El Nido is a coastal town in Palawan. El Nido is comprised of 45 islands and islets; limestone cliffs are also found here, which form a Karst backdrop similar to those found in Ha Long Bay, Krabi and Guilin. El Nido is a popular destination for locals during the long holidays of the Holy week, but has been relatively unknown to foreign tourists. El Nido is more than just a stereotypical tropical paradise. Beaches, clear waters, jungle, steep limestone cliffs and stunning inlets make for one of the world's most beautiful seascapes.
Before El Nido became a popular tourist destination, fishing and harvesting swift nests "Nido" were the main source of income. Nowadays tourism has become the municipality's main source of revenue; however, the authorities are trying to keep it sustainable and hotel chains are refreshingly absent. Huge tour groups are nowhere to be seen. El Nido is also known for water sports such as diving, snorkeling and kayaking.
El Nido Airport (ENI IATA): Air Swift. phone +632-3185941 or +632-3185943. has flights to and from Manila and Cebu. best to book via their website. The airport can accommodate only small aircraft, so the prices tend to be much higher than to Puerto Princesa.
Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS IATA) is Palawan's premier gateway. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia connect to Manila, Iloilo and Cebu. You can catch a bus, private or public van from Puerto Princesa to El Nido on arrival.
Three van companies are doing regular shuttle trips to El Nido, departing from San Jose bus terminal in Puerto Princesa. Fares are ₱600 per person and ₱700 for hotel or airport pick ups (minimum 2 people) and the travel time is 5 hours.
Fortwally Shuttle Service You can book directly at Cell: 09172762875 or 09213118755 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org (www.fortwallytravelandtour.com www.fortwallytravelandtour.com). Departure times Puerto Princesa-El Nido 7AM, 9:30AM, 11AM and 1:30PM,and 6:30PM, and from El Nido to Puerto Princesa 5AM, 7AM, 9AM, 1PM, and 6PM (depending on the volume of passengers). As part of lean season, Fortwally offers ₱600, one-way fare including pick up in airport or hotel. They also offer van sharing from Puerto Princesa to Sabang for ₱300/person.
Eulen Joy Shuttle Van PPS-El Nido-PPS have daily trips from Puerto to El Nido at 7:30AM, 10AM and from El Nido to Puerto at 7:30AM, 9AM, 1PM. Phone: PPS +63 9494498858, El Nido +63 9494498858. Tickets are available at Artcafe Travel Center and other outlets.
Lexus Company Tel. +63 9121002652. From Sabang to El Nido: daily at 7:30AM, 8:30AM, 1:00PM, 2:00PM, 4:30PM. From El Nido to Sabang: daily at 5:00AM, 8:00AM, 9:30AM and 11:00AM. Sabang - El Nido fare is P900 but they will only run if they have enough passengers. From El Nido to Puerto Princesa: Daily trip schedule starts at 2AM. AM: 2:00, 5:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:30, 11:00. PM: 1:00, 2:30, 4:00, 5:30, 8:30. Likewise, from Puerto Princesa to El Nido their are many daily trips. El Nido to Puerto Princesa fare is ₱900. Tickets are available from most guest houses and tour booking offices
Air-conditioned RORO buses departs San Jose Bus terminal, Puerto Princesa and El Nido Market every 2 hour from 4AM to 10PM. Fare ₱380.
Non-aircon buses operate regular trips between Puerto Princesa and El Nido, stopping in Roxas and Taytay. Departures are daily at 5AM, 6AM, 7AM, 8AM both from El Nido and Puerto Princesa. Travel time is 6-7 hours, fare ₱350. Departure in Puerto Princesa from San Jose Bus terminal and from El Nido Bus terminal.
These buses are usually packed and they break down sometimes (which can mean delays of 20 minutes to 3 hours). The road is not paved all the way and can become very bumpy so riding near the front of the bus is recommended. You may book a seat the day before and try to get a seat next to the driver or in the front part of the bus.
Oftentimes taxi drivers will try to get you on a more expensive chartered van because they receive commissions. When taking a taxi to the bus station be adamant about being dropped off at the bus terminal and not next to chartered vans.
By boat (from Coron Town and v/v)
The two mainstream choices are either the Montenegro fast ferry (3½ hours), or large outrigger boats (8 hours).
Montenegro fast ferry is a steel hull boat and leaves El Nido daily at 6AM for arrival in Coron at 9:30AM. For the return journey, departure in Coron is noon and arrival in El Nido is 3:30PM. Tickets cost ₱1760 one way, reductions for students, senior citizens and children apply.
The large outrigger boats depart most days of the week from Coron Town to El Nido and v/v. The costs vary from ₱1200 to ₱1400 and departures vary between 7:30-9AM, depending on the schedule. The journey is 8 hours and includes a hearty hot meal. These are larger comfortable bancas, built for ferrying passengers. The scenery during the trip is beautiful.
M/Bca Wave & Hannah: El Nido to Coron/Linapacan - Su W F 9AM. From Coron to El Nido/Linapacan - Tu Th Sa 9AM. ₱1400 0949-144-1677 0916-543-5146
M/Bca Island Commander (120 passengers - two stories): El Nido to Coron Tu Su 8:30AM. Coron to El Nido M Sa 8:30AM.
Overcomer: El Nido to Coron - M 8AM, W 730AM, Th 8AM. Coron to El Nido - Tu 8AM, Th 7:30AM, F 8AM. 0999-978-8564
Breathtaking views of nature are the main reason to visit El Nido. The pristine waters of El Nido offer beautiful coral reefs, while its beaches are uncrowded unlike the popular Boracay, exploring the lagoons by kayaking is a great way of visiting the islets, coves and caves are also abundant. Inland El Nido, springs and waterfalls are also found. Bacuit Bay composes of limestone islands, where its possible to either dive, snorkel or hike.
The easiest way to see the Bacuit Bay is on an island hopping boat. These boats carry 6-12 people and will visit 4 or 5 destinations in a day. These destinations include: secret beaches, blue or green lagoons, various islands, and amazing natural land-formations. The boats usually take set routes named A to D, but can vary depending on tides and weather. Each boat trip takes you to 4 - 5 different places and favorite tours are A and C, though all of them are fantastic. Boats normally cost around ₱850-1200 per person depending in the route and travel agency. The trip takes one day (cca 9AM-3:30PM), normally includes a good lunch and can be arranged from most guesthouses and travel agencies in El Nido. El Nido municipality also charges ₱200 as an environmental fee which is valid 10 days. It's a good idea to book a boat with only 6 seats and experienced crew (e.g. at Relucio's).
If you have time, go for overnight island hopping (3 days 2 nights is a good option) where you get to camp on deserted island ala Survivor style. (Though most places you can be dropped at are included in the daily island hopping tours.) It gives you the best option to visit lots more islands that are included in those bundle package tours but at your own leisure time. Find a few more people to get a much better rate. Recommended place a booth at Aplaya Restaurant, look for Nhel who will give you the best deals and arrangements.
Cultural. The Philippine Experience is a full day adventure that offers an insight into the Philippines & its people with boating, fishing, walking, trekking, a mini cooking course, making coconut oil, coconut tree climbing, trying local languages, crafts, skills & games. I can be booked at selected accommodations and booking offices around town. It runs Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday from 9AM to 4:30PM and costs ₱1500.
Mountain Biking. There are numerous destinations to visit... even Nacpan beach is possible for the adventurous. Bikes range from ₱400-500 per day. "Discover El Nido", next to Together Pension, on Calle Amboy street offer good rates and provide a map/guide detailing 12 routes. Taking the budget, healthy way to see El Nido rewards travelers with routes through traditional villages along forest trails, roads and dirt tracks. For the adventurous, rivers, rice fields, coconut groves, hot springs, mangroves, waterfalls, caves and off-the-beaten-track beaches await.
Rock climbing & walking. The western side of El Nido township lies in the shadow of an impressive sheer cliff face which is just the visible portion of an even more impressive headland. There are organized walking treks to the top of the headland and it's breathtaking views all the way.
Catch a tricycle taxi to Las Cabanas (₱150) and plonk yourself down out front of Orange Pearl Bar for a day away from the crowds on a white sandy beach and crystal waters. It's a short walk down a dirt road from where you will be dropped off.
There is also an island with some OK snorkeling which can be reached easily wading through waist deep water.
Island hopping, snorkeling, kayaking, trekking, cliff climbing; Bacuit Bay consists of islands with limestone cliffs which are ideal for climbing, diving and snorkeling; The most popular activity is island hopping costing from ₱1200 a day including BBQ lunch and snorkel gear. There are 4 basic day trips to choose from named Tour A to D and can be booked from all over town. The quality of the boat, guides & tour depends on who you book it through.
- 1 El Dive, Hama Street, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. This small dive center will offer you relaxing and long dives (departure at 8AM, come back at 4:30PM) among the colourful aquatic life of Bacuit Bay. The Japanese Yoshi Ohtsuka is the manager, he is the one who will welcome you there. He has about 20 years of experience in the diving industry, so he knows what he is talking about. The staff can speak at least English, French, Tagalog and Japanese.
- Deep Blue Dive Seafari, Calle the Hama (across IBR), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jose and Diana from Deep Blue Seafari are the founders of the El Nido to Coron dive seafari. This 4 day trip includes 14 dives, camping on the exotic beaches and bonfire nights. Besides the seafaris, Deep Blue also offers fun dives and PADI courses.
- El Nido Adventure Scuba, Serena St. (near Artcafe), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. SSI and PADI open water and advanced dive courses are offered.
- Island Hopping. There are many island hopping tour companies throughout El Nido. They all offer similar tours and prices; therefore it is not necessary to shop around for the best tour company or price. You may want to check a few different companies to see how empty or full their boats are. All tours leave between 8 and 9AM.
- Island Hopping & Kayak Tours (El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe), Serena St., ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The El Nido Boutique & Artcafe has been a kayak tour operator for over 15 years. They rent out kayaks, stand up paddle boards, snorkel equipment and bicycles.
- Palawan Divers, Hama Street - Brgy Masagana (near Rosanna's Cottage), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 7AM-8PM. Palawan Divers started operating more than 10 years ago and was the first certified PADI dive resort in town. Professional and friendly staff serving beginners to experienced divers.
- Submariner Diving Center, Hama Street Brgy Masagana (Beachfront), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Submariner Diving Center is a diving center operated by the German PADI master scuba diver trainer, Ronny Oliwka. Submariner is a certified PADI Dive Resort and certified Aqualung Partner Center that offers a high standard in diving and education as well as diving gear branded by Aqualung and APEKS. The staff is highly qualified to international standards. “Habibi Restaurant & Shisha Cafe” is on the first floor of the building.
- As of late October 2015 there is an ATM located in the Municipal Hall. If for any reason this is not working, you still have some options to access money:
- You can quite easily send yourself money online & pick it up at an authorized place in town. You could also cash up in Puerto or Manila before you set out. In case you have run out of cash you also have the following options: El Nido Boutique & Artcafe can give cash advances on credit cards but charges a hefty 8% surcharge. You can change major currencies for a fair rates. Accommodation, dive operators and some restaurants also accept credit card payments, this can save some of your cash as well.
- El Nido Boutique & Artcafe, Sirena Street (Buena Suerte), ☎ . 7AM-9PM. El Nido T-shirts printed in their own artshop, souvenirs, handicrafts, postcards, books, photo supplies and cameras, snorkel gear, swimming clothes and beach wear, sarongs, dresses, jewerly, suntan lotions and drugstore items, wine and liquors, bags and backpacks, hammocks.
Generally speaking the number of and standard of eating houses are very good. Menus have good variety mostly European, American and Filipino dishes, and prices are moderate. Most are accessible from the laneway as well as from the beach and seating has the advantage of views of the bay and environs.
- Art Cafe a beautiful well established restaurant with very good food such as seafood, salads, steaks, pizzas, spaghetti, homemade bread, cakes and fruit shakes and very good coffee. They have live music several nights a week. Free Wifi all day.
- Art Cafe, Sirena St. (toward the pier), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 6:30AM-11PM.
- Live acoustic music is played while you dine in Balay Tubay Bistru at Galeri(Balay Tubay Bistro and Galeri in English), they offer pizzas, European and Filipino dishes.
- El Nido fastfood offer nido soup; bird's nest soup perhaps.
- Marber's Great food and atmosphere right on the beach. Dishes include pasta, pizza, sandwiches, Filipino and German food as well. Nice staff and reasonably priced.
- Habibi Restaurant & Shisha Cafe, Hama Street, Zone 3 (Beachfront). Good food and beverages, and they are the only Shisha Bar in Palawan. Drinks are made with fresh ingredients, pizzas are also popular. The full bar offers all varieties of premium drinks. The owner frequently visits the local market to find the best/freshest fish available. Free Wi-Fi, widescreen projection television, and games. The vibe is warm and friendly. The restaurant is ideal for groups wishing to enjoy the freshest fish. The fish are presented to you for selection, and prepared to order.
- The Alternative. Offers tasty & health-conscious food at good prices. Also has a pair of scenic beach-perched "nests" available for dining.
- Aplaya Restaurant Great food, portions are big for the price range and relatively nice atmosphere. Not too crowded. Dishes include Seafood, Chopsuey, Pancit Noodles, Beef dishes, Pizzas and pastas. There is free wifi, just ask the staff for the password
- Filipino listless eateries a couple of them on the main street, for prices around 70P.
- BBQ stands ₱10 for a stick
- El Nido Corner, North end of the beach in El Nido. Great beachfront restaurant with a Danish owner. Try the fresh catch of the day.
- Altrove Trattoria Great freshly made brick oven pizza.
As most of the accommodation in El Nido town is lined one-next-to-another along the road parallel to the beach it is pretty easy to find a room that suits budget and needs. Booking recommended during Christmas, Easter and Chinese New Year, as all places especially on the beaches can become full.
- At The Moment Hostel. San Joaquin Street. Dorm bed with breakfast. Free Wifi. ₱400.
- El Nido Sands Inn (Bay View Inn), Serena St. Dorms and privates available. Common area over the water. dorm ₱250 per person.
- Hakunamatata Hostel. Serana Street Baran. dorm bed with free wifi 375.
- Our melting Pot Hostel. Real street Baranga. phone 09064127861. Dorm bed with breakfast. Free Wifi. From ₱500.
- Relucio Traveller's Pension, Serena St, Brgy. Buena Suerte (left end of the main street), ☎ . Bay view terrace, free coffee. ₱600-700.
- Tay Miloys inn (near the Lexus shuttle station), ☎ . Fan single/double room with common bathroom. room from ₱300..
- Tapik Beach Park Guest House. Sibaltan. room from ₱480.
- Sitio Danat (Along the highway south). You can pitch a tent for free in the public shelter at Sitio Danat, a small village along the highway, some 10 km (6 mi) south of El Nido. Just ask for permission at the convenience store. There is also a small canteen next to the shelter (mains ₱70.) Be aware that there is absolutely nothing to do in Sitio Danat except for enjoying tranquil village life. ₱0.
- Where To Next Hotel. Nacpan Beach. phone 09178040434. Dorm bed with free Wifi from ₱250.
- 1 Gemini Travelers Lodge, Fishermen Street, Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido. Check-in: 2:00 PM, check-out: 12:00 NN. All rooms feature air conditioning, hot and cold shower, TV, free Wi-Fi internet; there are laundry servicers, and an outside seating area too. $14.
- [dead link] Anang Balay Turista, Sirena St. (near pier), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A small friendly place with good air-con rooms. ₱1200.
- Cadlao Resort & Restaurant, Caalan – Masagana, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Beautifully located on a trail just outside of El Nido, with view over El Nido bay and Cadlao island. Exceptional restaurant and bar. Has battery backed-up solar cells and private generator. ₱5500 for eco room, ₱6500 for aircon. room.
- Cliffside Cottage, Brgy. Maligaya (near Globe Tower), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located slightly away from the center but set in a quiet setting with porches facing the garden.
- 2 Edleahs Inn, the end of Serena Str (after the Art Cafe near the dock). Small budget guest house with sea view. The host is really nice and helpful. The Internet connection is poor, but that's the case for all places here. Coffee is provided in the morning.
- El Nido Beach Hotel, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. All rooms have hot water, TV, mini fridge and free Wi-Fi. ₱3500-5500.
- [dead link] El Nido All Seasons Beach Resort, Sito Lugadia, Barangay Corong Corong (The property is just 3 km or a 3- to 4-minute ride from the town center), ☎ . All rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, TV with cable channels, hot shower, private balcony, private toilet and bath. It also provides island hopping tours, airport transfers, massage service, room service and laundry service. Rates start at ₱2300.
- [dead link] Islandfront Cottages and Restaurant, Sitio Lugadya, Brgy. Corong-cong, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, high-speed Internet access, and daily breakfast. Rates start at ₱1500.
- Kalinga Beach Resort, Caalan, ☎ . Located along Calaan beach, has 8 cottages and beach villas available.
- La Salagane, Serena St. 33, e-mail: email@example.com. Two different locations, both seafront; offers a variety of accommodations at different prices.
- Lagen Resort, Lagen Island. Have 50 rooms and cater a la carte meals and buffet. A clinic, library, boutique, a swimming pool and a game area are some of the facilities offered here.
- Lally & Abet Beach Resort, Barangay Masagana. A Dept. of Tourism accredited hotel, it has 34 rooms with an A/C, telephone and shower, a laundry service and foreign currency exchange is also provided here. For leisure they also have sports facilities for badminton and volleyball games. Major credit cards are accepted here.
- Lorenzo, Corong-corong (Ask any tricycle driver for Lorenzo). Nice basic bungalows in front of the beach. Free hot water, mosquito net, free hot water and friendly owner.
- Lualhati Cottage, Brgy. Maligaya, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A/C rooms. Comfortable family-run accommodation at the edge of town. from ₱1200.
- Marina Garden Beach Resort, Buena Suerte, ☎ . In center of town on the beach. ₱1000-2500.
- Miniloc Resort, Miniloc Island. Has 51 rooms. Aside from being a resort, they also offer snorkeling facilities, and they have kayaks, aqua bikes and other water sports equipment available for rent.
- Nido Bay Inn, Sirena St. (near Art Cafe), ☎ . ₱1500-1700. Building with 10 rooms right at the sea shore.
- Og's beach pension, brgy masagana, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Three-story building with rundown rooms but a great view right on the beach. Happy Hour from 5PM to 7PM with ₱40 beer. Divers should seek out one of the staff named Mator as he often does private trips. ₱1000-2900.
- Rosanna's cottages, Brgy. Masagana (near Bus Terminal), ☎ . ₱1200-2500.
Internet Access There are many Internet cafes in the town. Most restaurants, bars and guesthouses have free wifi. Internet access is subject to electricity availability. But you can forget the amazing connection, i.e. El Nido doesn't have good internet connections yet, as only 2 GSM antennas cover the town. Internet is sometimes saturated from 5 or 6PM until midnight.
Electricity from November 2014 runs 24hrs a day. Power cuts are completely random. Some places (not necessary the expensive ones) have their own generators that cover the occasional black out.
As of April 2015 daily boats leaving for Coron Town. None of the local tour agents seem to currently promote it so make sure to ask around. It costs ₱1200/1400 and leaves at 7:30/9AM the journey is 8 hours. No matter what locals tell you all boats take a minimum of 8 hours.