El Nido is a Philippine municipality on Palawan island. It is known for white-sand beaches, coral reefs and as the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago, a group of islands with steep karst cliffs.
Palawan recently reclaimed the title 2020’s 'Best Island in the World' by renowned travel publication, Travel + Leisure.
The most popular island is Miniloc Island. It is famed for the clear waters of its Small and Big lagoons. The area has many dive sites, including Dilumacad Island’s long tunnel leading to an underwater cavern.
Puerto Princesa Airport is the main entry point to Palawan, serving international and local flights from the airports of Manila, Cebu and Caticlan. Airline companies flying to PP Airport are:
- Philippine Airlines
- Cebu Pacific
- Zest Air
Flying time to and from Manila is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Philippine Airlines’, the country’s flag carrier, flies to Puerto Princesa 19 times a week.
From Palawan to El Nido, the journey takes between 5.5 to 8 hours and fares start at PHP430 (price may change). You can take a bus or private shuttle vans.
El Nido Airport
Located in Villa Libertad, El NIdo Airport is also known as Lio Airport. The airline company AirSwift flies daily from PP Airport to El Nido Airport, and has flights to and from Manila and Cebu.
Getting to Palawan by sea vessel is also available through shipping companies such as:
- Negros Navigation – travels to and from Manila and also to and from Coron.
- Atienza Shipping Lines – a passenger/cargo vessel with a route Manila bound to El Nido.
- 2Go – the ship departs from Manila plying the route of Manila – Coron - Puerto Princesa.
Travel time is 18-22 hours with fares that varies from Php 1,200.00 to Php 2,500.00 per person.
El Nido's (and the whole Philippines) climate consists of two seasons: generally dry (tag-araw), from December to May, and wet (tag-ulan), from June to November. The dry season is the best time to visit to avoid being locked in your hotel room due to some monsoon rains or typhoon.
Local residents speak Tagalog and the local dialect of Cuyunon. Most locals understand English and can speak it, at the very least, in bits and pieces.
According to budgetyourtrip.com, the average expense per day is around ₱1,778 ($36). Past travelers have spent, on average, ₱528 ($11) on meals for one day and ₱851 ($17) on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in El Nido for a couple is ₱1,262 ($26). So, a trip to El Nido for two people for one week costs on average ₱24,885 ($507).
The local government recently imposed a limit to the number of tourists per destination. It is recommended that you avail one early on so your local tour guide can add you to the list. You can avail the regular Tour A, B, C and D or get a private tour or boat. As of 2020, here are the full list of El Nido Island Hopping Tours.
Tour A is the most popular island hopping tour in El Nido.
- Snake Island
- Pinagbuyutan Island
- Entalula/Entaluala Beach
- Cudugnon Cave in Cudugnon Island
- Cathedral Cave in Pinasil Island
- Popolkan Island
Tour C is the second most popular tour that offers a good mix of adventure and snorkeling.
- Secret Beach, Hidden Beach and Matinloc Shrine in Matinloc Island
- Star Beach in Tapiutan Island
- Helicopter Island
The highlight of El Nido Tour D are Miniloc’s Small Lagoon and Cadlao Island.
It is recommended to stay here not less than 4 days in order to explore the whole of El Nido.