El Nido, Palawan. Oh so glorious! It’s easy to say that El Nido is definitely one of my favorite places in the Philippines.
This year alone, I have been twice. The first time was a date and the second time with my friends from New Zealand. As soon as my friends announced that they were coming to visit me I said immediately “LET’S GO TO EL NIDO”. El Nido is a great place for if you are with a group of people. There is plenty of things to do and a huge range of places to eat. The waterfront in El Nido town is lined with restaurants and bars on the beach. You can eat and drink with the waves softly crashing beside you. Island hopping and diving is a must! So many beautiful islands, sandbars and coral reefs to visit. This blog will look at accommodation, food and activities.
Places to Stay:
El Nido Overlooking
We got a privacy villa with an outdoor kitchen and living space. King-sized bed and an indoor bath hub. The bath hub had a huge window looking out over El Nido. Don’t worry! The privacy villa is PRIVATE so no one can look in. I must say though, it’s definitely a romantic room. If you’re sharing with a friend just make sure its your BFF because you’ll need to be comfortable around them. You’ll understand why if you choose to visit. The thing I loved the most were the large windows so that you could see the view. One morning it was raining and we opened the curtains and watched the rain. The overlooking is located on a hillside and you could easy get a tricycle (motorbike with a enclosed trailer attached) at the end of the driveway. It cost about 100-150 pesos to head to town or in the opposite direction to Las Cabanas beach. Check it out here
When we walked into the lobby we were pretty impressed. We’d booked the hotel about 2 months in advance and forgot why we had chosen it. Once we had arrived we realized why. Epic views from the rooftop restaurant and bar Scape and an infinity pool. We spent most of our afternoons at Scape watching the sunset and enjoying the happy hour (from 4-7pm) which was a ‘buy one, take one’ deal. We would spend the whole day out on boats, island hopping and snorkeling then come back to our hotel and swim in the infinity pool. We got seriously addicted to Scapes croquettes. SO GOOD. There were four of us so we had booked two rooms and had king singles each. I don’t usually comment on bedding fabrics but must I say their blankets and pillows felt like clouds. Check it out here.
Places to Eat:
Owned by a South African, serving vegetarian/vegan food and sporting some very cool swings hanging from the ceiling. Before my friends arrived, I had bragged about this place. My first time in El Nido, I sought refuge in Happiness while I waited for someone. Ate, drunk and meet an American tourist who told me all about burning man and why she left her corporate job to travel. Food is fresh, they also have a happy hour from 4-6pm and the ambiance is great. It always has customers which is a tell tale sign that the place is good. Check it out on tripadvisor.
THE BEST SOUVAKI I HAVE EVER TASTED! Full of flavor, tender and juicy. I even got the Chicken Souvaki to test the chef ability to cook chicken without over drying it. They were successful and I was very impressed. We came here twice and we’d wished that we’d found this place sooner because we would have eaten here every night. Its Greek Cuisine and surprisingly authentic for a Filipino operated kitchen. It is located opposite Happiness and has an open-style concept. It’s on the waterfront so you can watch the waves and the stunning view. There are a few Greek restaurants in El Nido- we did try another one but we’re not going to mention it because it was not good. If you want Greek, Cafe Athena is the place. Check it out here at tripadvisor.
Glow Juice Box
We eyed this place up for days and knew we’d get around to having one of their bowls for breakfast. They have two little stores. One is strictly for juice and the other has a cute seating area so you can eat your fruit/smoothie bowl. Three of us went with the Coco bowl filled with dragon fruit, bananas, mango, apple, pear, watermelon, papaya covered in coconut cream. One of us got the dragon fruit smoothie bowl. She bragged about how cold and refreshing it was. Definitely insta worthy. Check out their instagram.
Things to Do:
This is super easy! The best advice, book in advance (the night before) and get up early so you can grab a coffee and breakfast. There are so many outlets for you to book through. Some hotels/motels also offer it to their guests. You can choose a private or tour boat. Private boats allow you to go at your own pace and can take you up to 7 places in one day or the tour boats have a standard tour program. There are four island tours to choose from A, B, C and D and they range from 1200-1600 peso. Just pay 200 peso environmental tax once and hire beach shoes for 100 pesos per day. Buffet lunch and water is provided on board. We went on A & B which included:
- Big Lagoon
- Small Lagoon
- Secret Lagoon
- 7 Commando Beach
- Shimizu Beach
- Pinagbuyutan Island
- Snake Island
- Cathedral Cave
- Cudugnon Cave
- Pangulusan Island
My best friend is a open water certified diver and I did my first ever discovery dive. The company we did it with was Deep Blue Dive Seafari and they were a friendly team. I had to go in the night before to watch a video on scuba diving and then do a 10 question test to demonstrate my understanding. It truly was an amazing experience. We saw turtles, clown fish, puffer fish, barramundi and so much more. The instructors are very organised, give clear instructions and are vigilant with your safety. If you get a chance, do it!
Personally, I have only been to Las Cabanas beach but there are so many beaches to choose from. Just ask a local and they’ll be able to direct you. We ended up checking out Las Cabanas because it had been raining in the morning and we could not go island hopping. The sun came out, found a bar, swam and enjoyed life.
So there you have it. A lot of information to process but these are my recommendations for El Nido, Palawan. If you have any questions or suggestions for my next trip, make sure to leave a comment below 🙂