In doing our research for The Philippines we constantly saw the unimaginably beauty of El Nido. We knew it had to be on our list but we knew nothing about it. After loads of planning and actually experiencing this place we've put together this quick guide to help you get there and enjoy it to the fullest!
Things to know
Population - 42,000
Typical Transport - Tricycle/Scooter
ATM - There are a handful of ATM's in El Nido town, but take a bit of money just in case your card doesn't work in them
Closest Airport - Puerto Princesa International Airport
How to Get to El Nido
There are three ways of getting to El Nido:
1. Flying + Coach/Minibus
There is an airport in Puerto Princesa, Palawan which you can fly in to from most islands in the PH. we flew in from Cebu City. Air Asia and Philippines Airlines fly to Puerto Princesa, you can search on Skyscanner for the best deals or check out Cebu Pacific Airlines for good deals too. Once there you will need to get a minibus or a coach to El Nido. There is a but called the Cherry bus which costs 480PHP p/person (£6.65) with aircon which takes 6 hours or you can get in a minivan. We got conned and ended up paying 500 PHP (£6.80) each to ride in a jammed minivan with about 10 people (Aimee fainted).
The other option if you're feeling like a voyageur who wants to test his stamina is to get on a giant boat. From Manila to Coron it costs 890PHP p/person (£12.35) for the cattle class ticket which takes an ungodly 14 hours... and then Coron to El Nido (if you wanted to do it that way around). <-- f*ck that Get all your boat tickets for The Philippines at Travel.2Go.com or you can book them in any travel shop just check the prices before you do so you don't get scammed.
3. Fly directly into El Nido
If you have recently won the lottery you can always fly into the privately owned El Nido airport. Actually it's not that crazy I just checked the prices with Air-Swift and a single for one person from Manila to El Nido is 6500PHP p/person (£90) which saves you the long coach from Peurto Princesa. Also just to note a single from Cebu to El Nido is 7,400 PHP (£100) but the flights only go every few days and there are strict baggage rules.
Getting around El Nido is pretty simple, there are tricycles everywhere and the prices are pretty standard. From the town to the Zipline or Las Cabanas beach you're looking at 50-100PHP (£1-£1.50) then anywhere further a field like Nacpan Beach you're looking at about 500PHP (£7) for a tricycle one way. Other than that you can rent a scooter in El Nido, but the roads are very bumpy so it wouldn't be much fun riding around. Prices for scooters are about 500-700 PHP (£7-£10) a day.
What to do
The most obvious activity to do in El Nido are the boat tours, it's the best way to see all the hidden gems of El Nido and to get between all the small islands. When we were there we did Tour A which was brilliant! This was our favourite day in El Nido, we were out all day exploring, snorkelling and kayaking around the lagoons - it was pure bliss!
Another incredible thing we did in El Nido was the Zipline where you zip from one island to another, located near Las Cabanas beach this is probably the biggest thrill you'll get in El Nido. Other things we did and loved were clear kayaking, Nacpan beach and watching the sunset at Last Cabanas beach.
If you're going to El Nido for the boat tours you'll be really surprised at what else they have on offer - lots of activities to keep you interested and some brilliant spots!
Where to Stay?
When we first arrived in El Nido we stayed out of town in a place called Mina Grande Beach Cottages. The staff were lovely but the room was pretty basic - although for £12 a night you can't complain! Next we moved to a pension house in town. I know you're like 'wtf, and old peoples home!?', that's what we thought but in the Philippines there are pension houses all over the shop and they're just like home stays or B&B's. The first one we stayed in was called Relucio Travellers Pension which was right in the centre of town with decent enough rooms and an ocean view room for about £28 - El Nido ain't cheap!
Now if you're feeling ultra flush then you could always consider staying on your very own private island - Brother Island! This place was one of the best experiences of our travelling lives.
So that it is for our quick guide to El Nido, have a wicked time and send us a postcard yeah