El Nido, Palawan. Travel guide 2019

Getting to El Nido

Flights to El nido

You can travel from Cebu (Mactan Airport) to Puerto Princessa Airport on Cebu pacific airlines from around 43 AUD (30 USD) and there are at least two flights per day. 

From Manila to puerto princess fly to Puerto princessa for around 61 AUd (43 usd) on Cebu pacific. I use skyscanner to book all my flights as they offer the best comparison between airlines. If you are flexible on dates you have the option to check the full month around travel date so you can consider which days and times are cheaper.

Van transfer from Puerto Princesa

Once you reach Puerto Princesa you will then need to start your long commute (6hrs) by van to El Nido. You can purchase tickets at the airport for between 500-700 PHP. As you exit the airport there will be many companies that will approach you. If you plan on staying in Puerto Princesa and exploring the UNESCO world heritage listed underground river National Park. Once you have finished exploring Puerto Princessa you can book a transfer that will pick up from your hotel in Puerto Princesa and transport to the centre of El Nido at your convenience. On arrival at El Nido Central bus station you can ride a Tricycle to you accomodation from around 50php max to your accomodation.

By Public Bus from Puerto Princesa

You can also reach el nido by public bus but the effort, cost and time required to get to the public bus station from the airport is more trouble than it is worth for the saving of 100 PHP or thereabouts. 

If you wish to do this you will need to catch a tricycle from outside of the airport and negotiate transfer to San Jose bus terminal (50 PHP). Once here you can purchase a ticket for around 400PHP. Considering you will be paying for the tricycle which will take around 15 minutes to get you to the terminal it really isn’t worth the hassle.

What to do in El Nido?

El nido and the island hopping tours

El Nido is most well known for its amazing island tours. Bacuit bay offers magnificent lagoons, captivating caves and the most amazing islands. The bay composes 45 separate islands that make this one of the most gorgeous locations you will visit on your trip to the Phillipines. There are 4 island tours on offer called Tour A, B C, D (I know, original right?) with each covering seperate locations throughout the bay. Tour A and C are the most popular so it helps to be organised in advance in peak periods.

Many operators sell the tours and all have the same itinerary. Tours are regulated to ensure conservation of the area.

Tour A 1200 PHP 24 USD

Inclusions:

-Big lagoon, small lagoon, shimuzu island, secret lagoon, and 7 commandos beach -Lunch -drinking water -hotel pick up -snorkeling gear 

Click here to secure your spot.

*** since taking this tour regulations have made it so Small lagoon and big lagoon cannot be visited on the same day. Small lagoon has now been added to the itenerary of Tour D.

Tour B 1300PHP (25 USD)

Inclusions:

  • Cudognon cave 
  • Cathedral cave,
  • Pinabuyutan island,
  • Snake island
  • Buffet Lunch
  • Hotel pick

Click here to secure your spot

Tour C 1400 PHP (27 USD)

Inclusions:

  • Matinloc Shrine,
  • Matinloc Island,
  • Secret Beach,
  • Hidden Beach,
  • Tapuitan Island,
  • Helicopter Island -Lunch -Hotel pick up

To book this tour at a discounted rate click here

Tour D 1200 PHP

Inclusions:

  • Cadlao Island
  • Cadlao Lagoon
  • Pasandigan Cove
  • Natnat Beach 
  • Drinking water
  • Buffet Lunch
  • Hotel Pickup.

To book this tour at a discounted rate click here

Land Excursions El Nido – Tour E 750 PHP (20 USD).

This tour includes two inland beaches (Nacpan and Calitang) as well as the nagkalit Kalit waterfalls. If you are confident riding a scooter, read on and see how I chose to explore these areas, and more, below.

Tour E Inland beaches and waterfalls (DIY)

Once you have made your way through all the island tours and spent enough days with a snorkel permanently attached to your face don’t forget to check out the mainland. Tour E visits Nacpan Beach, Calitang beach and Nagkalit Kalit Waterfall. Nacpan is located about 50 minutes from El nido town and the waterfalls are on the way about halfway. I decided to hire a scooter and rough it by myself for this tour. I am confident riding a scooter and liked the idea of being free to go where ever else I wanted to on the way.

I got started around 8am and within a 10 minute ride there was not a tourist (and barely any locals) in sight as I left El Nido town behind and zipped by farms and small villages. Using a scooter to get around places always gives me a more authentic understanding of my location and a overwhelming sense of freedom from the more “touristy” side of things.

Lio Beach

The first location I reached was Lio Beach. It took me around 15 or so minutes to get there and it was completely empty once I arrived. The beach had a short Jetty I could walk along and an amazing stretch of beach lined with palm trees. Lio beach is attached to Lio Tourist estate a resort area which consists of Five hotels and various bars and restaurants directly on the beach. I took a left to check out the beach and ended up travelling across a wood broudwalk up to the parking area.

Nagkalit Kalit Waterfall

Another ten minutes further down the main road I made it to the waterfalls area. There are locals waving you down more than ready to take your money for parking. I paid 200 PHP for gate fee and local guide and parking. Reading more recent reviews it looks like locals are getting cheeky and trying to charge 250 PHP. I would suggest making a fuss if you can be bothered as everything is negotiable and the prices are not regulated. It’s around a 30-40 minute walk through a local farm, streams, jungle area till you reach the first falls but it’s worth it when you arrive. After a quick dip here you are bought to a second set of falls called the shower falls.

Nacpan beach

Nacpan Accomodation– There are many places to stay directly on Nacpan Beach three of these are below.

Nacpan Glamping – This place is in demand and more often than not it is fully booked. Half board (breakfast and dinner included), free wifi, mountain view or sea view tents to choose from. Tents are 6 mts in width with 2 Queen beds and air conditioning. Guest are really impressed with the facilities and rated this place a 9.8/10

Mad Monkey Hostel – The perfect place for those planning to mix in the right amount of partying with their island cruising. This place offers 4 types of accomodation; dorms, 2 man tents, loft accomodation and Glamping tents. They have a beachfront bar with free drinks each night.

Seaside Hue– Accomodation ranges from Dorms (19 USD) to private Bungalows (59 USD). During the day you can spend the day lounging on the beanbags set up on the white sands of Nacpan, directly in from of your accomodation.

Sunset AT LAS CABANAS BEACH


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