El Nido

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View of El Nido bay.

El Nido is one of the most beautiful areas in the country, but it has become rather overcrowded with tourists and the locals somewhat tired of them.

In any case, it is worth an overnight stay with a packed itinerary, including a nice stroll along the shore, a zip line, kayaking, and a robust nightlife with live music playing somewhere every night of the week, or many places during the high season.

Map of El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

When you arrive to town, keep in mind that it is only a 10 minute walk to the centre from the bus terminal when the local taxis try to charge you exorbitantly. Across from the bus terminal is the local market, if you want a good selection of raw veggies, and you would walk right to get to the center (same direction that the bus or van was going).

I would recommend one of the following places.

Amigos, take good care of you, open late (500p = $11)

Right on the beach, pretty basic, neighbor has a room for 800p with 2 medium sized beds. The red A marked on the map above (click for larger view), at the very end of that stretch on the right hand side. The owner’s uncle also has a place next to B, which is the Art Cafe. If you are facing the Art Cafe, it is the unmarked building just to its right, single rooms for around 500p. To the left of the Art Cafe is an alley. If you go down that, there is a very nice shared dorm hostel on the left hand side.

Amigos: +639277353221

El Nido Corner, nice restaurant on the water (600p = $13)

Those cheaper rooms are out back, without a view of the water, but if they are full or you want something fancier, they have rooms with terraces for 1,800p ($40) – the three pictures shown below are of the fancier rooms.

Red C on the map above, at the very end of the beach before it turns into a trail working its way around the bend. The restaurant food is hardly great, but the view is really nice, and they have internet as well. Nice, quiet part of the beach, as the partying can get loud towards its centre.

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IBR INN, open late (800p = $18)

Not the most glamorous, but still a fair amount cheaper than anything else around. Forgot to mark it on the map, but it’s roughly across the street from the Seaslug Restaurant, which is in the centre on the beach. So no view of the waterfront.

Tel. +639182968833

Kalinga (3000p = $65)

If you want something fancier. Not in El Nido proper but the next village over to the right, on the next beach. Nice and quiet area, good for romantic couples.

cottages 1500 2xPAX incl. breakfast, family room 2000 2xPAX +500p per extra person

Tel. +639215700021, +639212540818

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Others have given good reviews about OMP Our Melting Pot Hostel, saying they have been very helpful when trying to book a ferry north to Coron or Linapacan. Note that many places in El Nido will say that there are no ferries to Linapacan, but this is simply not true. If you will be taking the 7+ hour long boat journey to Coron and you can squeeze in the time, better to cut your trip in half and hopefully stop by to visit us!

Itinerary

There are a few islands you can kayak to for 400p. The cheapest kayak rental is located next to A on the map. The yellow arrow for the “local kayak route” is aimed at the island you see in the middle of the picture below. If you go to the centre of the beach, perhaps a bit past the Seaslug restaurant, you should find a map on the beach showing the various kayak options. Those that are farther away require a boat trip, so they are more expensive. Last time I went around the corner but found it a real muscle job to get back, so pay attention to the changing tidal currents and, to play it safe, perhaps just go to the centre island below – it has a beautiful coastline.

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Kayaking around El Nido.
To kayak or just snorkel at one of the lagoons, the Art Cafe (B on the map above) is a good place to book, or you can do so online. But many have suggested that, if possible, it is better to form a group and hire a private boat. The standard tours all go in the same direction, one after another, so it ends up being a traffic jam with endless obnoxious-coloured lifejackets bobbing in the emerald waters. With a private boat you can go in the opposite direction and stand a good chance to have at least one of the lagoons to yourselves. Or you could skip the El Nido lagoons and save it for Coron, which also has beautiful ones.

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You can go for a nice stroll along the water, through a second village and on to a third, quiet beach next to an abandoned resort. The top picture is the view from the Corner lodge explained above.

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View from the third beach – click for larger pic.
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Then there is the famous zip line (the one closer to town to zip your way to a neighbouring island) (500-900p = $11-19):

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For a higher price you can take another zip line back, but I think it is much nicer to walk down the rickety rackety bamboo steps and walk back along the skinny peninsula (shown in the video above) to a really nice restaurant.

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View of the restaurant while walking back from the zipline (click pic to zoom in):

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Full moon above hammock.

You can also climb to the top of the cliff overlooking the town, but I have not done that yet and apparently you should find a guide:

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And for the evenings, lots of live music, every night in different bars. You can start at B on the map, at the Art Cafe. During the low season, they play music three times a week, while the Seaslug plays the other three days of the week. During the high season I must have counted at least five places playing every evening. Start at the Art Cafe and work your way east to the beach. On the left hand side of the road is another place (more for open jam sessions if you are traveling with an instrument), while on the beach there are at least three more.

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Transportation

At the bottom of the map at the top of this page you will notice an arrow pointing down/south to the bus terminal. This is about a ten minute walk from the center, so keep that in mind when the tricycles quote you prices, as they can be rather aggressive here.

The prices and information about vans and buses (fancy and public) going to Puerto Princesa apply here as they do on that page. If you want to go to San Fernando or Sibaltan, check out the Transportation info at the bottom of that page. More info available if you want to take a private or public boat to Coron or Linapacan from San Fernando or Sibaltan.

Back to suggested itinerary.

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