Beautiful El Nido generally is a firm fixture on most visitors itinerary to the Philippines. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few times now so I thought I’d put a quick guide to the area up online.
Check below for all the essential info you need for a successful and fun trip to El Nido!
How to get to El Nido
Previously, the only real way to get to El Nido was to fly to Puerta Princesca on Palawan. Then, it would be a 4-6 bus hour ride straight from the terminal door. However, Puerta Princesa has a lot to offer, so for many this is still an ideal option.
But AirSwift, a small local airline has started to offer more convenient flights right into El Nido on small aircraft. These are between Manila, Cebu and most recently (and conveniently), from Caticlan by Boracay.
Compared to my first visit in 2014, it has got indefinitely easier to visit El Nido!
Where To Stay
So depending on your budget, there’s a huge range of accommodation options – but many are quite small.
The first time I visited, I stayed at Our Melting Pot hostel (OMP). It’s right in the centre of town, and I would highly recommend it. The dorms are clean and comfortable, with excellent lockers and storage too.
The second time I visited, I stayed at El Gordo’s Guesthouse, as we really wanted a private double room. While I would say it was slightly overpriced for its standard of accommodation (very much a basic wooden treehouse), it offered spectacular views of the bay. Gordon, the owner, is fantastic and really helpful and it’s slightly to the side of the main El Nido town, meaning a perfect opportunity to get to mingle with the locals. Loved it!
Lastly, having seen this beautiful resort in 2014, I knew we had to stay at Las Cabanas Beach Resort on my return. It did not disappoint – the room’s are beautiful and it really is located on a slice of paradise.
What To Do
The main attraction of El Nido is the water and everything her revolves around it. The most popular activities are to enjoy a boat trip around the Bacuit Bay to visit the famous lagoons and secret, tucked away beaches. These tours are labelled (unimaginatively) as Tour A, B, C, D. These are sold everywhere and for the price which is regulated by the local tourism authority. These tours are the same wherever you buy them and you can even combine them.
Other alternatives are to visit the beautiful beaches of Las Cabanas or Nacpan.
Also, ask around the locals for someone with a paddle board. We found a local guy with a few top quality boards and got to spend the most amazing days exploring hidden unknown beaches and lagoons away from the crowds. Incredible!
For more information, check out article on my top 20 things to do in El Nido!
The night scene in 2017 had grown hugely since I first visited in 2014. Back then, there were only a few tiny beach bars to pick from and everyone chilled out on the beach into the evenings.
In 2017, Full Moon party fever had spread from Thailand. While it was nowhere on the same scale as Thailand, it was definitely more lively with a lot more themed parties and nights out. We managed to avoid this nicely.
El Nido has a lovely selection of restaurants, however, I would say that prices had risen significantly since my first visit.
My favourite breakfast spot is V&V Bakery – but the queue was LONG to get in each day this year.
For dinner, I loved Mezzannine by the beach, Bella Vita and Arts Cafe. Lots of Italian food around it seems!
So, it’s important to know that El Nido is actually still pretty poor. Internet is POOR to non-existent. Actually, it was better in 2014 when there were far fewer tourists.
Electricity supply has massively improved since 2014, but it does still cut out.
Water sanitation is poor. Many areas may smell and do not drink the water. Be very careful.
Lastly, they’ve only recently had an ATM installed, but it does run out of money so bring some extra.
I hope you’ve found my guide to beautiful El Nido useful, and that maybe I’ve inspired you to visit this gorgeous area on your travels! If you’ve already been to El Nido, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you 🙂 x
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