El Nido is a Filipino town located in the northeast of the island of Palawan. Although it has become one of the busiest tourist destinations when talking about the Philippines it is not a picturesque town (it has become very massive) but it hides a secret that can only be known by sailing a boat or a kayak: the Bacuit archipelago that includes hidden lagoons, white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and colourful reefs. In this post, we share some tips for travelling to El Nido: How to get there, when to go, what to do, where to sleep, etc.
How to get there
It is necessary to know that it is difficult to move to the Philippines since they are all islands. The aeroplanes all pass through Manila, so, many times you have to take two flights.
There are two ways to get to El Nido if you find yourself outside Palawan (the island where El Nido is located). You can fly directly to El Nido, (being the most expensive but fast option) or fly to Puerto Princesa (1:90 minutes on low-cost airlines like Air Asia), which is the cheapest and slowest option. Once in Puerto Princesa, you can go to El Nido by bus or minivan in a 5-6 hour journey. Getting to El Nido is easy!
Climate & When to go
The Philippines is a very special case and to the Asian country, you will have to pay more attention to the weather. The reason? In addition to monsoons, there are typhoons. The rain is so much that many flights and ferries are cancelled for safety. It is not recommended to go from June to September.
The best time to travel to the Philippines is from January to April. The driest months of Palawan are February, March and April. To check the weather before travelling, we recommend using official websites such as Pagasa, the Philippine meteorological agency.
Remember that the Philippines is an extremely Catholic country, so for times like Christmas and Holy Week, it becomes very difficult to find availability in transport and accommodation as well as prices double.
Be careful with food and drink in El Nido since in recent years there have been cases of food poisoning due to contaminated water. We recommend always drinking bottled water.
El Nido health services are quite basic. We remember the importance of bringing good insurance to travel to the Philippines.
How many days are needed
We recommend at least 3 or 4 days to visit El Nido to discover its beaches, do an “Island hopping”, rest or take advantage of another activity such as kayaking.
What to do and see
Perform at least one “Island hopping”: They are daily boat trips that “jump around the islands” of the Bacuit archipelago in “Bangka”, the local boat, which will allow you to see heavenly places. In El Nido, there are 4 different tours called tour A, B, C and D. The difference between them are the points that are visited, which are usually grouped by zones.
Tour A: Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, 7 Commando Beach, Payong Payong Beach.
Tour B: Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Entalula Beach, Cudugnon or Cathedral Cave, Some snorkelling point.
Tour C: Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Star Beach, Hidden Beach.
Tour D: Cadlao Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Paradise Beach, Pasandigan Beach, Natnat Beach, Bukal Beach, Small Lagoon.
We did the A and C and the good thing is that you can combine the two with a tent night on an island. You do the A, they leave you on the island with the group and they will look for you the next day early to do the C for $ 50/60.
Island hopping tours cost between $ 20 and $ 30 each and leave around 9 am and return at 5 pm. They include food (fish, some chicken, salad, rice, and fruits) and some companies make snorkelling equipment available.
Visit the beaches around El Nido: The beaches of the town are not paradisiacal at all but you can make a visit to one of the surrounding beaches:
Nacpan beach: It is located north of the town, and it takes about 40 minutes to arrive. You can go renting a motorcycle, paying a driver to go on a tricycle or with a transfer from an agency. It is a huge beach full of coconut trees and bathed by clear and turquoise waters. Ideal to spend a whole day.
Playa de las Cabañas or Maremegmeg beach: It is located just 15 minutes from the town and is ideal to appreciate the sunset from this point as the sun sets behind the islets of the Bacuit archipelago. It is recommended to visit it when it is high tide because at low tide it looks uglier.
Duli Beach: It is a small beach of 2 km that is located even further north than Nacpan Beach and a good option is to combine the two beaches in one day. This beach is ideal for surfing through its wild waves.
There are still other beaches that you can explore. In short, you can find many interesting things at El Nido. Now … are you ready to go on vacation there?