All about El Nido on Palawan in the Philippines: tips and experiences!

El Nido on Palawan in the Philippines is a popular city from where many boat trips depart. The place is known for its huge limestone rocks and blue water, it is a busy tourist hot spot. In this blog, you can read more about our time in El Nido. I will also tell you what you can do in El Nido, what nice hotels there are here and which restaurants in this Philippine city we recommend! In short, a lot of tips for El Nido on Palawan!


Our time at El Nido in Palawan!

We have been in the Philippines for a week now but it feels like we have only arrived yesterday, time is moving so fast!

Last night we arrived in El Nido after a very amusing bus trip. We were supposed to leave at 1 pm, but after changing drivers 4 times and driving up and down Port Barton 5 times to pick up other people we finally left for El Nido around 2:30 pm. This time I got a bit car sick, but an American lady who was also in the van had good pills for that. Those pills worked very well…

What she didn’t tell me about the pills, but luckily she did tell Ries, was that there was a little bit of THC (the working ingredient of Marijuana) in the pills. And I felt that a little bit. Never been so relaxed in a van!


The bus ride from Port Barton to El Nido

The ride was long and bumpy but very beautiful. Even though Palawan is a small island, the landscape changes considerably. Where it was hilly and very green in Port Barton, it is very rocky here in El Nido. All around us we see large cliffs and imposing mountains.

When we arrive at the bus terminal it is a short ride with the tricycle and then we arrive at our lovely hostel. We sleep here in El Nido in the Spin Designer Hostel. This place has some excellent reviews and as soon as we enter we know why. There is air conditioning, there are showers with hot water, it is clean and it includes a nice breakfast. So if you go to El Nido, book your nights at Spin Designer, slightly more expensive, but well worth the money (no, this post was not sponsored)!


Click here to read more about our time in Port Barton!


Filipijnen: El Nido

The most beautiful beaches of El Nido: Nacpan & Marimegmeg beach!

Today we go to Nacpan beach, a beach about 45 minutes by scooter from El Nido. It’s a bit more touristy here in El Nido, and we’ve heard that the small beaches around here are packed. So we rent a scooter and we drive with a Dutch couple we met in Port Barton to Nacpan beach.

A waterfall at El Nido!

On the way, we stop to visit a waterfall. We walk with a guide over two kilometres through a kind of jungle and wade through small rivers, and then suddenly there is a beautiful waterfall. We dive into the water, which is wonderfully fresh, much colder than the seawater. Then we drive onwards to Nacpan beach. It is a beautiful beach with high waves. It is quite warm so we look for a wooden hut for shelter and then immediately jump into the sea.

The waves are really high, if you don’t pay attention, you will be flooded by a large wave and you will be underwater for a few seconds. Ries has my sunglasses on, so I warn him about those waves, it wouldn’t be the first time he lost my sunglasses in the sea. Sure enough, half an hour later he comes back, asking if we would like to search along because he has lost my Rayban… So I will get new sunglasses soon!

Off to Marimegmeg Beach near El Nido!

At about 4 o’clock we drive towards Marimegmeg Beach, a beautiful beach close to the centre of El Nido. Here we witness a beautiful sunset, it’s really mesmerizing when you see those cliffs around you in a red glow while you see the boats bobbing on the water.

The tastiest pizza in El Nido!

We eat (again) pizza at an Altrove, a pizzeria in the centre where they even have delicious wine. For the first time in a month a nice glass of wine at dinner. Oh and …  we still haven’t gotten sick yet. And that is quite handsome especially in El Nido, it is known here that you easily get food poisoning.


Are you not sure of going to Palawan? Read about 8 reasons why to go to Palawan!


Filipijnen: El nido Sunset


A boat trip from  El Nido

Together with our dutch friends Jorinde and Tim, we rent out a boat to do an island tour here in El Nido. We opted for a private boat (all included) because this way we can set the pace ourselves and have enough space on the boat! It’s the best decision ever! We did tour A, in case you want to do the same one!

El Nido tip: rent a private boat for a boat tour!

At 9 o’clock we are picked up by a boat and we sail towards the Big Lagoon. When we get there we are told that not everything is included .. if we want to go into the lagoon we can rent a canoe for 7 euros or we can go swimming. It is quickly said that there are many sea urchins and biting fish (sister of the piranha but not poisonous) in the water. Hmm that doesn’t sound good, so we decide to rent the canoe.


Are you going to Palawan too? Here’s our two-week itinerary through Palawan!


The Big Lagoon and Secret Lagoon at El Nido

We sail on the lagoon and it is breathtaking. Very quiet, with beautiful clear water surrounded by black rocks on which all kinds of green plants grow. In the water, we see different kinds of fish and indeed many sea urchins. Back on the boat, we sail a short distance and then arrive at a nice snorkelling spot. We enjoy the water and the many fish we see. Even a small shark is spotted, very cool. Just before lunch, we visit the Secret Lagoon .. unfortunately not very secret anymore, dozens of Chinese tourists are waiting in line with their life jackets in front of the entrance. A little disappointing.

We have lunch on a deserted island. From the small boat, the crew conjures up the tastiest salads, fresh fish and fruit. Everything is freshly prepared on the tiny barbecue on board. We eat a lot, it is so delicious!El Nido: lunch

Swimming in the Small Lagoon at El Nido

Our last stop is the Small Lagoon. This is the brother of the Big Lagoon, and here too we can rent canoes or swim ourselves (incl. supposedly dangerous fish). But cheap dutchies as we are, the four of us decide to go out swimming ourselves. We have put on a life jacket so that when we are tired of swimming we can float for a while. Looking like four round Michellin males we struggle through the water.

Friend Tim has a wound from the coral on his feet and since water shoes hit this wound exactly, he bought Crocs for a few euros. We laughed a lot about this, but now we are both jealous anyway. We ourselves have not brought water shoes, and there is a lot of coral here. If we also find out that there are indeed ‘territorial fish’ in the water, which attack you softly as soon as you stand up, the fun is complete. Completely giggling and freaking out at the same time we try to reach the lagoon through the shallow water. Around us other tourists sail quietly in their canoes, but secretly we have a lot more fun this way.


Read here about our Buhay Isla island hopping trip!


Prepare for the multi-day boat trip from El Nido to Coron!

Tomorrow we leave for 3 days on a boat trip with Buhay Isla where we sail from El Nido to Coron and sleep on uninhabited islands. Here it is also recommended to buy water shoes, so in the evening we look for a shop where they sell water shoes. We are really not going to walk on Crocs. Or is it? Water shoes turn out to be way too expensive, 40 euros for a pair which are too small. After deliberation we arrive at the Crocs .. they are perfect and easy fitting our feet. And so, we are also proud owners of ugly but very handy Crocs!

Our favorite restaurant in El Nido: Altrove!

In the evening we eat a cozy birthday meal at Altrove, again pizzas. In Japan, we lost a lot of weight, but in this way, we will gain it back on here in the Philippines!

We end the evening with packing our bags, tomorrow the boat trip and our stuff must be packed watertight. The alarm is at 06.00 because we leave the harbor at 06.30. In the next blog more about the Buhay Isla Trip!

Travel tips for El Nido!

Below you will find a lot of tips for El Nido. From (in our opinion) the best restaurants, to good hotels and three fun activities and sights in El Nido not to be missed!

The best restaurants in El Nido

In El Nido pay extra attention to the hygienic condition of the places where you will eat. The town is known and notorious for its nasty food poisoning. The following restaurants were completely safe for us:

Altrove: Italian food and pizza in El Nido!

Not only in Port Barton you can enjoy good Italian food, here in El Nido they can also have some. Be sure to stop by Altrove. Here even the wine is delicious (unique for the Philippines!).

Happiness Beach Bar: cocktails and falafel

Enjoying to sip from a cocktail while sitting with your feet in the sand? Then go for falafel at the Happiness Beach Bar.

Art Café: nachos, lasagna and salads in El Nido!

Another place with a clean kitchen is Art Cafe. They have two branches, one on the street and one on the beach. Go to the latter, because we found the establishment on the street a bit disappointing.The Philippines Bohaya Isla boat tour

Three cool things to do in El Nido, Palawan!

1) Visit the beautiful beaches of El Nido

Rent a scooter and visit Napcan and Marimegmeg Beach. The sunset is amazing at the latter. Order a beer and watch the beautiful fireball sink into the sea.

2) Join an island hop boat tour in El Nido!

El Nido is known for all its island-hop tours. Tour A and D are the best, with the Small and the Big Lagoon being the highlight. A tour can be booked anywhere on site and costs about 11 euros per person.

3) Join a multi-day sailing trip from El Nido to Coron!

Would you like a longer boat trip? Then go for a multi-day tour from El Nido to Coron with for example Tao or Buhay Isla. We joined the Buhay Isla trip, a great experience. Here you can read our blog about this trip!Filipijnen: Boot


Best hostels and resort to spent the night in El Nido!

The city of El Nido itself is not that special. It is quite busy and due to poor sanitation, food poisoning is always lurking. However, you do not come to El Nido for the town itself. You visit El Nido for its surroundings, from here you make the most beautiful day boat trips to beautiful islands with the wild rock formations.

Spin Designer hostel €€

Spin Designer Hostel El NidoSuper nice hostel with a nice breakfast. Large rooms, huge beds and good clean! In addition, a great distance from the center. Something on the expensive side but well worth the money! From 50 euros per night (2 persons).

Frendz Hostel  €€€

Frendz Hotel El NidoEnthusiastic staff, hip decoration, good beds, large rooms and, as icing on the cake, a beautiful rooftop with swimming pool. A hostel for those who like a bit of luxury and comfort. From 88 euros per night (2 persons).

El Nido Resorts €€€€

El Nido Resorts Lagen IslandExtreme luxury is also an option in the Philippines! Overwater bungalows from 700 euros per night. It’s a lot of money, but what a luxury! Technically, this is not in El Nido, but on a private island a bit south of El Nido.


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