906-6550 / 0927-494-4804
Location : Beachfront
Room Rates : Php 2,500.00 - Php 3,500.00 per room
WiFi : Yes
Recommended by EAZYtraveler



MARYGOLD BEACHFRONT INN 
Bacuit Bay El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
marinagarden.elnido@gmail.com
63 917 624 7722 / +63 908 884 3711 / +63 925 722 2777 
Location : Beachfront
Room Rates : Php 1,600.00 - Php 4,350.00 per room
WiFi : Yes
Recommended by Lakwatsero


LUALHATI COTTAGES
Rizal Street El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
0919-319-6683
Location : Main Road
Room Rates : Php 400.00 per (fan) room
WiFi : None
Recommended by Lakwatsero



OG'S INN 
Bacuit Bay El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
0916-707-0393 / 0920-404-0223
Location : Beachfront
Room Rates : Php 500.00 per (fan) room
WiFi : Yes
Recommended by Lakwatsero



CLIFFSIDE COTTAGES
Rizal Street El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
0910-956-7957
Location : Main Road
Room Rates : Php 500.00 per (fan) room

WiFi : Yes
Recommended by EAZYtraveler



WHERE TO EAT 

For people on a tight budget there are carenderia in El Nido which serves meal for as low as Php 50.00 and there's also a local variant of Inasal which offers a meal around Php 130.00 with an unlimited rice already.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:


  • There are two ATM machines located inside the municipality office ( near the church ) in El Nido and they usually refill the cash every Sunday. I was told it usually runs out of money after four days but luckily in my case it didn't and I noticed foreign bank accounts have trouble withdrawing money from them.
  • There's a Palawan Pawnshop & M Lhuillier Pawnshop so if you ever run out of cash and the ATM doesn't dispense any you can ask someone from the big city to send you money.
  • The 3G signal is faster than the WiFi that the resort offers but there are locations in town which is spotty and can give you a 'no signal'.
  • The nearest beach ( Bacuit Beach ) in El Nido is once contaminated with the coliform bacteria due to improper sewage management so it is best to avoid swimming in the beach.
  • There are so many island hopping tours in town which you can shop around because some offers a combination of the different tours. The combination is your best bet if you have limited time in El Nido. The pricing is standardized though but you can find cheaper price in the outskirts of town.  

HOW TO GET THERE?
  • from Puerto Princesa
Head over to San Jose Terminal where all the public transportation plying to El Nido can be found. The schedule & pricing varies depending with the transportation of your choice.

via AC vans ( ETT: 5 - 6 hours fastest & expensive

Schedule : 7 AM & 11 AM
Fare: Php 600.00

via public buses ( ETT: 7 - 8 hourscheapest

Schedule: 5 AM, 7 AM & 9 AM
Fare: Php 250.00

via RoRo buses ( ETT : 7 - 8 hoursmost comfortable

PUERTO PRINCESA to EL NIDO
Schedule: 7 AM, 11 AM & 3 PM (non AC) / 9 AM, 1 PM, 9 PM (AC) 
Fare : Php 385.00 ( non AC ) / Php 480.00 (AC )

EL NIDO to PUERTO PRINCESA
Schedule: 7 AM, 11 AM & 5 PM (non AC) / 9 AM, 1 PM, 9 PM (AC) 
Fare : Php 385.00 ( non AC ) / Php 480.00 (AC )

  • from Coron 
There are boats who regularly depart from Coron to El Nido everyday. 


Fare: Php 2,200.00 (foreigners) & Php 1,500.00 (Filipinos)  
ETT: 8 hours

More post(s) about El Nido...

Islands & Beaches Around El Nido 
Puerto Princesa - El Nido - Port Barton 5D4N Sample Itinerary 

Christian Vincent Literatus

Travel Blogger

Chris just loves to travel, and for a long time now has been drifting from place to place around the Philippines. With his combined passion for travel and photography, he’s managed to find himself in the middle of some magical moments and mind blowing scenery. The Bisdak Explorer is Chris’s way of sharing his experiences with you, and showcasing not just his travel photography, but the moments and stories behind those photos.

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