This place is studded with jade-colored lagoons, breathtaking limestone cliffs, turquoise-green waters and stunning inlets that make for beautiful seascapes. With over 50 beaches to discover, El Nido offers pockets of paradise for those who enjoy island hopping and discovering the beauty of the underwater world.
It’s amazing how this place remains to be uncrowded and serene despite being one of the most famous tourist destinations in the Philippines (and honestly, everyone surely prefers it that way). Travelers usually go here for its pristine waters, beautiful coral reefs and the lagoons. Don’t be fooled, though, as El Nido is more than just your usual tropical paradise. It also offers other exciting activities like mountain biking, rock climbing and diving.
Direct flights from Manila are the easiest way to get to El Nido. The flight takes about one hour and it lands at Lio Airport which is located about four kilometers from midtown.
There’s a Coron-El Nido and El Nido-Coron route that are operated four to five times a week by several big outrigger boats. The trip takes seven to ten hours and costs around PHP1800.
Travelers can go to El Nido via land travel from Puerto Princesa, but first you have to fly to Puerto Princesa Airport via Cebu Pacific, PAL or AirAsia and other local carriers. Once in the capital city, you can take a five to six hours van ride from the airport, or travel with the locals and take the Puerto Princesa-El Nido bus route available in the city’s San Jose Bus terminal.
You can hire a motorbike for moving around town. It’s perfect for the steeply-inclined dirt trails. For local transportation, there are jeepneys and tricycles (PHP10) that provide town-to-town transport.
The best way to explore El Nido is through joining an island hopping tour. Start from visiting the Small Lagoon and the Big Lagoon. The water here is so clear and full of marine life. For beach lovers, you’ll definitely love the powder fine sand in Seven Commandos Beach, which is named after the seven remaining Japanese commandos who lived in the island as stragglers after World War II.
Another must-visit island is Pangalusian. Just a few meters from the shore are clusters of coral reefs making it a perfect spot for snorkeling. Other islands included in the tours are Kulasa Beach, Secret Beach, Star Beach, Tapiutan Beach, and more.
One will never run out of things to do in El Nido. From sunset viewing in Corong-Corong Beach, walking on wooden path of the Mangrove Eco Park, to visiting the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang. There are also a long list of fun water activities like scuba diving, kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, and island hopping.
One of the most popular food spots in El Nido is Squidos and it’s hard to miss because there’s always a queue outside even during off-season. Their best sellers include fresh seafood in big servings like the stuffed squid (hence, the name) and the mixed seafood platter.
No one can go wrong with breakfast meals! If you’re always scouting for a good breakfast place, make sure to go to Kape Pukka along Hama Street. Aside from the usual breakfast dishes, they also serve Mexican fajitas and Mexican wraps for around PHP100.
Another recommended restaurant is Artcafe. They’re known for their delectable food but it’s really the ambiance that makes tourists keep on coming back. Also, for the best pizza in town, check out Altrove.
For El Nido nightlife, the go-to spot for locals and tourists is Balay Tubay, a laid-back place which plays reggae and rock music. Here you can listen to impressive renditions of songs from Queen to ACDC. The colorful handicrafts adorning the walls also complement the vibe.
If you’re looking for a place to have drinks while watching the beautiful sunset of El Nido, head to La Plage Sunset Bar & Restaurant. Travelers love the simple and pleasant atmosphere as well as the great food–very chill place to hang out during the day and at night.
El Nido is a haven for 5-star island resorts. If you want to kick it back celebrity style, you can stay in El Nido Resorts Lagen Island or El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island. If you’re going with your beau, it’s best to stay in El Nido Overlooking. It has a stunning panoramic view of the island and the villas are specifically designed for couples (priced at PHP5250).
For backpackers, you can stay at Spin Designer Hostel (rates start PHP830). It’s situated next to a mangrove forest so aside from being Instagram-worthy, it also offers a great view!
There are three main tours that are standardized in town and every tour operator follows this. The tours are called A, B and C. Make sure to check the itinerary that will fit your schedule.
If you want to explore El Nido aside from its beaches, you can also avail of the waterfall tour.
There are no hospitals in El Nido and only minor health emergencies can be managed at the Rural Health Unit. Make sure to bring your personal prescription drugs.