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Top 10 El Nido FAQs Answered Edit

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Mic Yu  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

Photo by: eib.saliba

El Nido, Palawan is a tropical paradise with its clear cyan waters, scenic mountains, seemingly perennial sunny weather, its white sand beaches, and its welcoming and friendly people.

It’s a town whose buildings are made up mostly of bars, tour shops, or hotels.

All these make it a dream place to spend your vacations. But you can never be too prepared. I've been asked many questions about places I've visited and so I thought to round up a few things that you need to know to make the most out of your trip to El Nido.

1. How to Reach El Nido?

The small town of El Nido, is located in the very northern part of the Palawan island.


For ideas on what to do in the area, click here.

Your fastest option to get to El Nido is via a commercial flight directly to its airport but it might cost you.

Other Alternatives to reach El Nido:

A. A budget-friendly alternative is to fly from Manila or Cebu to Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan.

From Puerto Princesa, you can hop on a roll-on roll-off (RORO) bus at the San Jose terminal and reach El Nido in six to seven hours. Or you could rent a private van, a shared van which can cost you from Php 450 to 500 pesos at the airport or through the hotel you’re booked in. El Nido is about 220 kilometers away, so brace yourself for a four to six-hour road trip.

B. Some cargo ship operators in Manila also ferry passengers straight to El Nido. Although this is the least expensive mode, this option can take as long as three days.


El Nido attracts a vibrant crowd of young adventurers and backpackers. Photo by: jezzacatalan

You might also want to read: El Nido Travel Guide

2. How to Get Around El Nido?

Means of Transportation on the island of El Nido:

A. Tricycles


Photo by: solby972

Tricycles are the main means of getting around. They can seat up to five people: four in the passenger area and one behind the motorcycle driver.

Mic'sTip: Ask locals from your hotel how much a ride may cost to wherever you’re heading. The standard cost within the town is Php 10 and upwards as you leave town. The most we have had to pay was Las Cabañas which was 150 pesos from town.


One of the best places to watch the sunset in El Nido is Las Cabañas. Photo by warrencamitan

B. No Cars

To explore El Nido, most tourists rent out scooters or tricycle to get around. Standard price to rent out a motorcylce for a day/week/month is around Php 400 pesos/day. 

C. Walking

Although there are no sidewalks, no lights and no stops, it’s still safe. As long as you don’t walk in the middle of the street! 

3. Where Can I Find a Place to Stay?

Oftentimes, I get asked “Where can I stay?” But I want to not only recommend where you can stay or where to find good accommodations but also how to go about booking. Yes, booking way before peak season should be a practice for any destination you choose, but this rule should be applied with double effort and attention for El Nido since there aren’t too many choices. In order to stay at a good location for a reasonable price in El Nido, you must book in advance.

Mic's Tip:

When to go

December to March: El Nido is pleasantly warm. The sun won’t be scorching hot or uncomfortably humid so you will be able to enjoy your island hopping activities freely.

April to May: This is referred to as the dry season, the summer heat peaks. This means the island is a little humid. Of course, the influx of tourists also skyrockets on these times.

June: Waters become rough so enjoying the activities will not be easy as when the sea is calm. Even though this month is the beginning of the Philippines’ rainy months, El Nido is generally spared from heavy downpours and stays relatively sunny.


Here are some accommodations I’d recommend: 


Hostels are a great way not only amake friends when you travel. Spin Designer Hostel


Get a little fancy at El Nido Bayview Resort

4. Do I need to Book Island Hopping Tours in Advance?

This applies mostly to the very popular tour A (including the must-see Small and Big Lagoon). But just to be sure, book all the tours you’re interested in at least two days in advance. You might end up finding all of them already booked out, if you try to do it just the day before or on the day of.

Mic's Tip: Book all the tours you’re interested in at least two days in advance. 

Learn more about 7 Commandos Beach here

5. Can I Drink from the Tap?

Tap water on the island--actually in the Philippines in general--is not safe for drinking. It is, however, absolutely safe to shower with as well as brush your teeth etc.

Mic'sTip: My advice is to bring a reusable jug and fill it up in your hotel or restaurant. 

6. Electricity blackouts are very common

As I’ve come to realize through my travels around the Philippines, this is a common experience in tropical islands like El Nido. There was no 24h/day electrical supply until October 2014. You can normally get power all day now but blackouts still happen frequently. Most of the time, it’s only for a few hours. Sometimes, it can last longer. 

Luckily, there is usually electricity during the night (when it matters) and some of the hotels, cafés, and restaurants around the town have their own power generators.

Mic's Tip: Bring a power bank so you can still charge your cell phone or GoPro camera even during the blackouts or on the go. 

7. Is there Reliable Internet in El Nido, Palawan?

First and foremost, you might find that it is a struggle to get signal even with your data sim. Your accommodation will usually offer a wifi connection but once connected, it may just work for a short time, very slowly or in worst cases not at all. 

This is no problem as the beautiful surroundings will keep you entertained for the duration of your stay! Who needs the internet with natural beauty like this? (Well, writers, digital nomads, and online freelance workers, that’s who. )


Photo by jenn_nicole2

But id you really really need wifi, here are some accommodations in El Nido with Wifi.

8. Are there ATMs Available in El Nido, Palawan?

Most restaurants and bars only accept cash. That being said, you should probably know that there are only two ATMs in the town, one at BPI bank and another at the Municipal Building. If there’s no power, which is really common, then the ATMs don’t work.

Some international ATMs are now present in El Nido but they are very often empty starting around 4:00 or 5:00PM.

Tip: Withdraw in Puerto Princesa to avoid facing the issue of ATMs being not available

Island Hopping Tour

When going for your island hopping tour, make sure you have sufficient cash on you. Trust me, you’ll want to buy some refreshing drinks in between the beautiful beaches especially if you plan to free dive where the salt water may get into your mouth!


Refreshments at Seven Commandos Beach


Free diving Shimizu Island

But more importantly, there might be places during your tour like the Small and Big Lagoon at tour A, where kayaking is a highly recommended experience. And if you did not pre-arrange this with your tour provider earlier, you will need to rent a kayak at the place itself, which can cost you PHP 500 at each destination. The view will be worth the experience, I promise.

Yes, of course, you can simply swim without kayak rental but it will be just half the experience and you can bump into some itchy jellyfish!


Swimming through the lagoons

Mic's Tip: Prepare! Plan ahead so you have enough money with you in the first place. It will save you time and troubles!

9. Is it Cheap to Travel to El Nido

Honestly, for me, any place can be made relatively affordable depending on your expectations and plan. But for the sake of answering the question, no El Nido is not cheap. I’ll take airfare out of the equation lest you booked through a seat sale. But El Nido isn’t like other cheap tropical paradises nor do they sell items at the same prices as the rest of Palawan


Palawan's vibrant "grocery"

10. Are there hospitals in El Nido?

There are three medical centers in El Nido: the Medical City Center, the Rural Health Center, and the private office of Dr. Reyes. None of the aforementioned clinics can deal with serious medical conditions though and the nearest hospital is located in Taytay which is 1 hour away from El Nido. Any serious medical urgencies will need to be transferred to Puerto Princesa, which is 4 and half to 5 hours away. This posed at a concern to me since I had tummy problems the very first time I visited Cebu.


Do you have more questions about El Nido?

I hope you found these 10 things to know about El Nido useful and that they help you make the most out of your trip to the gorgeous El Nido. If you think I forgot to mention anything important, or if your have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below. 

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