The Ultimate 2019 Travel Guide to El Nido Palawan

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 El Nido is more than just a dream destination. If you think that traveling to this place is expensive, then think again. 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.

Helicopter Island - El Nido Travel Guide
Helicopter Island – El Nido Travel Guide

Where is El Nido

El Nido is a first class municipality and managed resource protected area in the province of 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.


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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 of fish are found in Bacuit Bay.

Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beaches
Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beaches

The unique beauty of El Nido has had a lasting appeal on the nature fans. It has the most distinct ecosystems in the country and is safeguarded by the foremost institutions in the Philippines. Its exceptional magnetism and out of sight escapades will leave you spellbound and make you travel to the place all over again.

Morning in Nacpan Beach
Morning in Nacpan Beach

El Nido was named after the bird swiflet’s edible nests, “Nido”, which is the Spanish term for 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 in Bacuit Bay
Bucal Island in Bacuit Bay

Most of the islands at El Nido have inlets of fine white sand beaches, apt for al fresco 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 island and its pure blue waters are swarming with aquatic life. It is home to turtles, dugongs, manta rays, coral reefs, species of fish, and rare whale sharks. There are more than 30 dive sites stretching from six to thirty meters.

Cadlao Island
Cadlao Island

No trip to El Nido is complete without a visit to Cadlao Island, which is the largest island in Bacuit Bay, with a land area of 10.06 square kilometers. 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 sea floor.

Honeymooners in Palawan
Honeymooners in Palawan

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

Island Hopping Tours in El Nido photo by Cris Tagupa via Unsplash
Island Hopping Tours in El Nido photo by Cris Tagupa via Unsplash

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 places 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.

Helicopter Island by Cris Tagupa via Unsplash
Helicopter Island Photo by Cris Tagupa on Unsplash

In this El Nido Palawan Travel Guide blog, we listed DIY Itinerary 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

The best time to visit El Nido Palawan is during the dry season which is from January to May. Temperatures are relatively cool and humidity is low. Typhoons may hit the island during the rainy or monsoon months from July to September and can 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 over shoes – flip flops are lighter to pack and besides… who wants to wear shoes on the beach?

El Nido Travel Guide photo by Eibner Saliba via unsplash
El Nido Travel Guide Photo by Eibner Saliba on Unsplash

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.

Sunset in Coron Corong Beach El Nido photo by Xavier Smet via Unsplash
Sunset in Coron Corong Beach El Nido photo by Xavier Smet via Unsplash

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 will be requesting money from overseas.

Communications and Internet

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

Secret Beach El Nido photo by Justin Kauffman via Unsplash
Secret Beach El Nido Photo by Justin Kauffman on Unsplash

How to get there

By Air
El Nido Direct Flights
Direct Flights from Manila to El Nido Palawan
Direct Flights from Manila to El Nido Palawan

To reach El Nido, it is recommended traveling by air as it is the fastest mode of transportation. 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
Direct flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa City
Direct flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa City

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.

Boat

2Go offers a weekly trip to Coron, Palawan. From Coron, you can book another boat ride to El Nido via Montenegro Shipping Lines and Phimal Fast Ferry. 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)
0063-919-716-2210
El Nido – Puerto Princesa Vice Versa
Bus Daily Schedule: 5am / 8am / 10am
Van Daily Schedule: 7am / 8am/ 10am

Sweety Liner
0063-917-954-4754
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

Lexus
(+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

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

From San Vicente Palawan

There are several Vans that goes to El Nido from Port Barton. You can take one of the local vans or jeepney from Port Barton to the Roxas bus terminal, and from the Bus terminal, you can either catch one of the hourly RoRo Bus or Cherry buses that arrives there from Puerto Princesa City and then goes on to El Nido.

Buy Bus Tickets to El Nido

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

Van Transfers between Puerto Princesa and El Nido Photo via KLOOK
Van Transfers between Puerto Princesa and El Nido Photo via KLOOK

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.

El Nido Tour DBOOK YOUR RIDE

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

Chasing the Sunset in Calaan
Chasing the Sunset in Calaan
Rock Formation in Nacpan Beach
Rock Formation in Nacpan Beach

Where to Stay in El Nido

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

Outpost Beach Hostel
Outpost Beach Hostel

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]

Swimming pool Lio Villas Resort
Swimming pool Lio Villas Resort

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]

Cauayan Island Resort in El Nido
Cauayan Island Resort in El Nido

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

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

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

El Nido fastfood offer Nido soup; bird’s nest soup perhaps.

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

Big Lagoon of El Nido photo by Ehmir Bautista via Unsplash
Big Lagoon of El Nido Photo by Ehmir Bautista on Unsplash

Things to do in El Nido (Updated for 2019) 

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 now 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 on your Itinerary:

El Nido Lagoon photo by Cris Tagupa via Unsplash
El Nido Lagoon photo by Cris Tagupa via Unsplash
Nacpan Beach photo by Cris Tagupa via Unsplash
Nacpan Beach photo by Cris Tagupa via Unsplash

El Nido Islands and Beaches Day Trips and Tour Packages

El Nido Tour A

El Nido Tour A photo via KLOOK
El Nido Tour A photo via KLOOK

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

El Nido Island Hopping Tour ABOOK THIS TOUR

El Nido Tour B

El Nido Tour B Photo via KLOOK
El Nido Tour B Photo via KLOOK

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

El Nido Island Hopping Tour BBOOK THIS TOUR

El Nido Tour C

El Nido Tour C Island Hopping photo via KLOOK
El Nido Tour C Island Hopping photo via KLOOK

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 Island Hopping Tour CBOOK THIS TOUR

El Nido Tour D

Paradise Beach in Cadlao Island
Paradise Beach in Cadlao Island

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

El Nido Tour DBOOK THIS TOUR

El Nido Nacpan and Duli Beach

Beautiful Duli Beach
Beautiful Duli Beach

Trek through rice fields to a remarkable 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.

El Nido Tour DBOOK THIS TOUR

El Nido Palawan photo by Justin Kauffman via Unsplash
El Nido Palawan Photo by Justin Kauffman on Unsplash

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 info@SKIPPERCHARTERS.PH, Mobile (0917)833-6063 or visit their website at http://www.skippercharters.ph/.

Charter Boat Rental in El Nido Palawan
Charter Boat Rental in El Nido Palawan

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 destinations you are visiting.
  • Always wear a life jacket – A life vest protects both of you and the coral from damage.
  • Be careful not to step on the coral – Dangerous organisms sometimes live on the surface of the coral and it is unsafe for you to step there. Touching or stepping on corals also damages the habitat of other marine species.
  • Be aware of your waste – Help El Nido to 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.

Important Things you need to know

  • El Nido is now collecting Eco-Tourism Development Fee (Php200 valid for 10 days)
  • Waste Segregation is practiced in the 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 Tourism Contact Info

El Nido Tourism Office
Calle Real
Mobile: 0917 788 7024
Email: elnidotourism@hotmail.com
Hours : Mon-Sat: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Other Palawan Related Travel Blogs:

Also Read:

Originally Published on May 11, 2013, this El Nido Travel Guide 2019 was last updated on December 2018.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. […] so get your snorkeling gear ready and discover the marine paradise in the island of Palawan. Read more. Words by Melo Villareal, Out of Town […]

  2. […] El Nido literally means ‘the nest’ and it is called as such due to the presence of edible-nest swiftlets in the area. Swiftlets, which are small, blackish to brownish birds but with paler colors on their underparts, create their own nests from their saliva. The locals collect these solidified nests and sell them for more than Php500 per nest. It is the main ingredient of a $3,000-bowl of nido soup. […]

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