Discover El Nido
El Nido is a tropical haven on the northern coast of main Palawan Island. El Nido itself is a small town with a mediocre beach, narrow streets, and mostly backpacker and mid-range hostels. However, it is the basecamp when exploring the Bacuit Archipelago, making it one of the Philippines’ most favourite beach destinations.
Bacuit Archipelago is a paradise of 45 islands – a mix of limestone formations, pristine beaches, lush forests, enchanting lagoons, turquoise waters, and colourful marine life. You can explore these through standardized tours. Whether you pick a group or private tour, I can assure you that you will meet some of the funniest and friendliest tour guides in El Nido!
Best time to visit is between November to May, when the seas are mostly calm and the weather is dry. I personally prefer around January to February, when days are hot but nights are soothing. Better if you can get an accommodation by the shore so you can sleep and wake up to the sound of waves. These sell out fast on the main beach in Corong-Corong though!
We don’t recommend visiting during the rainy season (June to October). Local Coast Guard is very strict and they don’t allow boats to set sail when seas are rough. This sometimes happens even on the good months, though. But don’t worry, if it’s just mild rains, you will still have plenty of things to do with El Nido’s inland tours.
4 Awesome Things to Do in El Nido
#1 Island-hopping in Bacuit Archipelago
There are 4 basic island-hopping tours from El Nido: Tours A, B, C, & D, each with a different set of islands to visit. Tour A is the most popular because it allows you to explore a good mix of lagoons and beaches. There are also Combo Tours, but we don’t recommend them. With the Combo Tours, you’ll have to hurry through several destinations without having enough time to enjoy them.
If you’re staying a few days in town, we suggest joining at least 2 island-hopping tours. Rates start at 890 PHP ($15.50) when you book via Klook. This is a 7-hour tour that usually starts at 9:00. Apart from the wonderful stops, our favourite part is the buffet lunch – a choice of grilled fish, chicken or pork, rice, and fresh fruits. These are cooked and prepared on a white-sand beach, where you can eat with your hands while looking out to paradise.
#2 Inland tours – beaches, waterfalls & hot springs
Although El Nido itself is just a regular town, its outskirts are a whole other story.
Nacpan–Calitang are twin beaches located some 20 km north of El Nido town proper. You’ll love their golden sand, laidback vibe, and crystal waters. Make sure you climb the hill where the two beaches meet for a beautiful bird’s eye view. We recommend taking a side trip to Makinit Hot Springs and Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls when making this journey. Note that you might need a guide when trekking to the hot spring and the waterfalls.
Nearer to El Nido town is Las Cabanas Beach, just about 5 km away. It is famed for its beautiful sunset that you can watch while downing a drink from its short strip of resto-bars.
Book a tricycle tour or rent a motorbike to explore the rural roads that lead to these gems. Rates start at 1,500 PHP ($26.50) for a trike tour and 500 PHP ($8.50) for a motorbike rental per day.
#3 Climb Taraw Peak
If you’re a sunrise person, we highly recommend an early morning hike to Taraw Peak. It is the best viewpoint in El Nido and well worth waking up early and sweating out all the way up. The hike is very humid, which is why we recommend doing it in the morning. Wear comfortable clothes and hiking shoes or sneakers, definitely no slippers!
There are 2 ways to climb Taraw Cliff: via canopy walk with optional dreamcatcher and the good old rock-climbing.
The canopy walk is the most common approach because it is generally easy and very safe. To reach the top, you only need to take the stairs and a 75-m hanging bridge. You can book this tour on ground with Via Ferrata or book it online via Klook for 340 PHP ($6.00). There is also an option to add the dreamcatcher experience for a total of 600 PHP ($10.50). This will allow you to stand on a spiderweb-like harness with a good view of the rocks below!
If you have a good level of fitness and are absolutely not afraid of heights, we’d like you to consider actually climbing up its rugged rocks. The climb takes about just 30mins to 1 hour, but requires a lot of strength and courage. The canopy walk gives you a great view, rock-climbing gives you the best view. Think about that when deciding which way to climb Taraw Cliff! You’ll need a guide for this route and rates start at 500 PHP ($8.50) per person.
Whichever method you pick, you will be provided with necessary equipment like helmet and gloves.
#4 Eat your heart out!
El Nido is a hub for foreign tourists, so don’t be surprised when you mostly find international cuisine around town. The great thing about them though is that they don’t only offer good food, most times they also give you amazing views and lovely ambiance.
The Nesting Table is our favourite spot for brunch and afternoon snacks. We love their pancakes, fruit shakes, and variety of vegan choices, all for a good price. Most of all, they offer a good view of the beach and the surrounding karst landscape.
Looking for a more romantic ambiance? Trattoria Altrove specializes in firewood pizza and pasta. Customers have to take off their shoes before entering the resto, an old Filipino tradition. The place itself looks old but well-maintained. What we love about this is that they highly discourage gadgets or anything that will distract you from your food and your companion. It’s not really hard though when you’re enjoying the food so much!
For Filipino dishes, Tambok’s offers the widest variety of options – from seafood to grilled meat and vegetable dishes. Whatever dish you choose won’t disappoint, but we highly recommend trying out their chicken inasal and pancit buko.
These are just our top 3. Most probably you will find a restaurant that answers to your craving when you scour the many choices at El Nido town!
How to get to El Nido
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Coron||1hr 25m-3hrs 30m||from 1,610 PHP ($28.50)||Coron to El Nido|
|Manila||1hr 20m-14.5 hours excl. transfers||from 2,420 PHP ($43.00)||Manila to El Nido|
|Port Barton||4hrs 30m-5hrs 30m excl. transfer time||from 330 PHP ($5.50)||Port Barton to El Nido|
|Puerto Princesa||5.5-7 hours||610 PHP ($10.50)||Puerto Princesa to El Nido|
El Nido is all about stunning limestone cliffs, crystal-clear waters and natural beauty. And that’s what our favourite stays in El Nido reflect!
There are a lot of awesome accommodations for all budgets to pick between in El Nido. Our favourite stays are places with the best views, incredible nature, stunning decor and amazing staff.
Before you start reading about our favourite stays, it’s good to know a bit about the best areas to stay in El Nido, so that you’re picking the best accommodation in the area that’s right for you.
- El Nido Town is where you’ll find most of our favourite stays. It’s the main tourist area in El Nido, and where you’ll find the ferry point. Nice and convenient!
- Corong-Corong is a quieter area located just south of El Nido Town and is known for its beautiful sunsets and picturesque beach.
Cadlao Resort and Restaurant - Treating Yourself
Area: Next to El Nido town — 10-minute walk to town centre
Your only negative comment about this place is that you wish you’d stayed longer. This place really is the tropical island resort that you’ve been dreaming of.
The infinity pool overlooks the sea, there are palm trees everywhere and the service is incredible. Here you’ll get to enjoy your own spacious cottage, with some of them opening up right onto the beach.
- Three swimming pools
- Beach-side bungalows
- Incredible views
- Tasty breakfast included
Double rooms start from $150 per night
Duli Beach Resort - Treating Yourself
Area: Duli Beach — around 1-hour to El Nido town
There’s no better way to start your day than drawing back the curtains and seeing the ocean right there. That’s exactly what you can get at Duli Beach Resort. Their spacious bungalows with private terraces are set right on the beach.
The remote location means that a lot of the time you’ll have the beach to yourself. You also don’t have to worry about finding food or a drink as the hotel’s on-site restaurant and bar will undoubtedly satisfy you. If you want to head to El Nido town, it’s just under an hour’s drive away.
- Right on the beach
- Secluded location
- Amazing staff
- Delicious breakfast included
Double rooms start from $50 per night
Spin Designer Hostel - Mid Range
Area: El Nido town — only a 5-minute walk around the town and beach
You might have guessed by the name, Spin Designer Hostel has been designed to perfection. It’s so nicely and creatively designed that you probably wouldn’t expect it to be a hostel.
The great thing about staying in a hostel, whether you’re in a private room or the dorms, is that there’s often great facilities. Spin Designer Hostel has a shared kitchen with BBQ facilities, a games room and a terrace surrounded by the forest. How about enjoying your complimentary breakfast here?
- Stylish and modern hostel
- Great amenities
- Delicious breakfast included
- Private and dorm rooms
Double rooms cost $30-$50 per night
Hutch Lodging House - Mid Range
Area: Next to El Nido town — approx. 20-minute walk to El Nido beach and town centre
Hutch Lodging House brings the outside inside. With most of the hotel being open-air and plants scattered throughout, there’s a very relaxing ambience here. You also have the option to relax on your own private balcony as every room has one.
It’s beautifully designed! The hotel is only a 10-minute walk from town — far enough that you get peace and quiet, but not too far.
- Great location
- Beautiful design
- Air conditioning
- Every room has a private balcony
Double rooms cost $30-$50 per night
Bale Cabugao Cottages - Budget Friendly
Area: Near El Nido town – approx. 10-minute walk to El Nido beach and town centre
Only steps from the beach, all you have to do is stand on the balcony at Bale Cabugao Cottages to hear the sound of the waves. Imagine eating your breakfast with this view! Great news: it’s included in the price.
The hosts go out of their way to help you organise anything in El Nido. Their energy is also guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
- Incredible views
- Great location
- Helpful and happy hosts
- Comfortable rooms
Double rooms $15-$30 per night
We are sorry that this post didn't meet your expectations.
Your feedback is very valueable to us
What was missing in this post? (TIP: If you want us to reply to your feedback, you can leave your email in this text box.)
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.