9 Tips For Your Next Trip To El Nido

Big Lagoon
Big Lagoon | © Kelsey Madison
Kelsey Madison

If you enjoy white sandy beaches, hidden lagoons and vast palm tree forests El Nido should be on the top of your travel bucket list. Located five hours north of Puerto Princesa on the Filipino island of Palawan this dreamy cluster of islands is not to be ignored. El Nido not only has been named home to the worlds best beaches, it is also a super fun city to stay in! It is gaining in popularity but still doesn’t feel like the mega tourist traps some islands around the world have become. Here are 9 tips that will make planning your trip to El Nido easier!

El Nido Roads

Take A Van Or Plane There:

The most popular way to get to El Nido is by van, Lexus Shuttle is the most common company used. You can book tickets through your accommodation, online, or at the station. The journey should be around five hours.

Flying to El Nido is quick and easy although it is quite a bit more expensive then taking a van, if you are willing to pay this option will significantly cut down on travel time!

7 Commandos Beach

Choose Your Van Seat Wisely:

The roads up to El Nido have many turns, and should you choose to sit in the back of the van beware car sickness. The back of the small vans are quite bumpy and this mixed with winding roads could spell trouble for some folks! Sit towards the front of the van and bring a comfortable pillow to rest your head on. The van does stop for 30 minutes at a rest stop where you can get some food and stretch or use the toilet. Rest assured, El Nido is well worth the trek!

El Nido City

Walk Around Town:

Although the area which is called El Nido is very large, the actual town of El Nido is quite small. There are basically three main streets that make up the downtown area – Real Street, Rizal Street and the other Calle Hama. There are smaller little streets connecting these, but these are three good reference points. The best way to get a feel of the town is to just walk! There are options like tricycles or motorbikes for hire but its really not big enough to warrant a ride, just stroll through the small streets and take it all in.

Boat Tours

Take Island-Hopping Tours:

The easiest way to witness all the amazing beaches that the islets El Nido has to offer is to go on a ‘tour’. There are four water based tours that you can take! Each tour takes you on a different route, highlighting different archeological wonders! The tours are named just by letter, example: Tour A, Tour B etc.

Each of these tours range in price from 800 – 1,200 PHP (16-25 USD). All the tours are great but if you are short on time opt for Tour A! This is the one where you get the best of the best; you see the top spots and most beautiful places!

7 Commandos Beach

Bring Cash:

The city has a limited amount of ATM’s and they are known to run out of money. To make sure your holiday goes smoothly budget what you will want to spend and bring enough cash! Also when you are going on the tours bring along some money. There will be opportunities to buy a fresh coconut or grilled banana! Not to mention some tours don’t include kayak rentals! It would have been devastating to miss out on kayaking the stunning lagoons.

Duli Beach

Visit Mainland Beaches:

El Nido is more than just its majestic island paradises. Rent a scooter or hire a Tricycle (a Filipino taxi) for a day and explore the beaches north of the town. If you travel about an hour north of El Nido you can chill on the quiet Duli Beach. There you can take surfing lessons and even spend the night in a beachfront bungalow!

Alternatively you can travel south to Las Cabanas Beach. Here you can sip island inspired cocktails at beach bars where the water is right at your toes! You can even zip line across the ocean to the small Depeldet Island that is connected to Palawan by a rocky sand bar.

Small Lagoon El Nido

Book A Kayaking Tour:

To get a better feel for the island without going on a boat tour you can alternatively do a kayaking tour! Kayaks can be rented for around 300PHP – 600PHP (6 – 12 USD) for a day, this way you can make your way to some of the top beaches after most of the tour groups have gone. Then you not only have the beach to your self, but also the flexibility to leave whenever you would like. Seven Commandos beach is about an hour away from the main town by kayak, and it is absolutely stunning!

Small Lagoon Beach

Be Open To Change:

Much of El Nido works around the schedules of the tours that go out daily, but these times are always subject to change. Times are especially open to interpretation during the rainy season, which lasts from about June to September. Tours can be cancelled any time up until 7AM the day of! Therefore staying flexible is crucial, have a couple back up plans in place just in case.

Palm Tree Forest

Explore Hidden Waterfalls

Inland there are a few waterfalls that will not disappoint! Spend a day exploring the hidden rocky falls thats many often miss!

Nagkalit-kalit Falls: this secluded two tier waterfall is about a 20 minute hike off the main road. Once you’re there you can paddle around in a naturally made pool or lounge on the rocks!

Bulalacao Falls: Consisting of the ‘Small’ and the ‘Big’ falls these magical spaces are only 15 km outside of El Nido town. The small falls being around a 30 minute hike and the big, about one and a half hours.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


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