I Fell in Love with El Nido

It’s always fun to travel with friends because as they say “the more, the merrier”. So, one day, during lunch, we talked about the places we’ve been to and decided to go to El Nido since two of our friends (Gian and Dexter) are celebrating their birthdays in January. It was November when booked the airfare, and we found Cebu Pacific to be the cheapest at Php4,300 per person from Manila to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Yes, you might think that it’s not as cheap as we expect it to be, but we were told that January is the start of the peak season in El Nido.

Aside from the increase of price with the airfare, it was also hard to look for available rooms. Although the rooms/inns/hotels there are beside each other, we had troubles looking for a place where we can all stay together. Luckily, we found an available hostel which is Island Front Cottages located at Sitio Lugadio, Barangay Corong – Corong, El Nido. It is situated right in front of the beach surrounded by palm trees with rustic ambiance and native design. No need to worry about black out because they are equipped with a 24 hour standby generator. Room rates start at Php 800 for a Fan Room good for 2 pax and Php 3000 for a Family Aircon Room good for 4 pax, all rooms are with free breakfast. You can also use their WIFI in the lobby area.

To check for room availability of other hotels, you can also check Agoda, Traveloka, Booking.com, Trivago and a lot more.

And the most awaited day came! Three couples ready to explore the islands of El Nido, Palawan. Do we look excited or what? Take note, all of us came from work. 🙂(Jen, Gian, Kaeser, Thea, Roma, Dexter)

TRANSPORTATION:

  • Direct Flight from Manila to El Nido via AirSwift Airlines (more expensive)
  • Plane from Manila to Puerto Princesa (AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines). 1 hour and 20 minutes plane ride
  • Aside from the plane ride from Manila to Puerto Princesa, you need to travel going to El Nido for about 4-5 hours. You can choose between a bus or shuttle service
  • Cebu Pacific offered us a shuttle service going to El Nido for Php 600 per pax with Lexus Shuttle Services (FYI: Their vans are not new so expect to be a bit warm as if there’s no aircon LOL)
  • Shuttle services is readily available outside Puerto Princesa airport and fare is about Php 500 – Php 600
  • Bus fare ranges from Php 400 – Php 450

After a 6 long hours of traveling going to El Nido, of course we were all hungry. Good thing there are restaurants outside our hostel and we saw an outstanding one called BoodleFight Restaurant and Bar. It’s a small place but they have delicious food and cute DIY photo booth place where you can also write cute notes.

We booked our tour through Island Front Cottages. The tour organizers told us that the tours were cancelled by the coastguard the past few days because of the weather. They only started the tours again last Friday and at that time, only Tour A, B and D were available. Tour C was not available as it was dangerous due to the current, so we opted for Tour A which is the most popular among the tours. Here are the rates and island per tour. 

Tour A – 1,200/pax

  • Big Lagoon
  • Small Lagoon
  • Simizu Island
  • Secret Lagoon
  • 7 Commandos Beach

Tour B – 1,300/pax

  • Entulala Island
  • Pinagbutayan Island
  • Snake Island
  • Cudugnon Cave
  • Cathedral Cave

Tour C – 1,400/pax

  • Hidden Beach
  • Helicopter Beach
  • Secret Beach
  • Matinloc Shrine
  • Star Beach

Tour D – 1,200/pax

  • Bukal Island
  • Ipil Island
  • Nat-Nat Beach
  • Cadlao Lagoon
  • Paradise Beach

TOUR INCLUSIONS:

  • Boat transfers
  • Tour guide
  • Picnic lunch
  • Life vest
  • Snorkeling gear (some organizers ask you to pay Php 100 rental fee)

ADDITIONAL FEES:

  • Environmental fee – Php 200/pax
  • Kayak rental at Small Lagoon – Php 300/kayak

Tour starts at 9:00 AM so we woke up at 7:00 AM to have breakfast before exploring the beautiful islands of El Nido.

Breakfast view

We were nine in the boat together with three German tourists and boatmen. 

Our view while in the boat

First stop, Small Lagoon. Here, you need to rent a kayak so you can explore the lagoon.

My hot boyfriend 😍

Swimming with the gang 🙂

Outside the Small Lagoon, we had some fresh coconut juice for Php50.

Before going to the next island, let me pose for Instagram first. Haha! 🙂

Next is the Secret Lagoon. Beautiful!

Here, you need enter in a tiny hole to see what’s inside. Be careful because it’s slippery and you might hit your head.

The struggle is real haha!

And here’s what you’ll see inside

We also had lunch at Secret Lagoon. Here’s our chef for the day.

You can buy soda and beer in can there for Php60-70.

Lunch group picture with the Germans and boatmen.

The place is so chill, so we decided to take a lot of pictures! So much fun with this group! 🙂

And some alone moments haha!

And sunbathing time 🙂

After lunch and resting, we went snorkeling. Don’t expect a lot of fish, it was noon and the boatmen said they might be resting.

So we just enjoyed our underwater GoPro shots

And then my favorite (since I’ve been here before), the Big Lagoon. The rock formation and the blue clear water is just jaw dropping.

Look at the water at our back. Just wow!

And last stop, Papaya Beach just beside the 7 Commandos Beach. Boatman said the sand is more pure so we went here instead. 

We love the powdery white sand

Chillin’ in the hammocks

Swing!!! I felt like a kid again! 🙂

Boys vs. girls. Who did it better? Hahaha!

Happy Birthday, Gian and Dex! Cheers! 🙂

We don’t want to leave yet but the tour has ended. We went back to our hostel still amazed and very satisfied. Sometimes, days like this, you don’t want to end.

Enjoyed the sunset before going out to have dinner.

At dinner, we asked around where’s the best place to eat seafood and they pointed us to Aplaya. It’s about 10 minutes from our hostel, we rode a tricycle for Php20/pax. It’s a long stretch of restaurants and bars just in front of the beach.

Take your pick and tell them how you want it cooked and they will give you the price. One meal costs around Php200-300 and it comes with one cup of rice.

It’s pretty crowded in Aplaya because tourists go there to eat and have drinks, unlike in our hostel where it’s very peaceful at night.

 

Fire dance

We walked around after dinner and saw this Gelato place. A lot of people are falling in line and buying. It’s a must try! Price starts at Php100-200 depending on the cup/cone size.

On our third day, we rented motorcycles at Kevin John Transport since it’s just beside our hostel. 

Whole day rent is Php500, please take note that gas is not included. We also booked our shuttle service through them going back to Puerto Princesa for Php500 per pax. It was already a good deal as compared to our first shuttle. All their vans are new and their staff was very accommodating, she even helped us with the directions going to Nacpan Beach. By the way, they also offer island hopping. See photo below for their contact details and schedule of trips.  

From our hostel, it took 45 minutes going to Nacpan Beach. 

NACPAN BEACH FEES:

  • Entrance Fee – Php 50
  • Cottage – Php 300
  • Beach Beds – Php 200
  • Food – About Php 150-200 per meal

On the way to Nacpan Beach

Lovely Nacpan Beach!

Waves! Waves! Waves!

We enjoyed and got tired of fighting the waves, we got hungry! Lunch time!

 Rest after lunch. Oink! Oink!

More group pictures 🙂

The boys being vain

But we won’t let them beat us haha! 🙂

Things to know about Nacpan Beach:

  • No electricity
  • No cellphone signal for Globe and Smart
  • Comfort rooms available, but cannot shower

Going home!

 

Dead tired on the way home so no more dinner pictures.✌🏻

Our flight was 1:35 PM so we had to leave at 5 AM to travel to Puerto Princesa.

Here’s a sample El Nido Itinerary for your reference:

Day 1

  • Arrive at Puerto Princesa
  • Travel 5-6 hours going to El Nido
  • Dinner and drinks at BoodleFight Restaurant and Bar

Day 2

  • Island Hopping from 9AM to 4PM. I highly recommend a combination of Tour A and C (Php2,500/pax)
  • Dinner and drinks at Aplaya

Day 3

  • Nacpan Beach
  • Calitang Beach
  • NagKalit-Kalit Falls or Kuyawyaw Falls
  • Dinner and drinks at night

Day 4 

  • Depart El Nido going to Puerto Princesa 
  • Puerto Princesa day tour (depending on your flight schedule)

USEFUL TIPS:

  • Peak months are February to May, expect the tours to be exhausting. The tour guides told us that tourists can’t even go down the boat because it’s too crowded in every island
  • During peak months, don’t try to go there without a booked room. There are backpackers who took the risk without booked rooms and ended up sleeping in the streets or outside the hotels
  • You can pitch tent in some islands (just ask around which island)
  • Bring lots of sunblock/sunscreen
  • Bring mosquito repellent

 

TOTAL EXPENSES PER PERSON:

  • Airfare – Php 4,300
  • Shuttle – Php 1,100
  • Accomodation – Php 1,700
  • Island Hopping- Php 1,400
  • Food – Php 1,500
  • Nacpan Beach – Php 50
  • Motorcycle rent – Php 500

It was indeed an awesome trip with our #TravelBuddies #SquadGoals. We wish to stay longer but we can’t be out of the office for too long. HAHAHA!😜😂  But we’re all looking forward to our next travel. 🙂

For more of my adventures, you make check out Althea’s Adventures. 🙂

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