Visiting El Nido, Palawan

eatlivetraveldrink-comThe Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands. Each one just as beautiful as the next. When I was planning my trip, I knew I wanted to stay in the popular city of El Nido. Full of amazing island hopping opportunities, culture, great food, and even better prices.
Here is my guide for visiting.
Getting there:
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There are two easy ways to get to El Nido: you can fly directly into the city or fly into the southern part of the island to Puerto Princesa and take a 6 hour bus ride to El Nido. I found that flying into El Nido was easiest for me because I did not have all the time in the world to experience the area. If you have a lot of time and want to save a little bit of money, taking the bus may be the best for you.
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The only airline that flies into El Nido is AirSWIFT. I flew in from Manila and was welcomed with open arms. This airport is completely outdoors – so keep that in mind when flying out from it. You need to schedule transport from the airport or take a tricycle into town. I say take the tricycle – it will be fun for you and an exciting way to see how the locals get around.
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Where to stay:

El Nido covers a wide range of lodging. You can find guest house and hostels as low as $10 USD per night to private island luxury resorts than can cost over $400 USD per night. The options are available for every price range.
I decided on staying in the city in a newer hotel, Sea Cocoon, and it was perfect. 1 block from the beach, central in town to everything, had a private pool, balcony on every room, modern decor in the rooms and public areas, private bathrooms, A/C, WiFi, free breakfast, and wonderful staff! I would recommend this hotel if you are planning to adventure and spend time in the city. You can book tours right in the hotel, plenty of food options surrounding it, grocery store, gift shops, massage options, and so on. Everyone was very friendly and helpful at Sea Cocoon, so if you need anything, just ask the staff.
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What to do:Β 
Island hopping is the most popular thing to do in El Nido. You can book tours with Binibini TravelsΒ for which ever you decide to do. I had planned on doing Tour A, B & C – which are the most popular. However, at fault of my own, I forgot to wear sunscreen during my first Tour A and was burnt to a crisp and could not be in the sun for my other two tours. Wear sunscreen! Even if it is cloudy.
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Tour A was stunning! I was able to see the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, secret beaches, Secret Lagoon, cruise all around the beautiful waters and islands, and have lunch cooked on the boat and eaten on a small private island. This was literally paradise.
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Small Lagoon

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Private beach

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Big Lagoon

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Coconut drinks

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Private beach

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Big Lagoon

I would suggest seeing the other tours while you are in town – you will have the tie of your life. Just remember to protect your skin. Also, pack shoes for getting in the water on the tours as there are rocks and coral.
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Me at the Big Lagoon before I got burnt

There is also snorkeling, scuba diving and beach days to be had while visiting. Because of my unfortunate burn, I was not able to participate in these activities. I have heard wonderful things from friends and fellow travel bloggers who have visited the area that recommend doing so.
Food:
There are so many places selling food on every street and everything was so good, and very cheap. I don’t think I ever paid more than $5USD for a meal and they were large and more than enough.
Two meals that I fell in love with were pineapple chicken and an orange chicken dish. I loved the pineapple chicken one more and I ate it twice! It is made with a coconut milk and absolutely divine.
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Pineapple chicken

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Spring rolls and orange chicken

I also found some local snacks over the week I was there that I loved.
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You cannot go to the Philippines and NOT eat mangoes. they are the absolute best!

Read More: Tips for visiting the Philippines

Things to note:

  • Currency: Philippine Peso
  • I did not find one place that took a credit/debit card – so have cash handy before you arrive. There may be places who accept cards, I was just unable to locate them
  • WiFi is not very strong and I struggled to find a strong enough connection to open any websites on my laptop or to work – so keep that in mind if you have things to do
  • Pack flip flops or sandals of some sort – when it rains the streets rise with water
  • Protect your skin from the sun – my mistake ultimately left me indoors for days

 
Disclaimer: I was hosted by Sea Cocoon and Binibini Travels, but as always, opinions are my own.
 

34 Comments

  1. thetravelpockets
    November 9, 2016 / 6:02 pm

    It’s been over 15 years since I’ve visited the Philippines and this makes me want to go back. The private beach, fresh coconut, and friendly service sounds like a wonderful vacation. I’ll make sure to bring my sunscreen πŸ™‚

  2. Amandas_Wanderlust
    November 9, 2016 / 7:34 pm

    I’ve never been to the Philippines but I always think it looks so beautiful. I would especially like to explore the secret beaches and hidden lagoons. Beautiful!

  3. November 9, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    In my super organised state, I have already organised a Christmas trip (2017!!) to El Nido πŸ™‚ Your guesthouse looks great, can you remember how much it cost? Will have a look at the hotel online for our trip! The lagoons just look beautiful.

    • November 10, 2016 / 4:01 pm

      I dont recall what the hotel cost – but the link should take you to their page. I know it is not much at all

  4. erikastravels
    November 9, 2016 / 7:46 pm

    El Nido looks stunning and is my number one bucket list destination in the Philippines. Your photos are stunning and certainly wanderlust-inspiring. I’m sorry you weren’t able to do all the tours you had planned because of your sunburn πŸ™ but I’m happy you enjoyed your time nonetheless!

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:32 pm

      Thank you – I try not to let life bring me down I just had to sit inside for a few days and watch tv. Wasn’t so bad.

  5. November 9, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    Every time I see a photo of el Nido I want to go there even more! Shame you got sunburned, its easily done but such a bummer to miss out on the other activities! Those snacks look so cute, I love trying random stuff from different countries!

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:33 pm

      Its ok. It happens to me sometimes as I am VERY fair skinned.
      I loved the marshmallows – the ladies convinced me they were the best and they were.

  6. November 9, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    Great info and shots! I loved the ones you shared on Insta from here and it’s fun to see the rest of your shots w/more info and context about your trip. Thanks for sharing!

  7. November 10, 2016 / 12:28 am

    Oh my goodness the colors are beautiful! I really do need to check out the Philippines- so close to my home (singapore), but I’ve never been! Oh and the big lagoon!!! Lusting!

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Its amazing. I will be in Singapore in December πŸ™‚

  8. November 10, 2016 / 12:58 am

    Great tip on flying direct. Sometimes it is worth it to splurge a little bit. That private beach is so beautiful. Must have been nice to have it all to yourself. Great tip on having cash handy as well. So used to living in a plastic world that sometimes we forget it isn’t like that everywhere.

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:29 pm

      it took me days to find an international ATM – some areas just were not equipped for it.

  9. Christina
    November 10, 2016 / 8:37 am

    I’ve heard that El Nido is an amazing spot to go diving and snorkelling. The lagoon looks really inviting. How does this compare with other beach destinations in the Philippines?

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:29 pm

      Most of the Philippines felt like beach destinations – but I was only in 4 islands of the over 7K+ – but I enjoyed them all equally.

  10. November 10, 2016 / 9:33 am

    Palawan sounds amazing – I was recently in the Philippines and hit up Boracay, but would love to get back and explore more of the many, many islands! Palawan is top of the list – thanks for the tip on sunscreen … sorry to hear you were taken out during your trip … happens to the best of us!

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:28 pm

      I missed Boracay and really wanted to get there, I just did not have time. I guess we will have to go back!

  11. Jen Morrow
    November 10, 2016 / 1:01 pm

    The scuba diving is said to be amazing here! I would love to dive and spent time out on the boats exploring.

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:27 pm

      I am not certified to scube yet but I hope to do that next year!

  12. Dariel Lim
    November 10, 2016 / 1:19 pm

    Never been to Philippines even though I’m living so near… El Nido looks amazing but is it very touristy and crowded?

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:26 pm

      It did not seem overcrowded when I was there at all. I suppose like most cities they have extremely busy times and other times that are slower.

  13. November 10, 2016 / 4:14 pm

    El Nido is really a paradise. Never been there yet but i have seen many unedited photos which look like just the ones in postcards. Will plan a trip to Coron and El Nido next year.

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:25 pm

      I really loved my time there – I used my Iphone for most of my photos island hopping because my professional gear is not waterproof and I did not want to risk it. It is truly beautiful.

  14. November 10, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    I have been to El nido and I think I saw the hotel sea cocoon and it looked lovely. El nido is so pretty but look at that pic of Big lagoon – how did you get that?? Jeez, it looks stunning!

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:25 pm

      hehe I use an app called tony planets. It is pretty easy to create!

  15. nyrdagur
    November 10, 2016 / 5:26 pm

    Can’t wait to go to the Philippines! El nido looks like a great place to stay, so beautiful! Thanks for your tips!

  16. November 10, 2016 / 6:30 pm

    It looks amazing but I’m heading to the Philippines tomorrow and decided to skip it as everything looks pricey and with a did back I did not fancy six hour trip from PP to El Niro. I may live to regret it but have a ton of cool things planned in other islands. Did you visit any others.

    • November 10, 2016 / 8:23 pm

      I did. I went to Bohol, Manila and Davao! I haven’t posted about Davao yet but I have information about Bohol up.

  17. November 11, 2016 / 1:23 am

    This looks absolutely amazing! I hear nothing but amazing things about Palwan all the time. I missed it on my last trip to the Philippines but I’m not planning on missing out next year! The blues and teals and greens are just unbelievable in these photos! Can’t wait to get in that water!

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