The Best Things To Do In El Nido, Palawan
Renowned for its towering cathedrals of rugged limestone, turquoise bays and some of the best beaches in the world, there’s nowhere quite like El Nido. This little piece of tropical bliss on the northern tip of Palawan is a destination you don’t want to miss when travelling The Philippines. And to help you make the most of your time there, here is a collection of the best things to do in El Nido when you’re visiting this idyllic corner of the world.
Island hopping tours
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in El Nido is an island hopping tour. Most of the stunning natural landmarks, beaches and caves El Nido is famous for are nestled around the smaller uninhabited islands out in Bacuit Bay. So the easiest way to visit them is to spend a day cruising around on one of the many boat tours that charter the waters.
There are four main island hopping tours offered in El Nido. Each one offers a unique itinerary of different scenic spots and landmarks and can easily be booked at any tour operator in town. If you only have time to do one tour I would recommend Tour A, but they are all incredible so it’s hard to go wrong when choosing! The different tours and what they include are as follows:
Island Hopping Tour A – The most popular tour which includes El Nido’s famous lagoons.
This tour visits: Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island and 7 Commando Beach.
Island Hopping Tour B – Great for discovering El Nido’s caves
This tour visits: Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Entalula Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave.
Island Hopping Tour C – Perfect for beach lovers
This tour visits: Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Star Beach and Hidden Beach.
Island Hopping Tour D – Ideal for exploring the Cadlao Islands
This tour visits: Nat Nat Beach, Pasandigan Beach, Cadlao Lagoon Bucal Beach and Paradise Beach.
Corang Corang Beach
Just a 20-minute walk from the town centre, Corang Corang Beach is a must-visit when in El Nido. Although the beach is long it’s not that wide, especially at high tide, so it isn’t the best place for sunbathing. However it’s calm waters, moored fishing boats and beach bars dotted along the front make it a particularly picturesque location to head to for sunset.
Considered one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world, a trip to Nacpan Beach is definitely one of the best things to do in El Nido. Located a 30 – 40-minute tricycle or motorbike ride from El Nido, Nacpan really is a little slice of paradise. Here, palm trees line 4km of pristine white sand and a sparkling turquoise bay where you can sunbathe and swim for the day. There’s also a small smattering of restaurants and bars, so you can relax, beachside, with a cold beer and your favourite Filipino food.
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When you’re at Nacpan Beach, make sure to check out the famous Twin Beach too. This is a point where Nacpan meets it’s much smaller neighbour, Calitang Beach. Each beach is perfectly mirrored against the other, facing opposing bays and separated only by a thin strip of palm trees. There’s a hill at the end of the inlet which offers a great view of this natural landmark.
Taraw Cliff Climb
Taraw Cliff is the highest peak in town and offers the best view in the whole of Palawan according to some locals. Although you used to be able to climb the Taraw Cliff unaided, this is no longer officially allowed due to it being too dangerous. However, a company called El Nido Taraw Via Ferrata now offers a safe climbing experience to the top with their Canopy Walk. This route takes you along bridges, stairs and scaffolding safely bolted into the rock. You also wear a helmet and are clipped in to a safety harness the whole way. The climb is relatively easy and the view from the top overlooking El Nido and Bacuit Bay is just spectacular.
Explore El Nido’s food scene
Compared to a lot of places I visited in The Philippines, El Nido had a great selection of quality restaurants. Highlights include Trattoria Altrove which has the most amazing pizza and pasta, plus a queue out the door most nights. Falafel for the best late-night greek food. Artcafe for tasty breakfasts and good coffee. And not forgetting Gusto Gelato for the most delicious Italian style ice cream.
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Las Cabanas Beach
Lying 5km south of the town centre, visiting Las Cabanas Beach is another one of the best things to do in El Nido. This beach is home to a collection of beach bars and eateries and is renowned for its beautiful sunsets.
Or if you’re looking for a bit of an adventure, make sure to give the zipline here a try! From a tower a short hike away you can zip line 750m across the beach to Depelet Island just offshore! You can then easily walk back to the main beach via the short strip of sand that joins the island to the mainland.
Nestled between El Nido town and Nacpan Beach, Duli Beach is another beautiful slice of paradise to add to your itinerary. It’s also the place to go to catch some serious waves and is the centre of El Nido’s surfing community. The surfing season in between November and March with board rental available at the beach during this time.