Last updated on July 6th, 2020 at 01:12 pm
El Nido is the most popular place to visit in the Philippines. Most of the travelers visit El Nido after landing in Manila or Cebu. Today we will write our El Nido itinerary. We have been in El Nido a few times all of them over a week. Since we get many questions how long should I stay in El Nido, which island hopping shouldn’t miss. Apart from island hopping what to do around El Nido. Read here how to get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido
We recommend to stay in El Nido minimum 3 days El Nido itinerary. It means 2 full days so you can do to island hopping. Yes island hopping is amust in El Nido since the main beach isn’t so beautiful. You have to go on a boat to explore the islands. But if you have the chance to stay longer we will tell you the itinerary for a week. After El Nido or before most of the travelers visit Coron which is also totally worth it to visit. Where to stay in El Nido since there are a few areas depending on what you are looking for.
Best time to visit El Nido
The best time to visit El Nido is during summer. Summer in the Philippines starts from March to mid-May. Just expect the prices to be high because it is peak season. Also expect the number of tourists to be high during this time.
You can also visit El Nido from December to February as the skies are clear and rain is minimal. Check this website for real-time weather updates.
How to get to El Nido
There are a few options to get to El Nido. The fastest and more comfortable is by plane from Manila. There aren’t many flights and it’s little bit expensive. You can also get to El Nido by boat from Coron.
There are two boats slow boat 7-8 hours and fast boat around 4 hours. Obviously is cheaper the slow boat. Click this link to make sure you book in advance! We totally recommend the fast boat to go to El Nido from Coron.
The most popular way to get to El Nido because is the most affordable is going to Puerto Princesa from Manila or Cebu since there are flights for $30 USD one way. Once you are in Puerto Princesa to get to El Nido you have to get a bus 5-6 hours or a van 4-5 hours if you go direct to El Nido.
If you decide to stay in Puerto Princesa you can visit the Underground River UNESCO site which is so popular. Also before going to El Nido you can stop by Port Barton 3 hours by van to watch amazing sunsets and enjoying snorkeling in this small town.
Read here full blog post how to get to El Nido!
Travel Tip: Click here to know prices and schedule to book your bus/boat tickets online with 12Go Asia.
ATM’S AND CASH IN EL NIDO
El Nido is far from the capital city which is Puerto Princesa. There are a few ATM’s in El Nido and places where you can exchange your money. We highly recommend for you to bring cash just in case ATMs are not working or not nearby.
You can also pay for your accommodation in advance through online. The current exchange rate is $1 USD = 51 PHP. Click here to know the exact exchange rate. And click here to have an idea how much money you need while travelling in the Philippines.
WIFI AND INTERNET CONNECTION IN EL NIDO
If you are going to visit El Nido soon, we are warning you that internet might be difficult to get. WIFI is not that common and you are lucky if your hotel or inn has WIFI connection.
Nowdays is working better internet connection in El Nido especially in the town. For us the fastest connection that we found in El Nido was at Sea Cocoon Hotel where we could connect and catch up with work. The worst reception was around the accommodation in front of Cadlao Lagoon were internet was so intermittent.
ENVIROMENTAL FEE IN EL NIDO
There is an enviromental fee in El Nido 200 PHP or 4 USD that you need to pay for the island hopping. The permit will last for 10 days meaning you should pay only once and you can do all the tours and activities you planned to do in El Nido during those days.
Nowdays there is an extra payment if you want to visit Tour A with the Big Lagoon and Tour D with the Small Lagoon. You can’t visit both of them in the same day as before. And the entrance fee is 200 PHP each of them valid for a day apart from your environmental fee.
DAILY TRAVEL BUDGET IN EL NIDO
For your daily travel budget in El Nido will be more expensive that other destinations in the Philippines. For transportation distances aren’t big but tricycle will charge you a flat rate of 100 PHP.
For food prices are affordable and you can get a meal in local restaurants (carinderias) starting for 80-100 PHP and 200-300 PHP in Western restaurants.
Prices for joining an island hopping will be between 1200-1500 PHP per person lunch included depending on the tour that you are joining Tour A, B, C or D. If you decide to do a private tour prices per boat will be starting around 8000 PHP for 2 people and adding 1000 PHP per extra person included lunch.
Prices for accommodation will be expensive for the quality. Cheapest prices per a room starting for 1000 PHP (cheaper than 1000 PHP you can find a dorm) and don’t expect so much for this. Getting good places to stay in El Nido 2000-4000 PHP for a room with breakfast included. We will write where to stay in El Nido below since there are a few choices depending on your budget and comfort.
You can book an entire house or apartment with AirBnB! Click here to get a great deal off your first booking with AirBnB!
3 Days El Nido Itinerary
Day 1 El Nido Itinerary
As you will get to El Nido and you will not be able to do any tour A, B, C or D since they starts at 9 am. Whatever you are coming from Coron, Port Barton or Puerto Princesa you need to make sure you are at that time. Otherwise we will suggest other plan for your first day El Nido itinerary.
You can rent a motorbike 500-700 PHP for a day or a tricycle 800-1200 PHP to go around El Nido. You can visit Nacpan Beach and Duli Beach and it will take you 40 minutes to one hour to get there. Be careful and make sure you have skills if it’s rainy season since the road before getting to Nacpan Beach is in really bad conditions. Duli Beach is little bit farther than Nacpan Beach and it’s not so beautiful but less crowded. Both beaches are quiet comparing with El Nido town.
Before getting to Nacpan Beach is Lio Beach which is also beautiful and its perfect to stop for lunch. Going there from El Nido will take 10-15 minutes by tricycle and it will cost 200 PHP. There is also a free shuttle from The White House in El Nido town almost every hour.
For sunset make sure you go on time to Corong Corong Beach 5 minutes ride from El Nido or Las Cabañas. It’s only 10 minutes ride from El Nido. The sunsets are amazing! You can enjoy them while having a drink or a fresh coconut since there are a few bars. You can also rent a kayak and going around if you prefer. You can also do zip line in Las Cabañas Rachel did and she loved it!
Day 2 El Nido Itinerary
As you will stay in El Nido you are perfectly on time to do your first island hopping in El Nido. You can start with Tour A. All the tours leave around 9 am in El Nido unless you decide to get a private tour that they will leave when you agree with them.
If you will ask the locals and the tours’ staff what the most popular tours are, they will most likely say it’s Tour A and C. Tour A costs 1200 PHP or 24 USD +200 PHP entrance fee to visit Big Lagoon. We definitely recommend this tour to someone who will only do one out of four El Nido tours. We enjoyed the lagoons so much, especially the Big Lagoon which was so beautiful and picturesque. In the Small Lagoon, you may rent a kayak for around 300 PHP or 6 USD. Of course, you should also go swimming in each of the island you’ll go to in this tour. It was worth it!
Tour A includes the following destinations:
– Big Lagoon is usually the first stop and you will spend more than an hour. The best option is renting a kayak.
– Secret Lagoon is too crowded and they usually stop for short time.
– Shimizu Island you will get your lunch here and its a nice spot for snorkeling while they are preaparing.
– 7 Commando Beach better if you visit as last stop since is more quiet at that time.
After the tour you will be on time to go to the sunset at Corong Corong Beach or Las Cabañas. They are amazing and it’s great if you visit them everyday. For dinner there are few places in El Nido town and bars if you want to have a drink after your island hopping.
Day 3 El Nido Itinerary
For the third day and especially if it’s your last one we recommend you to do Tour C since is one of the most popular. The same thing that tour A if you are joining a group the tour will leave around 9 am from the main beach in El Nido town.
Tour C, one of the crowd favorites, costs 1400 PHP or 28 USD. We also loved this! On one of our trips in El Nido, we shared the boat with a group of Mexicans and they were so fun to be with. We had a lively trip with beers, rum, and music. Rachel and I really liked Star Beach and Secret Beach. We did snorkeling which was really fun to do in the clear and blue waters of El Nido.
Tour C includes the following destinations:
– Helicopter Island is the first stop in the tour and the spot is popular for snorkeling.
– Matinloc Shrine there is a payment if you want to visit the view to the top. If you dont want to pay and visit around the island you can do snorkeling around. Both of the choices are good.
– Secret Beach is also beautiful and it’s far the spot. Sometimes is wavy and you can’t access to the beach. It happened to us last time. So we had more time for snorkeling around Mantiloc Shrine.
– Hidden Beach is one of our favorite spots. Especially if you around lunch time its not so crowded.
– Star Beach with blue and clear water is quiet and its the lunch stop. You can do snorkeling around and taking pictures while your guides prepare lunch.
After the tour you can go for the sunset for a drink. Or just rest in your accommodation checking the pictures that you took during the day.
For us this is the most beautiful parts in El Nido if you are in a hurry and you don’t have more time to explore but we will keep writing more days of the itinerary that you perfect can adapt to your 3 Days itinerary in El Nido.
Day 4 Itinerary
This tour costs 1300 PHP or 26 USD. It was my favorite of all the tours! I really admired Pinagbuyutan Island the most although it’s hard to choose my favorite haha! You will not regret choosing this tour as well.
Tour B includes the following destinations:
– Snake island is a beautiful sand bar that you can cross walking. The views are great. But we have to say in our last visit last June 2019 the island was dirty and looks like nobody takes care. Before it looked with the bar selling drinks during the day. The views are insane and is so beautiful.
– Pinagbuyutan Island one of our favorite spots in El Nido since most of the times is empty or just a few people. Perfect for pictures, flying the drone and snorkeling.
– Entalula Beach your lunch stop will be here. And you can swim and snorkeling while they prepare.
– Cudugnon Cave is a hidden cave too crowded. But you can also enjoy in the beach near by just a couple of minutes swimming. The visit is fast.
– Cathedral Cave isn’t allowed to go down of the boat anymore. And you will see the Cave from the boat. You can take pictures and the water is so clear.
– Snorkeling Site a nice snorkeling spot where you can see fishes and corals in very clear water.
Day 5 El Nido Itinerary
Now things changed and the include the Small Lagoon for 200 PHP in the Tour D and you have to book in advance. Although this tour is the most unpopular island-hopping tour in El Nido, we enjoyed it! We did an off-the-beaten path blog post about tour D, read it here.
We must say that Tour D is an underrated tour because people most likely want to hop on islands farthest from the mainland. Well, Tour D hops on lagoons and beaches closest to El Nido Mainland and Cadlao. It is quite an advantage if you take Tour D as the spots you’ll hop on are not crowded with tourists.
Tour D includes the following destinations:
– Small Lagoon with the new changes in El Nido they moved small Lagoon to Tour D and there are limited spots like Tour A. You can rent a kayak or just swim around.
– Cadlao Lagoon now the boats stay outside and you can rent a kayak or go swimming around. Before it was so peaceful. The spot is close to mainland in El Nido.
– Pasandigan Beach a perfect spot for snorkeling and walking around. All the beaches in the tour are similar and relaxed.
– NatNat Beach full of coconuts that’s why the name like this.
– Bucal Beach the closest beach from El Nido town. Some people reach to this beach and other beaches in the Tour D by kayak if you are fit you can do it.
– Paradise Beach your lunch stop usually is here. You can swim and take pictures around.
More things to do in El Nido Apart from Island Hopping
There are interesting tours to do in El Nido like Filipino experience, cooking classes, rent a kayak, resting and relaxing.
We loved the activities on the Philippine Experience. We had a fun Filipino Culture Day in a small village near the beach. We enjoyed a nice walk and we also learned about banana herbs, coconut trees, leaves and many more interesting more things.
We went fishing too but we weren´t lucky. We didn´t catch anything, ha! We also cooked one of the most popular Filipino dishes, Adobo. It was delicious!
After cooking and eating, we had more activities like climbing a coconut tree to dancing typical Filipino dances and playing Filipino games. Everything was well-organized and we really had so much fun!
It’s a perfect tour to learn about the Filipino culture. We did ourselves and we had amazing time. If you want to book the tour send them and message on Facebook. Prices are around 1800 PHP. And for more information read their website The Philippine Experience!
Filipino Cooking Classes
We know that Filipino food isn’t so popular as Thai food. But it’s really interesting to attend a cooking class. You can learn how to make adobo as Rachel in the picture above. There are a few places in El Nido offering this activity and it costs around 1200-1500 PHP. You will enjoy a tasty meal. Read here 57 Filipino dishes to try!
You can rent a kayak in El Nido and spend your day going around the beaches. It’s an interesting activity, you can find kayaks for 500 PHP per day or 150 PHP per hour in the town. In the island hopping renting a kayak will cost 250 PHP per hour. It’s a popular activity to do in Cadlao Lagoon and Big Lagoon.
Party Boat in El Nido
In our last day in El Nido, we had a boat party! Imagine we were partying while island hopping! Our itinerary was a mix of beautiful and quiet places in El Nido. Most of the places were empty. Free beers and cocktails and music to spend an amazing day island hopping.
More Days in El Nido Itinerary
Expedition Tours El Nido to Coron
You can join to expedition tours around El Nido there are companies like Nativ Exploration and Buhay Isla that provides tour in El Nido sleeping in local islands for 3-4 days. They also provide expedition tours El Nido to Coron where you visit places with no people and staying in huts overnight with no electricity.
The experience is great and you have the opportunity of seeing local life, beautiful snorkeling spots and empty islands all for yourself with amazing local food!
Where to Stay in El Nido
There are a few areas to stay in El Nido. I recommend you to book at least a few days in advance since it can be crowded.
El Nido Town
First of all El Nido town is the most convenient since you are close to everything. If you need internet the connection will be better and there are bars and restaurants around. Our choice was Sea Cocoon and we have been there twice. But there are places more on a budget. Check out their place!
Corong Corong Beach and Las Cabañas
If you like quiet and calm the area of Corong Corong Beach and Las Cabañas are perfect for this. It’s only busier at sunset time. You can rent a kayak and going around. From here you are only 5-10 minutes tricycle ride from El Nido.
Lio Beach And Nacpan Beach
You can stay at Lio Beach 20 minutes drive from El Nido and Nacpan Beach that they are outside El Nido town. In Nacpan there are a few places to stay on a budget. The distance from here to El Nido town is around 40 minutes driving.
In front of Cadlao
The other area is in front of Cadlao. It’s only 10-15 minutes walking to the town but you have to cross the beach. There are tricycles offering a free ride but not so efficient the service. And internet connection works really bad and if it’s rainy will be dirty to walk around. But the area is quiet and if you stay in Cadlao Resort the views are insane. Click here to check their places and availability!
Prices for accommodation will be expensive for the quality. Cheapest prices per a room starting for 1000 PHP (cheaper than 1000 PHP you can find a dorm) and don’t expect so much for this. Getting good places to stay in El Nido 2000-4000 PHP for a room with breakfast included. Read here a full blog post where to stay in El Nido.
You can book an entire house or apartment with AirBnB! Click here to get a great deal off your first booking with AirBnB!
Hope our El Nido itinerary is useful for your next trip. How many days are you planning to stay in El Nido? Let us know in the comments below if you need help or email us at [email protected]
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