El Nido is the most popular holiday destination in Palawan, the westernmost province in the Philippines. Occupying a land area of about 400 km2 at the northern tip of Palawan Island, El Nido is a first-class municipality that also comprises 45 islands and islets, all of them part of the Bacuit Archipelago. El Nido – The Nest - owes its name to the fact it’s an important turtles’ breeding area.
Famous for its white sand beaches, turquoise waters, coral reefs, and splendid limestone rock formations similar to those of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam or Phang Nga Bay in Thailand, El Nido has managed to become one of the most popular resort town vacation destinations in the Philippines in the space of just a few years.
Things to See and Do in El Nido
Splendid natural surroundings are the main attractions in El Nido. The islands that compose the Bacuit Archipelago offer a wide range of geological formations to discover. This is a fantastic pristine area to visit with the many island-hopping day trips on offer from El Nido Town. Simizu, Cadlao, Dilumacad, and Matinloc are just a few of the islands that are worth a visit.
As for activities, sea kayaking is the favourite eco-friendly way to explore the nooks and crannies of each island. Snorkelling and scuba diving are the activities that first began to put El Nido on the bucket-list of many travellers, thanks to the abundant marine life that live on the many coral reefs situated around most of the islands. Inland, exploring the rainforest and hunting for waterfalls and exotic flora and fauna species make for rewarding travel experiences.
El Nido Nightlife
Despite its remote location, El Nido hosts a decent choice of pleasant night spots for you to party or relax after dark, whatever your mood. Not surprisingly, ultra-modern nightclubs pumping loud techno music are not (yet) part of the fun here, but, in town, New Zone Disco & Karaoke is the place you should head to if you like to dance.
Whether you stay in town or at one of the beaches nearby, you’ll find a suitable spot to have a drink and socialise at night. From the Rasta Bar in town to La Plage at Corong Corong Beach or Republica Sunset Bar in Buena Suerte and many more besides, there’s a wide choice of venues to enjoy the nightlife in El Nido.
El Nido Dining
Developed for tourism and attracting an ever-growing number of visitors year after year, El Nido features a lively and diverse dining scene. You’ll find a good choice of restaurants specialised in Filipino cuisine – Cadlao Resort & Restaurant, Tambok’s El Nido, and Artcafé for instance, and an even larger choice of restaurants serving cuisines from all around the world, including Italian, French, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Mediterranean and more.
Mentioned above for being cool nightlife spots, La Plage and Republica Sunset Bar, as well as Happiness Beach Bar, Mezzanine, and Osaka Castle, to name just a few, are also among the favourite dining venues in El Nido.
El Nido Shopping
Even though El Nido is light-years away from Manila’s or Cebu City’s shopping scenes, you can find everything here that’s needed to make for a comfortable holiday. Convenience stores are available in El Nido Town and neighbouring beaches for purchasing the basic necessities like sunblock, beachwear, snacks and drinks. A few art and souvenirs shops, such as El Nido Boutique & Artcafé, can also be found around town, often inside resorts. Fresh markets also provide opportunities to source and sample local products.
Getting to El Nido
The fastest and easiest way to get to El Nido is to fly from Manila directly to Lio Airport, located just four kilometres from El Nido Town. The flight takes an hour and you can hire a tricycle to get to your hotel from the airport if your transfer was not organised beforehand. Daily flights are available.
If you want to explore a bit more of Palawan Island on your way to El Nido, you can fly from Manila or Cebu to Puerto Princesa Airport, then cover the 220 remaining kilometres by minivan, bus or rented car. It takes about five hours to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa by road.
El Nido Hotels
It took less than 20 years for El Nido to become a major player in the league of popular holiday destinations in the Philippines. The accommodation scene in this first-class municipality is perfectly in line with the demands of the rapid evolution of El Nido as a tourist destination. You’ll find places to stay here suited to all budgets, from cheap bungalows to mid-range hotels all the way to upscale resorts.