El Nido is becoming quite the tourist destination and for good reason. You will find turquoise water, beautiful islands, and an emerging restaurant scene. It was honestly a little too frat boy ish for me but I was still able to appreciate the beauty. And with that in mind, I would definitely recommend everyone to take time to visit.
LANGUAGE: Tagalog, English
CURRENCY: Philippine Piso
CLIMATE: Tropical (hot & humid), Rainy season is June – October but still okay to visit during these times
DRESS CODE: Casual
GETTING AROUND: Tricycle, Motorbike
TIPPING: Tipping is not expected and most restaurants don’t even give you the option
SAFETY: Safe, use normal precautions
FROM PUERTO PRINCESA AIRPORT
Although there is an airport in El Nido, it is relatively small which means many airlines do not fly here and the ones that do are on the more expensive side. Most who visit fly into Puerto Princesa Airport and then take a van direct from to El Nido bus terminal. You can usually pay a little extra to have them drop you off directly at your accommodation. The transfer takes anywhere from 5 to 6 hours and costs around $12 USD. You can book online through Eulen Joy Express, Lexxuss Shuttle, Fort Wally Travel & Tours, or DayTripper Palawan. Tickets can be booked thought this site.
You can also choose to take a bus first from Puerto Princesa Airport to San Jose Bus Terminal, and then to El Nido. If you choose to go this route, you will need to catch a tricycle to San Jose Bus Terminal which should cost you around $3 USD. Once you get to the bus terminal, you have two companies to choose from; RoRo Bus or Cherry Bus. These buses run every 2 hours and will cost you anywhere from $6 to $10 USD. Tickets can be booked in advance through this site.
WHERE TO STAY
Although it can get a little rowdy at times on the first floor, I really did love this hostel. It is located a 10 minute tricycle ride from town but is where everyone comes to watch the sunset and pregame before going out at night. It is located directly on the beach, serves food and drinks, and has two floors with lots of area to chill. Staff was super helpful with arranging island tours and transport back to the Palawan airport.
This hostel is located 30 minutes North of El Nido town and is situated directly in the middle of a secluded shoreline. I knew many people who stayed here and they said it was a lot of fun. Great hostel to really feel the island vibes.
A more upscale type hostel attached to a cute cafe and best wifi in El Nido for sure (they have 5G!). This hostel offers ultimate privacy as every pod comes with curtains and there are only 4 pods per room. Totally would have stayed here but it was a little out of my price range so I just came to work on my laptop in the cafe instead.
WHAT TO EAT
FOOD TO TRY
SEAFOOD: Many of the restaurants located along the beachfront offer fresh seafood cooked to your liking
SISIG: A popular Filipino dish composed of minced pork, chopped onion, and chicken liver. Served with an egg on top
Great local food and cheap prices. I ended up eating here about 4 times during my 5 day stay because of how cheap it was and the extensive menu selection. Plus the waiter was incredibly adorable. Definitely recommend coming here if you want some cheap but tasty drinks and food.
It is hard to find good Indian food in the Philippines, so this is a hidden gem! The food is made to order and full of amazing flavors. So much that my mouth is watering as I type this. I spoke with the owner/chef and his wife for awhile and they are really good hearted people. They don’t serve alcohol but you can buy some across the street and drink it here. It also for some reason seemed a little pricier than surrounding restaurants (my meal was about $6-9 total) but it in hindsight that is not bad at all and is totally worth it.
One of the most popular restaurants in El Nido as it was recommended to me numerous times. Great place to hangout during the day and enjoy a fruit shake or cocktail or come in the evening for a drink, dinner, and some live music.
Another restaurant that was frequently recommended to me. Fantastic brick oven pizza. There is often a queue and it is slightly more expensive compared to other local restaurants, but everyone says it is worth it. (Especially if all you have been eating is Filippino food and you need a break.)
This restaurant was the most recommended restaurant serving local food by both locals and tourists. We didn’t get to go there since it was slightly out of the way from where we were staying but it is #1 on my list for when I go back. If you try, please let me know how it is!
A super cute and trendy restaurant with swings for seats at the bar and a big outline of John Lennon on the wall. Great food and excellent food.
WHAT TO DRINK
Oh, how I miss Red Horse beer.
Funky, chill little cafe that is also a hotel/hostel. Great coffee and the fastest wifi in El Nido.
An upscale resort next to Outpost Beach Hostel. If you are looking for a more chill, quiet vibe, this is the place to come. There is an excellent bar on the back patio with cushions to sit on and watch the sunset.
A neon reggae bar with a dance floor and plenty of tables directly on the beach behind it. Popular amongst backpackers and can get pretty crazy in the evenings.
Claimed by many to be the best bar in El Nido to watch the sunset. Come enjoy some Spanish tapas while you drink a cocktail to wind down your day.
WHAT TO DO
There are two main waterfalls in El Nido; Nagkalit-Kalit Waterfalls and Bulalacao Waterfalls. You will most likely either need to take a tricycle or rent a motorbike to get there. Once you arrive, they are on personal property so you will need to go to the person’s house (there should be someone outside waiting for tourists) and pay a small entry fee for them to escort you to the falls.
WATCH THE SUNSET
There are some extremely colorful sunsets over the ocean in El Nido. A few good places to watch include Outpost Beach Hostel, Panorama Resort, Republica Sunset Bar, and Las Cabanas (Marimegmeg) Beach.
GO TO THE BEACH
There are some very nice beaches in El Nido. My favorite was Las Cabanas Beach because it was quiet and the perfect place for sunset. There are also a few beach shacks set up on the sand with music playing which sets the perfect vibe. See here for a list of all of El Nido’s most popular beaches.
GO ISLAND HOPPING
There are about three different island hopping packages that most people take. All can be purchased through pretty much any hotel or hostel you are staying. Although I didn’t do this (I was going through a thing where I was sick of doing touristy things and just wanted to relax on the beach), I have heard nothing but amazing things about how beautiful the surrounding islands and water are. This was probably the one touristy thing I actually should have done.