26 Oct 5 Days in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
5 Days in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Hailed as the best island two years in a row, it is not surprising that more and more people want to visit the beautiful beaches of Palawan. El Nido is just one of those beaches, harboring a reputation for beauty and diversity. Welcoming thousands – if not millions of tourists on a yearly basis, El Nido is easily accessible through the readily available mode of transportations that can be availed in Puerto Princesa, the main city of Palawan Island.
History: Palawan and El Nido
El Nido is located along the northern part of the island and is well known among locals and the international community. The area is well-protected with the locals schooled in how to keep their diverse ecosystem clean and flourishing. Although not always a tourist attraction, the development of El Nido – as well as it being a chosen site in some Hollywood movies – launched its popularity akin to that of the Underground River.
Cost of Getting There
Once you arrive in Puerto Princesa, there are two basic ways of reaching El Nido, both of which are through land transportation. The easy way is to hire a van that will take you there and pick you up again when you’re done exploring the sites. Most of these vans are affiliated with hotels so if you’re also staying a few days in the main city, you can try contracting with your own hotel. Otherwise, you can hire a van outright. The cost of a van hire ranges from USD108 to USD173, depending on the season. The cheapest way to get there, however, would be through a community bus found in the San Jose Terminal. A seat in one of these buses would cost just USD13, amounting to USD26 for a back and forth trip.
Major Attractions in El Nido
There’s no question about it – the first item in the list is island hopping when people eventually visit El Nido. There are actually several Island Hopping packages that you can avail of explained further in this article.
The Taraw Cliff Climbing experience is another major attraction in the area, allowing visitors to pit their strength and endurance against nature. Admire the breathtaking view of El Nido once you reach the top.
You can rent scuba diving gear, bring your own, or perhaps have it included in the package. The point is that you will definitely want to scuba dive or at the very least, wear goggles during island stops. The marine life of El Nido is greatly diverse and there are locations where boatmen intentionally stop to let you marvel at the large variety of fish and sea life.
For some Tour Packages, renting a kayak is crucial because it is the only way you can actually explore the narrower parts of the island. Of course, you can always swim there but it can be quite tiring. During a stop in one of the islands where the water is perpetually calm, tourists are encouraged to take the kayak out for a spin.
Shopping and Food
Of course, don’t forget the amount of goodies you’re allowed to bring home – such as excellent gifts items and souvenirs. As for the food, some dishes worth trying include tamilok and the nutella crepe.
Travel Tips for Getting Around
Note: there are no ATMs in El Nido and the locals don’t transact with credit cards so make sure you bring cash when traveling to the area. That can be problematic for some foreigners who are used to transacting with their credit cards, but you’ll get to the spirit of things before long. Puerto Princesa city is ripe with banks and money exchange stations so getting money there before travel should not be a problem.
If you’re staying near the beach, you will find that practically everything you need is within walking distance. There are shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops all around so there’s really no need to commute within El Nido. If you need to go the market however, there are tricycles available that you can flag down.
Aside from the cost of transportation, there are also other budgeting considerations to speak of when traveling to El Nido. Obviously, there’s the need to find a room in a decent hotel, the food, day to day expenses, and the tour themselves. Here’s a typical look at how you will be spending when in El Nido.
Contrary to popular belief, hotels in El Nido don’t cost an arm and a leg. If you book on an off-peak season, you’ll find yourself paying as little as Php1500 per night during the off-peak season. During the peak season however, be prepared to spend as much as Php3000 per night. The good news is that all of the hotels are well-kept and justify the cost of staying there.
Food and Drinks
Package tours may or may not come with the price of a lunch buffet, depending on your preferences. With each package tour eating up the whole day, there’s really no option of going back to shore to eat for lunch. There are also no restaurants in the islands so when it comes to lunch and snacks; it’s really up to you. As for dinner and breakfast however – the entire El Nido coastline is your oyster. All you have to do is walk the beach and find multiple restaurants open to serve you. When it comes to food, you shouldn’t spend more than USD9 per head, depending on how fancy you want them to be.
There are multiple tour packages that have been standardized throughout El Nido along with competitive prices. Each tour features a specific set of islands for you to visit. Hence, if you’re staying there for several days, it’s a good idea to hit as many tour packages as you wish. Here’s a breakdown of the tours and what islands are included in them:
- Tour A: Small and Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Commando Beach, and Simizu Island
- Tour B: Pinagbuyutan Island, Cathedral Cave, Cudugnon Cave, Pangulasian Island, and Snake Island
- Tour C: Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Star Beach, and Hidden Beach
- Tour D: Sabang Beach, Helicopter Island, Obugon Cave, and Pansandigan Cove
The tours cost USD28 to USD35 per person, requiring at least 4 people per trip. Note that the prices usually change when the peak season arrives so it’s usually best to reserve quickly.
The additional expenses include any item you might want to rent while exploring the islands. For example, you might want to rent some scuba diving gear or perhaps an underwater camera. Also note that there’s an environmental fee of USD5 that comes with the cost of the tour.
All in all, you shouldn’t spend more than USD550 for a 5-day stay in El Nido with friends. It stands to reason, the more people in your group, the cheaper your vacation becomes.