Located on the northern tip of Palawan in the Philippines, El Nido is an unspoiled paradise for beach-goers, weary travellers and scuba divers alike. The limestone cliffs surrounding the 45 islands and islets of El Nido give it the charm of the Halong Bay in Vietnam or Krabi in Thailand.
It’s an ideal spot for both adventure travel and romantic get-away. Scuba divers will enjoy the crystal-clear waters and the prolific sealife.
How to get to El Nido
Depending on your travel budget in the Philippines, there are a number of options to get to El Nido, Palawan. In season, the fastest way is to embark on a direct flight from Manila to El Nido.
If no direct flight to El Nido is available at your time of travel, your next best bet is to fly to Puerto Princesa, the capital city of the island of Palawan. 230km from there lies this Filipino tropical paradise : it will take you up to 6 hours by bus to reach and should cost about PHP600.
You may catch a cheaper shuttle van to El Nido by first heading to San Jose Terminal (about PHP 50) and then hop on a RoRo bus to this exciting diving destination in the Philippines (about PHP400 for air-con bus).
El Nido Dive sites
Uncrowded beaches and pristine coral reef make El Nido the perfect scuba diving destination for both beginners and advanced divers. Only a few dives will not be enough to explore the incredible diversity of dive spots.
With over 30 dive sites around the island including Miniloc, Paglugaban, Entalula, Popolcan and Matinloc, El Nido woos scuba divers by its abundant wildlife and protected coral gardens.
Scuba diving in El Nido, you will spot clown fish, tuna fish, giant trivally, schools of yellow snappers, groupers and more ! It is not uncommon to dive with a sea turtle in El Nido.
El Nido Diving schools
With warm waters, good visibility and moderate tidal current, El Nido is a great place to learn to dive in the Philippines. Dive centers offer a variety of scuba diving certification courses to novice and expert alike.
Underwater visibility is at its best during March to May, ranging from 10 to 30 meters. Water temperatures range from 24°C to 29°C.
You may also book and introductory dive in El Nido to discover the natural beauty of the underwater world before committing to a full diving course.
Where to sleep in El Nido
Most hotels in El Nido will be located on the road parallel to the beach. Most resorts offer what any modern traveller may need, from hot showers to Wifi, through air-conditioning. You may also get cable TV, an outdoor pool and mini-fridge.
Please note that most resorts in El Nido do not accept major credit cards for payment. Also, there are no banks nor ATMs there. So be sure to carry a bit of extra cash on your way to this daydream holiday destination.
In addition, electricity only runs from 2pm to 6am. If you are in desperate need of electricity (or wifi), make sure to book a hotel in El Nido operating their own generator.
Travel Budget in El Nido
Travelling in the Philippines is relatively cheap compared to other vacation destinations. Here’s an idea of how much to plan for a diving holiday in El Nido.
To sleep in El Nido, fan rooms are the cheapest accommodations. Backpackers and budget conscious travellers will opt for a fan room with basic comfort, which usually costs about PHP400.
You may of course find resorts in El Nido offering high level of comfort for a few extra Pesos. For a meal, expect to pay up to 60 Philippino Pesos for a dish of rice, meat and veggies. The price of a dinner at a beachfront restaurant in El Nido ranges from PHP150 to PHP300.
Transportation is the last item on your travel budget. Expect to pay about 8 pesos for a shared ride on a tricycle.
What to do in El Nido
As most beach holidays destination, you will find plenty of water sports such as kayaking, snorkeling, sunbathing and relaxing on the beach.
Adventurous travellers will enjoy jungle trekking or rock-climbing, while others will get wet snorkelling or scuba-diving in El Nido. One of the most popular activities is island-hopping.
Tours will take you to the Bacuit Bay, its white sand beach surrounded by majestic limestone cliffs. You may enjoy kayaking in these exquisite waters. There are many islands to explore around.