El Nido, Palawan

El Nido is a coastal settlement and major tourist destination on the Philippines island of Palawan. El Nido comprises 45 islands and islets; limestone cliffs are also found here, which form a Karst backdrop similar to those found in Ha Long Bay, Krabi and Guilin. El Nido is a popular destination for locals during the long holidays of Holy Week but, until recently, has been relatively unknown to foreign tourists. Beaches, clear waters (away from the main town), jungle, steep limestone cliffs and stunning inlets make for beautiful seascapes.

 

About El Nido

Before El Nido became saturated with tourists, fishing and harvesting swift nests (“Nido”) were the main source of income. Nowadays tourism has become the municipality’s main source of revenue. The beachfront area has exploded in popularity over the years and is now largely a party area with overpriced food and drinks. However huge tour groups are still nowhere to be seen. El Nido is also known for water sports such as diving, snorkeling and kayaking. Water quality around the main beach is poor, with garbage collecting at the main beach and boat oil seeping into the bay. Swimming is not recommended.

How to get in

By Air

El Nido Map

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El Nido (sees 4 flights a day to and from MANILA and 1 daily flight from/to CEBU. by Air swift (former ITI)Air swift. Tickets may also be booked through their local GSA at Artcafe. ITI flies with an ATR-50 seater. The prices tend to be higher (P6,500-8,500) compared to those departing from the provincial main airport Puerto Princesa. The positive side is that flying with Air Swift is very relaxing and the holiday starts as you enter the terminal at their private hangar where it departs from at Andrews Avenue and fresh pastry and coffee is served in the lounge before and after the flight. Luggage allowance is 10kg +7kg hand luggage for Regular fare and 20kg +7 kg for Premium Peak season fare. Excess luggage is charged upon check in P200/kg. Terminal Fee Manila P200. Low season fares (June to October) start at Php 4,500 person.

Air Swift now flies from El Nido to Manila and El Nido to Cebu vice versa. As of January 2016 the cost is Php 6,344-7,022 one way.

Upon arrival by air in El Nido, the El Nido Resorts passengers are whisked away in vans and those remaining take local tricycle taxis (motorcycles with modified side car). The Airport staff will call the tricycle taxis to get you to town and the 5km (3 mile) ride costs about P200-P250 for two people and luggage.

Puerto Princesa International Airport (IATA: PPS) is Palawan’s premier gateway. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, airphilexpress, Seair and Zest Air fly from Manila, Davao, Busuanga, Cebu and Clark to Puerto Princesa. You can catch a bus, private or public van from Puerto Princesa to El Nido on arrival.

From Puerto Princesa

By van

Three Van companies are doing regular shuttle trips to El Nido, departing from San Jose bus terminal in Puerto Princesa. As of October 2015, fares for van from El Nido to Puerto Princesa are 500 pesos with free delivery to the hotel. Travel time is around 5 hours which for us included 2 stops of about 20 minutes and leaving El Nido 15 minutes later than the announced time. Tickets can be purchased inside the city and vans travel on each hour. There are very few unfinished patches of the road remaining. The ride in the van worked better for us than Cherry Bus from Puerto to El Nido which took 7 hours and we felt each bump on the road on our back.

If you are in a hurry (flight etc) then don’t depend on timely departure as these minivans almost never depart on time. The departure time is actually when they start picking up people around town and actually get on the road 30-60 minutes later. Also they sometimes make you change minivans along the way once or twice and your luggage is tied on the roof and despite the covers can be becomes covered with heavy dust from the gravel road 1h before El Nido.

Fortwally transport w/ the following schedule for only Php500 free pick up in airport, schedule from Pps-Elnido 5am,7am,9:30-10am,11am,1:30pm,4-5pm and 6:30pm. Please contact direct to fortwally Travel and Tour #s (048)434-9988),09172762875,09165696025, email at fortwallytransport@yahoo.com [Eulen Joy Shuttle Van] PPS-El Nido-PPS have daily trips from Puerto to El Nido at 5:00, 7:00, 9:00, 10:30, 13:00 and 18:00 and from El Nido to Puerto at 5:00, 7:00, 9:00, 10:30, 13:00 and 18:00h. Phone: PPS +639129167822, El Nido +639494498858. Tickets are available at Artcafe Travel Center and other outlets. The fare is P600. Lexus Company goes from Sabang to El Nido daily at 7:30, 14:00 and 16:30h. Fare is P900. Tel. 09121002652. From El Nido to Sabang at 5:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Tickets are available from most guest houses and tour booking office.

Daytripper Palawan is a new transport company that offers more comfort and convenience. Daytripper departs onces a day and the fare is P850 for the executive Van and P950 for the executive Coach. Pre-booking is a must at their website or by calling +63-917-8488755, +63-918-2546749.

By bus

Air-conditioned and ordinary Buses departs San Jose Bus terminal, Puerto Princesa and El Nido Market alternate regularly. RORO bus is suspended at the moment. CHERRY BUS departs Puerto Princesa 5:00, 9:00 A/C, 11:00, 13:00 A/C, 15:00, 21:00 A/C. El Nido to Puerto Princesa departures are set for 7:00, 9:00 A/C, 11:00, 13:00 A/C, 21:00 A/C. Fare is P550 for the air-con (A/C) trip and P450 for non-aircon. It takes about 7hours. These are relatively new buses and absorb bumpy roads much better than the smaller vans, and with more leg room. These buses do, however, make many stops along the way to pick up passengers, so the empty seat next to you will be filled eventually, and the stops can get quite annoying.

From Sabang or Port Barton

Several minivans leave Sabang daily, the first at 7am & last at 4:30pm. Ride is 5hours and 800peso. Another option is to take a van or jeepney to the intersection with the National Highway and flag down the Cherry bus (220P from Roxas to El Nido).

It is also possible to charter a boat from either Sabang or Port Barton to El Nido, although this is more costly than a bus and weather dependent.

Stunning View

Bacuit archipelago of El Nido

View on the Bay

Breathtaking views of nature are the main reason to visit El Nido. The pristine waters of El Nido offer beautiful coral reefs, while its beaches are uncrowded unlike the popular Boracay, exploring the lagoons by kayaking is a great way of visiting the islets, covesand caves are also abundant. Inland El Nido, springs and waterfalls are also found.Bacuit Bay composes of limestone islands, where its possible to either dive, snorkel or hike.

The easiest way to see the Bacuit Bay is on an island hopping boat. These boats carry 8′-15 people and will visit 4 or 5 islands in a day. The boats usually take set routes named A to D, but can vary depending on tides and weather. Boats normally cost around P1200-P1400 per person depending in the route and travel agency but you can pay the half of it by showing up and asking at 8am at some travel agencies…. Easy to save money! The trip takes one day (ca. 9:00-16:00), normally includes a good lunch and can be arranged from most guesthouses and travel agencies in El Nido. El Nido municipality also charges P200 as an Environmental fee which is valid 10 days.

If you have time, go for overnight island hopping (3 days 2 nights is a good option) where you get to camp on deserted island ala Survivor style. (Though most places you can be dropped at are included in the daily island hopping tours.) It gives you the best option to visit lots more islands that are included in those bundle package tours but at your own leisure time. Find a few more people to get a much better rate. Recommended place a booth at Aplaya Restaurant, look forNhel who will give you the best deals and arrangements.

What to do

Cultural. “The Philippine Experience” offers an insight into The Philippines & it’s people. More than just a “cultural tour”, there’s a chance to get off-the-beaten-track with boating / fishing, trekking, a mini cooking course, making coconut oil, coconut tree climbing, trying local crafts, skills & games. It runs Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday from 9am to 4:30pm.

Mountain Biking. There are numerous destinations to visit… even Nacpan beach is possible for the adventurous. Bikes range from 350-500p per day. “Discover El Nido”, next to Together Pension, on Calle Amboy street offer good rates and provide a map/guide detailing 12 routes. Taking the budget, healthy way to see El Nido rewards travelers with routes through traditional villages along forest trails, roads and dirt tracks. For the adventurous, rivers, rice fields, coconut groves, hot springs, mangroves, waterfalls, caves and off-the-beaten-track beaches await… Guided mountain biking tours are offered by El Gordo Action Adenventures El Gordo Adventures.

Rock climbing & walking. The western side of El Nido township lies in the shadow of an impressive sheer cliff face which is just the visible portion of an even more impressive headland. There are guided climbing tour (P350) to the top of the “taraw” offering a breathtaking view. The hike is rather adventurous though as you have to climb over sharp rocks. Good footwear is a must. Climb takes about 3 hours in total. It’s advisable by 7am or at 2pm as it can be very hot on top. Be sure to hire a licensed tour guide. You may avail one at the El Nido Tourism Office or at Artcafe. “Canopy Walk” At Barangay Maligaya behind the Barangay hall there is El Nido’s Canopy walk for the less experienced hikers, still giving you a great view over town and the bay. There is an entrance fee. Pass by El Nido Tourism Office in calle Hama to book this.

Mainland Beaches.

  • Catch a tricycle taxi to Las Cabanas (P50) and plonk yourself down out front of Orange Pearl Bar for a day away from the crowds on a white sandy beach and crystal waters. It’s a short walk down a dirt road from where you will be dropped off. There is also an island with some OK snorkeling which can be reached easily wading through waist deep water.
  • There is an usually empty beach right north of the El Nido airport if you are looking for some solitude (tricycle ride :P150).
  • Take a tricycle taxi to Nacpan beach (P1000-1500).

El Nido underwater

Island hopping / Snorkel tours. Bacuit Bay consists of islands with limestone cliffs which are ideal for climbing, Diving & Snorkeling; The most popular activity is island hopping costing from P1200 a day including BBQ lunch and snorkel gear. There are 4 basic day trips to choose from named Tour A to D and can be booked from all over town. The quality of the boat, guides & tour depends on who you book it through.

  • El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe, Serena St., . The El Nido Boutique & Artcafe is one of the most experienced island hopping and kayak tour operator in El Nido with since over 20 years. 
  • Islanen Tours, Masagana, 09999644369

Kayaking. Many beaches can be reached from Town or from Corong beach by Kayak. Fiber glass Kayaks can be found in many places and Clear Kayak which give you the opportunity to the marine life while kayaking are available at El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe.

SUP / Standup Paddleboarding is a great way to experience the nearby islands. SUPs can be rented at El Nido Boutique & Artcafe andSupXplore on Corong Corong beach offers guided day tours in the Bacuit bay and into Mangrove rivers.

Diving

  • El Nido Adventure Scuba, Serena St. (near Artcafe), +63949-9108460 (). 7:30-21.00. Dive with the “locals” and most experienced dive masters in the area. SSI and PADI open water and advanced dive courses are offered.  
  • El Dive, +63 999 171 2915 (), . El Dive provides amazing, safe and long dives among corals and colorful aquatic life. It is managed by the Japanese Yoshi Ohtsuka who has been a PADI instructor for more than 20 years. Today, El Dive is the one dive center in El Nido with passionated staff, it provides high quality dives, courses and equipment. The motto is Go Slow With El Dive. Its goal is to make you very excited and satisfied during and after your dive trip. 
  • Submariner Diving Center, Hama Street Brgy Masagana (Beachfront), +63 905 484 1764 (), . Submariner Diving Center is the first and only PADI 5* Dive Resort in El Nido, Palawan Philippines, which is operated by the German Ronny Oliwka who is PADI MSDT and TDI AN/DP Diver. Submariner is also certified as Aqualung Partner Center who offers high standard in Diving and Education as well as diving gear branded by Aqualung and Apeks. Not only the Equipment considers a high standard. Also the staff is highly qualified  edit
  • Palawan Divers, +63 939 958 1076 (), . Palawan Divers is the most established dive center in town. Created 10 years ago, it is the first certified PADI Dive Resort in town. Friendly and professional team of instructors, divemasters, and crew. They will make your stay safe and comfortable as you explore the diverse marine ecosystem of El Nido. From the beginner to the experienced diver, there is something for everyone here.  edit
  • Sea Dog/Plankton Divers, Serena street (beach front, next to Alternative restaurant), +639494495399. SSI and PADI instructors (including dive masters) with 20+ years experience. Jacques’ Mayol personal tour guide in El Nido.  edit

Motor biking

You can rent a motobike at P700/day and go around the countryside. There are many rental place around town. At Corong Coron you may rent from Erl Motorbike Rental located at Brgy. Corong-Corong before the bus terminal Cell. +639106198381. Their bikes are new semi automatic and manual. The roads are partly unpaved rough, but you will find it rewarding to get to the longest beaches El Nido has Nacpan Beach / Twin Beaches and Duli Beach. Make sure to ask for a map. 20km north of El Nido, you may stop and hike to Nakalit-Kalit Waterfall. Guide is recommended. Another few kilometers north, before Barangay Barotuan you may visit the “Hot springs”. There are no signs, so it’s best to ask.

Shopping

El Nido at dawn

  • El Nido Boutique & Artcafe, Sirena Street (Buena Suerte), 09209026317, .7.00-21.30. El Nido T-shirts printed in their own Artshop, Souvenirs, Handicrafts, Postcards, Books, Photo supplies and Cameras, Snorkel Gear, Swimming clothes and beach wear, Sarongs, Dresses, Jewerly, Suntain lotions and drugstore items, Wine and Liquors, Bags and Backpacks, Hammocks and lots lots more.  

Dine

Generally speaking the number of and standard of eating houses are good. Menus have good variety mostly European, American and Filipino dishes, and prices are moderate. Most are accessible from the laneway as well as from the beach and seating has the advantage of views of the bay and environs.

  • Art Cafe a well established restaurant with good quality food such as seafood, salads (the vegetable mostly come from their own organic farm), steaks, pizzas, spaghetti, homemade bread, cakes and fruit shakes and coffee. They have Live-Music 3 nights a week. Travel Center for all your inquiries about your onward travel. * Art Cafe, Sirena St. (toward the pier), 09209026317 (),. 7:00 -23:00.  
  • El Nido fastfood offer nido soup; bird’s nest soup perhaps.
  • Marber’s Great food and atmosphere right on the beach. Dishes include pasta, pizza, sandwiches, Filipino and German food as well. Nice staff and reasonably priced.
  • Habibi Restaurant & Shisha Cafe, Hama Street, Zone 3 (Beachfront). Good food and beverages, and they are the only Shisha Bar in Palawan. Drinks are made with fresh ingredients, pizzas are also popular. The full bar offers all varieties of premium drinks. The owner frequently visits the local market to find the best/freshest fish available. Free Wi-Fi, widescreen projection television, and games. The vibe is warm and friendly. The restaurant is ideal for groups wishing to enjoy the freshest fish. The fish are presented to you for selection, and prepared to order. 
  • Aplaya Restaurant Great food, portions are big for the price range and relatively nice atmosphere. Not too crowded. Dishes include Seafood, Chopsuey, Pancit Noodles, Beef dishes, Pizzas and pastas. There is free wifi, just ask the staff for the password
  • Filipino listless eateries a couple of them on the main street, for prices around 70P.
  • BBQ stands 10P for a stick
  • El Nido Corner, North end of the beach in El Nido. Great beachfront restaurant with a Danish owner. Try the fresh catch of the day.  
  • Altrove Trattoria Great freshly made brick oven pizza.
  • Austria Restaurant & Hotel, Zone 2 Buenasuerte, El Nido. While at lunch and dinner times the restaurant has nothing out of ordinary to offer, Austria’s breakfast buffet for only 99 PHP includes brewed coffee, toast, bread, fluffy pancakes with honey, an egg cooked to order and the usual Filipino breakfast dishes(i.e. rice, fried fish, vegetables, chicken/pork adobo). The quality is similar to the fancier hotel across the street that charges twice this price. If taking the 8h boat to Coron (which usually includes a lunch of rice and a deep fried chicken body part), ask them to pack you a lunch box. 99 PHP
  • V & V Bagel Great coffee and almond cookies are a must try. Free Wi-Fi, you can just ask the friendly staff for the password.
  • Spider, (Last restaurant at the north of the beach, close to Pukka reggae bar). Nice restaurant and bbq with outside kitchen, you can talk to the chef and he will made you special sauce for your seafood ! One of the best ration price-quality 150-300P.  Yummy Burger, Rizal Street. Local burger place offering variety of burgers and hotdogs. The place doesn’t look much at first sight but burgers turned out to be delicious cooked in front of you with all fresh ingredients. They serve Chaolong too.

source: wikitravel.org