Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss


If you have not heard about Palawan, I am sure you must have heard about El Nido. El Nido is located at the north tip of Palawan island in the Philippines. It is known for its beautiful white-sand beaches, coral reeds and the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago, which are a group of islands with steep karst cliffs. Tiny swiftlets build edible nests out of saliva in the immense limestone cliffs that surround the ramshackle town proper – hence the name, El Nido (nest in Spanish).

El Nido is a perfect place to spend your days on the beaches, exploring the coral reefs under the water or taking a boat tour around limestone islands. El Nido is for sure an easy rival to places like southern Thailand islands or Halong Bay in Vietnam.

El Nido may not be the cheapest vacation though as you would expect in Asia, eating out seemed like pricing in London, and you don't have much variety of accommodations. Either you are on the affordable stays or high-end scale. Nevertheless, other parts of Palawan or the Philippines are way cheaper and also worth to explore, as El Nido can tend to be very touristic and popular among international visitors.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

What to do and see?

Big lagoon

El Nido Big Lagoon is located on Miniloc Island. It is a popular sight to see whilst in El Nido, in fact, any lagoons here are absolutely stunning. It is beautiful from kayak, boat, from the air or even underwater. I have personally taken on Tour A, which took me to the major of popular sights of El Nido. Tour A El Nido includes a full day of island hopping on an outrigger boat to Seven Commandos Beach, Big or Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island and a BBQ lunch on the boat.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Small lagoon

he Small Lagoon is a bit hidden. Unlike the Big Lagoon next door, which has a big open channel, the Small Lagoon can only be entered through a small crack in the limestone rocks. It can be explored by kayak or swimming. Absolutely stunning enclosed area!

Secret lagoon

 Secret Lagoon is hidden next to a small beach on the south side of Miniloc Island. Not as secret, since it is a popular stop for tourists. If you are lucky and get here before any other boats, this secret lagoon is definitely different, due to the enclosed area and milky colour water.

Shimizu island

Shimizu Island, is one of the numerous islands dotting Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palawan. This small island is part of the El Nido Island Hopping Tour A package, so it can get crowded during midday. Shimizu island is popular for its colourful marine life, so ready your snorkelling gear and appreciate the beautiful underwater scene while the boatmen prepare your lunch. In addition, there are few hidden lagoons on Shimizu islands, which might not be as big as other lagoons in El Nido, but definitely beautiful and less crowded.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Snake Island

Snake Island is one of the most unique and epic spots in El Nido as it connects the mainland to an island at low tide while at low tide it is a sandbar two feet underwater. In order to get to Snake Island, you will have to take Tour B to get here. The island used to be called Vigan Island but because of the shape of the tail and well ‘marketability’, it received a new name - Snake island, so don't worry, there are no snakes in here.

7 Commando beach

Seven Commandos Beach in El Nido is a beautiful sandy beach lined with coconut trees all below those dramatic limestone cliffs El Nido. It is accessible only by boat, and it is the last stop on a tour A. A perfect place to end your island-hopping day with sunset watching.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Nacpan beach

Nacpan beach is located about 17km north from El Nido town, and you can rent a motorbike or get a tricycle to get you there. The beautiful 4km long sandy beach with palm trees stretched alongside the coastline is a great spot for a chill day on a beach or a hike up to a spectacular view of the twin beach. Nacpan Beach is one-half of the famous ‘Twin Beaches’ (the other being Calitang Beach).

Taraw cliff

Tarraw cliff is located in El Nido town, and it is the high point to climb up to get a bird view over El Nido. It is absolutely rewarding but challenging to hike up, as you will be hiking through some steep cliffs. It is better to get a tour guide rather then you climbing yourself, as with a guide, they will know which rock and which way is the safest path up. Taraw cliff is a popular place to climb for sunrise, so make sure to get a good trainer and the willingness to hike on some pointy and steep rocks.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Ferrata Nature’s Canopy Walk

An alternative to Taraw cliff is to get to Ferrata Nature's Canopy Walk. It is a much safer way to hike up for a view over El Nido too. You will get safety gears to hike up, and the pathway is already built-in with some wood or a suspended bridge. It is a fun and safe way to get a view from up.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Zipline adventure

Fancy some view and adventure? Then go for a zipline adventure over Las Cabanas beach and ocean to other nearest island. You can either go for one way or two way round.

Las Cabanas beach

Another beautiful beach located south of El Nido town, it is a popular place for sunsets, and it is indeed beautiful from here. With bars and restaurants along the strip, you can't ask for anything more.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls

Located between Nacpan Beach and El Nido proper town. Most of the time, the Nagkalit-Kalit Falls is a stop made on the way to Nacpan Beach. You can go there either with a tricycle, with a rental motorbike or with a tour guide in the course of the Inland Beaches and Waterfalls Tour (also known as El Nido Tour E).

Hidden beach

Hidden Beach is one of the places you’ll visit when you book Tour C. It is far, but it is worth the trip because of its secluded location, fine white sand, and clear waters. It has a rugged appearance, giving it a raw appeal.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Where to eat and drink?

El Nido town have many buzzing places for tourists to dine and drink. It is a very popular destination. Hence the prices may be a bit higher for an Asian country. Nevertheless, it does not stop people going out. You won't struggle to find a place to eat, as you will find small or larger dining spots almost everywhere. The Philippines are rich with their cuisine, you'll find anything from Italian, Lebanese, Greek to Vietnamese.

Below are a couple of places to grab a bite or drink around El Nido town:

The Nesting Table - The Nesting Table is the in-house restaurant of The Birdhouse El Nido serving a mix of Filipino and Western food. A beautiful and a bit pricey spot for dining with a view.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Republica sunset bar - Located halfway through El Nido town and Las Cabanas beach, Republica sunset bar is a Spanish owner place with amazing drinks and sunset views. Hence the name.

Happiness beach bar - A laid back place located at the heart of El Nido town, serving Middle Eastern food and great cocktails.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Happy home restaurant - If you are looking for some Asian food, this vegan-friendly place is a great spot to explore the local cuisine.

Cafe Athena - Another place located just by the beach in El Nido town, serving Greek food. Like other restaurants in El Nido, this place is a bit pricey to the Philippines, but a great spot for lunch or dinner.

Botanica Cafe - A cute coffee and brunch place located off the main roads of El Nido. Serving delicious coffee choices and also dessert and breakfast meals.

Trattoria Altrove - A great place for people who are craving for some pizza.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Where to stay?

Friendz Hostel El Nido
A perfect hostel located in the El Nido town, just a few steps away from the main street and a beach. Friendz Hostel has also another branch on Boracay islands of the Philippines. Perfect place for bag backers and people who are eager to meet new like-minded travellers.

Weekends El Nido Beach Resort
Located in El Nido, a few steps from Corong Corong Beach, Weekends Beach Resort provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar.

Panorama resort
Located in Sitio Lugadia Corong El Nido Palawan. Panorama resorts is an adult-only accommodation with 8 rooms available with a lush green and pool view.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Ahana Resort El Nido
Situated in El Nido, 10 km from Big Lagoon El Nido, Ahana Resort El Nido features accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool.

El Nido Overlooking
On a lush hillside overlooking Bacuit Bay, this modest collection of bungalows is 14 minutes' walk from Corong Corong Beach and 7 km from El Nido Lio Airport.

Nacpan beach glamping
"Nacpan Beach Glamping" is a state of the art lotus pond tent hotel that invites you on a luxury experience of natural peace and purity.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

The Birdhouse El Nido
Perched at the op a mountain in El Nido, near Las Cabanas beach, The Birdhouse El Nido features a yoga pavilion, a restaurant with the view and experiential tents to stay in nature.

Ipil Suites El Nido
Set very near the excitement of the town, this hotel commands an excellent walkable distance to the town and other major activities.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

How to get around?

You have a few ways on how to get to El Nido in the first place.

1) Getting a direct plane from Manila or other Philippines islands. El Nido has a small airport with not as frequent flight connections, as Puerto Princesa, main Palawan airport. 

2) Getting a private or shared van from Puerto Princesa or Port Barton. Make sure to book in advance for your transport, as seats are limited. There is a number of vans running from 5:30 am to about 8:30 pm. From Puerto Princesa airport or main bus station to El Nido takes about 5-6 hours with breaks in between, and from Port Barton main bus terminal to El Nido it takes about 3-4 hours. 

3) Getting a bus from San Jose bus terminal. You can catch a RoRo bus or Cherry bus which runs also every 2 hours from early morning to late in the evening. 

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss

Once in El Nido, vans or bus will drop you at the main terminal bus station, from where you can either walk or get a tricycle to your hotel. 

El Nido area is pretty scattered around, so if you are not in downtown El Nido, where you can easily walk around to the pier, beach and shops, you will have to either hire a motorbike, bicycle or get a tricycle to get around. 

Lastly, the best option to get around the islands or to Coron is by boat or by getting a tour. There is a number of tours A, B, C and D which will get you to various different islands. Book the tours also at least a day in advance at your hotel or in one of the tour offices in El Nido. 

Coron is also a beautiful place worth to stay a few more days, and if you don't fly directly in there, you can catch a boat from El Nido to there in a couple of hours. Again, the boat departs a few times per day, so book your ticket in advance when you get to El Nido.

Things to do in El Nido and you should not miss