Get ready to cross one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, astonishing, inspiring places in the world off your bucket list

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Best things to do in El Nido

El Nido is situated at the northern end of Palawan island in the Philippines. Palawan is an extremely popular tourist destination thanks to El Nido, but most flights to the island land in the main city of Puerto Princessa



Grab your kayaks and get ready for the most breathtaking, jaw dropping, “I can’t believe this is real” day of your life. As you head out to Bacuit Bay, the most popular spot for kayaking, you’re going to want to hit 3 spots on your adventure: Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, and Miniloc Island.

There will be plenty of tour agencies to rent you the kayaks and give you a map along with some tips on how to get where you’re going. Alternatively, you can hire a kayak guide to follow and navigate for you.

Big Lagoon

You can opt to rent a kayak or hire a boat to take you to the Big Lagoon. When the current isn’t gliding you along, you’ll navigate around towering walls of jagged rock that look like they’re CGI imposed until you come into a little inlet with bright sea foam green water with a little beach ahead. The lagoon is magical.

The crystal water is almost glowing, bringing the entire backdrop to life. You can see Sea Urchins through the clear water, and little fish, too. All around you, the scenery is stunning with islands in the distance and winding rock towering over you

Source: Jackson Groves

El Nido small lagoon

The entrance to the Small Lagoon is just a narrow gap in-between two big rocks. It feels super secret, which is half the appeal! When you make it through via kayak or hired boat, throw on your snorkel and get in the water! There are delicate corals to be seen with tiny fish that blend in with the sand. Plus, the water is quite warm here!

El Nido - Nacpan Twin Beaches

Together, Nacpan Beach and Calitang Beach make up the ever-so-popular Twin Beaches which lie in the north of El Nido.

Nacpan Beach is a 4-kilometer stretch of golden sand and strong waves that create the most mesmerizing combination. The waves can get a little strong, so it’s recommended only to swim near the volleyball courts where the water is calmer. You can visit the resto-bars on this beach that sells snacks and beer for a chilled out day.

Calitang Beach is right next to Nacpan Beach but is much smaller. In between the two beaches there is a viewpoint that you can climb up gaze down on the entire layout.

To get there, hire a tricycle or a motorbike. Even better, if you can find an ATV, go with that option. The roads are a bit muddy especially after it rains. The journey will take you around 45 minutes from El Nido town.


Las Cabanas Beach

Las Cabanas Beach offers everything you could want in a Philippine island beach: white sands, clear water, and palm trees lining the thing. However, Las Cabanas Beach has one extra feature that stands out: a zipline. From the beach, you’ll embark on a 10-minute climb up some stairs to reach the landing point. The experts will strap you in and send you down a 750-meter long zip line to feel the wind in your hair. This zip line isn’t particularly scary, but more so, an opportunity to soak some of the most gorgeous scenery you’ll ever see in your life.

El Nido Party Boat

Unlimited alcohol, carefree travelers, and world-class scenery all in one place- the El Nido Party Boat is a must-do. Climb on the 2-story vessel and set off on a booze-filled island hopping tour with likeminded travelers. You will cruise to 3 or 4 beaches in El Nido where you can jump off and play around. There will be a BBQ on board and snacks all day. Snorkel, dance, drink, swim, and make some new friends during the best boat trip ever


Cathedral Caves

So subtle, you wouldn’t even know that this cathedral within a cave was even here! It will take local guides to spot the narrow opening between jagged rocks and cliffs. You’ll go through the opening and into a cathedral-like cave with tall ceilings that were meant for Adele tunes.

Within the cave, you’ll come to a seemingly out-of-place Goonies-esque sand beach with a beam of sunlight shining through a small opening in the ceiling. There are lots of smooth ledges to climb and lots of photo opportunities to be taken.


The companies that organize the snorkel tours know just where you take you so that you see the most sea life possible. In fact, the snorkel tours are so popular that there are staple tours labeled A, B, C, and D.

Tour A takes you to the Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, and 7 Commando Beach.

Tour B goes to Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Cudugnon Cave, Entalula Beach and to a snorkeling site in the middle of the waters.

Tour C will venture to Helicopter Island, Star Beach, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, and Mantinloc Shrine.

Tour D visits Ipil Beach, Pasandigan Beach, Cadlao Beach, Paradise Beach, Bukal Beach, and Natnat Beach.

Every tour is awesome- it’s impossible not to have a good time. Every tour also includes the snorkel mast and lunch. Why not try them all?

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Snake Island

Don’t worry; there aren’t any snakes out here. Rather, this island got its name from its long snake shape. This tiny sliver of sand, rock, and hill off the coast of El Nido is the perfect place to go exploring for an hour or so.

Dock on the white sand beach and set inland. Climb up the rocky hill and when you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view.

Hidden Beach

Have you ever seen the movie “The Beach”? In the movie there is a secret cove that houses a hidden bean and small lagoon hidden in a rock formation. Well, El Nido has the same thing.

Hidden Beach is a prime example of what makes El Nido so special. Around every corner there is a new place to be discovered, but only if you are with a local who knows their way there.

Hire a boat to take you. The earlier the better so that you can beat the crowds and really feel like this is your own secret beach. Photographers will love this place!


How to get there

Direct flights to El Nido: Air Swift is the company that offers daily flights to El Nido from Manila, Cebu, Coron and many other spots in the Philippines.

By Air

Direct flights to El Nido: Air Swift is the company that offers daily flights to El Nido from Manila, Cebu, Coron and many other spots in the Philippines.

Air Swift is the charter company for El Nido Resorts. This is definitely the fastest and most direct way to get to El Nido. The flights land directly at Lio airport, located about 4 kilometers from midtown. At the airport tricycle drivers will be waiting for you and it will take around 20 minutes to get into town. You can also check with your accommodation if they can organize a pick up for you.

Rent a van

The trip from Puerto Princessa to El Nido usually takes 5 to 6 hours. There are a lot of companies that leave daily from the Puerto Princessa airport. Vans will be waiting for you at the terminal. If you want to have a safe and comfortable trip, we warmly recommend to go with DaytripperPalawan or Camarih Transport. Both companies have a very informative website and you can your van in advance online. They also organize trips to Sabang which is famous for the Underground River.


Car or motorbike rental. If you want to travel at your own pace. Taking a road trip is a fantastic way to discover the Northern part of Palawan. All around the Puerto Princessa are shops that offer weekly or monthly rental. You can stop over at villages and enjoy the rustic view of the countryside. Why not visiting Tay-Tay and the Spanish fortress ruins, have lunch at Pho Hoa Vietnamese Noodle House in Roxas or chill out in Port Barton.

Be prepared though. This can be a long trip (more than 280km) and full of hassles (cows, dogs, water buffalos, potholes, etc.). Do not travel at night and be extremely careful!

There’s no parking in El Nido! Make sure your accommodation has a parking lot or you’ll spend a lot of time looking for a space!!!


If the previous options don’t suit you, you might like taking a bus. It is a good way to share your trip with locals and get good tips. Two companies do the Puerto Princesa – El Nido route every day. We highly recommend Cherry Bus. This company is more comfortable than regular vans and the price is lower. It takes about 6-8 hours, depending on how many stopovers the bus will take on the way. Try to catch those equipped with Air-con and more spacious seats (lazyboy). Notice that in Puerto Princesa the bus terminal is located 4 km away from the airport. You will have to deal with tricycle drivers to get there. The bravest can try to get there with a jeepney. It might take…we don’t know.


from Coron – El Nido or El Nido – Coron is operated daily by fast crafts companies Montenegro Shipping Lines and Phimal Fast Ferry.

The Montenegro Fast Ferry leaves El Nido daily at 6am. The boat leaves Coron at 12:00. The fare is around Php 1760 one way.

The Phimal Fast Ferry leaves El Nido and Coron at 8:20am. The fare is around Php 1850 one way. The trip takes between 3 hrs 30 mins and 4 hrs 30 mins.

Tao Philippines: If you have time, have a look at Tao Philippines website. Their expeditions explore the undeveloped islands of the Northern Palawan province. It’s an amazing experience and you’ll discover the most beautiful beaches and islands of Palawan.

Location Map

El Nido

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