From the moment we stepped on the El Nido bound plane in Cebu, I knew El Nido was going to be a pretty special place. Check out this video made by Toast City Productions to see why:
There are many ways to get to El Nido. One way is to take a flight to Puerto Princesa and then get a bus for 6 hours to El Nido. This actually sounds more daunting than it is. Another way is to fly from Manila or Cebu. At 4,500PHP for the flight ticket, this way may be slightly more expensive, but it cuts out a lot of travel time and is an experience in itself.
Knowing our time in the Philippines was limited, we chose to fly and we’re so glad we did!
The only airline that flies to/from El Nido is Air Swift, and flight days and times are limited. From Cebu the flight should only take an hour and 45 minutes. However, as the plane only seats about 50 passengers (it felt tiny!) if everyone is ready to board on time (or early) there is a good chance the plane can depart early, like ours did.
I actually couldn’t recommend flying with Air Swift enough. We got a nice little meal set while we were waiting to board the plane at the gate in Cebu airport, and everything from start to finish with them seemed to run very smoothly. All I would say is that because the plane is considerably smaller than a “normal” plane, any turbulence felt seems to be quite exaggerated!
Now, flying into El Nido is an experience in itself for many reasons. The first being you have a spectacular view of all the surrounding islands on the way in. The second is El Nido airport. I’ve never seen an airport like it. We were the only plane there, and we were greeted with people singing to us. The arrivals “lounge” had drinks and snacks waiting for us. Really, I’ve never seen anything like it.
After collecting our bag from the baggage reclaim table, we hopped in a tuk tuk to take us to our accommodation, Dorimtels.ph. Dorimtels.ph is located about a ten minute tuk tuk ride from the town proper.
What to in El Nido
Now, as we found out, this can depend on the weather. We travelled in August which appeared to be peak rainy season! Despite not doing everything available, we didn’t feel like we missed out and the weather added to our experience!
The night of our arrival we stayed pretty close to our accommodation. We found a delicious pizza joint and attempted to eat a large one… each. Clearly our eyes were bigger than our belly!
Keen to do some exploring, we rented a scooter the next day and made our way to Nacpan Beach. The ride to the beach was nice and pretty chilled, however, due to the intermittent rain some of the roads were very slippery. If you’re not a confident bike rider I highly recommend hopping on the back of someone’s who is (like I did!). Also, if the roads (if you can even call them that) are slippery, if could be worth getting a slightly bigger bike as our scooter wasn’t a massive fan of the puddles (especially the one we fell in!).
Nacpan Beach, was beautiful and, despite the rain, the sea was so warm. We had a bite to eat at a little snack stop on the beach secretly hoping the rain would stop. Actually, it did… for a bit. If you walk along the beach there is a view point where you can see the beach from above, which is highly worth walking up to. While we were up there, it started pouring again. We took shelter behind a boat before giving in and deciding to ride back to our accommodation.
As we were riding back, the weather started to die down. Not wanting to be defeated we decided to venture a little further up the road rather than head straight back to our accommodation. Such a good decision! The roads were so quiet and we got to see so much of the island. We even came across beaches with nobody else on. Nacpan beach was beautiful and all, but it wasn’t particularly quiet – especially for an exceptionally wet day!
We stumbled across one beach called, Bulang Beach. It was beautiful and we were the only two people on it. The sea was warm, super calm and pretty shallow. Harry walked so far out! But there are beaches all along the coast.
After a day of riding around, we rode home in the rain (heavy, heavy rain) and trying desperately to make it back before the sun went down completely. We succeeded but it was all Harry’s doing. I just sat on the back trying to shield my face from the rain (it was surprisingly sharp!).
*Tip – During rainy season especially, the beaches on East Coast were significantly calmer than the ones on the West Coast due to the wind. *
Spend Time on the East Coast
As mentioned above, the beaches along the East coast were significantly calmer than the ones on the West when we travelled in August. Not only that, they were also significantly quieter. If you’re looking to escape the crowds then heading east is the way to do so. And not just for a couple of hours, I highly recommend spending a couple of nights there… minimum! We only headed into El Nido town proper a couple of times, but it gave me a similar type of vibe that I got from Koh Phi Phi in Thailand (read about that here), just on a much smaller scale.
We spent three incredible nights at Tapik Beach Park Guest House which you can read about in an upcoming post.
Island Hopping Tours
Of course, El Nido is famous for it’s surrounding islands and you could easily spend a week doing a variety of island hopping tours. Unfortunately, we didn’t get doing any of the main island hopping tours (offered from departure from El Nido town proper) partly due to the weather and partly due to the timing of our trip. However, we did do an island hopping tour departing from Tapik Beach Park.
Have you been to El Nido? What were your favourite things to do? Or are you planning a trip there? Let me know in the comments below.
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