Travel Guide: El Nido (Updated)

North of the mainland Palawan is a paradise considered by many as one of their dream destinations. With 45 islands and islets that harbor some of the country’s best white sand beaches, hidden lagoons, picturesque cliffs and rich marine life underneath its Earth, El Nido is indeed a piece of paradise.

The town is a managed and resource protected area of Palawan, 238 kilometers from Puerto Princesa. Contrary to common notion that El Nido is an expensive destination, the place is in fact, can be explored on a budget. With plenty of budget accommodations lined up on the streets of the town and lots of tour groups offering cheap packages, El Nido is another backpacker’s haven.

Get a tan on numerous white sand islands of Bacuit Bay; climb a cliff; dive to its diverse underwater life; snorkel and feed the tame fishes; sit and relax along the beach; watch the sun set; satisfy your cravings on its array of restaurants… El Nido is for everyone.

Perhaps it is now time to fulfill your dream, or revisit and rekindle the good times in paradise. El Nido is a promise of a perfect getaway. Experience paradise, experience El Nido.

Helicopter Beach

How to Get There

From Manila

By Air

ITI has daily flights to El Nido, for booking and reservation contact ITI at (02)8515674. Travel time: approximately 1 hour.

By Sea

There are also cargo ship operators that also ferry passengers from Manila to El Nido. Contact the shipping lines for schedule and fare information. Please note that these are smaller cargo ships/hauls that cater specially to cargo but also allow passengers.

  • Operator: San Nicholas Shipping Lines (M/B Andrea-1, M/V Catalyn-A, M/V Catalyn-C, M/V Catalyn-E, M/V Asuncion-IX, M/V Asuncion-XI)
    Route: Manila-El Nido-Liminangcong and vice versa
    Contact Info: (02)-243-4595
  • Operator: Atienza Shipping Lines (M/V Josilee-II, M/V April Rose, M/V Q-Carrelyn-III)
    Route: Manila-Coron-El Nido-Liminangcong and vice versa
    Website : http://www.atienzashippinglines.com
    Email: atienzashippinglines@yahoo.com
    Telephone No. : (02)-986-3118 and (02)-536-8123

From Puerto Princesa

By Air

Puerto Princesa City is accessible by air from Manila via Philippine Airlines/PAL ExpressCebu Pacific Air and Air Asia Zest and from Cebu via Cebu Pacific Air.

By Sea

By ferry, 2Go Travel services Puerto Princesa via Coron. Please check their website to get the latest schedule.

Puerto Pricesa to El Nido by Van

From Puerto Princesa to El Nido, air-conditioned vans depart at 7AM and 11AM.
Fort Wally Van: +63917-2762875
Savior Van: +63929-6225974
Travel time: approximately 5-6 hours
Fare: (Puerto to El Nido) P600/(El Nido to Puerto) P500
Return trips (El Nido to Puerto Princesa): 7AM, 7:30AM and 9AM

Public buses departs from 5AM, 7AM and 9AM.
Eulen Joy Bus: +63919-7162210/+63926-6998700
Sweety Bus: +63919-7119221
Travel time: approximately 7-8 hours
Fare: P250
Return trips (El Nido to Puerto Princesa): 5AM and 830AM

Puerto Pricesa to El Nido by Bus

RoRo Buses regulary ply Puerto Princesa-El Nido route and vice versa. Buses leave San Jose Terminal to El Nido with stop over in Roxas and Taytay on these times: 4:00 AM, 6:00 AM – aircon, 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM – aircon, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM – aircon, 4:00 PM, 6:00 PM – aircon and 10:00 PM – aircon. Fare is P485 for the aircon bus  and P350 for the non-aircon. For booking and reservation contact +639175971186, +639228897013 or +639089202568.

From Coron to El Nido by Boat

There are boats to El Nido from Coron daily. Fare is P2200 for foreigners and P1500 for Filipinos. Travel time: approximately 8 hours.

Snorkeling in Shimizu Island with the tame sergeant fishes

Where to Stay

Accommodations in El Nido range from very basic for as low as P400 per room to the high-end resorts that go by the thousands. I have tried staying in Lualhati Cottages (+63919-3196683) for a twin fan room at P400/night. My stay with them was very pleasant. It is located along the main road, five to ten minutes walk to Bacuit Bay.

If you prefer beach front accommodation, Og’s Inn, located along the Bacuit Bay, is a good choice for budget travelers. They have rooms fan rooms for as low as P500 and aircon rooms at higher rates. Og’as Inn is on the second floor of Og’s Restorbar, the place is equipped with free wi-fi. Contact number: +639167070393 or +639204040223.

Marina Garden Beach Resort, also along the beach, have good reviews too. They have rooms for as low as P955. Contact details:  +63917 6247722/639088843711/marinagarden.elnido@gmail.com.

Another accommodation with good review is The Alternative, a family-run inn with restaurant and bar with a good view of Bacuit Bay. Room is as low as P900. For reservation and more information, check their website at http://thealternativeinn.com/

If you prefer more adventure, just pitch a tent or a a hammock in one of the islands in Bacuit Bay :)

For list of other accommodations in El Nido please visit this site: http://www.elnidopalawan.com/sleep.html

Activities

  • Island Hopping: Island Hopping in Bacuit Bay is a must and touring these islands are quite easy because the packaged tours are organized into common itineraries known to all organizers. The rates are standard as set by the local government but if you are good in haggling, you can lower it down.
  • Tour A: Small and Big Lagoons of Miniloc Island, Payong-Payong Beach, Shimizu Island and Seven Commandos – P1,200/person
  • Tour B: Pangulasian Island, Snake Island, Codugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave and Pinagbuyutan Island – P1,300/person
  • Tour C: Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, Star Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Helicopter Island – P1,400/person
  • Tour D: Cadlao Lagoon, Pasandigan Beach, Bukal Beach, Paradise Beach and Natnat Beach – P1,200/person
  • Tour E (Inland Tour): Nacpan and Calitang Beaches, Makinit Hotspring, Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls – P1,200/person
  • Scuba Diving: The average cost for a three-dive package is P3,600 per person inclusive of gear and equipments, lunch, DM, boat and marine conservation fee. Here are some of the dive shops in El Nido:
  • Free diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Cliff Climbing
  • Kayaking/Kayak Island Trip
  • Wind Surfing
  • Beach Bumming/Camping
  • Watch the beautiful sunset in Bacuit Bay or Corong Corong Bay
  • Biking/motorbike tour to Makinit Hot Spring and other villages nearby
  • Hike to Nagkalit-kalit Falls
  • Explore the historical Ille Cave
  • See the beautiful twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang
  • Visit Taytay, Roxas, Coron and Puerto Princesa

Underwater Bacuit Bay, this school of small fish is mimicking a big fish as defense mechanism.

Tips

  • Electricity runs from 2PM to 6AM only
  • No ATM in town
  • Unlike Coron that charges entrance fees to almost every spot, El Nido implemented a single payment of  “Eco-Tourism Development Fee” for only P200/person for each visit of up to ten (10) days. This gives access to almost all public tourist sites in El Nido and Bacuit Bay
  • If your entry and exit point to El Nido is Puerto Princesa, it is advised to reserve your seat in advance, call the numbers above
  • I enjoyed the pizza of  El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe, you might want to give them a try
  • Go to Bacuit Grill before sun down for the best view of sunset, their Shrimp Spaghetti is good :)
  • Touring El Nido can be done on a budget. Try Lagoon Tours of Sir Harvey Templado (+639263049680), they offer cheap package tours complete with meals, and they cooked real good foods :)

Entrance to Small Lagoon

Sample Itinerary (4D/3N via Puerto Princesa)
Estimated Budget (Airfare excluded): P6000-P6500

Day 1: En Route to El Nido
0900H-1000H: Manila to Puerto Princesa
1000H-1100H: Puerto Princesa Airport to Fort Wally Terminal(San Jose Terminal)/Breakfast
1100H-1700H: Puerto Princesa to El Nido
1700H-1900H: Hotel check-in/fix stuff/rest
1900H-2100H: Dinner/Night Walk/Lights out

Day 2: Whole Day Island Hopping Tour
0700H-0800H: Call time/Breakfast
0800H-1700H: Tour A: Small and Big Lagoons of Miniloc Island, Payong-Payong Beach, Shimizu Island and Seven Commandos (Lunch included)
1700H-1900H: Back to hotel/fix up/wash up/rest
1900H-2100H: Dinner/Night Walk/Lights out

Day 3: Whole Day Island Hopping Tour
0700H-0800H: Call time/Breakfast
0800H-1700H: Tour C: Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, Star Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Helicopter Island
1700H-1900H: Back to hotel/fix up/wash up/rest
1900H-2100H: Dinner/Night Walk/Lights out

Day 4: Back to Puerto Princesa
0600H-0700H: Call time/Breakfast/Proceed to terminal
0700H-1300H: El Nido to Puerto Princesa
1300H-1500H: Lunch in KaLui
1500H-1530H: To Airport
1530H-1730H: Check-in/Assemble
1730H-1830H: Puerto Princesa to Manila

Related Posts

*First published: Apr 14, 2011; Updated: Dec 26, 2012; Updated: Feb 25, 2014

85 Comments on “Travel Guide: El Nido (Updated)

  1. Pingback: Where to Eat in El Nido? | Lakwatsero

  2. Hi lakwatsero, I read in your post that we can probably put up a tent or hammock in bacuit bay? Do we have to pay if we stay there overnight? And do you happen to know if they have bathrooms that we can use later, tho? Geez sorry for lots of q… Thank you!

  3. Hi Miss,

    we have a disabled child that sits in a (foldable) wheelchair. She isnt very heavy, so i can carry her if it isnt too far, or to high. Is El Nido something she can do with us? The boattrip seems ok, but maybe a problem to get in and out of the boat?
    Any suggestions on a place to stay?
    Thanks
    Bruno

    • Hi Bruno! If you get into the boat, it is not too far or too high. There is a stairway on the side of the boat. Also, it is worth noting that the boatmen are really helpful and can assist you in carrying up and bringing down your daughter. There are quite a handful of resorts or hotel, beachfront or otherwise. If you make a run for it, you can get one once you get in there depending on your preference.

  4. wla po bang payment tru bank deposit? kc puro agencies and credit card. wla aq kc credit card. thanks

      • Hi Rodillo, you can call these hotels for availability, and once you get to El Nido, you can just pay over the counter. Hope this helps.

  5. Pingback: Nacpan and Calitang: The Twin Beaches of El Nido | Lakwatsero

  6. this is informative, thanks for posting it :) tanong ko lang if kukuha kami nung ppur tour package, then travel to el nido after the tour, may trip pa ba na babyahe to el nido?, baka kasi matagal yung tour sa ppur tapos direct trip na kami to el nido baka wala na trip to el nido,di naman cguro magabihan sa pag totour sa ppur? is that possible?

    • A PPUR tour usually takes whole day, my estimate is that you will be back in the city by five. You can still catch the 6PM bus if that is the case, advise your driver that you have 6PM trip to El Nido. Also, you have to reserve/buy your tickets ahead so reserve the tickets before you go to the underground river.

  7. Pingback: 14 Places to Visit in the Philippines in 2014 | Lakwatsero

  8. hi lakwatsero… I’ve been reading blogs and sites re: elnido trips.. me and my friends are planning to go this march. would you recommend that we stay in a private resort or some budget hotel in the town proper? reviews that I’m getting are mixed… any tips? thanks! d=D

  9. Will be coming back to El Nido the 2nd time around. Good thing talaga we have promo fares and luckily I booked a flight na maganda na weather sa El Nido. See you again El Nido. Sarap balik balikan ang El Nido, hindi nakakasawang lumangoy sa crystal clear na dagat daig pa swimming pool.

  10. Hi,

    I would like to ask..are you solo in your travel adventure? Sounds interesting..anyways..do you have a notes/write up about solo travelling?

    Cheer,
    Camille

  11. Hi yah! Planning to travel to Palawan mid December with a 15 mos old baby. Will there be any restrictions if we want to tour the islands & underground river?

    • Hi Mae, children 2 years old and below will not be allowed for the Underground River tour. No problem with the islands.

  12. Hi angel,
    i will be going to puerto princesa on december 10-12,i can extend if i want to, my question is, is there any packages that is go0d for 1 person? M0st of the packages i’ve read is minimum of 2-4 persons? What can you recommend for a solo traveler like me ?? Thank you so much, your blog is really helpful…

    • Hi Dave, you can contact the tour organizers. Tell them that you are alone and ask if there’s any group you can join with to save cost. That was actually what we did :-)

  13. Pambihira. di ko ma copy ang itinerary. Pahirapan pa ako magsulat haha!

    • Haha :-) Dami kasing nagcocopy and paste on their own blogs without proper acknowledgment eh :P

  14. This will be my next dream vacation. It’s rainy season now so I guess I’ll have to wait for the next summer season. Thank you for the interesting information you provided.

  15. hi ask ko lang kung yung tour package is fix na ung amount kahit mag isa ka lng. and kung pwede mag avail ng tour pack na don mismo sa elnido.

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