El Nido Travel Guide: best things to do + tips

by suitcasestoriesbe
Philippines El Nido

After visiting El Nido twice, we can tell you that this place is a true piece of paradise and without a doubt one of our most favorite places in the whole Philippines. Crystal clear waters, remote beaches, hidden lagoons, and golden sunsets are only a few things that make El Nido so special. In this complete guide, we collected everything you need to know to plan your own trip to El Nido including all the best things to do, our favorite places to stay and tips to get around. 

How to get to El Nido?

  • By plane:
    From Manila or Cebu you can book a flight to Lio Airport (El Nido) which is the easiest way to get in El Nido. (check for flights here) There are multiple flights a day, the journey takes around 1h 30 minutes and prices of tickets are between $80-$150/one-way. As soon you arrive in El Nido, there are many tuk-tuks or minivans driving from the airport to El Nido Town. (around PHP 300/one-way)
  • By ferry:
    If you’re coming from Coron, you could also go to El Nido by ferry. Ferries are going twice a day, the journey takes between 3-4 hours and prices are around $35/one-way. Check the schedules and different options here or via the search box below.
  • With an expedition:
    Another option is to join a 4-day Coron to El Nido Expedition, which starts in Coron and takes you in 4 days to El Nido along the most beautiful islands in Palawan.

Where to stay in El Nido

El Nido has a range of budget accommodation from hostels and beach cottages to luxury resorts and trendy hotels. We highly recommend staying in Cuna Hotel or Frendz Hostel which are both located in El Nido Town and have excellent reviews. If you are looking for a more peaceful and unique accomodation, we can highly recommend staying at Cabanas Glamping Resort. (lovely comfy tents, free motorbike, yummy food and be sure to say hello to our friend Ryan and the sweet dogs)

Read also: Best hotels & hostels in the Philippines

Best things to do in El Nido

There are many things to do in El Nido, from relaxing on one of the stunning beaches to ziplining and joining one of the different island-hopping tours. Below we have listed all the best things to do in El Nido we personally like the most.

Read also: Coron Travel Guide: 7 x best things to do + tips

Go island hopping

El Nido is located in the Bay of Bacuit, which has about 45 stunning islands. Most of these islands can be visited during one of the amazing island hopping tours, making island hopping the most popular activity in El Nido. Secluded islands, crystal clear water and hidden lagoons where you can go swimming or kayaking are basically what those tours are about. The first time we visited El Nido, we did Tour A and Tour C, and now Tour B and Tour D and we honestly like all of them. Below a short recap of the places we’ve visited during these tours which makes it hopefully easier to decide which you like the most.

Island hopping Tour A 

On tour A we visited Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, had lunch on Shimizu Island, discovered Secret Lagoon and relaxed under the palm trees of 7th Commando Beach. One of the most popular island-hopping tours!

COST
Group tours are around PHP 1300 + PHP 200 per person environmental fee (including buffet lunch + drinks)
Private tours are around PHP 4500 for a boat + guide + PHP 200 per person environmental fee (no lunch or drinks included)

BOOK
If you like to book your tour in advance, we can highly recommend this El Nido Tour A

Island Hopping Tour B

On Tour B (which we did last time in 2019), we visited Snake Island which is a stunning photo spot, relaxed on Popolkan Island and visited the breathtaking Pinagbuyutan Island. One of our favorite tours!

COST
Group tours are around PHP 1300 + PHP 200 per person environmental fee (including buffet lunch + drinks)
Private tours are around PHP 4500 for a boat + guide + PHP 200 per person environmental fee (no lunch or drinks included)

BOOK
If you like to book your tour in advance, we can highly recommend this El Nido Tour B

Island Hopping Tour C

During Tour C we visited Matinloc Shrine, where we got rewarded with breathtaking views. Afterwards we visited Hidden Beach, snorkeled at Helicopter Island, went to Secret Beach and enjoyed a real ‘Expedition Robinson’ feeling on Talisay Beach.

COST
Group tours are around PHP 1300 + PHP 200 per person environmental fee (including buffet lunch + drinks)
Private tours are around PHP 4500 for a boat + guide + PHP 200 per person environmental fee (no lunch or drinks included)

BOOK
If you like to book your tour in advance, we can highly recommend this El Nido Tour C

Island Hopping Tour D

On Tour D we visited the stunning Cadlao Lagoon, visited the beaches around Pasandigan Beach and enjoyed a delicious local BBQ lunch with sea views on Paradise Beach.

COST
Group tours are around PHP 1300 + PHP 200 per person environmental fee (including buffet lunch + drinks)
Private tours are around PHP 4500 for a boat + guide + PHP 200 per person environmental fee (no lunch or drinks included)

BOOK
If you like to book your tour in advance, we can highly recommend this El Nido Tour D

Rent a scooter and explore all the beaches

El Nido has lot of beaches where you can spend the day relaxing, swimming or enjoying a cocktail in one of the lovely beach bars. By renting a scooter you can easily explore them on your own pace. And above all, the condition of the roads have been improved a lot making it safe to drive alone.

COST
Prices are around PHP 500 for a full day

TIP
If you book at Cabanas Glamping Resort you get a free motorbike for the length of your stay

Visit the peaceful Dulih Beach

Dulih Beach is the perfect place for everyone who likes a quiet and beautiful beach without too many tourists. It is located more to the north of El Nido Town, about an hour’s scooter ride away. It’s a great beach to surf and you have one cozy place to have a drink.

COSTS
PHP 50 per person entrance fee

Visit the less touristy Corong Corong Beach

Corong Corong Beach is a long stretch of beach which is only a 20 minute walk from El Nido Town. It’s less touristy than the other beaches where you can enjoy a beautiful sunset and have some nice restaurants to eat. Since there are many boats here, we found it less suitable for swimming and relaxing.

COSTS
No entrance fee

Spend the day at beautiful Nacpan Beach

Hard to choose which beach we like the most, but Nacpan Beach is certainly at the top of our list. It is a long beautiful beach with hundreds of palm trees and is approximately a 45-minute drive from El Nido Town. Thanks to the many lovely places to eat, it is a great place to have lunch or dinner and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

COSTS
PHP 50 per person entrance fee

Enjoy sunset at Las Cabanas Beach

Besides Nacpan Beach, is Las Cabanas Beach definitely one of our favorite places in El Nido. You need to walk through a new build shopping area, called Vanilla Beach, to get on the beach. We love to spend all day on Las Cabanas Beach, hang out in the cozy bean bags of Beach Shack, and watch a breathtaking sunset with a cocktail in our hand. Cheers!

COSTS
No entrance fee

TIP
If you’re coming by tuk-tuk, ask to drop you off at McDonald’s. From here you walk straight to the beach while passing lots of cute shops and restaurants.

Go glamping for a night or two

We stayed two nights in the Cabanas Glamping Resort and can’t recommend this place enough. Lovely comfy tents, a free motorbike, yummy food and the most heartwarming service! If you go, be sure to say hello to our friend Ryan and all the sweet dogs. Another beautiful glamping place which is still on our list, is Nacpan Beach Glamping . It’s a more expensive accommodation, but the location and the views are too good to be true.

COST
Cabanas Glamping Resort: a comfy double tent is around $68/night (inluding breakfast and a free motorbike)
Nacpan Beach Glamping: a luxury double tent is around $320/night (inluding breakfast and dinner)

BOOK
Your stay at Cabanas Glamping Resort or at Nacpan Beach Glamping here

Get a massage at the Organic Spa

The Organic Spa opened a new and second place in El Nido, located in The Shoppes at Vanilla Beach. (new shopping area at Las Cabanas Beach) It’s wonderful place to relax after a day of exploring or tanning on the beach. Not only they have a super friendly staff, reasonably priced treatments, but they also use vegan-friendly products. We loved it!

COST
A pedicure cost around PHP 300 per person and a 1-hour full body massage PHP 500 per person

LOCATION
The Organic Spa

Face your fear and hike up Taraw Cliff

Looking for something more adventurous? Face your fear and hike up Taraw Cliff. From this viewpoint you’ll have the most impressive views over El Nido Town. Tip: get a guide, bring sneakers, a water bottle and go with sunrise or sunset. Perfect thing to do for adventure seekers!

COST
Around PHP 300-500 per person for a guided hike

BOOK
Hiking up Taraw Cliff is still on our list, but we highly recommend this guided Taraw Cliff Hike where also the Canopy Walk is included.

Wander around El Nido Town

Last but not least, wander around the cute little town of El Nido. There are many great restaurants, little shops and a beach with the most beautiful backdrop.

P.S. Are you leaving soon? Be sure to check out the following helpful websites for planning your trip.

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El Nido Travel Guide - best things to do + tips

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