El Nido is a small town on the island of Palawan and it is the gateway to paradise. These are the best things to do in El Nido.
About El Nido
El Nido, located in the northern part of Palawan in the Philippines, is a stunning destination known for its pristine beaches, crystal clear water, and towering limestone cliffs. With its breathtaking natural beauty, El Nido has become a popular tourist destination for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and a chance to immerse themselves in the local culture. Bacuit Bay, located near El Nido, is home to over 40 islands and lagoons, making it an ideal destination for island hopping and exploring rich marine life.
In addition to its stunning beaches, El Nido also offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and caving. El Nido is a charming place to visit, with its bustling streets, local shops, and delicious food. Visitors can take a walk through the town, try traditional Filipino dishes, or sample some of the freshest seafood in the region.
Overall, El Nido is a must-visit destination for those looking for a unique and unforgettable experience. With its combination of stunning natural beauty, rich culture, and a wide range of activities, it’s easy to see why El Nido has become a favorite among travelers.
Best things to do in El Nido
As you can imagine, El Nido is one of the best places to visit in the Philippines and a great place to spend some time. Here are some of the best things to do in El Nido.
Island Hopping Tours
The reason why El Nido attracts so many tourists is because of the island hopping tours. During these boat tours, you’ll explore the breathtaking islands and lagoons of Bacuit Bay. There are four different El Nido Island hopping tours.
El Nido tour A
Trip to the Secret Lagoon, visit the gorgeous beach at Shimizu Island, and go into the Big Lagoon. This tour includes a barbecue lunch.
El Nido tour B
Would you like to explore some beautiful caves in the Bacuit Archipelago? With tour B, you’ll visit Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave and some beautiful islands: Popolkan Island, Snake Island, and Pinagbuyutan Island. A local lunch is included.
El Nido tour C
With tour C, you’ll discover some beautiful beaches like Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, and Tapiutan Beach. In addition, you’ll also visit Helicopter Island.
El Nido tour D
Tour D is the highest-rated tour and will take you to the best beaches, like Pasandigan Beach, Nat Nat Beach, and Paradise Beach. You’ll also visit Cadlao Island, Bucal Island, and the small lagoon.
The tours are excluding fees (like the Eco-tourism development fee and fees to visit protected areas) and snorkeling equipment. You can rent them in El Nido, but if you plan to do a lot of snorkeling, it’s highly recommended to bring your own snorkeling gear.
Rent a kayak
You don’t need to go on an organized tour to explore the clear water around El Nido. You can also rent a kayak. This is a great way to explore the nearby islands and hidden lagoons at your own pace. Fun places to visit with your kayak are the Big Lagoon, the Small Lagoon, and Miniloc Island. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel gear!
Visit Nacpan Beach & Twin Beach
Would you like to check out some white sand beaches? Ask a tuck-tuck driver or hop on one of the minivans to Nacpan Beach. This amazing beach is about 20 kilometers north of El Nido. This is not a crowded tourist hotspot full of resort hotels, but it is a very long sandy beach. It has some nice beach bars for you to enjoy some Filipino food and a delicious cocktail.
Nacpan Beach is connected to a smaller beach on the east side, this is called Twin Beach. This beach is closer to the town and can be a little more crowded.
Climb Taraw Cliff
Are you looking for the best view of El Nido? Hike up to the top of Taraw Cliff! Taraw Cliff is a towering limestone rock formation that offers breathtaking views of Bacuit Bay and its surrounding islands.
To climb Taraw Cliff, it’s recommended to hire a local tour guide who is familiar with the trail and can provide information on the best route to take. The climb is typically done in the early morning when the rock is cooler and the visibility is clearer. Make sure to bring a bottle of water, and wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, as well as appropriate footwear.
The climb itself is strenuous and requires a reasonable level of fitness. The trail is steep and rocky, and visitors will need to use their hands and feet to scale the cliff face. As you can imagine, climbing to the top of the cliff is a challenging, but very rewarding experience.
El Nido Via Ferrata Canopy Walk
You can also reach the top of Taraw Cliff with this fun canopy tour. You get the right equipment to stay safe and can enjoy a short, but incredible adventure.
Sleep on a deserted island
El Nido is surrounded by beautiful islands and most of them are uninhabited. There are several tours that will let you sleep on one of those islands which is of course a magical experience! You can either choose to go on a group tour or a private tour. These tours can be booked in El Nido.
Try out Scuba Diving
The waters around El Nido are filled with beautiful coral reefs. You can explore them by snorkeling, but you can also try out scuba diving! This Scuba Diving Tour is perfect for beginners. You learn how to use the equipment and get two enjoy two dives at some beautiful dive sites. You’ll get a lot of attention, as there are only 2 students per instructor. Lunch is included.
Go to Seven Commandos Beach
The Seven Commandos Beach is a gorgeous secluded beach. It’s located around the corner from the town of El Nido, and it is only accessible by boat. As you can see, it has a very interesting name. There are a few stories about the origin of the name, one of them is that it was named after a group of seven American soldiers who lived on the beach during World War II.
The beach is a long stretch of white sand surrounded by lush jungle and crystal-clear waters, making it the perfect spot for a day of relaxation and swimming.
Tip! Are you looking for a unique place to stay? There is a resort hotel at Seven Commandos Beach. After all the tours are gone, you’ll have the beach pretty much to yourself. How awesome is that! Book your room at the Vellago Resort here.
Explore the town of El Nido
Although El Nido can feel a bit messy and crowded sometimes, it certainly has its charm. There are some cute shops to explore and there are many great restaurants, coffee houses, and bars. The weather was pretty bad during my stay in El Nido, so I just went from one coffee place to another. It was so much fun to explore all the interesting places!
Las Cabanas Beach
Las Cabanas Beach is a picturesque beach located about 5 kilometers south of the town center of El Nido. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area and is known for its stunning sunsets provide a stunning backdrop for evening walks and beach activities. There are several great bars and restaurants on the beach. I’d recommend going to TriVal El Nido for delicious food and stunning views.
Enjoy an incredible sunset
You can watch some incredible sunsets while you’re in El Nido. The best places to watch the sun sinking in the sea, are Corong Corong Beach, Las Cabanas Beach, and Twin Beach.
Rent a motorbike
Would you like to go out exploring? Rent a motorbike and get out of town. This way, you can explore more secluded beaches at your own pace and avoid crowds. You can also explore the region north of El Nido, where you’ll find several hiking trails and waterfalls. A great way to spend a day!
Multi day tours El Nido to Palawan
In addition to the day tours, you can also go on a multiday island hopping tour that will take you from El Nido in Palawan to Coron Town in Coron. There are two well-known companies that are famous for their island-hopping tours:
- Buhay Isla – This is the company I used myself and it was an amazing experience.
- Tao – Slightly more expensive, but also a great option.
There are options for 3, 4, and 5-day excursions, I’d recommend going for the longest since the 3-day tour feels a bit rushed. The journey from El Nido to Coron is quite long, and with the 5-day tour, you get to visit the most beautiful spots and have a lot of time to go snorkeling in the turquoise waters.
Where to stay in El Nido
As you can see, El Nido is the perfect place to stay for a couple of days. Since El Nido is a popular tourist destination, there are many hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. There is a place to stay for every budget. These are some of the best places to stay in El Nido.
- Spin Designer Hostel – Traveling solo? Make sure to stay in this very luxurious hostel. The dorms are very spacious and only have 4 beds. The bathrooms are big and clean. There are also some large common areas where you can meet a lot of other travelers. I stayed here myself and loved everything about it. They also have private rooms if you don’t like staying in a dorm.
- Camp Talusi Hills – If you want to stay in a unique and eco-friendly accommodation, this is a great spot for you! You sleep in a tree house or a cottage that is tucked away in the jungle. You have some beautiful views of Bacuit Bay.
- H Hotel El Nido (4⭐) – This vegetarian & vegan-friendly hotel is located on the beach and is a perfect place to stay if you’re looking for a luxurious hotel. It is brand new, the decoration of the rooms is impeccable and it has a spa. A fantastic place to relax and enjoy the views.
Check Booking.com for more options, prices, and availability.
Best time to visit El Nido
The best time to visit El Nido is from December to May, when the weather is dry and sunny, making it ideal for beach activities, island hopping, and other outdoor activities. During this time, temperatures are warm, with average daily temperatures ranging from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 30 degrees Celsius).
However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, the shoulder months of June to November may be a better option. Although the weather is typically wetter during this time, with occasional showers and thunderstorms, the rain is usually short-lived, and the humidity is low, making it a comfortable time to visit. This is also a good time to see Bacuit Bay and its surrounding islands at their most lush and verdant.
Overall, the best time to visit El Nido is subjective and depends on your individual preferences. If you’re looking for dry, sunny weather and clear waters, December to May is the best time to visit. If you’re looking for a more peaceful experience and are less concerned about the weather, the shoulder months of June to November may be a better option.
How to get to El Nido
When you’re exploring the Philippines, there are several ways to travel to El Nido.
- The easiest and faster way to travel to El Nido is by plane. El Nido has a small airport (Lio Airport) that is operated by an airline called AirSWIFT. Because they are the only airline, ticket prices are usually higher than when you fly to other airports. There are direct flights from Manila, Cebu, and Coron. Check WayAway for tickets. From El Nido Airport, it’s a 15-minute drive to town. You can book a shuttle to get from the airport to town.
- You can also fly to Puerto Princesa. This gives you more options for (cheaper) flights. From there, you can travel by minivan to El Nido.
- You can also travel to El Nido by ferry from Coron, a very popular route. Stunning views of beautiful remote islands. Check 12go.asia for tickets.
Good to know: fees in El Nido
The Philippines are famous for its fees and there are a number of fees that you may encounter during your trip to El Nido. These are entrance fees for protected areas, activity fees for popular attractions, and transportation costs.
The most common fee is the El Nido Environmental User Fee (Ecotourism Development Fee). This fee is required for all visitors to El Nido and is used to support environmental protection and conservation efforts in the area. The fee is PHP 200 per person and is valid for ten days.
Book a trip to the Philippines
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Ninoy Aquino International Airport, also known as Manila International Airport, is the largest international airport in the Philippines. From Manila, you can travel pretty much everywhere in the Philippines. Check WayAway to find the best deals on plane tickets.
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Read more about the Philippines
Would you like to explore more amazing places in the Philippines? These travel guides are full of tips and inspiration:
The Rough Guide to the Philippines (Travel Guide with Free eBook)
On this website, you can also read more about traveling to the Philippines. You might like to check out these posts as well:
- 28 Philippines Travel Tips: everything you need to know
- Perfect 2-week itinerary Philippines
- What to do in Port Barton? Tips & the most beautiful sights
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