El Nido with the surrounding archipelago is a place of stunning nature, divine beaches, and relaxed atmosphere. Visiting El Nido mostly includes exploring the remote islands in the area, snorkeling, kayaking and getting to know more about the Filipino culture. Even if you’re short on time during your Palawan trip, visiting El Nido is a must. One day in El Nido will pass very quickly, but you’ll get to explore a very big part of its mind-blowing beauty.
What’s the best time to visit El Nido?
The perfect time would be from late November to March. May to October is not ideal due to the rainy season. On the other hand, March to May is known for being the jellyfish season. At that time the sea is packed with jellyfish, so a lot of caution is required. Getting stung by a jellyfish can really ruin your day.
What’s good to know about El Nido?
The city of El Nido is located on Palawan island in the very west part of the Philippines and it differs in its nature and the landscape from the rest of the country. The easiest way to reach the city is by plane, landing at the super small El Nido airport. Other than that, you can either reach it by bus/car from Porto Princessa or by taking a boat ride from the Batangas to Coron and then another one from Coron to El Nido.
One Day in El Nido Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in El Nido.
Book Your Island Tour Early in the Morning
Actually, booking a tour should be done a day in advance, but even early in the morning could work out as well. The archipelago, known for its stunning beaches and impressive cliffs, can be explored by taking one of the 4 island tours every travel agency in the city has on their list. All of them are exciting, but if you can choose – pick the one with the Secret Lagoon. The tour includes lunch at the beach.
Rent a Kayak
If you’re not into organized tours, but you still don’t want to miss the beautiful archipelago of El Nido, try renting a kayak. The great thing about it is that you can look for remote islands, and have a whole beach for yourself. It requires being in good shape, as the trip itself takes hours. Don’t miss checking out Entalula Island where you’ll find one of the most spectacular beaches in the archipelago.
Swim in the Secret Lagoon
The Secret Lagoon is nothing short of paradise on Earth. The Lagoon is quite small but illuminated with divine light that shines through the cliffs. It’s best just to float on the sea surface and admire the serenity and the beauty of nature.
Have Dinner at Mezzanine Restaurant
In spite of being more pricey than many other beach restaurants, the Mezzanine restaurant is still the best value you can get. The European owners made sure that the restaurant is nicely decorated and the food is super tasty. It’s also a great place to chill in the afternoon. The terrace view at sunset is spectacular.
Baloot is a traditional Filipino dish, basically a half-hatched chicken egg. Even though eating a chicken fetus doesn’t seem particularly appetizing, it actually tastes pretty good. It’s not commonly served in restaurants, but you can find kids at the beach selling them – and they cost next to nothing.
Try Your Luck at the El Nido Night Market
The El Nido Market is not like other SE Asian night markets. It’s less known for selling food or merchandise, but it’s still packed with locals every night. The street gambling games are what attracts people of any age. Try your luck at the market and play one of the many games they offer. You’re gonna love it.
Where to stay in El Nido?
Lio Tourism Estate, Palawan, 5310 El Nido
Casa Kalaw is a modern and stylish resort located close to a beautiful white sand beach. The resort is a nice escape from the busy downtown area, still very close to the Lio airport. The resort features an outdoor pool and nice lounge areas with lush tropical gardens surrounding them.
DAY TRIPS FROM EL NIDO
Obviously, booking an island hopping tour is a must for anyone staying in El Nido. The Palawan island, however, has so much more to offer than the area surrounding this coastal town. Here are several suggestions when it comes to day trips from El Nido and places you may want to consider if you leave El Nido hungry for more.
Day Trip to Puerto Princesa With City Tour
Although it takes nearly 4 hours to get there, visiting Puerto Princesa is well worth it. The capital city of Palawan is filled with historic sites, while nature enthusiasts will love the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center or the “crocodile farm”, as it is sometimes jokingly called. Other landmarks include the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the location of the first mass in Puerto Princesa, as well as Plaza Cuartel, an old military fort with a bloody and tragic past, especially during WWII. Binuatan Creations and Tiangge-Tiangge are shops that offer handcrafted souvenirs to make your Philippine vacation unforgettable.
Day Trip to Puerto Princesa Underground River
If you’re going to Puerto Princesa, you may as well book the famous underground river tour. Local tours by boat usually take around 9 hours. If you’re visiting Palawan, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one thing you definitely don’t want to miss. The highlight of the day trip, obviously, is entering a breathtaking flooded cave system by paddle boat. The cave system was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1999 and is frequently listed as a natural wonder in various magazines. Along the way, you will encounter various exotic animals, including giant lizards, bats, birds, pythons, woodland frogs, and monkeys.
Day Trip to Port Barton With Island Tour
Approximately the same distance from El Nido as Puerto Princesa, only on the northern side of the island, you will find Port Barton, a small, quiet village often marketed as a more laid-back version of El Nido. Port Barton is known for its white sandy beaches and clear, calm waters. If you are lucky, you can see the waters glow at night due to the bioluminescent plankton. When you’re there, you should book an island tour which includes island hopping, snorkeling, and swimming with turtles.
Extra tips for visiting El Nido
– If you’re into snorkeling, bring your own snorkeling equipment. The equipment that you rent at the agency can be really bad sometimes.
– If you don’t have a waterproof camera, buy a waterproof case. The archipelago of El Nido is the perfect place for taking postcard-looking photos and you’ll surely want to take a camera with you on your boat trip.
– Even though it is very popular among tourists, there’s no ATM in El Nido. Bring only cash when traveling there.
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).