Super white sand of El Nido beach, with a few luxurious cabanas and palm trees everywhere

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

El Nido is a Philippine municipality on the northern tip of Palawan island which lies nearly 400 km/250 mi Southwest of Manila. The gateway to the Bacuit archipelago, a group of islands with steep karst cliffs. El Nido has many dive sites, including the long Dilumacad Island tunnel that leads to an underwater cavern. Miniloc Island is famous for the crystal clear waters of its small and large lagoons. And all this surrounded by stunning landscapes and beaches.

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.

Why is El Nido famous?

Famous for its white sand beaches, turquoise waters, coral reefs, diving, snorkelling, and splendid limestone rock formations similar to those in Ha Long Bay in Vietnam or Phang Nga Bay in Thailand, El Nido is possibly one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines.

El Nido Palawan Philippines
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.

What is the history of El Nido Palawan?

It is known that El Nido was already inhabited 14,000 years ago, that its first name was “talindak” and that the Spanish renamed it “Bacuit” in 1890.
It was not until June 17, 1954 that it received its current name of “El Nido” by means of the Law of the Republic 1140, in honor of the nests of swifts found in the caves of the limestone cliffs. “El Nido” in Spanish means “The Nest”.

Is El Nido worth visiting?

El Nido is probably one of the most gorgeous places in Palawan and features some of Palawan’s highlights, such as the Small and Big Lagoon, Hidden Beach and Secret Beach. Those spectacular creations of nature lie in close vicinity to one another and together with the place unique, laid-back vibe make El Nido an unmissable destination for travelers in the Philippines.

Is El Nido better than Coron?

Good question, as both are bestowed with similar magnificent karst landscapes and rich marine life. The popular island hopping tours are cheaper in Coron, however accommodation in El Nido is better in value and quantity.
Avid scuba divers might prefer Coron for its unique mix of WWII Japanese wrecks, stunning corals and the proximity to Apo Reef, but will be far from disappointed if they visit El Nido.
Above all, El Nido have far better beaches and its easy going vibe, stunning sunsets and friendly people will win your heart, without a doubt.

How expensive is El Nido?

It is considered that the average tourist spends about P 2,000 ($ 40) per day on their vacations in El Nido, between accommodation, food and transport.

El Nido
El Nido Beach.

Where to Stay in El Nido?

El Nido has a wide range of hotels and hostels, on the beachfront and in the streets parallel to the beach that are very, very affordable. You’ll find rooms that you can rent for as little as P300 a night ($ 6), but these cheap rooms generally only have a fan, no air conditioning. You will find hotels along the coast with air con starting around P 1000 ($ 20)  / P 1500 ($ 30). 
You can also choose Airbnb Philippines, to find your accommodation.

How do you get to El Nido Philippines?

From Manila.

Direct flights. 

From Manila, Airswift flights last 1h20 and start from 65 usd one way. Baggage allowance is limited, double check before you book your flight.

Via Coron. 

The fast ferry trip lasts around 4 hours (40 usd) and is really enjoyable. Pack a jacket to fight the cold: the crew really crank up the air conditionning!

Via Puerto Princesa. 

All major airlines in the country (Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, Zest Air and Seair) fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa. There are also direct flights from Cebu twice a week. From there, minivans make the journey to el Nido  from around 13 usd. They leave when full, and will stop along the road to take even more passengers, fitting up to 12 people in a 9 seater. The trip last 5/6 hours. There are also regular buses at the Roro Bus Station, departing every 2 hours (more or less…), the fare is 10 usd with aircon, journey lasts up to 9 hours. Then you can book a private minivan for  around 130 usd, ideal if in group or  not on a budget as it is both quicker and more comfortable than the other options.  

El Nido
Aerial view of El Nido Beach.

What to Do in El Nido?

The popular island hopping day trips, 4 itiniraries (A, B, C, D) to choose from, start at 25 usd, lunch included. If you like to snorkel, it’s always a good idea to bring your own gear. If you want to see the picturesque and fantastic Entalula Beach, you must opt for Tour B. Hard to recommend one over the others, you’ll probably go straight to the booths after your first excursion to book a second tour, anyway! Corong Corong and Las Cabañas Beach: both great for the cool vibes and amazing sunsets. Rent a kayak in Corong Corong and row to Lapus Lapus beach, laugh the blisters off with a nice cold drink facing Miniloc island. Try the 750 m/0.5 mi zipline to Depeldet island at Las Cabañas beach (get a good impulse, or carry extra weight for a better glide), nobody will hear you scream. Scuba Diving: there are about 30 dive sites around Bacuit Bay, which is part of the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Area, the largest marine protected area of the Philippines, created in 1998. Visibility is lower between December and March – and the water colder, down to 25-23℃/77-73℉ – due to the increase in plankton, don’t forget to look out in the blue for the eventual whale shark or manta ray during this season. Dugong are residents in El Nido but rather elusive, keep your eyes open!
el nido excursion
El Nido, Day Trip.

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