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.

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How to get to El Nido — Most travelers arrive in El Nido by flying to Puerto Princesa Airport and traveling by land to El Nido. Travel time from Manila to Puerto Princesa is around 1h30m. From Puerto Princesa to El Nido travel time is around 5 to 6 hours by shuttle. If you want to skip the long land journey, you can fly directly to El Nido Airport. This is the fastest but more expensive way. For adventurous travelers who want to maximize their Palawan trip, book a flight to Coron-Busuanga Airport (USU) and continue the journey to El Nido by ferry.

Puerto Princesa to El Nido

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.

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El Nido travel goals!

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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.”

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

See top discounts

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.

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 or 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 are traveling on a tight budget, stay at many budget-friendly hotels and hostels in mainland El Nido. Then, 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.

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El Nido Travel Guide Blog

El Nido Itinerary

What to do in El Nido in 4 days? Here’s a 4 days & 3 nights (4D3N) itinerary for your do-it-yourself (DIY) trip.

Day 1: El Nido arrival

Time Activity

Flight to Puerto Princesa

0710 am

Puerto Princesa to El Nido

0100 pm

El Nido hotel check-in

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Visit El Nido Tourism Office — Register & pay tourism fee. The Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF) is P200 per person.

Visit El Nido Tourism Office

Start El Nido town proper sightseeing

Via Ferrata Canopy Walk or Taraw Cliff hike

0500 pm

Sunset in El Nido — Best spots are in Corong-Corong Beach & Marimegmeg Beach.

Try Nido (Bird’s nest) soup

Day 2: El Nido islands & lagoons

Time Activity
0900 am

Start El Nido island hopping tour A

Big Lagoon

Hidden Lagoon

1200 nn

Picnic lunch at the beach

Shimizu Island

7 Commando Beach

Hidden Beach

0320 pm

Back in El Nido town

0500 pm

Sunset in El Nido

Enjoy a massage

Day 3: El Nido beaches

Time Activity

OPTION #1

0900 am

Start El Nido island hopping tour C

Helicopter Island

Matinloc Shrine

Back to hotel / Sunset in El Nido

1200 nn

Picnic lunch at the beach

Secret Beach

Tapiutan Island

Hidden Beach

0320 pm

Back in El Nido town

Sunset in El Nido

OPTION #2

0900 am

Nacpan-Calitang twin beach day tour

0500 pm

Sunset in El Nido

Day 4: Puerto Princesa

Time Activity
0700 am

El Nido to Puerto Princesa

0100 pm

Puerto Princesa arrival

Puerto Princesa city tour

El Nido Budget

Your travel expenses 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 1,000 Puerto Princesa to El Nido shuttle — Per person one-way fare online + return.Book online
Activities/attraction costs breakdown
PHP 200 El Nido Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF) — Per person.
PHP 900 El Nido island hopping tour A — Per person discount price online. Includes join-in tour fee, BBQ lunch, & professional guide.Book online
PHP 1,250 El Nido island hopping tour C — Per person discount price online. Includes join-in tour fee, BBQ lunch, & professional guide.Book online
Budget Trip – Backpacker expenses
PHP 1,000 Transport — Roundtrip El Nido-Puerto Princesa transfers. Excludes tricycle/shuttle rides within El Nido town proper.
PHP 1,800 Accommodations — PHP 600 per night at a budget hostel x 3 nights.
PHP 1,800 Food — PHP 450 per day inexpensive meals budget x 4 days.
PHP 4,600 Sub-total — Includes accommodation, food, transport expenses above for 4 days. Excluding flights.
PHP 2,350 Activities — Including, El Nido tourism fee, Island hopping tour A & C.
PHP 6,950 Total — 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 do the trip. If you have money to splurge on hotels, food, and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted to calculate your own budget.

Other activities
PHP 500 Taraw Cliff Via Ferrata Canopy Walk — Entrance/admission fee per person.
PHP 200 Big Lagoon — Entrance/admission fee per person.

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.

Check discountsSee rates

Click below to compare rates on El Nido hotels within your budget.

Best Luxury Hotels in El Nido— Splurge at the best 5-star and 4-star hotels in El Nido.See rates & reviews
Promo rates on 4-Star & 5-Star El Nido hotels — Grab discounts on luxury rooms available for booking today.See discounts
Under PHP 4,000 Recommended 3-Star El Nido hotels & mid-range accommodations — Great-value rooms for couples or when traveling with family & friends.See rates & reviews
Under PHP 2,000 Best El Nido budget hotels — For travelers looking for decent yet affordable accommodations.See rates & reviews
Under PHP 1,000 Best El Nido hostels & budget hotels — affordable places to stay for backpackers/solo travelers.See rates & reviews
From PHP 600 Cheapest places to stay in El NidoSee rates & reviews

Top-rated places to stay in El Nido

Matinloc Resort

Splurge / Matinloc Island

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Cauayan Island Resort

Splurge / Cauayan Island

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El Nido Coco Resort

Splurge / Corong-corong Beach

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Last Frontier Beach Resort

Splurge / Corong-corong Beach

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Columbus Inn

Mid-Range / Corong-Corong Beach

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Shipwrecked Pension House

Mid-Range / El Nido Town Proper

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Lolo Oyong Pension House

Mid-Range / El Nido Town Proper

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El Nido Bayview Hotel

Mid-Range / Marimegmeg Beach

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Bnky Bed and Breakfast

Budget / El Nido Town Proper

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Novie’s Tourist Inn

Budget / Corong-Corong Beach

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Where to book

Book your room through these trusted booking sites. I use them frequently to grab rock-bottom prices & enjoy convenient bookings. Click below to confirm the lowest prices:

Booking.comAirbnbAgoda

Book sooner rather than later if you already have your dates set. Cheaper-priced rooms and hotels with high reviews tend to get fully booked faster, especially during busy days like weekends, holidays & peak tourist seasons.

El Nido Travel Tips Before You Go

How to get from Manila to El Nido?

Puerto Princesa to El Nido

El Nido Airport

Coron to El Nido

Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, Davao & Boracay to El Nido

Sabang (Puerto Princesa Underground River) to El Nido

El Nido island hopping tour packages

How many days to spend in El Nido?

Eco Tourism Development Fee

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

Prepare extra batteries

Should I book my El Nido hotel online?

How to book an island hopping tour?

How to book cheap flights to El Nido?

How to get from Manila to El Nido?

You can either book a flight via Puerto Princesa Airport or Coron-Busuanga Airport. Or, fly directly to El Nido Airport

Puerto Princesa to El Nido

Flying via Puerto Princesa is the most popular and cheapest way of getting to El Nido. Flight duration from Manila to Puerto Princesa is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

By shared shuttle/van — Going by shuttle is highly recommended compared to taking the much slower local bus. The one-way regular shuttle fare online is P500 per person.

Puerto Princesa Airport to El Nido shuttle — Enjoy hassle-free transfers with pick-up at Puerto Princesa Airport and drop-off at El Nido bus terminal.

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Puerto Princesa hotel to El Nido shuttle — Enjoy pick-up directly at your hotel in Puerto Princesa and drop-off at El Nido bus terminal.

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By private transfer — Includes drop-off/pick-up directly from your hotel in Puerto Princesa & El Nido. Enjoy hassle-free transfers for your group of up to 10 to 12 people. The price is P5,500 per shuttle/van.

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By local bus/RORO bus — You can also catch a local bus or van from San Jose Terminal located on the outskirts of the city center. The bus fare is around P360 to P480+ per person. Travel time by bus may take 7 hours, or more if the bus makes frequent stops along the way. Cherry & RORO buses depart almost every hour from 4 am to 10 pm.

Puerto Princesa Airport to San Jose Terminal (for El Nido) — Chartered tricycle fare from the airport is usually P100 per ride. If you prefer to do a local commute, ride a tricycle from the airport exit (main road) to Junction 1 in Puerto Princesa City center. The tricycle fare is P8 fare per person. Then, ride a multicab / jeepney to San Jose Terminal. The jeepney fare is P13 fare per person.

El Nido Airport

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.

Coron to El Nido

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.

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.

Cebu, Clark, Iloilo, Davao & Boracay to El Nido

If you are coming from places in the Philippines outside Manila, you can book a direct flight via major airlines to Puerto Princesa, Palawan from Cebu, Clark & Iloilo.

Sabang (Puerto Princesa Underground River) to El Nido

This direct route is operated only by tourist shuttles. Travel time is around 6 hours. The shuttle fare is P800 per person.

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El Nido island hopping tour packages

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

Having gone on all island tours in El Nido, I recommend that you start with “Tour A” and “Tour C” as these two routes include the best islands, lagoons & beaches.

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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.

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.

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.

Should I book my El Nido hotel online?

Book your stay sooner rather than later if you already have your dates set. Cheaper-priced rooms tend to get fully-booked faster, especially during busy days like weekends, holidays & peak tourist seasons.

I frequently book my stay with the sites below to grab rock-bottom prices & enjoy hassle-free trips. Click below to see today’s lowest prices.

AgodaBooking.comAirbnb

Here top reasons why I prefer to book online & why you should too:

Wide selection of hotels/hostels.

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 and 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 book an island hopping tour?

Enjoy a hassle-free trip by booking your El Nido tours online.

I often book online to enjoy discounts and cashless convenience during my actual trip. Always check prices of tours and attraction tickets on these booking sites:

KlookGetYourGuide

Prices are often cheaper than booking on-site. Huge discounts on many activities.

Maximize your trip! Avoid wasting time queueing at ticket booths & shopping for tours.

Get a good idea what to expect. Knowing all the inclusions/non-inclusions & reading user reviews is very helpful to make an informed decision.

Earn rewards points for every booking.

Pay in your home currency. Worry less about bringing cash/exchanging currencies.

If you’re booking tours and you’ve already finalized your travel dates, book early, especially if you are traveling with family/friends to lock-in those open slots for everyone in your group.

Extra travel discounts!

Click below to view the latest promo codes. Enjoy extra savings on top of existing discounts:

How to book cheap flights to El Nido?

If you are flying to within the next 2-3 months, the general rule to spend less on flights is by booking sooner rather than later. In case you are booking well ahead of your trip, keep a lookout for airline promo fares & seat sales.

The easy way to find cheap flights that you can book right now is to use flight search engines. These sites compare prices on different airlines to show you the cheapest prices. Check multiple flight search engines listed below:

MomondoSkyscannerWego

Always check promo fares before booking. Visit the airlines’ official website, mobile app, Facebook, Twitter & other social media accounts for updates.

You can also check the latest promo alerts posted here on Detourista. Click below to start:

Subscribe to the email alerts to save time from checking many websites frequently.

Get FREE promo updates sent directly by email. Don’t miss the next one!

To learn more, visit the guide on how to book cheap flights.

Places to Visit in El Nido + Things To Do

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

1. Go island hopping around Bacuit Bay islands

2. See Nacpan and Calitang

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

4. Hike to the top of Taraw Peak

5. Try the Bird’s Nest soup

6. Indulge in fresh seafood

7. Explore inland 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.

See the list below for a list of islands & spots included in the island hopping tour routes:

Island hopping tour A — Hidden Lagoon (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.

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.

Where to go near El Nido

8. Discover Coron, Taytay, and Linapacan

9. See mainland Palawan

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.

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