5 THINGS TO DO IN EL NIDO IN PALAWAN
El Nido means “the nest” and it’s a fitting name for the small town sandwiched between the blue sea of the Bacuit Bay and over-towering limestone cliffs. So what are the best things to do in El Nido? The town is cluttered with guesthouses, hotels, restaurants and shops catering to tourists. But you will also see children playing in the streets, whole families driving around on one motorbike, school children in their uniforms and housewives shopping. El Nido is not a quiet sleepy town in the tropics, but a busy hub for locals and tourists who want to explore the famous Bacuit Archipelago.
The best things to do in El Nido:
Go on one or two of the tours
The most popular activity in El Nido is island-hopping. There are standard itineraries for which tours are advertised at every shop and hotel and prices are pretty much standard. Some charge extra for snorkeling gear and some offer discounts, if you are on a tight budget it’s worth it to shop around. The most popular tours are Tour A and C.
I went on Tour C and Tour A with kayaks. I booked both tours through the El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe and was very happy with the service provided. They are a bit more expensive – you have to pay extra for fins and masks – but both times I had a really nice group of travellers, a bit older like me, the food was great and the crew super friendly.
Tour A is a bit of a circus – it was difficult not to get affected by the crowds visiting the same places. Tour C felt more chilled in comparison. Both tours will bring you to breathtaking beautiful places! I enjoyed the tours, but I wouldn’t want to do one every day and I was glad that I had some extra days to explore other activities around El Nido – so read on!
Rent a kayak and go explore hidden beaches by yourself
This was maybe my favorite day in El Nido, definitely one of the best things to do in El Nido. I went to the beach in the morning and rented a single kayak for half a day. I then paddled out of the bay in front of El Nido to a small beautiful beach just across from it. I shared this beach with two other kayakers, but otherwise it was deserted and just what I needed – a quiet day at the beach, with a good book for company. Time to swim, day-dream, reflect on things and simply relax. You should check the conditions though before you go out. Generally the sea is quieter in the morning and can be quite wavy in the afternoon.
Rent a bike and drive to Nacpan beach
I wanted to explore a bit of the back roads behind busy El Nido and I heard good things about Nacpan beach, so I rented a motorbike for a day and went on my way. It felt amazing, driving along the empty roads with the sun on my back and the wind in my hair. The drive to Nacpan beach from El Nido takes around 45 minutes, of which the last 20 minutes where tough going on a rough road. I wouldn’t want to attempt this road as a new driver or after a heavy rain, so be warned.
Nacpan beach was everything promised and more. A stunning beach in a long curve, lined with coconut palms and overlooked by a small hill that offers a great viewpoint. There’s a simple restaurant and a place that rents sun chairs and umbrellas.
Swimming in the turquoise water, reading, eating fresh calamari from the barbeque… it was a really great day. If you don’t feel like driving yourself, you can also rent a tricycle to get to Nacpan. Expect to pay around 1000 pesos to get there and back.
Watch the sunset at Corong Corong beach
Corong Corong is only a 5 minute tricycle ride from El Nido away and the perfect place to watch the sunset and have a great late lunch or dinner. There is not a lot of shadow on the beach so I recommend arriving late afternoon. I loved spending time at La Plage, a French owned bar and restaurant at Corong Corong beach. Great Kinilaw, the local version of ceviche, the best fish in banana leaf I’ve ever tasted and cold drinks. All accompanied by a chilled soundtrack with a heavy French influence. I don’t enjoy music at the beach very often but here it really was perfect.
Have a lazy day in El Nido
Everybody is on a tour in the day. Really, everyone. Well – at least all the tourists, You feel like you have the whole town for yourself. You can grap a great table at a restaurant (my favorite hangout was the Art Café), enjoy the wifi working without everybody trying to access it at the same time and watch the local life unfolding in front of you.
These are the activities I enjoyed in El Nido. Have you been to El Nido? What did I miss? Or if you want to go, what are you looking forward to most? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!