There are many things to do in El Nido, Palawan! El Nido has been described as the most beautiful place in the world more than once and it really has so much to offer. Don’t forget to explore around to feel the real joy that this place gives you.
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines, the chances are that you’ll be traveling to El Nido, Palawan, everyone does. El Nido is known as one of the most beautiful places in the world! There is a reason why people called it so. I can easily say that is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to so far.
Even though it’s very touristy, El Nido is still amazing! However, many people come to the Philippines only to visit El Nido. Not that it’s a bad thing, but the Philippines has more than 7 000 islands to choose from. Make sure to explore beyond El Nido, as this is one small part of the astonishing Philippines.
Originally, my plan was to stay in El Nido for 3 nights and then move to Coron. It was my last week exploring the Philippines and then I had to go back to Manila and fly out on a two week trip to Malaysia.
Because of bad weather, I couldn’t get on the ferry to Coron. All ferries going to and out of El Nido, as well as all the tours around, we’re getting canceled. The weather on the mainland was still warm and sunny. It was great to do sunbathing or explore other places around El Nido. However, apparently somewhere in the Ocean, the weather hasn’t been good enough for them to keep them going. Due to that, I didn’t have the chance to go to Coron. Another reason to be back.
I got stuck in El Nido for another 3 days, so in total, I spend one week in Palawan. At that time, I got to explore even more from El Nido. You’ll find the real beauty of this place when you go away from the town of El Nido and the tourist area. So, I wouldn’t say that El Nido is a bad place to be stuck in.
So here are my best tips and recommendations on things to do in El Nido, Palawan.
Exploring El Nudo with Northern Hope Tours
Northern Hope Tours is a local travel agency that organizes tours, transfers, and packages in El Nido and Puerto Princesa, Palawan. I did two tours with them and used another of their services – airport transfer and accommodation.
Island hopping all day, every day
The most popular things to do in El Nido are the island hopping tours. The most popular among them are Tour A and Tour C. With Northern Hope Tours I did Tour A. I wanted to do Tour C as well, but because of the weather situation in El Nido, on my last few days, all tours were canceled.
There are other fun things to do in El Nido, but the island hopping tours are an absolute must. The beauty of El Nido is best enjoyed hopping from one island to another, between the dramatic rock formations.
What is Tour A?
Tour A is one of the most popular islands hopping tours that take you around some of the most beautiful places around. On Tour A, you get to visit the Big Lagoon, the Small Lagoon, the Secret Lagoon, 7 Commandos Beach, and Simizu Island.
Highlights of Tour A
The Small Lagoon is probably one of the most beautiful places in Palawan and the most impressive among the Lagoons. The turquoise crystal clear waters and the surrounding scenery are truly breathtaking. I can easily say that the Small Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places I ever been to so far.
Once your boat stops near the lagoon, you can get a kayak to get into it, or swim if you’d like, that’s totally up to you. I shared one kayak with another person from our group. We explored the lagoon kayaking around it. You’ll have enough time to enjoy it. Alternatively, as I said, you can swim into the lagoon you can snorkel there or do whatever you want to do.
The price of the kayak is NOT included in the tour price. One kayak costs 400 PHP, so it’s 200 PHP each when shared between two people.
7 Commandos Beach
That was our first stop on the tour and I must say that this beach is extremely beautiful! I could have spent the whole day there only on that beach. There is everything that you might need from a bar to a toilet on the beach and even a swing to monkey around.
Honestly, the lunch that we’ve had on the tour was one of the best meals that I had on my whole 4 week trip in the Philippines. The lunch included meats, fresh seafood, rice, salads, and fresh vegetables and fresh fruits as well. It was delicious!
The snorkeling part of our Tour A was my favorite. We were supposed to go to the Secret Lagoon that was full of boats with other tourists, so our guides asked us if we would like to skip it and go to a remote spot where we can do some snorkeling instead. We all said yes.
We stopped at a place, which our guides say that is one of the best snorkeling spots. We were the only people there and it was amazing. El Nido has one of the clearest waters in the world and the visibility was just perfect. Snorkeling is definitely one of the best things to do in El Nido. The underwater world that I saw there is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, seriously!!
The Tour A price is 1 200 PHP per person.
The tour includes the guides, snorkeling mask, life vest, and lunch.
Nacpan Beach has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It’s a 4 km long white sand beach that is the other known best thing to do in El Nido. Nacpan and Calitang are known as twin beaches. Both beaches seem to come from two different curves that are tangent to each other. Nacpan Beach is located approximately 40 minutes away from the town of El Nido and it’s not the easiest place to get to due to the road conditions. You can get there as part of a tour, on a motorbike, or by getting a tricycle ride. It’s a great place for swimming and sunbathing.
Unfortunately, when I went to visit Nacpan beach the weather was not that good. There was not much sun on that day and the water waves were strong. Swimming was not allowed.
Anyways, I walked the whole 4 km stretch in both ways to find out how beautiful this beach really is. I can tell that on a sunny day, this beach would be gorgeous. So, really a visit to Nacpan beach is absolutely one of the best things to do in El Nido.
Getting to Nacpan Beach with Northern Hope Tours:
Shared tricycle = 1 500 PHP, up to 3 people / 500 PHP each
Shared van = 3 000 PHP, up to 12 people
Northern Hope Tours contacts
Website: Northern Hope Tours
Facebook page: Northern Hope Tours El Nido, Palawan
Other things to do in El Nido
Corong Corong Beach
Corong Corong Beach goes along a white sand beach and is the quietest area to stay in El Nido. It’s located outside the town of El Nido and the main tourist area. For those who want to relax, this is your area.
Corong Corong Beach is not that great but still good enough. Actually, all the best beaches are located further away from the town of El Nido. The beach that is in the town is nothing special.
I like staying in this area and being close to Corong Corong Beach. One of the best things to do in El Nido, Palawan is to enjoy the sunset at Corong Corong Beach. I was there for every sunset – beautiful!
Corong Corong Beach and area is about 5 minutes tricycle ride away from the town of El Nido, or 20 minutes walk. I walked from Corong Corong to the town multiple times. A tricycle ride shouldn’t cost more than 30 PHP.
Las Cabanas Beach
Las Cabanas Beach holds its name from the Las Cabanas Resort, which is one of the oldest in El Nido. This beach is one of the hot spots for travelers. It’s easy to get to and it’s great for swimming and sunbathing.
On Las Cabanas Beach, you’ll find bars that also serve food. You can easily spend the whole day there relaxing. Also, it’s another great spot to enjoy the sunset from.
Las Cabanas Beach is located outside of the town of El Nido. You can get there on a motorbike or with a tricycle. Tricycle drivers know very well where it is, but if you’re going on a motorbike, you need to take the road out of the town that goes back to Puerto Princes. You just need to follow the coastline and Las Cabanas Beach will be on your right, you will easily notice it. The scenery that you will drive through on your way there is amazing!
On the way from the town of El Nido to Las Cabanas, you’ll also pass by one of the best Palawan honeymoon hotels, Panorama resort.
The stunning Filipino sunsets
The sunsets in the Philippines are truly captivating. One of the best things to do in El Nido and throughout all the islands in the Philippines is to get to enjoy every single one of them. Filipino sunsets are famous worldwide and that’s for a good reason.
As already mentioned, the best spots to enjoy the sunset in El Nido are Corong Corong Beach and Las Cabanas Beach.
Diving, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, stand up paddleboard
In El Nido, you can do all of these water activities. Also, if you don’t know scuba diving in the Philippines is supposed to be amazing! If you’re a diver, I believe, you shouldn’t miss a dive here, in El Nido. Otherwise, snorkeling is an absolute must and it’s included on almost each island hopping tours. Kayaking is also a lot of fun.
Discover Duli Beach
After I got stuck in El Nido, I needed to find more things to do in the surroundings. All the island hopping tours were canceled. Otherwise, I would have gone to one of them. I found about that Duli beach that is a remote and very beautiful place.
Duli Beach is a beach located approximately one hour away from El Nido and it’s not the easiest beach to get to. I rented a motorbike and I started driving towards Duli Beach. After numerous stops on the way to enjoy the scenic views, I got to the road leading to Duli Beach.
I was probably 2 km away from the beach when I got to this road. The road was basically only rocks going down. I stopped for a second and then decided to try going down with the motorbike slowly. In the next second, I fell down. The motorbike that I rented was not made to be driven on such roads. Also, the motorbike was heavy and I couldn’t lift it up. Then, some people passed by, saw me, and helped me with lifting it up and taking it down to the other road that I came from.
In the end, I didn’t make it to Duli Beach, but if you decide to go there, I would advise you to either hire someone to take you there or if you have a motorbike to leave it on the road and walk the remaining distance to the beach.
El Nido Explorer: Nagkalit-Kalit Falls
Located between Nacpan Beach and the town of El Nido, the Nagkalit-Kalit Falls are a nice and refreshing spot on your exploring El Nido motorbike tour. The falls are not anything impressive, but you can refresh yourself and swim there. The walk/hike going to the falls is very nice too.
When you get to the start point for the walk, you’ll be told that you need to take a guide to take you to the falls. The truth is that you really might need to get one if you don’t have any sense of direction. The walk to the falls takes about 40 minutes and more.
I didn’t take a guide and I easily got myself to the falls. People were telling me that I won’t be able to find the falls on my own and that I will most likely get lost. Well, I didn’t get lost and I did find my way to the falls and back without any problem.
If you have seen photos from El Nido and you surely have, you have probably seen photos of the beautiful view of the Bacuit Bay taken from the Taraw Cliff. The Taraw Cliff is the giant limestone karst overlooking the town of El Nido. It is the highest peak in the town and it’s a great opportunity for some hiking.
When I finally decided to get myself there, I realized that it would be very difficult without a local guide. I thought I know where I have to go, but then I ended up walking literally through local people’s houses and yards. I asked a few people how to get there and they told me that is forbidden to go there. I was told the same thing by one of the guides on my island hopping tours. However, there are tours that you can take with guides that will take you there.
The price as far as I am aware of is 350 PHP.
El Nido Zip-line
The El Nido Zip-line goes above Las Cabanas Beach. It connects the coast with the nearby island. You can get there via the footpath behind the beach. It takes about 10 minutes walking to get there.
I didn’t have a lot of luck with some of the things I wanted to do in El Nido. I arrived at Las Cabanas Beach in the late afternoon. I saw people zip-lining above the beach and I wanted to do it too. I went there and on the way, I met 6 other people going in the same direction also wanting to do the zip-line. When we arrived on the platform, we were told that they are closed for the day and that the weather is not that good enough anyway. Of course, we tried to convince them to let us do it, but they didn’t.
Sadly, I was leaving the next day, so I didn’t get the chance to return and do it.
Zip-line price: 500 PHP
El Nido Travel Tips
Where to stay in El Nido
El Nido is a very touristy place and as such, you can find there a variety of accommodation options.
For the time that I was originally planning to spend there, I had an arranged accommodation with Northern Hope Tours and I stayed at Overcomer Lodge. I had a private room with a bathroom and a complimentary breakfast. Overcomer Lodge is located a few minutes ride away from the town of El Nido at Corong Corong Beach. I liked staying in that area, it is much calmer.
When I got ”stuck” in El Nido, I changed this accommodation with another. El Nido was full at that time and the choices were limited. I chose to move to the best looking hostel I can find. It was also located at Corong Corong Beach.
Recommended places to stay at in El Nido:
The Cavern Pod Hotel & Specialty Café
You can use the widget below to search for another place to stay at in El Nido.
**And if you’re going to Coron, I recommend you check out this post for recommendations on where to stay in Coron, Philippines.
Where to eat in El Nido
I can’t recommend many restaurants in El Nido. Plus, I was eating mainly in the Corong Corong Beach area not in the town of El Nido. There are some places that are famous for being some of the nicest ones in the town, such as Art Café, Happiness and Altrove.
The only place that I can recommend from my personal experience is Boodlefight. This restaurant is also located in the Corong Corong Beach area and it has great seafood plates that can be shared between 2 to 4 to 6 people.
Where to party in El Nido
El Nido is famous among the backpackers too, and it’s one of the party places in the Philippines. A great place for a beer by the beach in the town of El Nido is Sava Bar. Another ”happening place” is Pukka Bar. Other recommended places are Rooftop Bar and Angle Bar.
How to get to and around El Nido
Getting from one place to another in the Philippines might get up to a full day – same with reaching the town of El Nido.
El Nido is a municipality in the province of Palawan, Philippines. The capital of the province is the city Puerto Princesa, which is located southwest of El Nido.
To get to El Nido, you have three options:
By ferry from Coron
If you’re already on Coron Island, the easiest way to get from there to El Nido is by ferry. There are a few ferry companies that operate between the two places. The trip costs around 1 700 PHP and can take up to 9 hours.
The El Nido – Coron ferry is the most common way to move between both islands.
By boat from Manila
I wouldn’t advise you to go for this option. To get from Manila to El Nido by boat, you first need to get a ticket for the 2Go Travel boat going to Coron. Then, once in Coron, you’ll need to get another boat by a local company to get you to El Nido. This trip will take you more than 24 hours!
The most common way – flying to Puerto Princesa
Most people come to El Nido flying to Puerto Princesa International Airport. The flight duration will depend on where you are coming from. The fact that the flights within the Philippines are often being delayed is another thing.
Once you land at Puerto Princesa International Airport, you can get a van, bus, car or motorbike to El Nido.
Van = 600 PHP per person
Bus = 400 PHP per person
Motorbike = 600 and up per day
Car = 3 000 PHP per day
The trip from Puerto Princesa to El Nio takes from 5 hours if you get a van up to 9 hours if you get a bus. The bus will leave you at the Coron-Corong bus terminal from where you’ll need to get a tricycle ride if you’re staying in the town of El Nido.
My first van trip to El Nido was with Northern Hope Tours. It took us 6 hours to get to the town. I was left at my accommodation.
Money and ATM’s – THIS ONE IS VERY IMPORTANT
When you’re going to El Nido, you’ll need cash! There’s only one ATM in the town of El Nido and the money in it is not enough for anyone that wants to withdraw and oftentimes there is just no money in the ATM. Also, most ATMs in the Philippines have a limit and you cannot withdraw more than 10 000 PHP. The ATM fee is 200 PHP.
So, when you’re going to El Nido, you better prepare some cash before arriving in the town.
Power in El Nido
El Nido might be a touristy place, but it’s still not well developed. Power often gets off and sometimes takes up to a few hours to get back. You can search for a place to stay at that has a generator upfront.
Wi-Fi and SIM coverage
The Wi-Fi in El Nido is terrible. Some places don’t even have one or don’t share it with guests. If you have a SIM Card, tho, you might manage to get some Internet connection, occasionally.
The SIM coverage is fairly good in the town of El Nido. In the Corong Corong area where I was staying, I was having coverage on the beach, but not on the main road. I had a Globe SIM Card. Another girl that had Smart SIM Card had the opposite problem – she had no coverage at the beach but some on the road.
When you visit El Nido, Palawan, you better don’t spend much time on your phone anyway. I needed the Internet to do some of my work, but in the end, I couldn’t really do it as even when I was connected to Wi-Fi it was taking ages to send or open a simple email.
I want to thank Northern Hope Tours for having me as a guest on their island hopping tour and for sponsoring my stay in El Nido. As always, opinions are my own!
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