EL NIDO TRAVEL GUIDE 2022: DIY Itinerary, Things to do, How to get there and more


Helicopter Island by Cris Tagupa via Unsplash

The Ultimate 2022 Travel Guide to El Nido Philippines

Have you ever thought of traveling to El Nido, Palawan? Traveling is a time to relax and enjoy, and it imparts a fresh outlook, a new zeal into your life. In this El Nido Palawan Travel Guide, you will discover that this quaint Town in Palawan is more than just a dream destination. If you think traveling to this place is expensive, continue reading this El Nido Travel Guide. The exact picture is not all that you have heard about. In fact, It’s not that expensive to travel to El Nido if you have experience in backpacking.

Breathtaking Helicopter Island
Breathtaking Helicopter Island

Where is El Nido

El Nido is a first-class municipality and managed resource-protected area in Palawan in the Philippines. It is about 420 kilometers (260 mi) southwest of Manila, and about 238 kilometers (148 mi) northeast of Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s capital.

El Nido is an excellent destination to visit, and it is not necessarily expensive. After a trip to El Nido Palawan, you will realize that touring this destination in the Philippines is not a costly affair.

Sunset in Corong Corong - El Nido Palawan Guide
Sunset in Corong Corong – El Nido Palawan Guide

El Nido Palawan is the ultimate place for diving, island hopping, snorkeling, and kayaking. This piece of paradise is renowned for its mangroves and tall limestone cliffs that are about 250 million years old.

It has 4 archaeological sites, 45 islands, and around 888 varieties in Bacuit Bay.

Nacpan Beach Palawan photo by @arlynsupnet via unsplash
Nacpan Beach Palawan photo by @arlynsupnet via Unsplash

The unique beauty of El Nido has had a lasting appeal to nature fans. It has the most distinct ecosystems and is safeguarded by the Philippines’ foremost institutions.

Its exceptional magnetism and out-of-sight escapades will leave you spellbound and make you travel to the place all over again.

Mystical orange sunset in Nacpan Beach
Mystical orange sunset in Nacpan Beach

El Nido was named after the bird swiftlet’s edible nests, “Nido,” the Spanish term for a nest. It is located around 238 kilometers northeast of the Palawan Capital, Puerto Princesa City. El Nido is accessible by land, air, and sea.

Bucal Island
Bucal Island

Most of the islands at El Nido have inlets of fine white sand beaches, apt for alfresco and sunbathing. Some islands have ancient caves with captivating dripstone configurations. Some of the major attractions at El Nido are Bacuit Bay, Dilumacad Island, and Cadlao Island.

Dilumacad Island
Dilumacad Island

Bacuit Bay is spread with islets and islands, and its pure blue waters are swarming with aquatic life. It is home to turtles, dugongs, manta rays, coral reefs, fish species, and rare whale sharks. More than 30 dive sites stretch from six to thirty meters.

beautiful beach in front of Cadlao Island
beautiful beach in front of Cadlao Island

No trip to El Nido is complete without visiting Cadlao Island, the largest island in Bacuit Bay, with a 10.06 square kilometers land area. This island has the highest peak that stands tall above sea level at 640 meters. It is famous for its white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons, and slowly slanting seafloor.

Drone Aerial Panorama image of Helicopter Island in the Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palawan photo via Depositphotos
Drone Aerial Panorama image of Helicopter Island in the Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palawan photo via Depositphotos

Dilumacad Island, also known as Helicopter Island, is another scenic beauty with white sand beaches extending to 300 meters. It is a famous location for divers because it has an underwater tunnel and a fringing reef.

Miniloc Island Resort in El Nido
Miniloc Island Resort in El Nido

People can indulge themselves in some adventure once they get to El Nido. It is the best place to go for a walk as you can view scenic spots and wildlife along the way. Trekking and climbing are some other activities you could do. Miniloc is the best place in El Nido for snorkeling. Dive boats are there to take you around the islands, and you can view the fish and corals in the waters of El Nido. Swimming is something you would love here.

In this El Nido Travel Guide blog, we listed DIY itineraries and advice on how to get there, things to do and see, places to eat, best places to stay, tour packages, and more.

Best time to visit El Nido

El Nido Tourist Guide Blog photo by Eibner Saliba via Unsplash
El Nido Tourist Guide Blog photo by Eibner Saliba via Unsplash

The best time to visit El Nido Palawan is from January to May during the dry season. Temperatures are relatively cool, and humidity is low. Typhoons may hit the island during the rainy or monsoon months from July to September and affect travel and flight schedules.

What to Wear

Bring light cotton or quick-dry clothing, and pack as light as you can. Clothing is affordable in the Philippines, just in case you need an additional one. Wear rubber flip-flops overshoes – flip flops are lighter to pack, and besides… who wants to wear shoes on the beach?

Money and Foreign Exchange

Bring as many Philippines pesos as you need. As of this writing, there are two ATM machines in El Nido, but they are not working most of the time. Don’t rely too much on your plastic. Most establishments are not yet accepting credit cards.

Puerto Princesa City is the nearest place where you can withdraw money, so make sure your cash is enough before you go to El Nido. If you have US Dollars, you can convert it to Peso at the El Nido Boutique and ArtCafe.

In case of emergency and you badly need cash, You can ask a friend or relative located anywhere in the Philippines to send you money via M Lhuillier or Western Union if you request money from overseas.

Communications and Internet

Internet Access (WIFI) is widely available in most restaurants, bars, and guesthouses. There are also Internet cafes in Poblacion, but Internet access is subject to electricity availability. SMART provides fast mobile 3g internet coverage if you have a smartphone. You can definitely connect to the internet anytime, provided you have enough smartphone load (top-up).

How to get there

By Air
El Nido Direct Flights

To reach El Nido, it is recommended to travel by air as it is the fastest transportation mode. The flight from Manila takes only one hour and fifteen minutes to reach Lio airport. Airswift is the only airline that flies to El Nido (+63) 915 5097024, (+632) 318 5941, (+632) 318 5942, (+632) 318 5943.

You can also fly to El Nido from Clark, Davao, and Cebu via Airswift.

Via Puerto Princesa

The other option is via Puerto Princesa City. The flight from Manila takes only one hour and twenty minutes to reach Puerto Princesa International Airport. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia offer daily flights to the capital of Palawan.


2Go offers a weekly trip to Coron, Palawan. You can book another boat ride to El Nido via Montenegro Shipping Lines and Phimal Fast Ferry from Coron. It takes about 4-5 hours to reach El Nido from Coron.

By Land
From Puerto Princesa City

It takes about 5 hours to reach El Nido from Puerto Princesa City. Here are the transportation options:

The interconnected roads at El Nido are linked to the major highway that heads towards Palawan’s capital, Puerto Princesa City. Hourly Roro buses are also available from San Jose Terminal to El Nido. A trip to El Nido will certainly be a memorable experience!

Eulen Joy Liner (Bus / Shuttle Van)
El Nido – Puerto Princesa Vice Versa
Bus Daily Schedule: 5am / 8am / 10am
Van Daily Schedule: 7am / 8am/ 10am

Sweety Liner
El Nido – Puerto Princesa Vice Versa
Van Daily Schedule: 5am / 7am/ 9am

Fort Wally
(+63) 917-276-2875
El Nido – Puerto Princesa Vice Versa
Van Daily Schedule: 6am / 8am/ 10am

(+63) 917-585-9612 (+63) 917-585-9602
El Nido – Puerto Princesa Vice Versa
Van Daily Schedule: 6:30am / 8:30am/ 10:30am / 11am / 2:30pm

(+63) 908-920-2560
El Nido – Puerto Princesa Vice Versa
Daily Schedule: 6am / 8am/ 10am

From San Vicente Palawan

Several Vans go to El Nido from Port Barton. You can take one of the local vans or jeepneys from Port Barton to the Roxas bus terminal. You can either catch one of the hourly RoRo Bus or Cherry buses from the Bus terminal from Puerto Princesa City and then go to El Nido.

Buy Bus Tickets to El Nido

Powered by 12Go Asia system

Van Transfers between Puerto Princesa and El Nido (Vice Versa)

Enjoy a hassle-free journey between El Nido and Puerto Princesa City with this one-way transfer service! Sit back and relax inside a modern air-conditioned vehicle as your professional driver takes you to your destination safely.


Click here to know more about How to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa.

Where to Stay in El Nido

Kayaking in El Nido by Adam Navarro via Unsplash
Kayaking in El Nido by Adam Navarro via Unsplash

Hotels, Hostels, and Pension Houses are available in the Poblacion, Aplaya, Corong Corong, and most affordable accommodation near the Calaan area.

El Nido Palawan Budget Hotels

Inngo Tourist Inn [Check Rates and Availability]
Outpost Beach Hostel [Check Rates and Availability]
Rosanna’s Pension [Check Rates and Availability]
Dormitels PH El Nido [Check Rates and Availability]
Joaquinn’s Bed and Breakfast [Check Rates and Availability]
Dayunan El Nido Tourist Inn [Check Rates and Availability]
Bayog Beach Campsite [Check Rates and Availability]

Mid-Range Hotels

El Nido Overlooking [Check Rates and Availability]
El Nido Overlooking [Check Rates and Availability]
Rainforest Beach Hotel [Check Rates and Availability]
Rovic’s Tourist Hotel [Check Rates and Availability]
Lio Villas Resort [Check Rates and Availability]
Spin Designer Hostel – El Nido [Check Rates and Availability]

Luxury Hotels and Resorts

Vellago Resort [Check Rates and Availability]
El Nido Resorts Lagen Island [Check Rates and Availability]
Cauayan Island Resort [Check Rates and Availability]
El Nido Matinloc Resort [Check Rates and Availability]
Palawan Secret Cruise Floating Hotel [Check Rates and Availability]

Also Read: Casa Kalaw in LiO, El Nido Palawan

For more accommodation options in El Nido, please visit this link. Save more money on Hotel accommodation, book with Agoda.com.

Where to Eat in El Nido

Lunch in El Nido Palawan
Lunch in El Nido Palawan

There are a lot of restaurants in El Nido that offer local and international cuisines. Just walk in the beach area, and you will find plenty of restaurants that offer grilled seafood and various food options.

Art Cafe offers seafood, salads, steaks, pizzas, spaghetti, homemade bread, cakes, fruit shakes, and delicious Coffee. They have Live-Music several nights a week, and they offer Free Wifi all day.

El Nido fastfood offers Nido soup, bird’s nest soup, perhaps.

The Alternative. Offers tasty & health-conscious food at reasonable prices. Also has a pair of scenic beach-perched “nests” available for dining. They also provide the best al fresco breakfast in Town, and WIFI is also free.

Things to do in El Nido (Updated for 2020) 

El Nido Travel Guide to Big Lagoon by Jules Bss via Unsplash
El Nido Travel Guide to Big Lagoon by Jules Bss via Unsplash

El Nido Island Hopping Tour Packages

  • Tour A: Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Small Lagoon, and 7 Commando Beach
  • Tour B: Cathedral Cave, Entalula Island, Popolkan Island (the island to visit in replacement of the new private island Pangulasian), and Snake Island
  • Tour C: Helicopter Beach, Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, and Tapiutan Island
  • Tour D: Bukal Island, Cadlao Lagoon, Nat Nat Beach, Paradise Beach, and Pasandingan Cove

Other Activities in El Nido that you should include in your Itinerary:

El Nido Islands and Beaches Day Trips and Tour Packages

Pinagbuyutan Island - El Nido Bucket List photo by Luca Calderone via Unsplash
Pinagbuyutan Island – El Nido Bucket List photo by Luca Calderone via Unsplash

El Nido Tour A

Discover the clear waters of Miniloc Island, white sand beaches of Shimizu island, and have lunch in one of the island stopovers.


El Nido Tour B

Discover Snake Island, known for its unique sandbar in the middle of the sea! Swim and snorkel on beautiful Pinagbuyutan island, visit the Cudugnon Cave and have a delicious grilled lunch on the beach.


El Nido Tour C

Visit the famous islands of Dilumacad and Matinloc, Helicopter Island, the Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine, and a delicious grilled lunch at the hidden beach.


El Nido Tour D

Discover Cadlao island, known for its hidden lagoons and white sand beaches, with a delicious grilled lunch at Pasandigan beach.


El Nido Nacpan and Duli Beach

Trek through rice fields to a fantastic white sand beach of Duli Beach, 40 minutes north of El Nido Town. Bask in the sun as you enjoy the pristine waters of Northern El Nido and Nacpan beach.


Charter Boat Rental in El Nido

If you want to experience the beauty of El Nido, Palawan at your own pace and visit some of the famous pocket beaches, lagoons, and islands in the fastest and most comfortable way, rent a Charter Boat for your island hopping requirements.

We recommend Skipper Charters. You can contact them at [email protected], Mobile (0917)833-6063, or visit their website http://www.skippercharters.ph/.

Environmental Guidelines When in El Nido

  • SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAN – Due to the huge global plastic problem, El Nido takes zero risk in having plastic waste on the islands and withinTown’sown’s jurisdiction. Guests and tour operators are prohibited from bringing single-use plastic, including but not limited to plastic bags, plastic eating utensils, and plastic bottles. The use of reusable tumblers, food wares, utensils, and eco bags is promoted. The use of cellophane, plastics, styrofoam for goods and commodities in all business establishments is strictly prohibited. (EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 19-019/ MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE NO. 04 SERIES OF 2013)
  • SMOKING REGULATION – Smoking tobacco, e-cigarettes, and the likes in public areas such as streets, buildings, beach fronts, and outdoor spaces is prohibited, except in duly defined designated smoking areas where cigarette wastes and butts can be properly disposed of. (MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE NO. 32 SERIES OF 2018)
  • WASTE MANAGEMENT – All rubbish, filth, and other waste matters shall be placed in the proper receptacles for the disposition thereof by garbage collectors. Every establishment in El Nido is equipped with proper receptacles, and larger garbage bins are located on several parts of the streets. (MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE NO. 41 SERIES OF 2015, PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 825, REPUBLIC ACT 9003)
  • MANAGEMENT STRATEGY OF BIG LAGOON, SMALL LAGOON, & SECRET BEACH – The Protected Area Management Office is implementing a carrying capacity in these lagoons; hence advanced booking is required. A users fee of PHP 200 is charged per person before entering Small and Big Lagoon. Entry of motorized watercraft is also prohibited inside Big Lagoon. (PAMB RESOLUTION NO. 2017-051 SERIES OF 2017)
  • ECOTOURISM DEVELOPMENT FEE – Upon arrival in El Nido, guests pay the Ecotourism Development Fee* (ETDF), to which a corresponding ETDF ticket will be issued. This ticket will serve as the guest’s identification and pass to all tourist spots in the locality. *The ETDF fund is used by the Local Government of El Nido
    for tourism and environment projects. Guests may purchase ETDF tickets from the Municipal Tourism Office. (MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE NO. 05 SERIES OF 2011)
  • WILDLIFE PROTECTION – Hunting, taking, collecting, or possessing any wildlife or any of its by-products without the necessary permit is strictly prohibited.
    Same with poaching, killing, destroying, and/or disturbing any wildlife within private property. (REPUBLIC ACTS 9147 & 7586 AS AMENDED BY RA 11038)
  • ISLAND HOPPING TOUR GUIDELINES – All island hopping boats must secure clearances and maintain their licensed tour guides and boat crew on board.
    Dispatch officers of the Local Government Unit hold inspections before departure to the islands to secure compliance and confiscate single-use plastics.
    Liquors and any form of alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be consumed during the tour. (MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE NO. 11 SERIES OF 2013, MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE NO. 01 SERIES OF 2011)

Be a responsible tourist. Stop supporting and patronizing unlawful and illegal activities. Please help El Nido by reporting verified violations to the Municipal Tourism Office.

Travel Tips and Reminders

  • Make sure your tour guide is licensed, Licensed tour guides have been trained to minimize the damage to the environment. They are also trained in how to do first aid, and they can provide you with interesting facts and information about each island or destination you are visiting.
  • Always wear a life jacket – A life vest protects both you and the coral from damage.
  • Be careful not to step on the coral – Dangerous organisms sometimes live on the coral’s surface, and it is unsafe for you to stop there. Touching or stepping on corals also damages the habitat of other marine species.
  • Be aware of your waste – Help El Nido stay clean by using environment-friendly/reusable containers. Refrain from littering, and lastly, segregate biodegradable from non-biodegradable wastes and put them in proper waste containers.

Essential Things you need to know

Stay at El Nido Waterfront accommodation with this view photo via Depositphotos
Stay at El Nido Waterfront accommodation with this view photo via Depositphotos.
  • El Nido is now collecting Eco-Tourism Development Fee (Php200 valid for 10 days)
  • Waste Segregation is practiced inTown town proper. The penalty for littering at any public place is Php100.
  • Swimming attire is not allowed in the town streets.
  • Taking shells and sands from the beach is prohibited.

El Nido Municipal Tourism Contact Info

El Nido Tourism Office
Calle Real
Mobile: (+63) 919-002-1334
Email: [email protected]
Hours: Mon-Sat: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Other Palawan Related Travel Blogs:

Originally Published on May 11, 2013, this El Nido Travel Guide 2022 was last updated on February 2022.

  1. Angela Lok says

    wow, Coron has so many cool places to explore, you have really amplified my wanderlust with this post! I am planning a trip for the Philippines this year and I’m so excited about Kayangan Lake and wreck diving, especially the Tangat wreck (https://dive.site/explore/site/tangat-wreck-46Kg) Your fabulous photos are making me even more eager to go there.

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