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El Nido is the gateway to the Bacuit Bay Archipelago.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Philippines > Western Visayas > Palawan

El Nido Travel Guide

  
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El Nido is a coastal settlement on the Philippines island of Palawan. The Bacuit Bay around El Nido is comprised of 45 islands and islets; limestone cliffs are also found here, which form a Karst backdrop similar to those found in Ha Long Bay or Koh Phi Phi.

El Nido is a popular destination for locals during the long holidays of Holy Week but, until recently, has been relatively unknown to foreign tourists. El Nido is more than just a stereotypical tropical paradise. Beaches, clear waters, jungle, steep limestone cliffs and stunning inlets make for one of the world's most beautiful seascapes.

Clear blue water in Bacuit Bay.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Before El Nido became a popular tourist destination, fishing and harvesting swift nests ("Nido") were the main source of income. Nowadays tourism has become the municipality's main source of revenue; however, the authorities are trying to keep it sustainable and hotel chains are refreshingly absent. Huge tour groups are nowhere to be seen.

El Nido is also known for water sports such as diving, snorkeling and kayaking.

The Bacuit Bay Archipelago

Breathtaking views of nature are the main reason to visit El Nido. The pristine waters of El Nido offer beautiful coral reefs, while its beaches are uncrowded unlike the popular Boracay, exploring the lagoons by kayaking is a great way of visiting the islets, coves and caves are also abundant. Inland El Nido, springs and waterfalls are also found. Bacuit Bay composes of limestone islands, where its possible to either dive, snorkel or hike.

The easiest way to see the Bacuit Bay is on an island hopping boat. These boats carry 6-12 people and will visit 4 or 5 islands in a day. The boats usually take set routes named A to D, but can vary depending on tides and weather.

Too bad you won't have much time on each island during your trip.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Boats normally cost around P650-P900 per person depending in the route and travel agency. El Nido municipality also charges P200 as an Environmental fee which is valid 10 days. It's a good idea to book a boat with only 6 seats and experienced crew (e.g. at Relucio's).

Each trip takes one day (ca 9:00-15:30), normally includes a good lunch and can be arranged from most guesthouses and travel agencies in El Nido.

If you have time, go for overnight island hopping (3 days 2 nights is a good option) where you get to camp on deserted island ala Survivor style. (Though most places you can be dropped at are included in the daily island hopping tours.) It gives you the best option to visit lots more islands that are included in those bundle package tours but at your own leisure time. Find a few more people to get a much better rate.

Day trips bring you to different islands in Bacuit Bay.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Practicalities

Electricity in El Nido runs from 14:00 to 06:00 but some places (not necessary the expensive ones) have their own generators that cover the period in between.

There are no banks or ATMs in El Nido. Make sure you cash up in Puerto or Manila before you set out. In case you have run out of cash you have the following options: the gas station right on the beach/at the harbour can give Cash advances on credit cards but charges a hefty 6% surcharge. You can change major currencies for a fair rates or either you can use money transfers like Western Union.

Dive operators and El Nido Boutique & Artcafe also accept credit card payments, this can save some of your cash as well.

There are many Internet Cafes in the town. Most restaurants, bars and guesthouses have free wifi. Internet access is subject to electricity availability, i.e. Internet cafes and most of WiFi work only after 14:00.

El Nido from the air.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

 

See more island hopping photos of the Bacuit Bay.






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