El Nido is located on the northern tip of Palawan Island in the Philippines. It is a paradise destination that attracts tourists worldwide. It’s a paradise for outdoor lovers. With crystal-clear waters, towering limestone cliffs, and vibrant marine life, which makes it a top choice for activities like island hopping and diving. El Nido is home to abundant natural wonders, including hidden lagoons, stunning limestone formations, peaceful sandbanks, and picturesque islands with crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. Even though island hopping tours are the most popular activity, there is so much more to discover on this charming island.
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Things to do in El Nido, Palawan
1. Island Hopping Tours
Island hopping is the most popular activity in El Nido. It’s a great way to explore the many beaches, lagoons, and hidden coves in the area. There are four standard tours offered, each with a unique set of destinations, Tour A, B, C, and D.
Discover stunning lagoons, cinematic islands, and vibrant wildlife on El Nido’s island hopping tours. Undoubtedly, this experience should feature in every travel guide to the Philippines.
2. Beach Bumming
El Nido is blessed with many stunning beaches, each with its unique charm. No matter what type of beach experience you’re after, you’ll surely find something that appeals to you in El Nido.
If you’re looking for a secluded and peaceful spot to unwind, Nacpan Beach is an excellent option. Located approximately 17 kilometres north of El Nido town, this beach features crystal clear water, soft white sand, and a tranquil atmosphere perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
For those seeking a more lively scene, Marimegmeg Beach, also known as Las Cabanas Beach, is the place to be. This popular beach offers an exciting mix of beachfront bars, restaurants, and activities. The highlight of this beach is the stunning sunset view that it provides. Making it a must-visit spot for anyone looking to capture unforgettable moments.
The main beach in El Nido town is also a great spot for a swim, although it can get crowded during peak season.
3. Hiking and Rock Climbing
If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, El Nido has some great hiking and rock climbing spots. Taraw Cliff, located in the town centre, offers a breathtaking view of Bacuit Bay. The climb is quite steep and challenging, but the view from the top is worth it. It is highly recommended to hire a guide and wear appropriate footwear before embarking on this two-hour hike up.
4. Rent a Kayak
Kayaking can be an excellent choice for those seeking a leisurely outdoor activity around El Nido. By renting a kayak, you can explore the beaches surrounding El Nido and get a unique perspective of the region’s natural beauty.
Kayaking is particularly advantageous because it enables you to get up close to the towering limestone cliffs and observe the marine life in the crystal-clear waters. You can paddle at your own pace and take in the breathtaking scenery around you.
El Nido offers numerous places to rent a kayak, each with its unique advantages, depending on where you want to explore. Among the different rental locations, Las Cabanas Beach stands out as the most convenient spot to rent a kayak, particularly if you’re planning to visit Seven Commando Beach.
5. Sunset viewing at Las Cabanas
Las Cabanas Beach is widely known as one of the most popular and well-developed beaches in El Nido. It’s a fantastic place to spend a day lounging on the beach, swimming in crystal-clear water, or enjoying some refreshments at one of the many beach bars that line the shoreline. One of the highlights of this beach is the breathtaking sunset that can be viewed from here, making it a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
If you’re planning to visit Las Cabanas Beach, there are a couple of transportation options available. You can take a tricycle from the town centre, which typically costs around 150 PHP for two people. However, we recommend renting a motorbike instead, as it offers more flexibility and convenience. Motorbikes can be rented for around 500 PHP per day and are widely available in El Nido.
Once you arrive at Las Cabanas Beach, you’ll find plenty of amenities to keep you comfortable and entertained. From beach chairs and umbrellas to water sports equipment and beach volleyball, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy. And when you’re ready to take a break, the beach bars offer a range of food and drink options, including fresh seafood, refreshing cocktails, and ice-cold beers.
6. Food tripping
If you’re looking for a taste of the local flavours, be sure to try some of the area’s specialities. One must-try dish in El Nido is grilled seafood. This is a popular local favourite that is often served fresh from the ocean and grilled to perfection. Common types of seafood include tuna, squid, and prawns, but you can find a wide range of options depending on the season and availability.
Another local speciality to try is kinilaw, a type of ceviche that is made with fresh fish or seafood that is marinated in vinegar, calamansi, and spices. The dish is typically served with onions, tomatoes and chilli peppers.
Adobo, a classic Filipino dish made with chicken or pork marinated in soy sauce and vinegar, is always a crowd-pleaser. Another favourite is sinigang, a tangy and savoury soup that is often made with seafood or meat and vegetables.
How to get to El Nido?
El Nido in Palawan is a popular destination in the Philippines, and there are several ways to get there depending on your budget and travel style. Here are some options:
Manila to El Nido by Airplane (Recommended)
Airswift is the only airline that offers direct flights from Manila to El Nido, and it takes only 1.5 hours to get there. This is the fastest and most convenient option for travellers who want to get to El Nido quickly. However, flights in the Philippines are frequently delayed for various reasons, so it is advisable to plan at least 3 hours between each connecting flight.
This will help you avoid missing your connecting flight and ensure that you arrive in El Nido on time. Despite the potential delays, flying to El Nido is still a popular choice for travellers who want to avoid long land and sea journeys.
Puerto Princesa to El Nido by Minivan
When you arrive at Puerto Princesa Airport, you can find several shuttle minivans that offer direct transportation to El Nido. This option can take about 5-6 hours by van, and the shuttle minivan fare typically ranges between 500-700 PHP per person. This service usually includes pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.
However, keep in mind that the ride can be quite uncomfortable due to the windy roads and sometimes erratic driving. Even if you are not typically prone to motion sickness, it may be wise to take some preventive medication beforehand. Despite the discomfort, taking a shuttle minivan is a popular option for budget-conscious travellers who want to save money on flights while still being able to enjoy the scenic views of the island.
El Nido Travel Tips
El Nido town is a great place to relax and explore the surrounding area with the help of El Nido Island hopping tours. While the town itself is not particularly exciting, it has experienced significant growth and development over the past few years. The town features a handful of excellent restaurants, and it is generally considered a safe destination for travellers. Additionally, visitors can rest assured that there is no risk of Malaria in El Nido.
ATMs in El Nido
If you’re planning to visit El Nido, it’s important to plan ahead for specific logistical challenges. For example, while there is one large ATM in the centre of town (the BPI Bank), several smaller ones are often empty, so it’s best to bring enough cash to avoid any issues.
Renting a Motorbike in El Nido
Motorbike rental is the best way to explore the area, as tricycles can be expensive, with overcharging being quite common. Expect to pay around 350-500 PHP (6-9 USD) for a motorbike rental, which is an excellent deal. Bella’s rental is a reputable and highly recommended option for renting a motorbike.
Wifi in El Nido
While there are cafes and hotels that offer WiFi connections in El Nido, it’s often best to get a SIM card to ensure reliable internet access.
El Nido is making a concerted effort to reduce its impact on the environment. Smoking is not allowed on the streets or during island hopping tours, and single-use plastic has been banned. It’s essential to be aware of the area’s freshwater problem, as tap water is not always clean enough, and many people have reported an upset stomach as a result. Checking TripAdvisor reviews before trying any new restaurants is a good idea to avoid any potential health risks.