El Nido Travel Guide: 10 Best Things to Do

Gorgeous lagoons, limestone formations, and sandbanks are the reason why El Nido is one of the best tourist spots in the Philippines. El Nido is especially famous for its island hopping tours, where you can explore the white beaches and breathtaking islands. Find out what else this magical place has to offer and what are the best things to do in our El Nido Travel Guide.

What are The Best Things to Do in El Nido?

El Nido is located in the north of the island of Palawan. This coastal town is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and offers gorgeous beaches, towering limestone cliffs, and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The town is also one of the main tourist destinations in the Philippines, giving it a lively travel vibe.

1. Island Hopping

The best thing to do is an island hopping tour. You can’t travel to El Nido without planning one. The 45 islands off the coast make the area one of the most famous destinations for boat tours. In addition to the beautiful sandy beaches, breathtaking lagoons and limestone formations await you, making island hopping tours in El Nido a must-do.

Tour A, B, C and D

The large number of islands offers many sights, so there is not just one route. In total, there are four famous tours:

  • Tour A (Big Lagoon or Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, 7 Commandos)
  • Tour B (Snake Island, Entalula Beach, Cudugnon Cave, Snorkel Spot)
  • Tour C (Helicopter Island, Matinloc-Shrine, Secret Beach, Star Beach, Hidden Beach)
  • Tour D (Cadlao Lagoon, Pasandigan Beach, Paradise Beach, Nat Nat Beach, Bukal Beach)

In addition to these tours, many providers also offer combination tours that combine the highlights of the individual tours. We definitely recommend the Highlights Tour A (combination of Tour A and C) and Tour B. Nevertheless, all of the tours are absolutely stunning. Depending on how much time you have, you can of course do several tours.

Tip: Book a private tour with a private tour guide, it’s absolutely worth it!

Drone shot of Islands in front of El Nido

Costs for the Island Hopping Tours

The price for the island hopping tours in El Nido varies and is between 1,200 PHP/pax and 2,200 PHP/pax (21-38 USD) for a group tour. If you opt for a private island hopping tour, the day will cost you around PHP 10,000 (175 USD) per group (depending on the number of people).

As the tour operators are not allowed to leave the harbor before 8 am, you shouldn’t try to persuade the captain to leave the harbor earlier. Otherwise the tour operators could face heavy sanctions. Don’t worry, you’ll still have many places just for you!

Drone shot of Helicopter Island

2. Discover Cadlao Island by Kayak

Rent a kayak from the El Nido Boutique and Art Café and discover the beautiful beaches of Cadlao Island. This way you can explore the stunning island and its lagoons on your own. You can reach Cadlao from your starting point in El Nido in around half an hour. Once there, you can stop off at beautiful secluded beaches such as Paradise Beach and Pasandigan Beach. If you have enough time and are still fit, you can continue along the coast to Cadlao Lagoon. A dreamlike lagoon awaits you here, which you have almost to yourself.

Tip: Take some lunch and drinks with you for a private picnic! But take note, that there are no plastic bottles allowed.

Many of those destinations are part of Island Hopping Tour C, so you can reach almost all the stops yourself. Other destinations on and around Cadlao Island are Nat-Nat Beach and Bucal Beach.

Please note: In the Philippines, many islands and beaches are privatized. So make sure you only anchor on public beaches.

3. Visit Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach is one of the largest and most beautiful beaches that El Nido has to offer and is definitely worth a visit. It is known for being one-half of the famous Twin Beach. The beach stretches over 4 kilometers, so it never feels to crowded.

It takes around 30-45 minutes to get from El Nido to Nacpan Beach located to the north. The best way to get there is by tricycle. The drivers usually also spend the day there and wait for you so that you can get from Nacpan Beach to El Nido Town safely.

Of course, you can also travel the route on a scooter. However, the road is not well developed and you should drive very carefully. Especially if you want to stay until sunset, we recommend that you take a tricycle that can take you home safely in the dark.

4. Watch sunset at Las Cabanas Beach (Vanilla Beach)

To end a beautiful day, Las Cabanas is the perfect place for an unforgettable sunset and definitely one of the best things to do in El Nido. Las Cabanas, also known as Vanilla or Maramegmeg Beach, has many lovely bars and restaurants right on the beach with a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy a cold drink or a delicious meal with your toes in the sand while the sky turns into a piece of art in front of you.

To get here you can also take a tricycle or scooter. The journey from El Nido Town to Las Cabanas takes no longer than 15 minutes.

5. Zipline at Las Cabanas Beach

Las Cabanas Beach has even more to offer for adrenaline junkies: A 750-metre zipline gives you a breathtaking view over the Bacuit Bay. It is open daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

You have the option to zipline in the superman position for 800 PHP or in a seated position for 600 PHP (one way). You can either walk back to the starting point (one hour hiking!) or come back on a zipline with a return ticket.

Tip: Go ziplining in the evening for a stunning view while the sun is setting.

6. Hike Taraw Cliff

Taraw Cliff is the highest point in El Nido and offers a wonderful view point. The hike takes about 45 minutes and many people start the tour before sunrise to escape the heat. But the early wake-up call and the effort of the hike are worth the view.

The safest way up is to book a guide for about 500 PHP (9 USD). For you own safety, do not take the route on your own, because you probably won’t be able to navigate yourselves.

Please note: The path is really exhausting and can be dangerous. You should only do it if you really feel able to do it.

7. Have breakfast with a view

El Nido has plenty of cafés right on the beach where you can enjoy delicious local delicacies all day long. We especially enjoyed having breakfast there in the morning to start the day with a wonderful view of Bacuit Bay.

Tip: Try the banana pancakes, our all-time-favourite. Mmmh!

Image of breakfast in El Nido

8. Try the most delicious Ice Cream

What could be better in warm temperatures than a delicious ice cream? We had our most delicious ice cream in the Philippines in El Nido. So don’t miss out on eating an ice cream at Gusto Gelato 2!

9. Discover Nightlife in El Nido

While El Nido is known for its amazing beaches and stunning limestone formations, it also offers a vibrant nightlife. Whether you are looking for relaxed beach bars or pulsing clubs, it has something for everyone. Try refreshing cocktails with fresh tropical fruits, listen to live music or even sing karaoke with the locals. The nightlife in El Nido is absolutely amazing.

Tip: Our highlight was SAVA Beach Bar, right at the beachfront.

Image of Drinks at Sava beach bar

10. Island Tour El Nido to Coron

If the island hopping tours in El Nido are not enough for you and you want to continue your trip in Coron, the best thing to do is an island hopping tour from El Nido to Coron. There are various providers who offer you different routes with different durations.

On your multi-day tour, you have the opportunity to explore the most beautiful beaches on the Linapacan archipelago between El Nido and Coron. During your island tour, you will discover secret beaches, hidden lagoons and abundant marine life. You’ll spend the nights in camps on private beaches and connect with locals and other tourist from your group. You’ll become a real adventurer!

Woman on a boat at Linapacan

We decided on a 3 day island hopping tour from El Nido to Coron with Keelooma Expeditions. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to the Philippines. As the Expedition Tours are a popular way to travel between El Nido and Coron, we strongly recommend that you book your tour in advance. Of course, you can do it from El Nido to Coron or vice versa.

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