13 Best Things to Do in El Nido Palawan (Philippines)

Looking for the best things to do in El Nido, Palawan? El Nido Philippines is truly one of the must-see travel destinations in your lifetime. For me, one trip wasn’t enough; I kept coming back for more. It’s not long until I find myself regarding El Nido as one of my favourite places I’ve ever been to.

There is no doubt that the best beaches in Palawan are in El Nido. I am sure you have heard of this piece of paradise before. Crystal clear waters, diverse marine ecosystem, breathtaking cliffs… The beauty is in your screens, your feeds, and your dreams. We can’t blame you for wanting to go! 

Read More: Best El Nido Island Hopping Guide and Packages for First Time Visitors

Where is Palawan and why is it said to have world-class beaches?

Palawan is located on the western side of the Philippines. It has beautiful beach locations primarily because it is an archipelagic province. 

El Nido Beaches in Palawan

Ways on how to get to Palawan is very diverse, mainly depending on your point of origin. A lot of travellers, especially foreign tourists, come from Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. To come from there, you will have to fly from the domestic airport and arrive at Puerto Princesa International Airport.

Read more: 12 Best Tourist Spots and Things to Do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Manila to El Nido is such a famous travel route that this airport is reported as one of the busiest in the whole country.

From the airport, transport vans take visitors to El Nido. The road trip may take up to 5 hours. There’s nothing to worry about during the long ride, for the seats are good, food stops are present and restrooms are available.

Once you arrive, you will be welcomed by locals offering El Nido tour packages, options on where to stay in El Nido and other things to do in El Nido aside from island hopping.

Read More: 10 Best Places to Visit in the Philippines

While it will be good for you to have secured your accommodations and tours ahead of your trip, there are also good deals that you can only get to see once you reach the area. If you ask me where the best place to stay in El Nido is, I would always go for those who are nearby tour commencement points.

This saves you from the hassle of rushing through your morning and/or dragging yourself home afterwards. With regards to El Nido Palawan tourist spots and things to do, we got you covered!

Read more: Impacts of Ecotourism Development in El Nido, Palawan (Academic Study)

Here are some of the best things to do in El Nido, Palawan:

1. Find a lovely spot to settle in

You will not find it hard to choose where to stay in El Nido. Whether you are on a budget, on a well-deserved trip, or with a pack of travel buddies, El Nido is filled with bed spaces, inns, hotels and even glamping tents! The main question you would like to address is: which part of the town would you like to wake up to?

Some would like to stay at the beachfront while others like to seclude themselves from the crowd. There are also people who do not care much, as long as the essentials are there. Once you check-in, allot some time to talk to the in-charge and get to know the place. Chances are, they know the scoop on where to book El Nido tours and what dishes to try during your stay.

2. Go all-out on island hopping

What is El Nido Palawan without island hopping? With four tours to choose from – A, B, C and D – you can tailor fit your tours depending on the number of days you’re staying there. For example, a 3D2N El Nido itinerary will leave you with one day of island hopping tour. It starts at 9 AM and ends by 4 PM, leaving you with just the right amount of time to enjoy the night until you’re bound for the airport again. For me, the order of preference with regards to the tour goes this way: A – C – B – D.

Best things to do in El Nido - Island Hopping Guide and Tour Costs

What to look forward to in Tour A: Paddling / Kayaking / swimming from the Big Lagoon going to the Small Lagoon, checking out if the Secret Lagoon is accessible, taking a breather at Seven Commando

What to look forward to in Tour B: Entering the Cudognon Cave and crossing the sandbar of Snake Island

What to look forward to in Tour C: Going up the Matinloc Shrine cliffs and seeing the beauty of the islands from the top, exploring the Hidden Beach

What to look forward to in Tour D: Snorkeling in Bukal Island and looking for turtles in Pasandigan Beach

3. Eat halo-halo by the beach like you own the island

It may just be the stunning views adding up to the flavours in the cup – I don’t know, but the halo-halo in Seven Commando tastes sublime with you sitting below a coconut tree, with feet buried in the sand and eyes gazed upon the long blue stretch of water.

For those who are uninitiated: halo-halo is a sweet dessert from the Philippines comprised of mixed fruits and beans buried in shaved ice, with a generous amount of milk poured on top. It is finished with purple yam, leche flan / creme caramel and ice cream. Sounds inviting, don’t you think?

4. Don’t miss out on fun water activities

Try everything if you can! Swimming, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, stand up paddling… the list is endless and worth trying. Take a new profile photo with a school of fish swimming in your background. Channel your competitive nature by engaging in a friendly kayak race with your companions. It’s about time you finally try standing up on that paddle board and really going somewhere!

Best things to do El Nido is Island hopping in El Nido tour A

Truth be told, El Nido is not for the water fearers. With views that grand, I’m pretty sure you’ll be enticed to jump that boat and enjoy the surroundings in no time. El Nido Palawan tourist spots are best enjoyed submerged!

5. Eat, eat and eat some more

Go and visit the local bakery for some authentic snacking. Munch on some island-famous crepes and dig into off-the-grill meats and seafood. Options are endless as international cuisines make up a huge part of the island’s gastronomy together with all-time Filipino favourites. Mexican, French, Italian – the list goes on and on! Our favourite? The good ol’ staple street foods! 

Try to visit The Kollective at Amboy St., Brgy. Buena Swerte, El Nido. A very nice and casual restaurant cafe that serves budget-friendly and delicious Filipino dishes in generous portions. Plus, they serve the BEST GIN AND TONIC in town! You can check their Tripadvisor reviews here.

Read more: Nido Soup: Delicious Bird’s Nest Soup of Palawan, Philippines

Worried about food while on tour? Fret not, for all island hopping tours come with a mouthwatering lunch usually comprised of fresh vegetables, grilled meat and seafoods, steamed rice, and seasonal fruits. El Nido tour packages are indeed complete and deliver value for money.

6. Explore the town by foot at night

If you are tempted to just stay in your room after a day’s tour, we can’t blame you. You can’t blame us, too, for trying to talk you out of doing so! Restaurants and other hangout spots come alive at night and travelers and locals alike come and gather to converse, share stories and have fun. It’s a different vibe altogether, with the cliffs and seas out of sight and the area is just full of people who are all smiles from the activities that transpired during the day.

When you get to find the crowd where you belong, it’s time to…

7. Party!

For those asking what to do in El Nido when night breaks, we say it’s time to party! The beachfront where tours partake in the morning comes alive in the evening, with karaoke machines on play and drink bottles in circulation.

Plenty of bars are open until the wee hours. It’s a great way to meet again with the people you encountered during the tours and have a chance to connect with them without those snorkel masks on. Pukka Bar is one of the bars that are popular to travelers and locals alike.

8. Visit nearby towns via motorcycle

There are things to do in El Nido aside from island hopping. When booking for your island tours, ask your tour provider for an El Nido tour package that includes inland tours. These types of tours are your go-to’s should the weather decides not to permit you from proceeding with your island hopping. A driver, who also serves as your tour guide, will drive and accompany you around town to places like Las Cabanas and Nacpan Waterfalls.

Alternatively, you can rent out a motorcycle and explore the rest of the island on your own. Just make sure to bring ample knowledge about the roads you’re taking before embarking on your journey.

9. Go on a search for the famous Twin Beach

As you go about exploring what’s near El Nido’s town proper, make sure to follow the sign that points to Barangay Bucana where Nacpan and Calitang beaches await. This area used to be unknown to many, until more and more people realized they’re missing out big time for not being in the loop. Now, the Twin beach has taken a permanent spot in the El Nido Palawan package tour that the operators offer.

Once you arrive on the beachfront, go up the grassy hill and be mesmerized by a 360-degree view of two beaches almost meeting together at one point. It’s worth the drive – believe us!

10. Climb the Taraw Peak everyone is raving about

Feeling adventurous? One of the major things you have to put in your El Nido Palawan itinerary are the Taraw cliffs. It’s a relatively easy climb, with overused trails that serve as your guide in reaching the top. This activity can be done by basically anyone willing to walk to a destination. One thing you just have to keep in mind is the trail’s sharp rocks, something that is not very foreign to El Nido surroundings anyway. Once you reach the top view, be prepared to (most probably) shed a tear in awe of the beauty that awaits you there. Tissues not included in the tour.

What should you expect to see? You’ll see a bird’s eye view of where you went island hopping. You’ll see the boats calling it a day and lining up neatly on the beachfront. You’ll see potential points of interest for your inland tour. You’ll see another angle of El Nido’s grandeur.

11. Tick ziplining off your bucket list in the best view possible

Island hopping via zipline? Sounds crazy? This better make it to your list of things to do in El Nido!

Promising a picturesque view while on the harness, ziplining in Las Cabanas is an activity for the daring ones. Once you go up the bamboo platform, everything would seem unassuming to you – until the set you up and reel you in. Then, you’ll see the view you’ll glide through in order to arrive on the other side, Depeldet Island.

Imagine seeing the splendid scenery in midair, with adrenaline rush pumping through your veins. If you can time your zipline adventure to as close to sunset as possible, do it. It will make up for a good video and an epic memory.

12. Buy trinkets from the island

It isn’t the time to just forget about your list of things to buy for friends and family back home. Apparels, keychains and other keepsakes are widely available at the town market for prices reasonable enough for us to recommend you to go for it. When do you think your next visit to this paradise will be? Not sure… Better buy one or two turtle magnets as a cute reminder!

13. Relax and enjoy the sunset

Go back to Las Cabanas and relax on the beachfront or head to the same place where tours start… Those are our top picks on where to enjoy the sunset in El Nido, although the former wins by a point or two. Seeing the sky turn orange amidst the rock formations and the still waters leaves a sweet note to your busy day on the island. Sunset in El Nido is one sight we will not be tired of seeing.

Some may say El Nido Palawan in the Philippines might just be too common an Asian destination nowadays that the island might get too crowded at times, but we beg to disagree. Yes, there is truth in these comments but we believe you should not be one to pass on experiencing such a rare gem. Come and explore the best beaches in Palawan here at El Nido!

I hope that inspires you to visit El Nido, Palawan in the Philippines. This protected area is so pristine due to the effort of the locals, NGOs and LGU. As a visitor, always follow all the regulations in protecting the nature and beauty of El Nido. Most importantly, have fun!

Have you been to El Nido, Palawan?
Do you have other suggestions on the best things to do in El Nido?
Share your travel experience in the comment box below.

Things to do in El Nido Philippines


Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas and travel guides for travellers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

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