El Nido is a small municipality located on the northern tip of Palawan. It is a beach heaven where one can simply gear up with nothing other than their swimsuits and sunnies. Make the most out of this tropical destination with our backpacker’s guide to El Nido, Philippines!
El Nido, Philippines: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting
If you are coming from Puerto Princesa, take a van instead of a public bus. The price difference is not that significant. You will save some time since all of the passengers will head directly to El Nido, as well. The van only stops for a lunch bathroom breaks. Also, be sure to book hostels instead of fancy hotels. It is much cheaper, and you will be spending most of your days out exploring anyway. Plus, it is a great way to meet new friends!
Pack Those Meds
Bring medicine as needed prior to traveling to the Philippines. The nearest hospital in El Nido is located in Puerto Princesa. It is about five hours away. Be sure to have a first aid kit handy and some basic meds for things like allergies, body pain, and diarrhea … just in case. Also, make sure you have enough cash with you. There are only two ATMs in El Nido. Very few establishments accept card transactions.
Know the Exchange Rate
Stay updated about what the latest exchange rate is. In case you do not have enough pesos on hand, you may have to exchange your local currency at money changers on the island. To prevent being taken advantage of, make sure you know what the latest currency exchange rate is. Do not lose your EDTF receipt, as well. Upon arrival in El Nido, you will have to pay an environmental and development tourism fee of ₱200 (about $3.70). Be sure to always bring it with you as some tour agencies and other personnel will collect this fee at many destinations. The receipt is good for ten days.
Bring a Battery Pack
Bring a power bank or battery pack. Despite being a first-class municipality, El Nido is still a small provincial town compared to its city counterpart, Puerto Princesa. Most small properties follow an electricity schedule, which is why there are regular blackouts. If you need to stay connected all the time, be sure to have a backup battery.
Decide how you Would like to Explore El Nido, Philippines
There are travel agencies found throughout the island. This is one of the most convenient ways in which to see El Nido, especially if you would like to go island-hopping. For in-land tours and more remote destinations, however, you may opt to go yourself and explore the places at your own pace. Since getting around town can easily be done on your own by renting a motorcycle, make sure you have your driver’s license with you as you will need it for your DIY adventure. Now, let’s get down to business and go over the top things to see and do in El Nido!
El Nido’s Enchanting Lagoons
A trip to the town is not complete without photographing El Nido’s enchanting lagoons. So far the only way to get to these lagoons are on group tours booked with tour agencies in town, as these are normally included in the itinerary. Book a Tour A package if you want to visit the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, and Secret Lagoon, or you can instead discover Cadlao Lagoon by booking Tour D. For a complete experience, rent a kayak and explore on your own.
The cost is around ₱1,200-1,500 (about $22.50-28) per person for Tour A and Tour D, which is inclusive of a buffet lunch and snacks. There is an additional cost of ₱200-500 (about $3.70-9.40) if you want to rent your own kayak. If you are pressed for time, there are also combination tours available!
Marimegmeg and Corong-Corong Beach
Just a short tricycle ride away from the town proper are the beaches of Marimegmeg and Corong-Corong. These are your go-to destinations for chasing unobstructed sunsets in El Nido. Grab a drink (or two) in any one of the many bars in the area, enjoy the chill vibe, and make new friendships with travelers hailing from around the globe. Prep your gadgets and make sure to get a postcard shot of one of the glorious sunsets before leaving, as well.
A one-way tricycle trip usually costs no more than ₱150 (about $2.80) for three people. You can also haggle with your tricycle driver to get a cheaper rate for a round-trip. Be sure to have about ₱150-400 (about $2.80-7.50) allotted for food and beverages.
Get that much-needed adrenaline rush by rock-climbing at Taraw Cliff. Standing proudly at 300 meters above sea level, this giant limestone boulder is the highest point in El Nido. Get ready to be rewarded with a magnificent, bird’s eye view of the town after taking on the strenuous trail consisting of sharp boulders and slippery mud. We recommend starting your hike at about 5 a.m. This will give you enough time to make your way back down before it gets too hot!
Tour agencies normally charge about ₱300 (about $5.60) per person. The cost is inclusive of a tour guide that will take you to the top of Taraw Cliff. If you are hiking with a few friends, group tours are also available for about ₱500-600 (about $9.40-11.20).
Lio Beach is a quiet stretch of sand that is tucked away from the crowded areas of El Nido. It is the perfect place to bum around and avoid tourists. The area is complete with a wide array of both local and international restaurants, so there is certainly no shortage of food options. Beach beds are also available … for free! Grab a book and read to your heart’s content while relaxing and listening to the waves in the background. If you are lucky, you may catch some acoustic jams featuring local artists on this stunning stretch of sand, as well.
Get ready to shell out about ₱250 (about $4.70) for a round-trip tricycle ride. This is good for about two to three people. Despite being privately owned, there is no entrance fee to Lio Beach.
Getting to Nacpan is a bit of a bumpy ride but certainly worth the trek. It takes about 1.5 hours from the town proper and the end destination is both stunning and secluded. Known for its glorious four-kilometer stretch of sand, this place is another go-to destination for those travelers who prefer less-crowded beaches.
Be sure to book a night or two at Mad Monkey Hostel Nacpan Beach to make the most out of your stay. Get ready to meet fellow travelers from around the world at its regular in-house events and parties. Aside from being a beach bum, paddle boards and kayaks are also available for rent. Be sure not to miss the hill at the end of the island to get a magnificent view of the prized Nacpan-Calitang Twin Beach!
Day-trips start at ₱1,300 (about $24.30) for two people which is inclusive of a round-trip tricycle ride. If you wish to stay overnight, rooms at Mad Monkey Hostel Nacpan Beach start at around ₱280 (about $5.20).
Nestled between Nacpan and El Nido town proper, Nagkalit-Kalit Falls is another favorited destination amongst travelers who want to do more than just sunbathe on the beautiful island. A drive through the northern part of El Nido will get you to the jump-off point. There is plenty of signage telling you where to go once you are closer to the falls. The 45-minute trek to the falls is quite a challenging one. It will take you through forests and rivers, but you will also get a glimpse of the locals’ lives while doing so. Enjoy the refreshing atmosphere and take a dip at the natural pool formed at the base of the waterfall upon arrival!
There are plenty of ways to get to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls. One way is to book Tour E, which is the El Nido in-land tour. It includes a round-trip van ride and buffet lunch. If you are looking to do the trip by yourself, you can rent a motorbike for about ₱600 (about $11.20) and hire a local tour guide to assist you for about ₱250 (about $4.70).
Whether you are pressed for time or have plenty of days to discover the island, we have made some sample itineraries to help you make the most out of your stay in El Nido, Philippines!
1. Three Days, Two Nights
Day one: arrive in El Nido, Philippines, check into your accommodation, and beach bum at Marimegmeg and Corong-Corong
Day two: combine Tour A and Tour C
Day three: get an early start and head to Nacpan Beach and Nagkalit-Kalit Falls; proceed to Puerto Princesa for a late-night flight
2. Four Days, Five Nights
Day one: arrive in El Nido, Philippines and beach bum at Marimegmeg and Corong-Corong
Day two: combine Tour A and Tour C
Day three: go on Tour D
Day four: trek at Taraw Cliff and then rent a motorcycle to spend the afternoon exploring Nacpan Beach
Day five: Check out and hop on a flight to your next destination
3. Five Days, Four Nights
Day one: arrival in El Nido, Philippines and beach bum at Marimegmeg and Corong-Corong
Day two: combine Tour A and Tour C
Day three: go on Tour D
Day four: trek at Taraw Cliff, head to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls or Lio Beach, and check into Mad Monkey Hostel Nacpan Beach
Day five: check out and head to the airport for your next flight
Every nook and cranny of El Nido is unique and worth exploring. Brimming with beaches and activities to boot, you will simply never run out of amazing things to see and do during your trip to El Nido.
More Information About El Nido, Philippines
Did you love this article about El Nido? Do you want even more information on things to see and do on this incredible island? Then have a look at these articles we have rounded up for your reading pleasure!
- El Nido Island Hopping: 14 Things to do in El Nido by Tom for Travel TomTom
- 15 Best Things to Do in El Nido (the Philippines) for The Crazy Tourist
- 13 Best Places and Things to Do in El Nido, Palawan for Travelin Boots
- Top things to do in El Nido, Philippines for Lonely Planet