Asia : Southeast Asia : Philippines : Palawan : El Nido
El Nido  is a coastal town in Palawan. El Nido is comprised of 45 islands and islets; limestone cliffs are also found here, which form a Karst backdrop similar to those found in Ha Long Bay, Krabi and Guilin. El Nido is a popular destination for locals during the long holidays of the Holy week, but until recently has been relatively unknown to foreign tourists. El Nido is more than just a stereotypical tropical paradise. Beaches, clear waters, jungle, steep limestone cliffs and stunning inlets make for one of the world's most beautiful seascapes.
Before El Nido became a popular tourist destination, fishing and harvesting swift nests "Nido" were the main source of income. Nowadays tourism has become the municipality's main source of revenue; however, the authorities are trying to keep it sustainable and hotel chains are refreshingly absent. Huge tour groups are nowhere to be seen. El Nido is also known for water sports such as diving, snorkeling and kayaking.
By Air, El Nido Airport(IATA: ENI) Island Transvoyager Inc. (ITI) has several flights a day to and from Manila and is the charter airline for El Nido Resorts. Non El Nido Resorts guest may book with ITI only 5 days in advance, while the El Nido - Manila flight is bookable ahead of time through their General Sales Agent El Nido Boutique & Artcafe. Note that the airport can accommodate only small aircraft, so the prices tend to be higher than to Puerto Princesa.
Puerto Princesa International Airport(IATA: PPS) is Palawan's premier gateway, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, Air Philippines and Zest Air connects the whole of Palawan to Manila, Busuanga, Cebu and Clark. You can catch a bus, private of public van from Puerto Princesa to El Nido on arrival.
Three Van companies are doing regular shuttle trips to El Nido, departing from San Jose bus terminal in Puerto Princesa. Fares are P600 per person and P700 for Hotel or airport pick ups (minimum 2 people) and the travel time is 5 hours.
If you are in a hurry (flight etc) then don't depend on timely departure as these minivans almost never depart on time. The departure time is actually when they start picking up people around town and actually get on the road 30-60 minutes later. Also they sometimes make you change minivans along the way once or twice and your luggage is tied on the roof which is usually covered wit a heavy dust coating from the gravel road 1h before El Nido. If you need more timely departure then try the RORO buses (next section) that are quite new and more comfortable than the minivans.
FORTWALLY SHUTTLE SERVICE You can book directly at Cell: 09172762875 or 09213118755 or email: [email protected] (www.fortwallytravelandtour.com www.fortwallytravelandtour.com). Departure times PUERTO PRINCESA-EL NIDO 7:00 AM, 9:30 AM, 11:00 AM and 1:30 PM,and 6:30pm,wherein from EL-NIDO to PUERTO PRINCESA 5:00 AM, 7:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 1:00.and 6:00pm(but depend on the volume of the passenger).As part of Lean season,Fortwally ,offer php600,one way fare including pick up in airport or hotel.We also offer van sharing from Puerto Princesa to sabang for only php 300/person.For more detail contact us.
EULEN JOY SHUTTLE VAN PPS-EL NIDO-PPS have daily trips from Puerto to El Nido at 7:30, 10:00 and from El Nido to Puerto at 7:30, 9:00, 13:00h. Phone: PPS +639494498858, El Nido +639494498858. Tickets are available at Artcafe Travel Center and other outlets.
LEXUS COMPANY goes from Sabang to El Nido daily at 8:00AM, 10:00AM and 2:00PM. Fare is P900 but will only run if they have enough passengers. Tel. 09121002652. From El Nido to Sabang at 5:00 AM and 10:00 AM. To & from Puerto Princesa P600. Tickets are available from most guest houses and tour booking offices
Air-conditioned RORO buses departs San Jose Bus terminal, Puerto Princesa and El Nido Market every 2 hours during the day and at 10pm and 4am during the night. Fare P483.
Non-aircon buses operate regular trips between Puerto Princessa and El Nido, stopping in Roxas and Taytay. Departures are daily at 5AM, 6AM, 7AM, 8AM both from El Nido and Puerto Princesa. Travel time is 6-7 hours, fare 350 pesos. Departure in Puerto Princesa from San Jose Bus terminal and from El Nido Bus terminal
These buses are usually packed to the roof, they break down sometimes (which can mean delay of 20 minutes but also 3 hours), the seats are very narrow and the road is not paved all the way. You may book a seat the day before and try to get a seat next to the driver or in the front part of the bus.
Breathtaking views of nature are the main reason to visit El Nido. The pristine waters of El Nido offer beautiful coral reefs, while its beaches are uncrowded unlike the popular Boracay, exploring the lagoons by kayaking is a great way of visiting the islets, coves and caves are also abundant. Inland El Nido, springs and waterfalls are also found. Bacuit Bay composes of limestone islands, where its possible to either dive, snorkel or hike.
The easiest way to see the Bacuit Bay is on an island hopping boat. These boats carry 6-12 people and will visit 4 or 5 islands in a day. The boats usually take set routes named A to D, but can vary depending on tides and weather. Boats normally cost around P650-P900 per person depending in the route and travel agency. The trip takes one day (cca 9:00-15:30), normally includes a good lunch and can be arranged from most guesthouses and travel agencies in El Nido. El Nido municipality also charges P200 as an Environmental fee which is valid 10 days. It's a good idea to book a boat with only 6 seats and experienced crew (e.g. at Relucio's).
If you have time, go for overnight island hopping (3 days 2 nights is a good option) where you get to camp on deserted island ala Survivor style. (Though most places you can be dropped at are included in the daily island hopping tours.) It gives you the best option to visit lots more islands that are included in those bundle package tours but at your own leisure time. Find a few more people to get a much better rate. Recommended place a booth at Aplaya Restaurant, look for Nhel who will give you the best deals and arrangements.
Rock climbing & walking. The western side of El Nido township lies in the shadow of an impressive sheer cliff face which is just the visible portion of an even more impressive headland. There are organized walking treks to the top of the headland and it's breathtaking views all the way.
Catch a tricycle taxi to Las Cabanas (P150) and plonk yourself down out front of Orange Pearl Bar for a day away from the crowds on a white sandy beach and crystal waters. It's a short walk down a dirt road from where you will be dropped off. There is also an island with some OK snorkeling which can be reached easily wading through waist deep water.
Island Hopping, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Trekking, Cliff climbing; Bacuit Bay consists of islands with limestone cliffs which are ideal for climbing, Diving & Snorkeling; The most popular activity is island hopping costing from P600 a day including BBQ lunch and snorkel gear. There are 4 basic day trips to choose from named Tour A to D and can be booked from all over town. The quality of the boat, guides & tour depends on who you book it through.
Referred to interchangeably as 'Mark Ryan' or simply 'Mark', the renowned local tricycle driver has established himself as the go-to guy for ad hoc visits to the nearby waterfall. With a carefully assembled armory of anecdotes which are interjected seemlessly throughout the journey, this family man's services have become hot property during high season. Indeed afternoon inquiries as to the musically adept local transporter's whereabouts are always satisfied with a smiling acknowledgement among his proteges and counterparts: "He's at the waterfall", is the automated response. And the good times are always with him.
Generally speaking the number of and standard of eating houses are very good. Menus have good variety mostly European, American and Filipino dishes, and prices are moderate. Most are accessible from the laneway as well as from the beach and seating has the advantage of views of the bay and environs.
As most of the accommodation in El Nido town is lined one-next-to-another along the road paralel to the beach it is pretty easy to find a room that suits budget and needs. Booking recommended during Christmas, Easter and Chinese new year, as all places especially on the beaches can become full.
Electricity in El Nido runs from 14:00 to 06:00 but some places (not necessary the expensive ones) have their own generators that cover the period in between.
There are no banks or ATMs in El Nido. Make sure you cash up in Puerto or Manila before you set out. In case you have run out of cash you have the following options: El Nido Boutique & Artcafe can give Cash advances on credit cards but charges a hefty 8% surcharge. You can change major currencies for a fair rates or either you can use Money transfers like Western Union. Dive operators and El Nido Boutique & Artcafe also accept credit card payments, this can save some of your cash as well.
Internet Access There are many Internet cafes in the town. Most restaurants, bars and guesthouses have free wifi. Internet access is subject to electricity availability, i.e. Internet cafes and most of WiFi work only after 14:00.