Mini Guide: Incredible El Nido

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Seven Commandos
We kayaked to this little cove near the Big Lagoon.
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I hiked my way to the top for this view. #matinloc
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Sunset sessions, El Nido style.
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Proud of this kid! MG was afraid to get on the kayak but she did it.

What can I say about El Nido that no one else knows?  Nothing, I guess.  El Nido is far from undiscovered, that is for sure.  Every travel blogger I follow has already visited this part of Palawan that I feel I’d just be repeating what everybody else has read about.

But what’s another article or review about El Nido, right?  The more, the merrier.  Besides every experience is unique.  So I’ll just share what I think of El Nido.  El Nido is a tropical paradise — magnificent limestone cliffs, islands with pristine white beaches and clear, warm & turquoise waters.  Nature at its finest and roughest.  It’s the best kind.  It’s not voted no. 1 best island by Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast for nothing.  There is something for everyone in Palawan.

TIP:  To experience the beauty of El Nido, you have to explore the islands! This is non-negotiable.  Otherwise, don’t go to El Nido.  Just stay in Puerto Princesa and save yourself from the notorious roller coaster van ride.

Can I live there?  Probably not.  I can live in Boracay to tell you honestly.  El Nido is more rustic.  It’s not really there yet when it comes to convenience. Imagine riding a van for 6 hours from Puerto Princesa just to get there.  Did I mention that the zigzag road to El Nido is the most unforgiving I’ve experienced?! And the drivers drive really fast which aggravates the already unpleasant and uncomfortable ride.  But it’s just me.  I’m prone to motion sickness.  I take bonamine like candy whenever we take the bus.  I took two tablets for this trip and I still felt dizzy.  My kid who also took bonamine almost threw up that we even had to stop by the roadside so she can catch some fresh air.  So when we arrived in El Nido, we were already very tired and nauseated.  I hope there’s another option aside from expensive chartered or direct flights to reach this part of the island.

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This way to the Hidden Beach.
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And we found Nemo!

But it’s a whole other playing field once you get to your hotel or resort.  It’s chill all the way.  You have nothing to worry about except what to have for your next meal.  It’s literally wake up, admire the view, have breakfast, go on an island tour, lunch at the beach on some island, swim or kayak to another island, read a bit, sunbathe, snorkel, go back to the resort, freshen up, head to town and get dinner and maybe have coffee or a night cap.  That’s all there is to it.  You wake up the next day and do it all over again.  Life is good.  Island life is the best.  Just don’t let me go through that van ride again.

SIDE NOTE: We stayed at Hadefe Cottages which came highly recommended by users of TripAdvisor.  It’s walking distance from the town but you can use the guesthouse’s trike service if you don’t feel like walking.  We paid Php 7500 per person for a 4D/3N stay. There’s wifi but no TV.  The package comes with breakfast, 2 island tours, Puerto Princesa Underground River  tour and van transfers. The accommodation is basic.  But it was clean and comfortable.   If you’re not too picky and not really looking for luxurious accommodations, this is a pretty solid choice.

Obligatory shot  upon entering the Big Lagoon.
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Our boatmates during the island tour

If you are planning a trip to Palawan, do not end your trip in Puerto Princesa. Because you haven’t really experienced Palawan if you haven’t been to El Nido.

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Lunching on a secluded island is the best.  Lunch is included when you avail of any one of the island tours.  You can choose from Tours A, B, C or D.  Price ranges from 1200 to 1500 pesos per person per tour.

Here are a few more tips and recommendations on what to see, do, and eat in El Nido:

  • A must visit is the town of Corong Corong just a tricycle away from El Nido proper.  It has the most amazing sunset and the stretch of beach is better than that of El Nido’s.  It’s also less crowded.
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Corong Corong Beach
  • Riding the tricycle is an experience in itself but it’s expensive.  From El Nido town to Corong Corong, driver charged us 50 pesos each one way.  Plan your itinerary well so you won’t have to go back and forth to Corong Corong beach or other places in El Nido.
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Our ride which locals call the frog.
  • The most chill place in Corong Corong is the Beach Shack.  I had a burger and MG had sisig and rice.  Both were delicious.  A bit on the pricey side though. But I love the whole vibe.  It reminds me of Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel in La Union but with hot Europeans.
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Sunset sessions at The Beach Shack Corong Corong with hot Europeans.
  • Don’t miss Altrove Trattoria for the best pizza and pasta in the whole of El Nido.  Come early as it gets packed during dinner.
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The long line to the best pizza in El Nido. It’s authentic brick oven!

The thing about El Nido and other beach destinations is that you are not required to do anything else but have fun and relax.  And we did just that.  If not for the dizzying van transfers, I would rate El Nido 10 out of 10.  I just need to save up for a chartered or direct flight so I won’t have to go through that hellish road again.


Not fond of DIY tours?  You can join one of these tours, and don’t forget to compare hotels, vacation rentalsrooms, or even homes for your trip before you go. And never leave home without Travel Insurance!

2 Comment

  1. Elizabeth O. says: Reply

    I’ve never been to El Nido but given that people are raving about it, I sure would love to, someday! It’s really nice here, the view is breathtaking and the waters are very clear. Sorry about that experience with the van though.

  2. Nikki Wayne says: Reply

    Wow, El Nido looks really nice. I wish I can go there, I should save more money for the trip!

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