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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, your dreams. We can’t blame you for wanting to go!
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 favorite places I’ve ever been to.
Top Attractions and Things to Do in El Nido Palawan (Philippines) Contents
- 1. Find a lovely spot to settle in
- 2. Go all-out on island hopping
- 3. Eat halo-halo by the beach like you own the island
- 4. Don’t miss out on fun water activities
- 5. Eat, eat and eat some more
- 6. Explore the town by foot at night
- 7. Party!
- 8. Visit nearby towns via motorcycle
- 9. Go on a search for the famous Twin Beach
- 10. Climb the Taraw Peak everyone is raving about
- 11. Tick ziplining off your bucket list in the best view possible
- 12. Buy trinkets from the island
- 13. Relax and enjoy the sunset
We’ve mentioned briefly about Palawan, but where is Palawan and why is it said to have world-class beaches? Palawan is located in the western side of the Philippines. It has beautiful beach locations primarily because it is an archipelagic province.
Ways on how to get to Palawan is very diverse, mainly depending on your point of origin. A lot of travelers, 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. 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 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.
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! Here are some of the top activities to enjoy in this lovely tourist destination:
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 bedspaces, 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.
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 flavors 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!
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 seafoods. Options are endless as international cuisines make up a huge part of the island’s gastronomy together with all-time Filipino favorites. Mexican, French, Italian – the list goes on and on! Our favorite? The good ol’ staple street foods!
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…
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 are so pristine due to the effort of the locals, NGO and LGU. As a visitor, always follow all the regulations in protecting the nature and beauty of El Nido. Most importantly, have fun!