Oef, what to say about El Nido… There are some pro’s and con’s for this destination, so let’s just put them together for you to make up your mind for yourself 😉
But first check the videos, to get a proper impression! The one on top of this article and the latest one (2017) just down here:
Why you should visit El Nido
El Nido is home to some of the highlights of Palawan, including Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon, Hidden Beach and Secret Beach. All are very spectaculair creations of mother nature, very close to each other.
Also if you love some nice party vibes, El Nido is the best spot in Palawan. With lots of music and dining on the beach. It’s a very lively village.
There is all kinds of food from all over the world, live bands, you name it!
Why you should skip on El Nido
Even though the highlights of El Nido are breathtaking, seeing them with hordes of others doesn’t do them justice. For me the whole town and the tours are just way too touristy. I was in shock how much new hotels and restaurants popped up in the 2 years I hadn’t been to this town.
If you love off the beaten track traveling, I’d say you skip on El Nido and go to Port Barton (also with a tourism industry, but far more relaxed) or even further south to dodge the crowds.
I think your love for El Nido really depends on the kind of traveler you are! Just know what you’re up too and don’t feel like you ‘must’ visit this place.
My tips for El Nido
There are a few tricks to enjoy El Nido in a bit more of a quiet way.
One is to stay in Sibaltan, a village on the east side of Palawan. Check out Tapik Beach for example:
From Tapik Beach you can do the tours in El Nido during the day, and enjoy the quiet beach life in the evening.
It’s also possible to get on a multiple day tour from El Nido, sleeping on virgin islands. There are lots of offers. Through the local offices you can arrange a stay on an island on the spot. But if you want something organized, between El Nido and Coron, check out Buhay Isla. It’s like the famous TAO Philippines, but cheaper and with smaller boats. I loved it!
During our Buhay Isla tour we also saw Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon after 5 o’clock. All tourists gone we had the place all for ourselves, to experience her in her full natural glory.
Go beyond the island hopping tours! Corong Corong beach is a very nice half a day trip away (with your own motorbike maybe?). It’s a nice beach, with a zipline providing some good views over the surroundings. Also Nacpan Beach makes up for a good alternative to island hopping 🙂
If you want to see El Nido from high above, go for the Canopy Walk. Just start on the edge of town, and hike all the way up the cliff. A fun half a day trip, easily to be combined with Corong Corong beach for example.
Where to sleep in El Nido
In 2015 we stayed in Cliffside Cottages, which was quite nice. The older bungalows are in the garden, far from the street. It’s not the most spectaculair room you’ve ever had, but it’s a good wooden hut and not expensive. We also stayed in Calaan Gawad Kalinga, where we just knocked the door and got a room next to the beach in a quiet area just out of town.
Returning in 2017 there was not much knocking the door and getting a room anymore. Hotels fill up FAST – and booking even several months on forehand wouldn’t help too much. I found a place in Spin Hostel, which was expensive but a very nice room.
Tip: just make sure you book your room in time if you have anything specific in mind!
Where to eat in El Nido
Oke, there are so many restaurants popping up all the time, I can’t even start on telling you where to eat. Just ask what the latest restaurant is that opened, and explore I’d say! It might be a pleasant surprise.
NOTE: links might be affiliate. You don’t pay anything extra, I just get a commission if you book anything, that’s all 🙂 It’s a nice way to make a bit of money from travel advise given with love!