Our comprehensive El Nido Travel guide featuring the island’s tourist spots, hotels, restaurants, and more.
Famous for its pure white sand, crystal clear waters, coral reefs, and majestic limestone formations, El Nido is a slice of paradise that both local and foreign tourists love to visit. Every vacationer should make it a point to check out the lagoons, islets, and other stunning natural sights here.
Here’s our El Nido travel guide to help you plan your future visit to one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Travel Requirements to El Nido
Visiting El Nido is now made simpler, you can check the updated travel requirements and guidelines HERE.
When is the best time to visit El Nido?
El Nido is an all-year-round travel destination so you can pretty much visit the town any time of the year. But, if you want to enjoy it more, the best time to go is during the summer season which usually starts in March and ends in May.
How to get to El Nido?
There are a number of ways to get to El Nido from different parts of the Philippines. This El Nido travel guide lists down common ways to get to El Nido from Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Coron.
How to get to El Nido from Manila
There is now a direct flight between Manila and El Nido via Airswift. Flights are limited and quite expensive so flying to Puerto Princesa is still the most common way of going to El Nido.
From Puerto Princesa, you can take a bus or van to El Nido. The travel time is around 5-6 hours. Vans take a shorter time to reach El Nido. You can book a seat here by bus or van.
How to get to El Nido from Cebu
There is also a direct flight from Cebu Mactan International Airport to El Nido via AirSwift. Again, flight frequency is limited so flying via Puerto Princesa from Cebu is still the most common way.
How to get to El Nido from Coron
There are boats that operate from Coron to El Nido and vice-versa. You can opt to take a fast craft, passenger ship, and outrigger. Here’s the boat schedule from Coron to El Nido.
There is also now a direct flight from Busuanga/Coron to El Nido via Airswift. Check out our Coron Travel Guide if you haven’t been there.
How to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa
El Nido is around 5-6 hours away from Puerto Princesa. If you are traveling on a large group, you can charter a van for around Php5-7,000, one-way. If you are traveling solo or with a small group, taking a public bus or shared van is another option. There are vans from Puerto Princesa Airport that can take you to El Nido. You can also take a tricycle to the Puerto Princesa Integrated Bus Terminal to catch a bus or van to El Nido. Book a van or bus
How to get around El Nido
The most common mode of transportation in El Nido is tricycles. You can either share a ride with strangers or charter a trip if you are going to get out of the town proper. If you are more than five people, I highly suggest you rent a van for a more convenient journey.
Alternatively, you can also rent a scooter so you can move around the town freely.
Where to stay in El Nido?
Budget Hotels and Cheap Hostels in El Nido
Frendz Hostel El Nido is located about 5 minutes walk from the center. It offers a great view of both the town and the sea and it’s an ideal place for visitors who are looking for a hippie vibe accommodation in El Nido.
If you are looking for a cheap place to stay within the town center of El Nido, you can check out Alocasia Hostel. It is conveniently located very close to the island hopping jump-off point.
Room rates at around Php1,300 (USD25) a night for a standard room.
Check availability and book
Spin Designer Hostel
Located not too far away from the town center, Spin Designer hostel offers affordable and comfortable accommodation catered especially to budget travelers.
Rates start at P750 (USD15) for a 1 Person in 4-Bed Dormitory – Mixed
Check reviews and availability
Mid-range Hotels in El Nido
Lime Resort El Nido
Lime Resort El Nido is one of the newest hotels in El Nido located in Corong-Corong, about 15-20 minutes away from the town proper. It offers a breathtaking view of Bacuit Bay and El Nido sunset. It features an infinity pool, a sky bar, a sky deck, and rooms with a view of the bay.
Luxury Hotels in El Nido
El Nido Resorts – Pangulasian Island
El Nido Resorts – Pangulasian Island is an eco-luxury island resort in Bacuit Bay, El Nido featuring breathtaking views of the sunrise and the sunset. It offers a total of 42 deluxe rooms built in contemporary Filipino architecture. Check out our list of Luxury Resorts in Palawan.
Room rates: Php28,000 per night
Check availability and book
El Nido Group Tours
El Nido is easy and convenient to explore. Whether you are in a big group or traveling solo, you can always book a reliable tour agency for that memorable and wonderful experience while on the Island. Gotmarked Tours offers affordable El Nido tours. You can message them on their FB page at: Gotmarked Tours
El Nido Tour A
Discover the islands, lagoons, and beaches of El Nido through a whole day of island hopping. Explore the clear waters of Miniloc Island and enjoy the beaches of Shimizu Island, Seven Commandos, and of course the magnificent view of El Nido Big Lagoon. The Small Lagoon was used to be a part of this tour but it has now been moved to Tour D. This tour includes a lunch on the beach.
Joiner tour starts at Php1,050 – BOOK NOW
El Nido Tour B
El Nido Tour B allows you to explore Snake Island, Pinagbuyatan Island, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave, and Papaya Beach. This tour starts at around 9:30 am and will usually end at 3 pm.
Joiner tour at only Php1,100 – BOOK NOW
El Nido Tour C
El Nido Tour C allows you to explore the islands of Dilumacad (Helicopter Island) and Matinloc, known as one of the shooting locations of the movie Bourne Legacy. You will also have a chance to visit the Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, and Talisay Beach. This tour starts at 9 am and ends at 3 pm.
Joiner tour at only Php1,175 – BOOK NOW
El Nido Tour D
El Nido Tour D will take you on an unforgettable island hopping experience through some of the most gorgeous lagoons and beaches in Palawan. If you join this tour, you will visit Cadlao Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Bukat Beach, Natnat Beach, and Paradise Beach.
The price of Tour D is only P1,200 per head
Book your El Nido Tour D with Gotmarked Tours
El Nido Luxury Tours
Fancy exploring the island on a speedboat or catamaran? You can get on a private luxury tour in El Nido for a more memorable experience. Just choose between the two tours below:
Top Tourist Spots in El Nido
Essentially a part that makes one of two intertwined—so-called twin—beaches, the Nacpan Beach makes for the better of the two for being bigger and encompassing a long stretch of land, dotted and lined with tall palm trees.
How to get there: The cheapest way to go there is by renting a motorcycle and drive your way to Nacpan Beach. The rental cost is around Php600 for a day. If you don’t want to drive, you can charter a tricycle for around Php1,000 for two people. Travel time is around an hour.
No adventure in El Nido is ever complete without one braving the area’s highest peak, the Taraw Cliff. With a height that overlooks the overall town of El Nido and a fortress-like image from below, Taraw Cliff never ceases to amaze regardless of which angle you are from it. If you want a perfect view, try to start hiking as early as 5 AM.
Alternatively, you can also do a Taraw Cliff Canopy walk.
When we speak of the ocean, it always gets deeper the farther you go from the coast. But for a long stretch of shallow seawater that seems to outsize its smaller counterpart, the Big Lagoon makes for a very interesting visit to the shallow areas of El Nido. This is a must-visit tourist spot in El Nido and kayaking is a must activity to get to the Big Lagoon. The kayak rent is only Php300 (USD6) for two people.
How to get there: Join El Nido Tour A.
Basically the smaller of the two prominent lagoons in El Nido. Although the Small Lagoon is little in size, it makes up for its unique structure that makes visiting it an equally impressive experience.
How to get there: Join El Nido Tour D.
Seven Commandos Beach
As intriguing as its name may sound, there are no military operations taking place on this coast. The name actually harkens back to a tale that speaks of seven soldiers who were stranded on the island which some might openly dispute. Regardless of the island’s name, however, the main highlight of being on this shore is its unique scenery as highlighted by the perfect mixture of verdant trees on land and clear seawaters.
How to get there: Join El Nido Tour A.
Made of mostly rocky formations carpeted with greeneries on most of its surface, the Pinagbuyutan Island has an imposing presence from a relative distance. But take the bold steps to get close and you shall see the ground of powdery whites that is a hallmark on almost every beautiful island in the area.
How to get there: Join El Nido Tour B.
Not many people who are not native to El Nido knew of the Secret Beach, hence its name. Although the shore itself is not entirely hidden when seen from the sky, its rather unusual entrance—which requires a bit of swimming—makes it relatively obscure, particularly to any unsuspecting person.
How to get there: Join El Nido Tour C.
Corong Corong Beach
El Nido is booming in the tourism business. Nowhere is this more evident than in an area where hospitality business establishments thrive such as around Corong Corong Beach. Yet, for an island where solitude makes for a prevailing theme, the Corong Corong Beach’s rather wide expanse is never too crowded.
How to get there: Corong Corong Beach is close to El Nido town proper. You can hail a tricycle from the town proper and alight at the drop-off point or you can charter a tricycle for around Php70.
Having an inner view that mimics a cathedral, the Cathedral Cave makes for a picturesque place on an island. But, as a home to known venomous sea snakes, it is a place where swimming is strictly forbidden.
How to get there: Join El Nido Tour B.
Embodying a beauty that is akin to Tahiti, only smaller, the Cadlao Island can be quite easily mistaken as a place in French Polynesia. Apart from the sea, the main highlight of Cadlao Island is the snorkeling paradise of Ubungun Cove.
How to get there: Join El Nido Tour D.
Talisay Beach is one of the lesser-known beach destinations in El Nido, but it actually surprised me in so many ways. It is a known lunch stop of most boatmen during El Nido Tour C. It is situated near Matinloc Shrine, a more popular tourist spot in El Nido.
If you are looking for a nice spot to watch the stunning sunset of El Nido, then head over to Maregmeg Beach. It’s located about 30-45 minutes away from El Nido town center. If you are taking a trike, it will cost you Php150 (USD3) per trip, one-way.
Where to Eat in El Nido
El Nido Boutique Artcafe
El Nido Artcafe is probably the most popular restaurant in El Nido. Must try on their menu are Seafood Spaghetti, Seafood Basket, Pizza Pancetta, and Chicken Tikka Masala. Check out El Nido ArtCafe Menu
Frendz Sky Bar and Restaurant
If you want good food and an amazing sunset view then Frendz Sky Bar and Restaurant might be the perfect place for you. Must-try is their sizzling tanigue, quesadilla, and sizzling squid. They also offer popular international dishes like pad thai, nasi goreng, kebab, and a lot more. See Frendz Restaurant Menu
Lime Resort Sky Bar
Head to Corong-Corong and dine at Lime Resort’s Sky Bar. It offers a breathtaking view of El Nido sunset so make sure you arrive early. You can try their pasta and pizza and a glass of your favorite drink.
For your sweet cravings, head over to Gusto Gelato. They offer different flavors of gelato like dark chocolate, mint chocolate, salted caramel, and a lot more!
SAMPLE ITINERARY AND EXPENSES
Whether you are spending a weekend in El Nido or going all out the whole week, we got you covered. Most visitors to El Nido stay for at least 3 Days and 2 Nights. If you want to experience the best of El Nido, we suggest you stay at least 5 days 4 nights so you can do all the tours as well as visit other equally gorgeous beaches on the mainland.
If you have a tight schedule and can only stay on the island for 3 days and 2 nights, we highly suggest you take Tour A and then visit Nacpan Beach and Maregmeg Beach. If you are adventurous and love hiking, you can also take an early hike to the peak of Taraw Cliff. Yes, you can do all of these in 3D2N. See detailed 3D2N El Nido itinerary
Staying on the island for 4 days and 3 nights is the most common itinerary for local tourists. If you have this much time, you can take 2-3 island hopping tours depending on your departure from the island. Ideally, we suggest you take two tours: Tour A and Tour C then visit Nacpan Beach and Maregmeg Beach. You can also hike to the top of Taraw Cliff if you are an adventurous traveler. If you’re leaving El Nido at night on your last day, you can take the Tour B. See the detailed 4D3N El Nido itinerary
You can go all-in with El Nido Tours with a 5D4N itinerary for as long as you leave the island late afternoon or at night on your last day. Experience the best of the island by joining Tour A which highlights the Big Lagoon; Tour B island escapades; Tour C for hidden beaches; and Tour D for the Small Lagoon and Cadlao Lagoon. See detailed 5D4N El Nido itinerary
Expenses for 5D4N
- Airfare from Davao to Puerto Princesa (fly-through with 20kg baggage via Cebu Pacific): Php4,700
- Breakfast at NAIA: Php300
- Van transfer Puerto Princesa to El Nido: Php700
- Lunch along the way to El Nido: Php150
- Accommodation at Alocasia Hostel (Triple room with breakfast for 3 nights): Php5,760/3= Php1,920
- Van rental to Nacpan Beach: Php3,700/3 (Cheaper if you go by trike) Php1,233 each
- Meals and drinks at Nacpan Beach Php200
- Dinner at Art Cafe: Php500
- Tour B: Php1,300/head
- Trike to Maregmeg and back to the town proper: Php300 (Php150 one-way) Php100 each
- Dinner at Frendz Resto: Php440
- Tour C: Php1,400/head
- Dinner by the beach at Bundatan Restaurant: Php1400/3=Php467 each
- Cocktail at Tribu Kuridas Php200
- Tour A: Php1,200/head
- Trike to Lime Resort: Php70/2=Php35
- Overnight at Lime Resort El Nido: Php5,000/3=Php1,667 each
- Early dinner at Lime Skybar: Php2,200/3=Php733 each
- Trike Fare from Lime to Mcdo: Php300/3 (roundtrip)= Php100 each
- Late night snack to McDo in Maregmeg Php150
- Van transfer from El Nido to Puerto Princesa: Php700
- Airfare from Puerto Princesa to Manila (using CEB Travel Pass): Php900
- Airfare from Manila to Davao (using CEB Travel Pass): Php1,200
Total Expenses: Php20,295
Expenses without airfare: Php13,495
If you are traveling on a tight budget, you can reduce your expenses to only around Php11,000 plus airfare. Just stay in a hostel for the whole duration of your trip. We moved to Lime Hotel on our last night so our expenses have gone up a little bit.
Tip: Travel with at least one companion and you will spend even less. If you are traveling solo, you can also opt to stay in hostels with shared rooms.
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Glen Nomad is a travel blogger and the founder of Escape Manila, one of the top travel blogs in the Philippines. He has visited all 82 provinces in the Philippines and has explored 53 countries across Asia, North & South America, East Africa, Europe, and Australia. Follow him on IG at @escapemanila