EL NIDO TRAVEL GUIDE
Eat, Sleep, Explore
If you haven’t been to the Philippines yet, you need to get it on your bucket list.
The Philippines is one of those destinations that leaves you filled with wonderlust when you see pictures, hear tales of fellow travellers or begin to imagine those clear sand beaches.
I was lucky enough to visit El Nido specifically earlier this year with 6 of my girlfriends for one of the best trips of my lifetime.
I was lucky enough to have some friends visit before me, so packed with their tips and recommendations for places to go, spots to eat and and of course the best beaches to explore we packed our 10 days with some of the best El Nido has to offer.
I’ve already shared one post on my trip to the Philippines, all about the three days we spent at sea, camping on beaches and exploring the uninhabited islands of Palawan, but today I wanted to share a travel guide for El Nido, a popular Philippines destination in Palawan and a ‘must visit’ destination for any trip.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
I’ll caveat up front that the food in the Philippines isn’t quite as ground breaking as that in Thailand or the rest of Asia, it’s all about picking the right spots & knowing the travellers recommendations before you go, fortunately I have a few recommendations which will set you in good stead for your trip:
During our stay on Las Cabanas beach, Marimegmeg was a regular spot for sunset watching and happy hour cocktails. With DJ’s playing, the sun setting and great cocktails it makes the perfect evening spot! But it’s not just great for sun downers, their menu is fab for lunch too (the banana smoothies were delicious).
La Plage was another beach front spot on Corong Corong that made the perfect lunch spot and a great place to get a little shade during the day. La plage was only a short walk from one of our hotels (Coco Resorts), and a destination all the tut tut drivers know.
This pizza place couldn’t have come more recommended, but even if we hadn’t been told to visit this restaurant, the queues outside definitely would have made us stop to have a look. The pizza is absolutely delicious, so the perfect spot for a slightly more western dinner.
In El Nido town the choice for beach front and roof top bars (beach shack style bars to clarify) is vast! There’s nearly as many bars as boat tour companies and that’s saying something. One bar we strumbled upon was Rooftop, a little bar on top of one of the shops on the main strip. The margaritas were questionable, but the atmosphere was great and it made the perfect moroccan style hang out (just choose beer)!
Art Cafe was definitely one of El Nido’s more infamous cafe / bars and one we got recommended a lot during our trip, whether it was for WIFI, cocktails, lunch or breakfast! The Art cafe in El Nido town is set up to deliver on every travellers foodie and drink needs.
Las Cabanas was one of the places we stayed during our trip and the evening meals were some of our favourites. Freshly prepared and home cooked asian cuisine, delicious curries, great fruit platters and yummy noodles! Whilst it’s not in El Nido town, if you’re on Las Cabanas beach then this is a great spot for dinner.
Other places we enjoyed for food / drinks were Sa Va Bar, Cafe Athena, Republic, but without doubt the best food you’ll eat will be the freshly prepped meals on your boating expedition …
ISLANDS TO VISIT
Island Hopping & Boat Tours Are A Must
If you’re visiting Palawan then you absolutely must must must take boat tours to the surrounding islands. My friends and I embarked on a three day adventure, sailing the Linapacan Islands, sleeping under the stars, and visiting some of the most beautiful uninhabited islands. This was by far the highlight of my whole trip. And if the destinations and adventure wasn’t enough, we also had the best food of our whole trip during our three day adventure. Our crew cooked us fresh food daily and it really was the best food we had.
When it comes to boat trips, you have a fair few options. Five day trips from El Nido to Coron, three day trips around the LInapacan Islands (from and returning to El Nido), and 4 daily tours to choose from (named A,B,C,D) which take you to some of Palawans most infamous beaches and tourist spots. You can do these tours privately or as part of a bigger tour – if you’re pennies can stretch then I highly recommend the private option!
Nacpan Island, The Big Lagoons, Secret Lagoon and Caves are super popular. But if you opt for an expedition like we did you can expect to see beaches like non other which are slightly further afield. You can read all about the islands I visited here.
WHERE TO STAY
Las Cabanas, Coco Resort, Under The Stars
Much like the food, the accommodation in the Philippines is relatively basic in the majority, however as with any destination there are a couple of super luxe options if you have the money. As we were travelling Hong Kong and i’d just visited Thailand, our accommodation was very much on the mid-level range versus the slightly more luxe options which I usually like to opt for.
A lot of the hotels offer cabanas on the beach which is the perfect setting and an ideal option for a trip to the Philippines.
We stayed at Las Cabanas for a few nights when we first arrived, the hotel is in the ultimate location for watching sunsets and the food served by the family that run the hotel is delicious and actually some of the best we had.
Following this we spent three days on an expedition and so our accommodation was far more rough and ready (we went with El Nido Paradise Tours but Discover El Nido is another we considered) … sleeping bags under the stars and beach huts on Queens Island! The basic sleeping arrangements just made the whole experience more exciting, authentic and adventurous.
Our final five nights were spent in Coco Resort, the nicest accommodation we stayed in during our trip, again little cabanas but this time within the hotels own grounds rather than beach front. The accommodation was more on the luxe end but still great value!
El Nido has the ultimate back packer, relaxed, chilled vibe, that’ll make you immediately consider packing your bags and becoming a traveler yourself. Without doubt the best thing about our trip was our private expedition around the Linapacan islands, I can’t recommending getting to sea and exploring the local villages and thousands of islands enough. It’s the best part of the Philippines and the most magical and exciting adventure.
I’d love to know if you’ve visited El Nido and have any other tips or if you’re planning a trip soon? I hope you found this little guide helpful! If you want more travel tips and guides then pop over here.