El Nido Nature Reserve in the province of Palawan is a unique place in the Philippines that will satisfy even the most demanding travelers. El Nido Marine Reserve Park is a few dozen of small and medium-sized islands near the northern part of the island of Palawan:
- Incredible bays and lagoons
- Snow-white beaches
- Majestic cliffs
- Pure emerald water
It’s all complemented by rich underwater world with coral gardens and mysterious marine life.
Therefore, absolutely any traveler will find a way to spend time in El Nido Marine Reserve Park.
🎒 If you are planning a trip to the Philippines – be sure to include El Nido in your itinerary.
After visiting El Nido, Palawan at least once, you will leave there a piece of your heart and you will dream of coming back to El Nido!
Palawan claimed top spot based on over 76,000 votes in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014
In this article we share photos from El Nido, Philippines and talk about things to do in El Nido, Palawan, the places where you can have a good time, eat tasty and delicious food and get bright impressions.
Our tips will help you make an unforgettable trip to El Nido on the island of Palawan and have an idea of the indicative budget for visiting this region in the Philippines.
What will you find in this article?
- Budget tips – we write the estimated cost for food, entertainment and leisure, so that you know how much money you need
- List of the best places – explore the islands of the marine park
- Suggested itinerary – use our itinerary or part of the itinerary to plan your trip so that not to waste your time on it
- Transport tips – find out how to get to the island, read about our experience of renting a motorbike and going with a group boat tour; and do not miss the information on where it’s better not to book a transfer to the airport of the capital of the island – Puerto Princesa airport
- Tips on where to have a meal – find out the list of the places where you can eat delicious and cheap food
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- How to get to Nacpan beach?
- Where to rent a motorbike?
- Nacpan beach
- The way back to El Nido from Nacpan Beach
- Is Nacpan beach worth visiting?
- The beach on Entalula island
- Snorkeling near Popolcan island
- Snake Island
- Lunch on the boat during the island hopping
- Cudugnon Cave
- Pinagbuyutan Island
- Cathedral Cave
El Nido, Palawan – How to get there?
✈ By Air
To get to El Nido, basically all who travel round the Philippines fly to the capital of Palawan island- Puerto Princesa. And then they overpass 230 km by bus, minivan or taxi to the north to El Nido.
The road to El Nido on Palawan is not easy – there are the serpentine and constant turns, and those who may feel sick should take pills. The transfer usually takes 4-5 hours. We were taken by a minivan in the opposite direction – from El Nido to the airport of Puerto Princesa, and Here you can read about our trip.
Useful tips on how to buy tickets for domestic flights round the Philippines I’ve described Here.
There’s also an airport in El Nido, Philippines (the code of El Nido airport is ENI) but it is very small and serves several flights per day by Airswift airlines, which actually owns the airport in El Nido. When we searched for air tickets to El Nido, there were only direct flights from Manila for about $150 per ticket.
Actually El Nido airport is a good choice if you want a direct flight to El Nido and you can afford a more expensive ticket than a ticket to Puerto Princesa airport. The tourists who buy package tours to El Nido and the tourists who stay at El Nido Resorts also fly to El Nido airport. In any case, if you want to get to El Nido from Manila you can choose either El Nido airport or Puerto Princesa airport.
The airport in El Nido is so small that when we were passing by on our way to Nacpan beach, we did not notice it, although the airport could be noticed. Anyway, now El Nido airport is under reconstruction and hopefully soon, after its opening, it will be much easier to get to El Nido, not only from Manila.
⚓ By Water
It was the most comfortable and quick way for us to get to El Nido, Palawan from Coron, Busuanga. Ferry trip takes less time than a plane + 2 transfers.
The ferry departs from the ferry terminal of Coron Town and arrives at the ferry terminal of El Nido, so only 3.5 hours on the way – and you are in El Nido bay, Palawan, where all cafes and hotels in the center of the town are within easy reach.
You can also go back by ferry from El Nido to Coron. The ferry leaves the ferry terminal of El Nido at 6 am and comes to Coron Town at 9.30 am.
El Nido, Philippines: first impressions and why the region is special
For the first time we saw El Nido, Philippines from the bay, when we sailed on the ferry. We immediately fell in love with it’s colorful buildings, surrounded by high cliffs on the both sides, and boats near the beach with white sand and emerald water.
It was a big difference with the port of Coron Town on the island of Busuanga, from where we arrived.
And during our walk from the ferry terminal along the central streets we agreed that El Nido is more developed for tourists than Coron Town.
During our stay in El Nido, Palawan on our trip to the Philippines we picked several local features:
- When choosing a vacation rental in El Nido you should pay attention to whether the accommodation has its own electricity generator, as there is often no electricity in the town (during our stay there was no electricity after 22 hours every night). Keep in mind, that everything depends on electricity, even water supply and of course such luxury as wi-fi
- By the way, wi-fi in El Nido, like everywhere in the Philippines, is bad — it works from time to time even with the local SIM card
- The main entertainment and activity in El Nido are boat tours to the islands, beaches and coves (TOP things to do and see in El Nido, Philippines), but in addition to boat tours there are other excursions – for example, the underground river in Sabang or a canopy walk in El Nido. You can buy all the activities on the central streets in El Nido
- When moving to / from the region, you can not bring fresh mangoes! Numerous announcements in the port and airport will remind you of this rule
- The cliffs of El Nido are inhabited by swiftlets – birds that make their nests of saliva. These nests are totally edible and are used for delicacy in some countries, for example in China (Bird’s nest soup). The cost of the nests comes up to $3,000 per kilo. Actually, El Nido was named after the nests of swiftlets, because “nido” means the nest in Spanish
- The nature of El Nido Marine Reserve Park is similar to the surroundings of Busuanga and Coron Islands, but the region has more amenities for tourists, and thereafter more travelers, with all the pros and cons
- For visiting all the attractions in El Nido Marine Reserve Park, a single additional fee is taken — eco fee of 200 PHP ($4) per person, the ticket is valid for 10 days
- Different types of accommodation is offered to tourists in El Nido, Palawan: from b&b and hostels to houses/villas for rent, beach hotels and dive resorts.
- There is a great number of luxury beach resorts on private islands in El Nido, Philippines. The most popular and the best resorts are El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island, El Nido Resorts Lagen Island, El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Island. If you stay at El Nido Resorts you will have many privileges. Starting from your flight from Manila – you’ll wait for it in a vip lounge. The cost of staying at El Nido Resorts includes various island hopping tours, so you won’t get bored and will remember your days in Philippines forever!
El Nido on the map of the Philippines + Places of Interest on Google Maps
Accommodation for rent in El Nido: hotels with reviews, conflict in one of the hotels
In El Nido we had an incident with the first hotel we stayed in. Before the trip we booked the hotel in El Nido, Palawan for all the 3 nights of our staying in town. Since we made the booking shortly before the trip, there was no wide choice of vacant hotels and resorts in El Nido, Palawan. So we chose a hotel with 8.0 points rating on booking.com
After we arrived at the hotel, we were a bit disappointed:
- First, there was a construction — and so there was a constant noise and dust
- Second, the room our friends stayed in was clean, but our room was not, it looked like someone had a shower just before we came into the room. In addition there was a persistent smell of paint, but we couldn’t open the window because of the construction right in front of the room.
We were denied in the request to change the room, as there were no free rooms.
So, we spent the first night in El Nido, Philippines at this hotel: the construction was held even at night, we had a headache because of the smell of paint, it was stuffy, but the air conditioner did not work.
In the morning on the way to breakfast, the Japanese girls from the next room asked us to help them kill the huge fat cockroaches, what really cheered us up. Breakfast was set on the terrace on the top floor.
It was raining that morning, and there were only 3 dry tables. So there was also a queue of those who wanted to have breakfast and stay dry. We did not wait, we had bad mood since the evening.
And we decided to change the hotel in El Nido, Philippines
After we chose several vacation rentals in El Nido, Philippines on Booking.com, we did not book anything. We wanted to go to the center of El Nido, Palawan and have a look at the hotels and resorts, and if everything would be ok – to pay for the rooms on reception.
The fact is that the hotel, we spent the first night in, was not in the center of El Nido, but as it was written in the reviews – in a quiet area on the outskirts, near the bus station (in our case, a 24 hours a day construction made the area not quiet at all).
So we packed the bags and wanted to go in search of new hotel right away with suitcases, so as not to waste time on the way to the center of El Nido and back, because we also planned to go to Nacpan beach that day.
But then the most interesting things began.
Booking.com took the payment for 2 rooms for all 3 nights from our card in advance. When canceling the booking, the money was not returned, because our hotel stay at that time had already begun.
So, the fact that we leave the hotel, having lived there for only 1 night – seemed to be our business. But no, the staff of the hotel in El Nido told us to pay (once again) for all the booked days.
The staff didn’t let us leave the hotel arguing that they had not received our payment yet. But our money was debited from the card, and we did not want to pay the hotel the second time.
As a result, after a long, useless conversation on high tones, we managed to get out of the hotel.
We took a tricycle to the center of El Nido and finally decided to stay at “Villa del Vincejos Hotel”.
The hotel is located in the heart of El Nido, but there’s no noise from the street inside. Moreover, you do not need to go on a tricycle every time you want to eat or walk along the central streets.
The building looks inconspicuous, but inside everything is new, clean and tidy, the rooms are spacious. We have only positive impressions about this hotel in El Nido, Philippines. The only disadvantage was that wi-fi worked only near the reception desk and breakfasts were so-so, but you can always eat in any cafe in the center of El Nido a few minutes from the hotel.
So what was the end of the story with Booking and our first hotel in El Nido?
Immediately after leaving the hotel – we sent a email to Booking. The essence of the email was that the hotel didn’t not correspond to the declared description.
We attached the photos, mentioned that the room wasn’t clean and it had a persistent smell of paint, which it was impossible to get rid of. In conclusion, we wrote that, given all of the above, we could not stay in the hotel for all the booked time and asked to return the cost of 2 not lived in it nights.
By the way, the name of the hotel is Raje Residence.
And after 2 days our problem was solved – Booking returned us the cost of 2 nights back to the card. This experience of solving the problem with Booking.com was useful to us, and I hope it will be useful to someone else.
12 popular hotels and resorts in El Nido, Palawan: prices, about + photos
💰 Budget accommodations
From 17$ per night – Spin Designer Hostel, with rating of 9,0 points.
No doubt this is the best hostel in El Nido, Philippines. The hostel is made in a modern style. It provides common rooms for 4 people as well as separate rooms for 2 or 1 person.
From $17 per night – Smile Lodge, with rating of 8,4 points. The most simple hotel. Among the advantages – a good location, if you do not take into account the cocks in the neighborhood, which definitely will not allow you to sleep longer.
💰💰 Mid-range accommodations
From $45 per night – Villa del Vincejos Hotel, with rating of 6,0 points. The hotel we stayed in. Inside everything is new, clean and tidy, the rooms are spacious. We have only positive reviews about this hotel in El Nido. The only disadvantage was that wi-fi worked only near the reception desk and breakfasts were so-so, but you can always eat in a cafe or a restaurant a few minutes from the hotel.
💰💰💰 Luxury accommodations
From 134$ per night – Cadlao Resort and Restaurant, with rating of 8,0 points. A cozy resort with an outdoor pool overlooking the El Nido bay. Here you can rent different types of bungalows in El Nido.
From $315 per night – Cauayan Island Resort and Spa, with rating of 8,5 points. Resort with a spa and diving center in El Nido, located on a private island. The resort is a truly perfect place to enjoy the atmosphere of El Nido.
El Nido, Philippines: where to eat delicious and cheap food?
The question of “where to eat” in El Nido was not as acute as in Coron Town on the island of Busuanga, where we stayed before coming to Palawan. There’s a wide choice of cafes and restaurants on the central streets of El Nido, Philippines.
There is even an Ukrainian cafe Odessa Mama, where you can have a bowl of a borsch in El Nido.
In El Nido, as everywhere in the Philippines, you can easily find cheap food. Another matter is whether will you be satisfied with cooking conditions or not. In the evening everywhere in the streets they fry kebab – this is one of the options to eat cheap. We did not try the food on the streets, but we heard that someone ate it and stayed alive 🙂
SAVA Beach Bar
During our first evening in El Nido, Palawan we visited a few cafes on the shore of El Nido bay, among which was SAVA Beach Bar – cozy atmosphere with lights in the evening, pleasant music, delicious cocktails priced from 200 PHP ($4), happy hours from 4 to 6 pm on cocktails – you order 1 and receive the second one. They often make happy hours in bars in the Philippines.
Osaka Castle El Nido
We also visited Osaka Castle El Nido – the second place among the cafes in El Nido by Tripadvisor. And we did not understand at all how this cafe can be the second among the others. Osaka Castle specializes in sushi, Asian and Japanese cuisine.
Prices start from 200 PHP ($4), an average price for sushi is 350 PHP ($7).
It tasted like an ordinary sushi. But we did not like the atmosphere in the cafe at all. There are plastic tables with plastic chairs along the street under a canopy, and it forms something like food court — there are 3 kitchens: Osaka Castle and 2 other. Absolutely uncomfortable.
The first place where we went to have a meal right away with the suitcases after arrival in El Nido was Artcafe. We liked the food and the atmosphere in ArtCafe, and after visiting other cafes during the first evening, which I described above, we ate only at ArtCafe the next days.
ArtCafe is a popular place in El Nido, because there is not only a cafe, but also a money exchange, as well as a sales office for boat tours, excursions, day trips on Palawan and even air tickets to Manila from El Nido airport.
As for the food in Artcafe – everything we ordered was delicious (someone liked fish with mango more, someone pizza, and someone cream-brule for dessert), the portions were large.
There is live music and usually no empty seats in Artcafe in the evenings.
The prices in ArtCafe are:
- Tosts — in average 230 PHP ($4,5)
- Sandwiches — from 180 to 270 PHP ($3,5 — $5,5)
- Soups — from 95 to 250 PHP ($2 — $5)
- Salads — from 120 to 330 PHP ($2,5 — $6,5)
- Pizza — in average 320 PHP ($6,5)
- Fish and seafood — in average 300 PHP ($6)
- Fruit shakes — 120-150 PHP ($3)
There is also Altrove cafe in El Nido (it was in Altrove Coron where we used to eat on Busuanga), but we did not get there, because Alex really liked the pizza in Artcafe, and we did not have an alternative.
The market in El Nido
The market in El Nido is across the street from the bus station. And compared to the market in Coron Town it is much better. Trade pavilions are divided into several zones – fruits / vegetables / fish / seafood / meat, and they also sell fruits / vegetables / greenery outside, at the entrance to the market.
If you live in the center of El Nido – it’s better to go to the market on a tricycle. We drove to the market by rented motorbikes after a trip to Nacpan beach to buy fruit: mango, pineapples, papaya, bananas.
Nacpan Beach in El Nido: how to get there, where to rent a motorbike in El Nido, prices + is the beach worth visiting?
Even before our trip to El Nido, Philippines we planned that we would spend 1 day for a trip to Nacpan beach. In the morning on the appointed day, our plans nearly collapsed because of the weather — it rained now and then, the sky was covered with heavy clouds.
Nevertheless, we decided not to change our plans, because we wanted to see as many attractions in El Nido, Palawan as we could.
How to get to Nacpan beach?
To get to Nacpan beach not far from El Nido, you can take a tricycle-taxi. The driver will wait for you while your stay on the beach. Such a trip will cost you about 1000 PHP ($20).
You can also rent a motorbike and go to Nacpan beach from El Nido, Palawan by yourself.
We did it that way — it cost us 400 PHP ($8) to rent 1 motorbike for a day + 100 PHP ($2) for gasoline. The cost of renting motorbikes for 4 people was equal to the cost of a trip with a driver on a tricycle, but the impressions of a self-made trip were much brighter.
The advantage of a self-made trip from El Nido is that you can adjust the itinerary and stop for example at Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls waterfall.
The disadvantages of a self-made trip are:
- You will probably feel unsafe on the road, cars will sweep too close to the motorbike
- It’s uncomfortable to drive on not asphalted part of the road during or after the rain, since deep puddles of mud are formed there
We decided that it’s boring to take a tricycle, because during our trip to the Philippines we used tricycles almost every day. And it was a completely different feeling to rent motorbikes and go by ourselves – which was the key argument in choosing how to get to Nacpan beach from El Nido.
Where to rent a motorbike in El Nido?
It’s not a problem to rent a motorbike in El Nido, Palawan. There are many offices on the central streets where you can rent a motorbike, you can also buy there excursions around the island of Palawan and boat tours from El Nido.
We rented motorbikes Here.
It cost 400 PHP ($8) to rent 1 motorbike for 1 day, and it was necessary to leave a driver’s license for a motorbike in return (I’m not kidding).
So we went to Naсpan beach, which is located 20 km to the north from El Nido, Philippines.
First the road is good — one-side concrete road, with not too intense traffic, but when you are overtaken by a car or truck – it’s not entirely comfortable, since the road is narrow. The road runs through the usual non-tourist Filipino villages.
There are breathtaking views on both sides of the road between the villages: dense mountains, rice fields and palm groves.
If you have time – on the way to Nacpan beach you can stop by the waterfall.
So, from El Nido to Naсpan beach you need to drive 16 km on the good road, after – you turn left – and drive 4 km more along a dirt road that leads to beach entrance.
Be ready for adventures if you go to Nacpan beach in rainy weather!
During our trip, the roads were so blurred that sometimes there was no chance to pass the puddles of dirt.
👙 To go to Nacpan beach in rainy weather it’s better to wear clothes and shoes, which you are not afraid to bedraggle
4 km of the road seemed endless to us, at first it was even funny, but later we wanted to get to the beach as quickly as possible.
And then passing through the village, we were asked to stop at one of the houses — it turned out that we were almost on the beach, and this house was a kind of tourist center. We were given sheets of paper where it was necessary to write our names, as visitors of Nacpan beach.
Visitors also pay fee for the entrance to the beach in the tourist center near Nacpan beach. But on the day of our visit the fee was not charged because of the rain and bad roads. In good weather the fee is 100 PHP for tourists, 50 PHP for locals per person.
A few minutes later we parked at Nacpan beach. Ignoring the weather, we were pleased with the beach. Naсpan beach is spacious, it’s length is about 2 km. And there are not many people on the beach all the time.
That’s how Nacpan beach looks like: a row of tall palms and a wide band of fine sand, smooth entrance to the sea, clean and sandy bottom. It’s pleasant to swim and spend time on Nacpan.
There is a cafe to the right of the entrance to the beach, where we stopped, as it rained from time to time.
We had lunch in the cafe. We ordered fruit shakes, grilled meat, fish and shrimps with rice. The prices were average (from 250 to 400 PHP for a dish — $5-$8).
We stayed on Nacpan beach until 3 pm, swam and enjoyed the atmosphere. We really liked Nacpan even in rainy weather.
The way back to El Nido from Nacpan Beach
On the way back we decided to rent a tricycle on Nacpan beach for us girls, which would take us to an asphalt road, to save time and not to go on dirt on foot. So, our boys drived rented motorbikes by themselves. To rent a tricycle cost us 100 PHP per person — $2.
And again we had enough impressions of the trip – the puddles were so deep that water poured directly into the tricycle, and we had to sit with raised legs.
In general, the trip to Nacpan beach was outstanding and rich in memories. But we didn’t have any negative emotions, we just once again realized that the Philippines mean not only paradise beaches.
On the way from Naсpan beach we stopped in El Nido at the gas station and filled 2 liters of gasoline into each motorbike (100 PHP).
Is Nacpan beach worth visiting?
If you have enough time in El Nido, Palawan and you want to enrich your vacation in the Philippines not only with boat tours – you should definitely go to Nacpan beach!
It’s up to you to decide whether to go to Nacpan beach from El Nido on a tricycle or to rent a motorbike and go by yourself. The trip will be rich in impressions in any case. On the way to Nacpan beach you can also stop at Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls.
If you decide to drive by yourself in rainy weather – be ready for the fact that 4 km in each direction you will have to go through the mud, so it’s better not to wear light, smart clothes and shoes. The beach is good, spacious, there is a place where to have lunch, you can rent deckchairs and play volleyball.
Island Hopping tours from El Nido, Philippines: description, prices + reviews
One of the main things that attract travelers to El Nido, Philippines are boat tours to small islands, with the opportunity to visit the surroundings of the island of Palawan and enjoy the best beaches of El Nido with breathtaking nature. Island hopping tours are at the TOP of the things to do in El Nido, Philippines and the most popular activities.
Jacques Cousteau called Palawan the most beautiful place he had ever explored. The rainbow of colours of fish and coral is extraordinary, more so when viewed through a mask while floating among the giant jackfish, luminous angelfish, feisty clownfish and the much bigger manta rays and whale sharks.
Jacques Cousteau (Jacques-Yves Cousteau)
French naval officer, explorer, conservationist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water. He co-developed the Aqua-lung, pioneered marine conservation and was a member of the Académie française – Wikipedia
⛵ A variety of island hopping tours – is a common feature of El Nido on the island of Palawan and Coron Town on the island of Busuanga. If you go to Coron or El Nido you should definitely try this activity. The nature in El Nido and Coron regions is alike.
Therefore, when choosing an island hopping tour in El Nido, Palawan we wanted to visit the places different from those we already saw during our boat tours from the island of Busuanga.
We rented an individual boat on Busuanga. In El Nido we decided to join the group boat tour to see how the group tours in the Philippines are held and to have our own opinion of this kind of leisure.
It’s not a problem to buy a boat tour in El Nido. You can buy all the activities and day trips in tourist offices, shops and cafes in the center of El Nido.
The types and reviews of island hopping tours in El Nido, Palawan
Tour А – El Nido Lagoons and Beaches Day Trip – 1200 PHP ($24)per person : Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Entalula Island, Secret Lagoon, 7 Commando Beach. Tour to the lagoons and beaches of Palawan with the opportunity to snorkel and go on kayaks. According to reviews and tourists’ pictures, Tour A is the most popular boat tour from El Nido.
Tour B – El Nido Caves and Coves Day Trip – 1300 PHP ($26)per person: Popolcan Island, Snake Island, Codognon Cave, Pinagbuyutan Island, Cathedral Cave, Ipil Beach. Tour to the islands and caves of Palawan with the opportunity to snorkel. We chose Tour В, so I describe this tour below.
Tour C – El Nido Hidden Beaches and Shrines Day Trip – 1400 PHP ($28) per person: Matinloc Island, Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, Helicopter Island, Tapuitan Island, Cadlao Lagoon. Tour to the far islands and beaches of Palawan.
Tour D – El Nido Islands and Beaches Day Trip – 1200 PHP ($24) per person: Balinaod Beach, Pasandigan Beach, Paradise Beach, Ubugon Cave, Natnat Beach, Bukal Island. Tour to the beaches of El Nido Reserve Marine Park that are close to El Nido town.
Tour – El Nido Nacpan and Duli Beach – 3400 PHP ($68) per person: Duli Beach, Nacpan beach. You can also make this trip by yourself – for a company of up to 3 people you can rent a tricycle at a cost of 800 – 1400 PHP ($16-28) to go to Nacpan beach.
Lunch is included into the price of each tour
- Beverages (water, cola, fanta)
When you pay for the tour, make sure whether the price includes the rent of masks for snorkeling, fins, kayaks. For example, we had only masks for snorkeling on the boat.
In addition to the cost of the tour, every tourist should pay eco fee of 200 PHP ($4). Eco fee is valid for 10 days. Do not forget to save the ticket for your days in El Nido, Palawan.
Boat tours start from El Nido Bay at 9 am, and come back at about 4-5 pm.
There’s also a possibility to buy package tours to Palawan. You may either choose a package tour only to El Nido or a package tour with combined days in Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron. The price of a package tour includes transfers, accommodation and island hopping tours, which are the same tours I described above.
You can learn more information about package tours to El Nido on this Link.
Comparison of individual and group boat tour
During our trip to the Philippines, we rented a boat individually in Coron, and also bought a group boat tour in El Nido. It helped us make a small comparative analysis of such trips, based on personal experience.
And I will hardly ever surprise anyone, when I say that we liked the individual tour more, because:
- We made a route based on our preferences, mixing places from different tours
- There was only our company on the boat, and we decided by ourselves when to have lunch and how long to spend in one or another place
- Both on the boat and in the places of visit there were no crowds of people, which is pleasant + it wasn’t a problem to take photos or make videos with no people
But of course there are advantages of group boat tours:
- In the group you can communicate with other tourists, share your impressions of other islands in the Philippines, find out what else is worth visiting
- If you travel by couple, the group tour is cheaper than renting an individual boat for 2 persons
The cost of renting an individual boat in El Nido, Palawan starts from 5000 PHP ($100) + extra charge for lunch and entrance fees.
In El Nido we decided to go with the group to make our own opinion about this kind of tours, compare it with our individual boat tours on Busuanga. We came to the conclusion that of course it is better to take an individual boat!
Island Hopping Tour В: from El Nido, Palawan to small islands, mysterious caves, sandy beaches
We bought tickets for a boat tour the evening before the trip. On the way to dinner, we noticed a tourist office opposite the Art Cafe. We came in, asked the information we were interested in and bought the tickets.
We were given a discount for 4 tickets – 200 PHP ($4) per person, so the tour cost us 1100 PHP ($22) per person. We were also asked about our food preferences. There is usually lunch for the group on the boat, and if you are, for example, a vegetarian, your food wishes will be taken into account, but you need to tell them in advance.All boats with group tours depart from El Nido bay at 9am. There were 14 people in our group. On the boat we were given snorkel masks and life jackets, in which it was necessary to stay until the boat left the bay on the way to the islands and beaches near El Nido, Palawan.
Sometimes the places of visit on tours may be changed due to some reasons, for example weather conditions. So, on our trip, a visit to Ipil Beach was replaced by a visit to Entalula beach on the island of the same name.
The beach on Entalula island
A beautiful beach with white sand, emerald water, palm trees and cliffs.
The disadvantage is that a significant part of the beach is closed to everyone, except the guests of the hotel, which owns the beach.
Free for visiting part of the beach is not so large. If several tourist groups come to Entalula beach at the same time, it will certainly be crowded.
The main attraction of the beach is a small rock that seems to grow out of the water. All the visitors of the beach make photos near this rock, and sometimes it’s a problem to make a photo without other tourists in the shot.
There’s a good snorkeling near Entalula beach, do not forget to take snorkel mask with you — and you are guaranteed interesting pastime, while others make photos near the rocks.
Snorkeling near Popolcan island
A wonderful place for snorkeling in El Nido, Palawan. You dive straight from the boat and snorkel-snorkel-snorkel.
Multi Colored coral gardens, fish, starfish and marine life at arm’s length — isn’t it a snorkeling paradise? But you have to be careful – it’s all is not too deep, and when diving, you can easily hurt yourself by corals.
The island, which is connected to the island of Palawan, where you can walk at low tide. The island is called Snake Island because of the shape of the connection. By the time we were visiting Snake island the weather turned bad, so we could not fully enjoy the beauty of these places. On the beach of the island we were met not by a snake, but by monkeys 🙂
If you climb up the path to the top – you can get to the view deck and take a photo of Snake Island and Palawan from height. We did not go up, but we went for a walk into the mangrove forest, where orchids grow first, and then the mangrove forest begins.
Lunch on the boat during the island hopping
For lunch we did not land on the islands, the food was on the table right on the boat. Let me remind you that our group consisted of 14 people.
There was enough food, they served:
- Grilled fish
- Chicken and
- Pork kebab
- Vegetable salads
- Meat rolls
- Water, cola, fanta
The entrance to the cave is on the beach, where the boats stop. The beach is quite nice. If not for the group tour program, we would have stayed on this beach quite longer.
There’s an interesting snorkeling along the coast of the beach.
We were unlucky with the weather — when we came to Codognon cave, a strong rain began, the visibility was so bad that we could not see the neighboring island, which was very close.
Of course we could snorkel, but there was no way to relax on the beach.
As for the cave – I did not get inside. The entrance to the cave is in the rocks, you have to climb onto the rocks and climb through the hole, the stones are quite sharp. Our friends got inside and told there was nothing special.
A beautiful island with a long beach and a spacious palm grove.
Our boat was the only one on the island, so there was plenty of places to rest. Everyone can find what to do on Pinagbuyutan – here you can snorkel, walk along the beach or in a palm grove or sunbathe.
The cave is in the rock of Cathedral Island. There’s no shore of an island, as it is the rock, surrounded by the sea. The boat stops near the cave and everyone watches it while staying on the boat.
This is one of the sacred places for the locals. Cathedral Cave was the last visiting place on our boat tour and after it we headed back to El Nido.
As for our impressions of the boat tour – it’s definitely worth going. We were not lucky with the weather — we left El Nido when it was sunny, but soon the weather turned bad – it became cloudy and sometimes it was even dark because of the rain. Anyway, we were amazed by the nature of Palawan.
Boat tour – is a great opportunity to visit 5-6 amazing places in El Nido, Palawan in one day and get impressions of the Philippines that will stay with you for a long time. If possible, it is better to rent an individual boat and make your itinerary with the places that are interesting to you, even if these places are included in different group tours. But even if you go with a group of tourists – the endless pleasure is guaranteed, especially if the trip is in good weather!
How to get from El Nido to Puerto Princesa airport: review of a transfer + price
We had a flight from the island of Palawan to the island of Cebu at 8 pm. So, we had to leave El Nido at 2 pm, because the transfer to the Puerto Princesa airport – the capital of Palawan island – lasts about 4 hours.
The distance between Puerto Princesa and El Nido is 230 km, it usually takes tourists 4 hours to overcome this way. I want to emphasize the word “usually”, because in our case everything was not that way.
If you stay in El Nido, it’s easy to find transfer to Puerto Princesa — there are a lot of offices on central streets, which offer boat tours and day trips, they also sell transfers. We bought transfer in the same place where we rented motorbikes, the evening before the trip.
The cost of the transfer was — 400 PHP ($8) per person. We were given tickets where the driver’s name was written – June June.
👿 Remember this name, and if you are not a fan of thrilling experiences – try to avoid it!
The next day we took a tricycle to El Nido bus station. We found June June and he opened us a minibus for 10 seats. It was time to leave El Nido, but June June left the bus.
If to describe briefly, we left El Nido an hour later, in fact, only 4 of us went to the airport, the remaining passengers were locals, who cruised between the villages and so we constantly stopped along the way.
The road between El Nido and Puerto Princesa is a permanent serpentine, almost without straight parts of the road. We were at the airport 3 hours after leaving El Nido, this time includes a 30 mins stop for lunch on the half way. It means that we overcame 230 km of the serpentine road in heavy rain and with constant stops in 2.5 hours.
It’s hard to imagine, but we seemed to be flying over the road. I was taking pills for nausea and sometimes even cried for fear.
For sure, usually a transfer from El Nido to the airport of Puerto Princesa passes quietly, but that was not our case. 3 hours of “pure pleasure” – and we arrived at the long-awaited airport of Puerto Princesa.
The airport of Puerto Princesa is new and spacious. In the airport everyone must pay fee for the entrance before the customs zone — 200 PHP ($4) if you have domestic flight and 700 PHP ($14) for international flight.
You can not get on board the plane without paying the fee. Our flight from Puerto Princesa to Cebu was delayed, like almost all of our domestic flights round the Philippines.
⏰ You should keep in mind frequent flight delays in the Philippines when planning your trip, it’s better to have more time
Conclusion of our trip to El Nido, Palawan
Memories of our days spent in El Nido make us think that we would like to come back again – this is the best proof that the trip was a success.
We really enjoyed our days on Palawan, despite the fact that in El Nido we were not lucky with the weather, because the weather was not as good as during our stay on Busuanga and Coron islands.
El Nido is perfect to spend time because from here you can not only go on boat tours to marine reserve park but you can also take activities and excursions to other attractions of Palawan island.
We spent 3 days in El Nido, and now I can say that this is not enough. Therefore, when planning the itinerary of your trip to the Philippines, I would recommend leaving at least 5 days to El Nido
- 2 days for boat tours, as 1 day on a boat tour in El Nido region is not enough to enjoy the beauty of nature
- 1 day for a trip to Nacpan beach
- 1 day for visiting beaches in El Nido, such as for example Las Cabanas beach
- 1 day for a trip to other attractions of Palawan island, for example, to the underground river in Sabang
Include El Nido in the itinerary of your trip, and pleasant memories from visiting this part of the Philippines will stay with you forever!
We wish you an unforgettable self-planned vacation in the Philippines! Nastia & Andrei
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