El Nido, Palawan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. After spending a few days there, we can definitely see why! With its clear turquoise water, limestone cliffs, white sand beaches and perfect sunsets, El Nido really is an island paradise.
Now don’t be fooled, this amount of beauty does come with its fair share tourists, which often leads to inflated prices. Expect to pay a bit more for accommodation, food and activities than in more remote parts of the Philippines, and unless you’re willing to splurge on private tours that have very flexible departure times, do not expect to have the tourist hot spots all to yourself!
We found the best value for money on accommodation in El Nido through Airbnb, click here to get 45$ off your first stay!
That being said, we definitely think El Nido should be on your itinerary (along with Siargao) if you’re heading to the Philippines. Even though Yass got sick from the food, it’s still one of our favorite places we visited during our 1 month stay in the country. If you only have a few days in El Nido like we did, here are the three bucket list locations we think you should make time for!
1. EL NIDO BOAT TOUR
Upon arrival, you might wonder where the beautiful turquoise water you’ve seen so many pictures of can be found. You’ll soon realize that the beach in El Nido town comes nowhere near the idyllic image you have of El Nido. That’s because most photos you will have seen were taken on one of the many boat tours that depart from town. Picking a boat tour can be overwhelming with the plethora of tour companies that line the streets. Many different packages on offer, the most common being tours A, B, C and D.
Which El Nido tour to do?
We had initially planned on doing two tours (A and B) but Yass got sick and we ended up cancelling our second one. Therefore, we only ended up doing the most popular day tour (A). We booked with Go Paradise, a company that was recommend by a lovely couple we met while having our morning coffee at Taste (our absolute favorite place in El Nido).
Although we aren’t usually fans of organised tours, we have to say this one was great! The company was very professional, the guide spoke great English and was very entertaining and the buffet lunch was one of the best meals we had in the Philippines. We paid 1200 PHP per person (including the eco fee), which is pretty much standard rate for this tour.
Wondering how much it costs to travel the Philippines? Find out here!
2. VISIT NACPAN BEACH EL NIDO
We first caught sight of Nacpan beach through Canadian travel vlogger Christian Leblanc (@lostleblanc) a few years ago. Ever since, we’ve been dying to visit Nacpan beach just north of El Nido, Palawan.
How to get to Nacpan Beach
To get to Nacpan beach, you can either rent a scooter or take a tricycle. If you’ve been reading us for a while, you probably guessed that we opted for the do it yourself option and rented a scooter! Do be aware that the road leading to Nacpan isn’t in the best condition. Be extra careful if you leave after sunset as it gets dark fast! We did find it manageable and it brought back memories of the roads on Nusa Penida!
If you don’t have experience driving a scooter, you might want to opt for a tricycle. It takes about 45 minutes to drive from the center of El Nido town to Nacpan beach. We paid 400 PHP for the scooter and there was also an entry fee of 50 PHP per person.
What to expect at Nacpan Beach
Upon arrival to Nacpan beach, we were blown away by how little people were there! We were greated by a long stretch of golden sand, gentle waves and a handful of backpackers lazing in the sun. It’s such a contrast to the hustle and bustle of El Nido. We almost couldn’t believe how peaceful it was! There’s a few spots to grab a bite to eat or a cold beer including Mad Monkey hostel which had a cool atmosphere.
The best photo spots are definitely down the far end of Napcan beach. The amazing palm trees that line the small hill at the end of the beach make for a great backdrop. If you have a drone make sure to bring it as the landscape of this beach is spectacular. Did we already say the sunsets in El Nido made our jaws drop?
3. LAS CABANAS BEACH FOR SUNSET
A 15 minute drive south of El Nido town, Las Cabanas beach is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Whether you want to lounge at one of the many beach bars while having a drink or walk along the beach and enjoy the beautiful colours of the sunset, this is the place to do it!
How to get to Las Cabanas Beach
Again, you have two options to get to Las Cabanas beach, by scooter or by tricycle.
If this is your only activity for the day, a tricycle will be the cheapest and most effective option. The price one way should be 150 pesos and can be shared between up to 4 people.
A scooter rental is 400-500 pesos for the day so if you do rent one it’s worth trying to get to more than one beach!
What to expect at Las Cabanas Beach
As for most places around El Nido, the scenery at Las Cabanas beach is simply stunning. We’d suggest going in the late afternoon and grabbing a beanbag at one of the many beach bars. Just sit back and enjoy the view with a cold beer. There aren’t many waves at all so it’s also a great place to take a dip! However be warned, when we visited the water was so warm that it wasn’t very refreshing.
Once the sun begins to set, for the best view and photos, walk to the end of the beach. Where the beach meets Depeldet island with the smallest strip of sand is where the view is best. Take a seat and enjoy!
For more insight on what we got up to in El Nido, click here to watch our vlog!