El Nido, Palawan Travel Guide: Sample Itinerary + Budget

By Anne Elizabeth Apolona Gumiran - 3:22 PM


I was welcomed by an extremely stunning sunset the moment I set foot in El Nido for the first time. The sky gradually turned into a gorgeous pastel palette. A few settled at the beach, too - in awe of the evenfall hues reflecting into the ocean creating an entirely calming mood. The restaurants ashore started to be filled with people who are tired and famished from exploring the best of the islands. I could hear distant chatters and merry laughter. The small waves softly crashed into the shore - a great music to my ear. I took it as El Nido's way of telling me that I might have gone in there alone but everything's going to be all right. So, it did.

How sunsets are like in El Nido, Palawan 

Impressive rock and limestone formation, the crystal waters of the lagoons and beaches that come by surprise, fascinating caves, rich marine life, beaches with grainy to powdery cream to white sand, swells and waves good for surfing, hospitable locals - this is what El Nido, Palawan is all about. To date, it has been living up to be among the best islands in the Philippines and the world with its unique and amazing attractions that continuously invite everyone from anywhere around the globe to explore its wonders.

About El Nido, Palawan


El Nido is a municipality situated at the northern most part of the mainland Palawan. It was once a part of the municipality of Taytay. It is formerly known as Bacuit later renamed into El Nido (Spanish term for The Nest) by the Spaniards when a nest of a particular bird specie used for a special soup that costs a fortune was found in it. 

Though Tagalog and English are widely spoken in the town due to the frequent interaction with the tourists, often times, locals can be heard speaking in Cuyonin - a language of a group of indigenous people who migrated from Cuyo island to El Nido. Apart from Cuyonin, other prominent indigenous groups residing in the islands of Palawan include Tagbanua, Palaw-an, Calamianin and others. 

Best time to visit El Nido is from March to May - the sunny season in Philippines. The waves may be rough on rainy season making it impossible to go on an island hopping activity. Swells at Duli Beach during this season, on the other hand, are not good for surfing. Best time to visit El Nido for such activity is during the last two quarters of the year.

Getting to, Around and Away

By Plane

1.a. From Manila to Puerto Princesa City
Local airlines have several flights daily from Manila to Puerto Princesa City.
1.b. From Puerto Princesa City to El Nido,
Once arrived, you have to travel for 4-5 hours by land to El Nido by bus or by van. The land travel costs Php 500.00. First trip is as at 5:00 AM and the last trip is at 6:00 PM. You may book your land travels at Book-A-Way Travel.

2. From Manila/ Clark Airport to El Nido
Air Swift has daily flights directly to El Nido. This, though, is more expensive than flying from Manila to Puerto Princesa City.

By Ferry

1. From Manila
Atienza Shipping Lines has a vessel that sails once a week for 24 - 26 hours every Thursday night departing from Baseco Port. Fare is at Php 1,700.00.

2. From Coron, Palawan
Phimal and Montenegro Shipping lines have fast crafts sailing daily from Coron Port to El Nido PPA at 8:20 AM and 12:00 NN respectively. Fare is around Php 1,800.00 ($35-$36). The trip takes 3 hours.

Going Around

Going around El Nido is easy as it is quite a small walkable town. Restaurants, bars, ATMs, convenience stores, souvenir shops, tour agencies' offices, the port and the beach aren't far from one another.

Apart from the attractions that require island hopping activity, El Nido also has inland points of interest such as Nacpan Beach, Las Cabañas, Water Falls, Duli Beach, Taraw Cliff and Canopy Walk. These can be reached through riding a motorbike or through renting a private van or tricycle.

Mode of Transportation for inland tours and rates:
Motorbike rental - Php 500.00/ day (excluding the gas)

With drivers
1. Tricycle - Php 1,500.00 for up to 3 persons
2. Van - Php 3,000.00 up to 10 persons

Kayaking at the Big Lagoon

Things to Do

1. Island Hopping. The best way to enjoy the attractions in El Nido is through island hopping. Tour operators usually pick the guests up from their hotels at around 8:30 AM to 9:00 AM for this.

2. Swimming and Snorkeling. Snorkeling gears are usually included in the tour packages.

3. Diving. There are several agencies near the the port and boat docking area that offer SCUBA diving. The package usually includes the diving gears, dive master, boat transfer and environmental fees.

4. Trekking to Taraw Cliff. Taraw Cliff features a massive yet impressive limestone formation that can be hiked (actually, it's more on a rock climbing). Its peak promises a breath taking bird's eye view of El Nido. Best time to start the trek is at 5:30 AM - 6:00 AM and usually take an hour or two including the ascent and descent. Tour guide is required and the rate is at Php 500.00 usually per head.

5. Chase Waterfalls. There are few waterfalls in El Nido that can be explored. You can either charter a tricycle or rent a motorbike in going there.

6. Kayaking and Paddle Boarding. Kayak rental starts at Php 250.00 for the small ones and Php 300.00 for the bigger ones. It is also the best way to explore small and big lagoon.

7. Watch the sunset at the beach. Best place to enjoy the sunset is at Las Cabanas.

8. Surfing at Duli Beach. El Nido isn't just all about beaches and lagoons but also swells good for surfing. Best time to do surfing in Duli Beach is during the last two quarters of the year.

Freediving in Helicopter Island

El Nido Tour Packages by Northern Hope Travel and Tours

TOUR A - Php 1,200.00

Small Lagoon
Big Lagoon
Secret Lagoon
Shimizu Island
7 Commando

Small and Big Lagoon are optional. An environmental fee of Php 200.00 has to be paid on top of Php 1,200.00 and an additional Php 200.00 for reservation.


Secret lagoon is situated behind the massive boulder in the middle

Seven Commando Beach

TOUR B - Php 1,300.00

Snake Island
Entalula Beach
Pinagbuyutan Island
Cudungnon Cave
Cathedral Cave

TOUR C - Php 1,400.00

Matinloc Shrine
Secret Beach
Hidden Beach
Talisay Beach
Helicopter Island

Behind this enormous limestone formation lies a white-sand beach, El Nido's Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach
Helicopter Island

Talisay Beach is usually the lunch area in Tour C
The entrance to Secret Beach. Secret Beach is a whole lot smaller than Hidden Beach.

TOUR D - Php 1,200.00

Cadlao Lagoon
Inat-nat Beach
Paradise Beach
Bukal Island
Pasandigan Beach

Inland Tours

Duli Beach
Nacpan Beach
Las Cabañas
Waterfalls
Zip line and Canopy walk

Taraw Cliff

Nacpan Beach


Contact Details

Website: www.northernhopetours.com
Facebook: Northern Hope Tours El Nido, Palawan
Mobile (Globe): +63 927 735 3221
Mobile (Smart): +63 939 902 2216
Mobile (Smart): +63 942 375 2241

Lunch is included in all of El Nido Tour packages

Where To Eat

There are various restaurants and small canteens around where you can choose from. Food price ranges from Php 150.00 - Php 350.00 per head per meal. Among the many restaurants around the vicinity, the following are the frequently visited ones:

1. Altrove Trattoria El Nido - specializes on pizza and pasta
2. Athena Cafe - offers Greek food experience to be best enjoyed with the view of the beach
3. Art Cafe - an Instagram-worthy cafe that offers pasta and music jam every night near the beach
4. Skyline Bar and Restaurant - quite a spot to cool down and chill out at night
5. Happiness Express - A chill and instagram-worthy restobar just across Athena Cafe

Seven Commando Beach

Where To Stay

There are lots of cheap hotels, inns and home stays around and among those are the following:

Facebook: Northern Hope Tours El Nido, Palawan
Mobile (Globe): +63 927 735 3221
Mobile (Smart): +63 939 902 2216
Mobile (Smart): +63 942 375 2241

Facebook: El Nido Greenviews Beach Resort
Mobile: +63 916 403 7788

Facebook page: Novie's Tourist Inn
Email: noviesinn@gmail.com
Mobile: +63 908 303 2662

Facebook account: Keira Backpackers/ Keira Tourist Inn

Facebook page: Karmylla's Place
Mobile: +63 906 965 6291

If you're down for some luxurious hotel and resorts, you should check on the following:

Facebook page: Panorama Boutique Hotel & Beach Club, El Nido
Email: panoramaelnido@gmail.com
Mobile: +63 998 240 5291

Mobile: +63 917 714 5779

Mobile: +63 917 628 3689

Facebook page: El Nido Moringa Resort
Mobile: +3 999 537 3006

Email: info@vellago.com
Mobile: +63 917 884 4082

Facebook page: El Nido Bayview Resort
Email: elnidobayviewresort@gmail.com
Telephone: +632 401 6547
Mobile (Globe): +63 917 889 2727 
Mobile (Smart): +63 921 989 6907

Sample 4 Days - 3 Nights Itinerary

DAY 1: (PM) Arrival at Puerto Princesa City
Travel to Puerto Princesa City to El Nido
Check in to accommodation

DAY 2: Tour A
Places to Visit:
1. Small Lagoon
2. Big Lagoon
3. Secret Lagoon
4. Shimizu Island (Lunch Area)
5. Seven Commando Beach

DAY 3: Tour C
1. Matinloc Shrine
2. Secret Beach
3. Hidden Beach
4. Talisay Beach
5. Helicopter Island

Evening: Travel from El Nido to Puerto Princesa City
Check into accommodation

DAY 4: Home Bound

Note: Itinerary may still depend on your flight itinerary. This itinerary works best if the booked flight for departure from your place of origin to Puerto Princesa City is in the afternoon so you could still have time to travel to El Nido and rest. 

Sample 4 Days - 3 Nights Budget

DAY 1:
Van fare from Puerto Princesa to El Nido - Php 500.00
Dinner - Php 100.00
Inn - Php 1,200.00 / 2 - Php 600.00
Total: Php 1,200.00

DAY 2: 
Tour A - Php 1,200.00
Dinner - Php 150.00
Accommodation - Php 1,200.00 / 2 - Php 600.00
Total: Php 1,950.00

DAY 3:
Tour C - Php 1,400.00
Dinner - Php 150.00
Van Fare - Php 150.00
Accommodation - Php 1,200.00 / 2 - Php 600.00
Total: Php 2,300.00

DAY 4:
Airport Transfer - Php 100.00

GRAND TOTAL: Php 5,550.00

*Excluding souvenirs and airfare 
*Complimentary breakfast is offered in the accommodation
*Lunch is included in the tour

View of the bay from Taraw Cliff

Tips in Traveling to El Nido

1. Bring dry bag and aqua shoes. There are several occasions that will require you to walk and pass through rocks in waters.
2. Use reef-friendly sunscreen.
3. Be a responsible traveler. Do not take home sand, shells, rocks or anything from the islands. Do not leave and throw anything to the ocean.
4. Do not feed the fish nor touch the corals.
5. Food are a little pricey in the town. The cheapest you can get is at Php 100.00 - Php 150.00 for a meal in a small canteen or local restaurant.
6. El Nido is a solo traveler-friendly town. You can just simply join tours by the agency and ask the tour guides to take photos of you. Shall you decide to book your tours with Northern Hope, look for kuya Elfer and Kuya Efren. They take the best photos! Lol.
7. Use of single-use plastic straw and bags is banned in El Nido. Shakes and drinks are sold with bamboo or paper straws and bringing of shopping eco-bags sometimes is necessary when buying something from shops.
8. If you'll be booking a flight and will coming from Puerto Princesa City, make sure that you'll book your departure late in the afternoon and your return early in the morning to maximize your stay in El Nido.
9. Matinloc Shrine has an entrance fee of Php 100.00 per head that is not included on the tour package fee.
10. Best place to watch the sunset is in Las Cabañas beach.
11. If you have a weak heart and are planning to go on a hike to Taraw Cliff, think twice. There are no harness and ropes at all. There is no established flat trail but sharp limestone all throughout.


It was only once a dream of mine to visit El Nido, Palawan as I have only heard and seen it on pictures and in TV. I was very glad to be able to visit it. It would be even lovelier if you could also experience its beauty - you and the next generations. With that, let's all be responsible enough to take care of it through our simple efforts. Small yet collective efforts will always have a greater impact.

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