El Nido has long been known to be a haven for beach-bound tourists. For many, it’s a top-class destination that’s better suited to celebrities and businessmen. But that’s not true! Despite being tucked away in a little corner of Palawan, El Nido can be — and should be — enjoyed by everyone. This little guide will tell you all you need to know about this bliss-filled place.
How to Get There
Palawan can be easily reached from Manila via any of the local airlines. The nearest airport to El Nido is at Puerto Princesa, a travel time of around an hour and 15 minutes from the nation’s capital.
Once in Puerto Princesa airport, you can ride a tricycle or a multicab to Robinson’s Mall. Here, there are shuttle vans you can charter for the trip to El Nido. These vans depart every hour from 5AM to 6PM. Bring a lot of patience, as the ride takes up to 5 hours. Alternatively, you can take the vans that wait from the airport’s arrival area, which will ferry you directly to your destination. The fares cost around Php 550-600.
If you prefer public transport, you can take the buses at San Jose Terminal. You can get there from the airport by tricycle (to Junction 1) and multicab (to the terminal itself). The bus will take you to El Nido’s integrated bus terminal, where you can get a tricycle to the town or to your hotel.
Where to Stay
Despite its reputation as a high-end destination, there are various places in El Nido that cater to whatever your budget is. There are three major locations in El Nido, and whatever you choose will depend on your preference and tolerance for seclusion.
Lodging in near the town proper, for example, will mean you will have easy access to the town amenities but will also mean you are closest to the nightlife. If you are more of an urban person, this is a good thing. Those who prefer more isolation can lodge in places in Sitio Caalan, which is very peaceful. A good middle ground is Corong-Corong, which is still quiet but just a short tricycle ride away from town.
Budget accommodations include:
Biolina Guesthouse. Perfect for families, this has neat rooms and a beach that is just 5 minutes away.
Hakuna Matata Hostel. This is perfect for those who wish to have various attractions and dining places just around the corner. It even has an Art Café right beside it!
OMP. This is perfect for individual backpackers, as the bed & breakfast accommodation is ideal for those who wish to have a simple pitstop on their El Nido journey.
Mid-range accommodations include:
Rosanna’s Pension. This is one of the oldest and most well-known lodging places in El Nido, and it has been open for more than a decade! It offers a private balcony for those breezy Palawan mornings and sunsets.
Villa Dali. This is a complex of two villas in a traditional Filipino architecture. It has hot water, and a great queen-sized bed!
Stunning Vistas Resort. This one is located in Corong-Corong, around three kilometers from the El Nido town center. It is also facing the islands of Bacuit Bay, which offers great views.
Top-of-the-line accommodations include:
Mahogany Beach Resort. This resort is situated in a 5 square kilometer grove of coconut trees, featuring elegant and cozy villas.
Cadlao Resort and Resto. Located in Sitio Caalan, the resort prides itself on having one of the best restaurants in El Nido! It also has infinity pools, gardens, tours, and amazing views.
Sea Cocoon Hotel- This one has an awesome pool where you can just chill.
What to Do
El Nido is all about enjoying the turquoise sea and the lush green of paradise! Here are some of the best things to see in this magnificent place.
Secret Beach. Hidden by huge cliffs from all sides, this enclave is one of the best things around El Nido. The peaceful waters and environment makes you feel like you’ve jumped into an entirely different dimension!
Helicopter Island. This really looks like a giant helicopter sitting on the sapphire waters of Bacuit Bay. It has some beaches, too, so you may stop by if you want to see some more sand.
Dilumacad Underwater Tunnel. Dilumacad Island is another name for the Helicopter Island, and the tunnel is a great dive-spot. It’s a 40-meter stretch that you can swim through, found just 12 meters from the surface!
Hidden Beach. Yes, this is entirely separate from the Secret Beach! This one is also hidden by tall stone walls, and only accessible by a small break in the cliffs. The shallow waters lined by white sand form a perfect playground for groups.
Matinloc Shrine. This is an abandoned shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It’s kinda odd to see it here, but it’s an interesting place. You can hike up to it, and you can find some amazing viewpoints.
Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls. These are 10-meter waterfalls that snake through the rocks. It’s a great view, and reachable via a 1-2 hour hike. There’s also a pool where you can swim, if you want something other than saltwater!
Secret Lagoon. El Nido loves secrets! The secret lagoon is also covered by cliffs, and has a small cave-like arch. It’s a beautiful view, and its calm waters are perfect for swimming.
7 Commandos Beach. Story has it that by the end of WW2, 7 Japanese commandos lived in this brown-sand beach. Their names are said to be written on the stones around, but their history and fates are mostly a mystery.
Snake Island. This island isn’t really the main attraction, but rather the strip of sand leading up to it! The sand slithers its way through the bay like a snake when the tide is right, forming a soft walkway up to Snake Island.
You can reach many of these great spots through the various El Nido tours offered here. Philippinestravelpackage.com is a boutique agency that creates custom tours according to your requests, at very affordable rates. So if there’s something you want to do at El Nido and not sure how to, they are the right people to contact.
Where to Eat
As always, what’s a great vacation without great food? Here are some of the best food stops in this slice of paradise.
Silog Republic. Located in El Nido town, this place has some of the best Filipino breakfast fares in the island! It’s affordable, too, so you can eat your fill.
V and V Bagel. If you’re looking for western fare to fill up your mornings, this is the place. The coffee and bagels are just perfect, and proof are the dozens who flock to this small place daily.
Mezzanine. What makes everything better? Ice cream! El Nido town has this great ice cream place where you can relax while enjoying the view.
Santeria El Nido. If you’re out of town and exploring El Nido’s northern tip, make sure to stop by this place for lunch. Located in San Fernando, it has some great Filipino dishes set in lush forested hills.
Happiness Beach Bar. Everything here speaks happy-go-lucky, from the front-row seats to the El Nido sunset to its great menu of Mediterranean meals!
There are lots of other great places to eat in El Nido, proving that it’s a perfect place for vacationers all ‘round. Why spend a small fortune visiting other countries, when you can have a piece of heaven within your own?