El Nido was one of the top destinations in the Philippines that I wanted to visit during my early years of traveling.

This coastal town found on the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan is home to gorgeous islands, white-sand beaches, and lagoons. It should be on your bucketlist of places to go in the country because the sea views here rival the best of Asia.

El Nido had changed quite a bit since my first visit. There had been a lot of improvements including how easier it is to get to, now, and the wider variety of options available for tourists.

Traveling to El Nido for the first time? This detailed travel guide will make it easy for you to plan a trip, save money, and maximize your time.

Scroll down to read must-know travel tips before you go, followed by a sample itinerary + budget breakdown, recommended hotels/places to stay, things to do/places to visit and lots of extra travel tips.

El Nido Travel Guide Blog Contents

Get Started

El Nido Itinerary

El Nido Budget

Where to Stay in El Nido

El Nido Travel Tips Before You Go

Things To Do in El Nido + Places to Visit

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How to Go — Most travelers arrive in El Nido on a 1.5-hour flight to Puerto Princesa Airport (PPS), followed by a 5-6 hour shuttle ride. Princesa Airport serves direct flights from Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Clark, and Davao. If you want to skip the long land journey, fly directly to El Nido from Manila, Cebu or Boracay-Caticlan. This is the fastest but more expensive way. For adventurous travelers who want to maximize their trip, book a flight to Coron-Busuanga Airport (USU) and continue the sea journey to El Nido by ferry.

See cheap flightsManila to Puerto Princesa

Bring all the cash you need — Do not rely on getting money from the limited number of ATMs in El Nido. It will be safer to withdraw your money in Puerto Princesa. Better yet, pre-book your accommodations and tours online before arriving.

Book your hotel early — Grab rock-bottom rates and avoid fully-booked rooms by booking online as soon as you know you’re going. Click below to compare discounts and read reviews by other travelers.

Cheapest ratesBest hotel reviews

Check prices online and pre-book discounts — Save money by checking discounts on tours & airport/city transfers. Booking before you leave also saves you time by avoiding the hassles of bringing large amounts of cash during your actual trip.

See tours & discounts

Don’t miss island hopping in El Nido — The boat tours around Bacuit Bay islands is the main highlight in El Nido. Don’t ever skip it during your first trip. The best spots are found in “Tour A” & “Tour C.”

You need to go on a 3-day trip, or longer — El Nido island hopping tours usually start in the morning and run the whole day. Taking into account the long journey from Puerto Princesa, you’ll have to add one day each for your arrival and departure in Palawan. So, 3 days is the minimum, but I recommend that you spend at least 4 days so that you can enjoy 2 full days for island hopping & inland tours. They are worth it!

El Nido does not have to be expensive — Many people think of posh island resorts with a mention of El Nido. Truth is, there are many options here for travelers on a tight budget. If you can afford to stay in a luxury resort, go for it! If you want to save money, stay at many budget-friendly hotels and hostels in mainland El Nido. You can enjoy the islands on day tours.

El Nido is very solo travel-friendly — This town is one of the few places in the Philippines that can be traveled easily and cheaply by solo travelers. The daily island hopping tours accept joiners & there are a lot of these tours organized daily, even during low tourist seasons.

Top travel blogs + guide to El Nido & beyond

El Nido Itinerary

Here’s a sample 4 days & 3 nights (4D3N) itinerary to give you a quick look at how to enjoy a trip to El Nido’s top tourist spots. Click below to see prices & discounts online.

Day 1: El Nido arrival

Flight to Puerto Princesa

0710 am to 0100 pm: Puerto Princesa to El Nido transfer

0100 pm: El Nido hotel check-in & arrival

Register at tourism office & pay ETDF fee …Visit El Nido Tourism Office. Register & pay PHP 200 Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF).

OPTION #1:

OPTION #2:

0500 pm: Sunset in El Nido …Best spots are in Corong-Corong Beach & Marimegmeg Beach.

Day 2: El Nido Island Hopping

0800 am: Start El Nido island hopping tour A or C

0500 pm: Back to hotel / Sunset in El Nido

Day 3: El Nido Island Hopping or Land Tour

OPTION #1:

0800 am: El Nido island hopping tour A or C

OPTION #2:

0800 am: Nacpan-Calitang twin beach

0500 pm: Back to hotel / Sunset in El Nido

Day 4: Puerto Princesa

0700 am: El Nido to Puerto Princesa …Land transport on bus / shuttle van

0100 pm: Puerto Princesa arrival

Puerto Princesa city tour

Puerto Princesa departure

El Nido Budget

Your travel expenses in El Nido will largely depend on your traveling style and how much you plan to spend on activities, accommodations & food. To help you set your own budget, here are budget estimates if you follow the 4 days and 3 nights (4D3N) itinerary posted above. Make sure to review all discounts & online booking prices.

Transport expenses breakdown
PHP 1,700Puerto Princesa to El Nido shuttle — PHP 850 one-way, per person + return. Including hotel drop-off/pickup.Book discount here
PHP 300Marimegmeg/Corong-corong Beach tricycle charter — Round trip rate per tricycle
Activities/attraction costs breakdown
PHP 200El Nido Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF)
PHP 900El Nido island hopping tour ABook discount here
PHP 1,250El Nido island hopping tour CBook discount here
Budget Trip – Backpacker Expenses
PHP 2,000Transport — Roundtrip El Nido-Puerto Princesa transfers and tricycle charter to Marimegmeg/Corong-corong Beach
PHP 1,800Accommodations — PHP 600 per night at a budget hostel x 3 nights.
PHP 1,800Food — PHP 450 sample budget per day, per person x 4 days.
PHP 2,350Activities — Including, El Nido tourism fee, Island hopping tour A & C.
PHP 5,600Total (excluding activities) — Includes accommodation, food, transport for 4 days. Excluding flights
PHP 7,950Total — Includes 4 days expenses + El Nido activities posted above. Excluding flights & activities during your transit in Puerto Princesa.

I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can travel in El Nido. If you have money to splurge on hotels, food, and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted to calculate your own budget.

Where to Stay in El Nido

The most popular place to stay is in El Nido town proper area. You can find many hotels along the beachfront and nearby streets that cater to budget-conscious and mid-range travelers. This area is perfect if you want to stay within easy walking distance to a wide variety of restaurants, bars, shopping, and tourist offices.

If you want to enjoy El Nido’s best, stay at many island resorts in Bacuit Bay. Not only do they offer amazing private beach views, they are also a short boat ride away from the island hopping highlights in town.

Stay at peaceful resorts along beaches near the town proper if you want to stay away from the crowds, including Corong-Corong Beach, Marimegmeg Beach, Sibaltan Beach.

Compare all rates & reviews

El Nido hotels & hostels

Here’s a list of recommended hotels, hostels & places to stay in El Nido. Click below to check prices, discounts & guest reviews.

Bnky Bed and Breakfast

Budget; El Nido Town Proper

Novie’s Tourist Inn

Budget; Corong-Corong Beach

Lolo Oyong Pension House

Mid-range; El Nido Town Proper

El Nido Bayview Hotel

Mid-range; Marimegmeg Beach

Columbus Inn

Mid-range; Corong-Corong Beach

Shipwrecked Pension House

Mid-range; El Nido Town Proper

Matinloc Resort

Splurge; Matinloc Island

Last Frontier Beach Resort

Splurge; Corong-corong Beach

El Nido Coco Resort

Splurge; Corong-corong Beach

Cauayan Island Resort

Splurge; Cauayan Island

Where to book

Book your stay online through these trusted booking sites. I use them frequently to grab rock-bottom prices & enjoy convenient bookings.

Click below to see more places to stay and compare rates/discounts:

AgodaBooking.com

Here are some of the top reasons why I prefer to book online & why you should too:

Wide selection of El Nido hotels/hostels for all budgets.

Often cheaper prices than walk-in rates. Earn rewards points for every booking. The more you book, the more you earn!

Trusted by millions of travelers. Read reviews from actual staying guests.

Instant confirmation & free cancellation on most properties.

Pay in your home currency. Worry less about bringing cash/exchanging currencies. Convenient & secure payment by credit card or Paypal.

Fast customer support.

How to find affordable yet decent hotels perfect for your budget

Step 1 — Go to Agoda.com.

Step 2 — Show the best locations only by filtering results by neighborhood.

Step 3 — View all properties within your price range by tapping on the “Filter” button. Then, scroll down to “Price per night” and select your price range. Tap on “Filter” to see the results. For desktop users, you can find the filters on the left side of the page.

Step 4 — See properties with the highest guest reviews by using the “Guest Rating” filter. Select “9+ Exceptional”. In case there are few results displayed select “8+ Excellent”.

To check the cheapest rooms/beds, simply sort the results by price from lowest to highest.

To check the best places to stay, sort the results by guest ratings. Tap the “Sort” button. Then, choose “Guest ratings” > “All guests” or any of the choices you like. For desktop users, the sort button is located on top of the results.

Carefully check the number of reviews, not only the review score. A higher number of reviews mean a more reliable review score.

Pro tip — Go to Booking.com to check more properties, reviews and rates. Use the “Location Score” filter to narrow down to hostels/hotels with the best location. Select “Superb location: 9+.”

El Nido Travel Tips Before You Go

How to get from Manila to El Nido?

You can either book a flight via Puerto Princesa, El Nido Airport or Coron.

Via Puerto Princesa Airport (PPS) — The most popular and cheapest way. Go on a 1.5-hour flight to Puerto Princesa. Then, ride a bus or shuttle van to El Nido (5 to 6 hours). Flights are operated by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia.

Via El Nido Airport (ENI) — The most convenient but expensive option is to fly directly to El Nido Airport. Manila-El Nido flights only take one hour. From El Nido Airport, the town center is a 15-minute ride away by shuttle van or tricycle. Flights are operated by AirSWIFT.

Via Coron-Busuanga Airport (USU) — If you are feeling adventurous, you can book a flight to Coron. Then, continue the journey to El Nido by ferry. That way, you can maximize your time and visit two of Palawan’s best destinations in one trip. Flights are operated by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, SkyJet, Air Juan.

How to find cheap flights to El Nido?

The easy way is to search on airfare comparison sites that can show you the lowest fares on many airlines in one go. You can also check promo fares for flights on sale & discounts.

Start now on Momondo, or Wego.

How to get from Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, Davao & Boracay to El Nido?

If you are coming from places in the Philippines outside Manila, you can book a flight to Palawan from Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, Davao & Boracay.

Here are alternative routes you can consider booking:

Cebu – Puerto Princesa (1 hour) — Operated by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia.

Cebu – El Nido (1.5 hours) — Operated by AirSWIFT.

Clark – Puerto Princesa (1.5 hours) — Operated by Philippine Airlines.

Iloilo – Puerto Princesa (2 hours) — Operated by Cebu Pacific.

Davao – Puerto Princesa (2.5 hours) — Operated by AirAsia.

Boracay (Caticlan) – El Nido (50 minutes) — Operated by AirSWIFT.

How to get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido?

Ride a van from Puerto Princesa Airport arrivals area. Travel time by shuttle takes 5 to 6 hours. The shared shuttle costs up to P850 one-way per person for a spacious van with hotel drop-off/pickup.

You can also catch a bus (P360+ to P480+ fare per person) or van (P550 to P600 fare per person) from San Jose Terminal located on the outskirts of the city center. Travel time by bus may take 7 hours, or more if the bus makes frequent stops along the way.

Vans depart from San Jose Terminal almost every hour from 5 am to 6 pm. Meanwhile, Cherry & RORO buses depart almost every hour from 4 am to 10 pm.

To get to San Jose Terminal, can charter a tricycle from the airport (P100 per ride). If you prefer to do a local commute, ride a tricycle from the airport exit (main road) to Junction 1 (P8 fare per person). Then, ride a multicab / jeepney to San Jose Terminal (P13 fare per person).

How to get from Coron to El Nido?

Coron to El Nido ferries depart once a day, 3 times a week. This route is operated by MBCA/Overcomer. Travel time takes around 7 to 8 hours. Book in advance because the ferry trip may be fully booked on the day of departure.

What tour should I book?

You can choose between many types of standard island hopping tour routes. They are codenamed “Tour A,” “Tour B,” “Tour C,” etc.

The best spots are in “Tour A” and “Tour C.”

El Nido island hopping tour packages

See the list below for a list of islands & spots included in each route:

Check rates online

Island hopping tour A — Small Lagoon*, Big Lagoon*, Secret Lagoon*, Shimizu Island*, 7 Commando Beach.

Island hopping tour B — Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Entalula Beach*, Cudugnon Cave, Snorkeling Site.

Island hopping tour C — Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine*, Secret Beach, Star Beach, Hidden Beach.

Island hopping tour D — Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Paradise Beach, Pasandigan Beach, Natnat Beach, Bukal Beach.

*Items marked with an asterisk are the best spots.

You can go on a mixed/combination tours if you’re willing to spend time arranging the boat charter. For example, “Combo Tour A+C” and “Combo Tour B+D.”

How to book an island hopping tour?

You can book your island hopping trip when you arrive in El Nido. Multiple tours run every day. It is very easy to find and book one even in the low tourist season. The tours start early in the morning, so you need to make arrangements a day before or earlier.

There are a lot of offices along the main tourist area in El Nido town proper that sell these tours. You can shop around before booking to get the best deal. Tours usually have picnic lunch, drinking water, and snorkeling gear (mask/fins) included in the package.

Better yet, book your tour online to avoid the hassle of bringing large amounts of cash on your actual trip.

Click below to see all discounts posted on these top booking sites:

KlookKkday

Eco Tourism Development Fee

This is P200 fee is required for all tourists visiting El Nido. It is paid once per person, valid for all tours for a 10 day period. If you’ve already paid the fee, take the receipt with you.

Should I book my room online?

It’s highly recommended that you book your stay online to get ahead of fully-booked rooms & enjoy cashless convenience.

You can find many places to stay, book cheap prices, and read guest reviews on these trusted travel sites. Make sure to set your travel dates to see actual room prices & discounts.

AgodaBooking.comTripAdvisor

Is there an ATM in El Nido? Where can I withdraw money?

Yes. You use your ATM card to withdraw money from these locations: (1) RCBC ATM at the municipal hall entrance; (2) BPI Branch ATM. These ATMs accept international cards but be mindful of daily withdrawal limits, which is usually P20,000 per day.

Prepare extra batteries

Power outages are common in the mainland. Bring a power bank and extra batteries for your camera/phone to avoid running out of power during your trip.

How many days to spend in El Nido?

You should spend at least 2 full days for El Nido island hopping & inland tours. Considering the long travel time to get to El Nido, plan a 4-day trip, or longer, if you are traveling via Puerto Princesa Airport.

Things To Do in El Nido + Places to Visit

Check out these top tourist spots, best places to visit & things to do in El Nido.

1. Go island hopping around Bacuit Bay islands

See amazing underwater and “over water” views of El Nido. These islands are found just off the coast of the town proper.

2. See Nacpan and Calitang

The twin beaches of El Nido.

3. Take a sunset stroll along Corong-Corong and Marimegmeg Beaches

Get away from the crowded main beach of El Nido and enjoy peaceful late afternoon views. These sandy shores can be reached on a quick tricycle ride from the town proper.

4. Hike to the top of Taraw Peak

Enjoy breathtaking views overlooking El Nido. This steep karst hill is located right within the town proper.

5. Try the Bird’s Nest soup

This rare and often expensive Chinese delicacy is made from the nest of swiftlets (Balinsasayaw) that are harvested in El Nido. One kilogram of the edible nest can fetch prices of up to USD1,000 in Hong Kong and the US. Get a taste of it in El Nido, where it is a lot cheaper.

6. Indulge in fresh seafood

Go on a food trip in many seafood restaurants along El Nido beachfront.

7. Explore inland El Nido

In addition to Nacpan and Calitang twin beaches, there are many places to see in El Nido mainland like Makinit Hot Springs, Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls, Kuyawayaw Waterfalls & Sibaltan Beach.

Beyond El Nido

8. Discover Coron, Taytay, and Linapacan

El Nido’s Bacuit Bay is just one of the islands groups in Northern Palawan. Adventurous travelers can ride a ferry to more islands worth visiting in Coron, Taytay, and Linapacan.

9. See mainland Palawan

Take a land trip south and visit beautiful spots dotted on Palawan mainland. Extend your trip to Taytay, San Vicente / Port Barton, Puerto Princesa, Tabon Caves in Quezon and Balabac.

Don’t Stop Here

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