10 Best Things to Do in El Nido – With a total of 1780 islands and islets, Palawan is indeed one of the Philippines’ natural gems; and for us, El Nido is the best place in Palawan.
There are many things to do in El Nido Palawan which you will surely enjoy. The most famous one is of course, El Nido island hopping. Continue reading this El Nido travel guide as we share with you our favorite things to do in El Nido and our tips on how you can make the most out of your El Nido trip! Don’t forget to check our 3 Days El Nido Itinerary!
New rules in El Nido Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon
There are new rules in El Nido and from now the increase 200 PHP environmental fee (apart from 200 PHP enviromental fee for island hopping in El Nido) to visit the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon. And you can’t visit both of them in the same day. You have to book in advance and the Big Lagoon is still part of the Tour A and Small Lagoon is part of the Tour D.
El Nido Travel Guide – How to get to El Nido
How to get to El Nido Palawan from Manila
If you are coming from abroad, you probably will land in Manila first. Once you are in Manila, you can have a direct flight to El Nido and that will take 1 hour and 15 minutes. There is only a limited number of direct flights to El Nido so make sure to plan your route first before going.
Alternatively, you can also take a plane going to Coron or Puerto Princesa from Manila.
If you are a local of a nearby province of Manila, it is advisable that you take the flight from your local airport or go to Manila first and take the flight to El Nido or to Puerto Princesa like we did on one of our Palawan travel guide.
Make sure to click here to get the best flight deals! There are affordable prices from Manila to Puerto Princesa.
Click here to read our blog post on places to visit near Manila.
How to get to El Nido Palawan from Puerto Princesa
Puerto Princesa is the capital city and it is the most common landing spot of tourists when they are visiting Palawan. Using land vehicles is the best way to go from here to El Nido, as you would not want to take a longer and uncomfortable boat ride going there. We regret to inform you that there is only 1 flight from Puerto Princesa to El Nido as of now, so land vehicles are really the best way to go there.
You can either ride a public van from the airport like we did on one of our trips. It will cost you 500-700 PHP or around 10-14 USD per head (lower if you’re a local, higher if you’re a foreigner) and will take 5-6 hours.
Google Maps indicates that it will only take you 2 hours and 59 minutes, but based from experience, it will really take you 5-6 hours as the there are many turns and hillsides. Additionally, the state of the road is not that good. The landscape on the way to El Nido is so beautiful and you will enjoy plenty of palm trees on your way to El Nido.
Aside from riding a van, you can also ride a bus. It will take 6-9 hours and will cost you 380-480 PHP or around 8-10 USD per head. Prices depending on the bus company but all of them have similar prices. Buses are running every hour until the evening from early morning.
Just to share, Puerto Princesa place is loved by tourists for the Palawan Underground River, which was a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. We recommend that you stay a few days here if you want to spend time in this beautiful city and experience the local life. The place is 2 hours van ride from Puerto Princesa and doing the tour will take you another couple of hours. If you are planning to stay in Puerto Princesa is a good thing to do before going to El Nido.
How to get to El Nido from Coron
You can go to El Nido from Coron through slow or fast boats and via an airplane. Yep! There are 1-2 flights (very limited) from Coron to El Nido. Ticket costs around 6000 PHP or 120 USD.
From the port, you have the option to ride the slow boat, taking around 6-7 hours and will cost you around 1300 PHP or 26 USD. You can also ride the fast boat which costs around 1700 PHP or 34 USD. The trip will take 3 hours.
How to get to El Nido from Cebu
There are a few flights from Cebu to El Nido or Puerto Princesa. For flights destined to Puerto Princesa, tickets cost from 7460 PHP or 150 USD and takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. For flights going directly to El Nido, it starts from 9620 PHP or 192 USD and takes 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Alternatively, you can also opt to ride a ferry boat. Riding a ferry boat and mini van from Cebu to El Nido will cost you 2700-4500 PHP or 54-90 USD. Well, if a 43-hour ferry ride sounds good to you, then we will not stop you from doing so, haha!
Basic Things You Need to Know Before Going to El Nido Palawan
Like what we say in most of our blog posts about the Philippines and its breathtaking places, visiting this country is easy if you are not required to have a visa when travelling in the Philippines. Click here to know if your country is one of them and to know the Visa policy of the Philippines.
Click here to read our blog post on how you can get visa extension.
Best Time to Go To El Nido Palawan
If you are into the beautiful beaches of El Nido like everyone else, then without a doubt, the perfect time to go to 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.
El Nido Island Hopping Prices
If you will be travelling to El Nido soon, then you probably have in your El Nido, Palawan itinerary the island-hopping tours you’ll be getting. We must say that the prices of every tour in El Nido is the same (or at least, almost the same) with each other and prices are stable. It is standard for every tour, so you don’t have to worry getting overcharged.
The payment for all the tours include lunch, drinking water, soda (sometimes), towels, and gears like masks for snorkeling. Filipino tour guides are awesome! They explain the itinerary well and will help you get on and down the boat with a big smile. Read reviews on the internet before or during planning your trip if you want to make sure you are picking the best tour company.
ATMs and Cash in El Nido
Since El Nido is quite far from the capital city which is Puerto Princesa, you might have a hard time looking for ATMs around El Nido. If we are not mistaken, there are only four ATMS in El Nido. But since there’s a high number of tourists here especially during summer, there’s a high chance that these ATMs will run out of cash or even be not working or offline.
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.
Click here to have an idea how much money you need while travelling in the Philippines.
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.
There are times that even cellphone reception won’t work. This is good and bad at the same time. Good, because you will get the chance to fully indulge yourself with nature and El Nido’s beautiful paradise. Bad, because you will lose connection to your work and other stuff like emergencies, etc. But just think of the brighter side that nothing bad will happen haha!
Environmental Fee in El Nido
We are also reminding you about the 200 PHP or 4 USD that you need to pay for the Environmental Fee in El Nido island hopping. The permit will last for a week, meaning you should pay only once and you can do all the tours and activities you planned to do in El Nido for a week.
Where to Stay in El Nido
There is a wide variety of accommodation you can rent in El Nido- from budget-friendly rooms and inns, beautiful beach huts, luxurious hotel rooms and resorts, and beachfront houses.
Some of the hotels we stayed at are Sea Cocoon Hotel and El Nido Bayview Resort. We really had nice experiences with both of them so make sure to check them out . We also recommend picking a place in Las Cabanas for a good view of the sunset and Nacpan for a quieter place in El Nido.
Alternatively, there are also some beaches where camping is allowed. There are many beach parks and campsites that let you camp, for a fee. There are also overnight tours you can avail.
Things to Do in El Nido Palawan
We are really excited to share with you our best experiences in El Nido, Palawan! Here the top things to do in El Nido that will make your trip remarkable.
1. El Nido Island Hopping
You surely would not want to miss island hopping in El Nido. It is the number one thing to do in El Nido that will make you appreciate Philippines more!
For this activity in El Nido, it is common to sign up with tours and avail their services. There are 4 tours available- Tour A, B, C, and D.
El Nido Tour A
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
– Secret Lagoon
– Shimizu Island
– 7 Commando Beach
El Nido Tour B
This tour costs 1300 PHP or 26 USD. It was my favorite of all the tours! I really admired Snake 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
– Pinagbuyatan Island
– Entalula Beach
– Cudugnon Cave
– Cathedral Cave
– Snorkeling Site
El Nido Tour C
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
– Matinloc Shrine
– Secret Beach
– Hidden Beach
– Star Beach
El Nido Tour D
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
– Cadlao Lagoon
– Pasandigan Beach
– NatNat Beach
– Bucal Beach
– Paradise Beach
After doing Tour B and D on a separate time when we did Tours A-C, we just proved that all tours in El Nido, Palawan are great! We did enjoy every single El Nido island hopping and if you have the budget, time, and energy, we recommend that you avail all the tours!
Oh, and one more thing. The tour boat leaves when there already have 20-30 people on a tour. However, if you want to rent the whole tour for yourself or for your own group, then do it! You will enjoy the private trip and have more space in the boat. Just don’t forget about the extra charge, though! If you join 4-6 quality price will be great private tour vs general tour.
2. Swimming, Snorkeling and Diving
Since El Nido is a famous spot in the Philippines for its crystal clear white-sand beaches, you absolutely must go snorkeling and diving here. Every beach you go to on your tour must be swim at! Don’t forget to bring your underwater or waterproof cameras or smartphones to capture the precious underwater moments.
Kayaking is a famous activity when you go on island-hopping in El Nido. Kayaks are rented at around 300 PHP or 6 USD per hour for 3 persons in one kayak. You will surely enjoy doing this alone or with loved ones, friends, and family. Did you know that you can also kayak yourself to the nearby islands in the mainland?
If you have a brave soul and think that you don’t need a tour to explore the islands, then you can also rent a kayak for a full day which costs around 700-1000 PHP or 14-20 USD.
4. Go to Nacpan Beach
Nacpan Beach is not included in the tours A-D, but you can get an island tour or an hour-ride from the town of El Nido. We went there riding a tricycle that lasted for an hour, as the road was muddy. Nacpan is a really long beach in El Nido with clear blue waters you’ll surely love!
We enjoyed swimming and snorkeling here as the water is crystal clear and very clean. Travelers also love to play beach volleyball and soccer in this beautiful beach. There is an entrance fee to go to Nacpan Beach, around 30 pesos!
5. Climb Taraw Cliff
This is a very dangerous activity. However, again, if you have a brave soul, climbing Taraw Cliff will give you the best views of El Nido! We have also heard that connection is good there, ha! We did not try this activity haha. However, there’s a safer way to still see beautiful views of El Nido. You can climb but not up to the peak.
6. Watch the Stunning Sunset in front of Cadlao
Every sunset in every spot in El Nido is so damn beautiful! We just loved the sunset there so much that we highlighted it. We promise that you will not regret seeing the majestic sunset in Cadlao. Have a bottle of beer to maximize the experience. For more sunsets in El Nido go to Las Cabañas and Lio Beach.
7. Sunset Las Cabanas Beach
If you will spend much time in El Nido, don’t forget to spend some of it in Las Cabanas Beach! Here the views are just so breathtaking! You will also love how beautiful the sunset is in Las Cabanas. There are bars and it´s perfect for enjoying a beer. We loved it so much! Take a dip in its clear waters, too!
8. Experience Nightlife in El Nido
Before, El Nido was a quiet place. But due to the high number of tourists now, businesses are popping out everywhere. This is good as it increases the profit for local business owners and creates jobs for locals. It is also good for tourists because… BEERS! Haha! This is something in the list of things to do in El Nido at night! Nightlife in El Nido was great but don´t go to bed so late, tours are waiting for you early morning.
There are many bars and restaurants around and you can enjoy nightlife in El Nido with the locals or other tourists. Just keep in mind that prices are little bit more expensive than other parts of the country, but it is still affordable. Have a few glasses of Red Horse Beer, one of Filipinos’ favorites. It costs around 100 PHP or 2 USD a bottle here.
More Things to do in El Nido Palawan aside from Island Hopping
9. Zip Lining in Las Cabanas
One activity that will bring out the adrenaline rush in you is zip lining! You should try this when you go to Las Cabañas, maybe before or after you go swimming in Las Cabanas Beach. Perfect to do at sunet time!
It will cost you 700 PHP or 14 USD for a one-way ride. Enjoy the ride and open your eyes to see the stunning views.
10. Spend time in Luxurious Resorts
If you have the budget and just love to spend it in luxury plus looking for things to do in El Nido aside from beach hopping, then the best way to do it is spending time in luxurious hotels and resorts! These hotels and resorts in El Nido will make the most out of the money you paid them and seeing the best views of the beach and the sunset will really be worth it. Oh, and the services, food, and accommodation they will give you are the best.
Where to stay in El Nido? We recommend these hotels: Sea Cocoon nice place, location and stable internet connection. El Nido Bay View Resort, great choice if you decide to stay in Las Cabañas. It´s only 10 minutes tricyle ride from El Nido and it´s more quiet. The views are amazing! Cadlao Resort where you will get amazing views in front of Cadlao with limestones on the horizon.
It will totally be unforgettable! Imagine just taking a dip in the relaxing jacuzzi while drinking beer or cocktail and watching the breathtaking views and sunset of El Nido. Aaah! Now we miss El Nido!
So, there you have it! Our top 10 things to do in El Nido! Keep reading the post for a possible itinerary.
El Nido Palawan Itinerary
As a bonus, here is a sample of a 3-day El Nido, Palawan itinerary you might want to check out:
– Arrival at El Nido
– Tour A
– Experience nightlife in El Nido
– Tour B
– Zip line in Las Cabanas
– Watch sunset at Las Cabanas Beach
– Tour C or D
– Spend last day at Nacpan Beach and watch the sunset
Where to eat in El Nido
Don’t worry too much about the food. There are local spots and restaurants where you can find food and drinks for affordable prices. For a meal, it will cost you 100-150 PHP or 2-3 USD. If you are lucky enough, you can even find meals for less than 2 USD. Prices are higher in restaurants of course.
Also, don’t miss drinking fresh coconuts when you go island hopping and swimming! It is so refreshing and healthy. Oh, and cheap too! It just costs around 50 PHP or 1 USD per coconut.
Will you visit El Nido soon? Let us know if you have questions and we will surely do our best to answer them!
Where to Stay in El Nido
Located in El Nido, within half a kilometer of Big Lagoon El Nido and half a kilometer of Small Lagoon El Nido, Happiness Hostel provides accommodations with a shared lounge and free WiFi. All guest rooms in the hostel are equipped with a electric tea pot. The rooms come with a shared bathroom.
Guests at Happiness Hostel will be able to enjoy activities in and around El Nido, like cycling. Their dormitory style beds are only $16 a night!
ISLAND FRONT COTTAGE AND RESTAURANT
This property is a 12-minute walk from the beach. The beachfront Islandfront Cottages and Restaurant is a peaceful retreat in El Nido. It features a variety of recreational options and air-conditioned rooms with a private balcony. The colorful rooms have wood furnishings and vibrant wall prints. Each unit is fitted with a sitting area and a flat-screen cable TV. Shower facilities and free toiletries are in the attached bathroom.
Guests can snorkel, go on a fishing trip or cycle to explore the area. Barbecue facilities are also available. The staff at the tour desk can assist with tickets and car rental arrangements. The Islandfront Restaurant serves a spread of local dishes and beverages. In-room dining is possible with room service. Their standard double room starts at $20 a night.
BLUE MANGO ROOMS & VILLAS
This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Offering a terrace and views of the sea, Blue Mango Resort is where guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Coron Beach is a short 30 m away, while the famous Las Cabanas beach and El Nido Centers are 10 minutes away. Rooms include a private bathroom.
There is a shared lounge at the property. Guests can enjoy various activities in the surroundings, including snorkeling, windsurfing and diving. Their double deluxe room starts at $104 a night.
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About the Author: Ruben, co-founder of Gamintraveler.com since 2014, is a seasoned traveler from Spain who has explored over 100 countries since 2009. Known for his extensive travel adventures across South America, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, Ruben combines his passion for adventurous yet sustainable living with his love for cycling, highlighted by his remarkable 5-month bicycle journey from Spain to Norway. He currently resides in Spain, where he continues to share his travel experiences alongside his partner, Rachel, and their son, Han.