Blue lagoons, cliff climbing, canoeing, drinking rum and snorkelling are just a few things to do in El Nido on Palawan island. There’s a lot to do, so let’s get on it with.
My venture to El Nido, didn’t get off to a great start. I’d book a direct flight from Cebu to the local airport. But the day before my flight, I was on Siquijor island, not Cebu. It was at around 11pm the night before my 11am journey, drinking vodka at a beach bar, that I thought, how the hell am I going to catch my flight?
A lot of money was spent. I woke at 6am the next morning. I got a tricycle to the ferry port, a ferry to dumaguete, a flight to Cebu and then got on my flight from Cebu to El Nido (and breath). It was stressful. One delay and I miss my original flight. But I somehow made it, in one piece. My boat to dumaguete took about 1 hour and cost next to nothing. I then paid around 100 pesos to get to the airport. Wow, it was the smallest airport I’ve ever been in. At the check in, I gave the man my bag, and he carried it straight to the plane! When I eventually landed in Cebu, I got straight through to my next flight (which delayed by another hour).
El Nido airport was not like any I’d seen before. It could have been a 5 star hotel. There was no real run way, no luggage collection, and the only flight that landed was the plane I was on. It took what seemed like forever to get my backpack, as the workers took them off one by one and placed them on the floor in a big pile. We were stood behind a barrier unable to get to our bags, until we were allowed to do so. Then, everyone ran to collect their bags. It was slight chaos and I wouldn’t recommend it at other small airports.
You can only get direct flights to El Nido if you travel by Air Swift. There’s also another airport on Palawan island- Puerto Princesa, which is a lot cheaper. However, it means taking a 3-4 hour mini bus journey to El Nido after your flight.
Where to stay:
I stayed at Outpost Hostel, which was very central to El Nido town and close to the drinking scene. It was a very social hostel, with extremely comfy beds. However, it was expensive to stay here- around 25 English pounds each night. But, they’re quite famous for their beautiful sunset spot and their sunset shots, and rightly so. The staff are great and get you involved- being a solo traveler is not an issue there.
Another hostel that I recommend (despite not staying here, as it was always booked up!) is Mad Monkey on Napcan beach. If you go to Palawan, you must visit this beach, even if you don’t stay in the hostel. It’s the best beach I have ever seen in my life. Me and a friend also ate here and the food was pretty good. But, just like outpost- it’s pretty pricey to stay . You can get a mini bus return for the day to Napcan beach from El Nido for 300 pesos if you don’t stay there. Beware, it actually costs more to hire a tricycle for the day than to go by mini bus!
What to do on the island:
There are several boat trips: A, B, C, D and all visit different places around the island. So, you could do a trip a day. I decided to only do one of the trips, through my hostel. It costs 1800 pesos. Afterwards, I found lots of other cool tour operators that in hindsight, I would’ve rather used. The coach el Nido on Facebook is a great place to book your tours with.
We did lots on the boat trip; visited caves, snorkelled and swam in lagoons. I’ve never seen water so beautiful as the lagoons, it really was something you only seen in pictures.
After a few nights of drinking, I was up at 4am for a sun rise hike. Taraw cliff, is not for the faint hearted. I’m a fairly active person and I struggled. I didn’t know it was possible to sweat so much in the dark at 4 in the morning. Imagine this: vertically climbing a 170 metre cliff, whilst only wearing gloves, knee and shoulder pads in a skimpy top and shorts ( and your 6 year old nike trainers) with no safety ropes.
But, the view was worth it. You could see the whole of the island and it was so stunning. We were the first people at the top, so we all got a great spot to watch the sun rise.
I won’t lie, I was pretty scared walking round at the top. It’s spiky and there’s no real health and safety risks being considered by the guides. I was shaking like crazy taking the photos above. The climb down was the worst part for me, as the adrenaline had hit and my legs were shaking like little baby lambs. It was all quite embarrassing really.
El Nido was full of adventure, but after my few days partying and doing activities, I was really ready for a few calm days. I decided to book a 4 hour mini bus to Port Barton for around 400 pesos, ready for another exciting journey.