The ultimate travel guide to El Nido, Palawan (2024)

If there’s one place you should experience in your lifetime, it’s El Nido, Palawan. Known for its breathtaking island hopping tours, El Nido offers so much more! Picture-perfect beaches, mesmerizing sunsets, and amazing food await you. This ultimate travel guide to El Nido is your ticket to discovering the best of El Nido. Ready for an unforgettable adventure in paradise?

What to do on El Nido

El Nido island hopping tour

The ultimate travel guide to El Nido: Tour A

The best thing to do on El Nido is definitely going on an island hopping tour. There are four options, each with its own highlights: A, B, C, and D. Tour A is all about stunning lagoons, Tour B explores fascinating caves, Tour C is perfect for snorkeling lovers, and Tour D takes you to beautiful beaches. 

We couldn’t decide between Tour A and Tour D, but we ended up choosing Tour A. No worries, we’ll definitely do Tour D next time we’re on El Nido!

El Nido Tour A

The ultimate travel guide to El Nido: Big Lagoon

We started our day at Big Lagoon, kayaking on crystal-clear blue water through stunning limestone cliffs. It was like a postcard!

Secret Lagoon El Nido

Our next stop was Secret Lagoon, definitely our favorite part of the tour. Since it was high tide, we had to freedive to get into the lagoon, which was so much fun! This also meant we had the lagoon all to ourselves. At low tide, you can just swim through a small hole, which is easier but less adventurous. Inside, there’s a natural private pool surrounded by limestone walls. Such a cool experience!

After Secret Lagoon, we went snorkeling at Shimizu Island. While we liked our snorkeling at Smith Coral Garden on Coron Island more, this was still a nice spot to see. We saw a starfish and plenty of cute clownfish, too. Since we got pretty hungry after snorkeling, we had lunch afterwards. We had a whole plate of rice, noodles, vegetables, fish, meat, and fresh fruit. It was so delicious!

We ended our tour at 7 Commandos Beach, a dreamy spot with soft white sand, turquoise water, and endless rows of palm trees. We arrived just before noon, which was perfect timing! Everyone else was leaving for lunch, so we had the beach all to ourselves. We spent over an hour swimming, sunbathing, and soaking in the beautiful scenery. Who doesn’t love the feeling of having a private beach?

Pro tip
We paid 8,500 pesos (about € 135) for a private tour of Tour A. This price covered everything: hotel pickup and dropoff, lunch, and entrance fees. The only extra cost was 400 pesos for a kayak at Big Lagoon. When we arrived on El Nido, we compared prices at around 10 different tour operators. Private tours ranged from 8,500 to 13,000 pesos. So, it’s worth shopping around and making sure everything is included!

Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach, El Nido

Nacpan Beach was one of our favorite spots in the Philippines. With soft white sand, clear water, and endless coconut trees, it’s our idea of a perfect beach! The best part about this beach is its long stretch, so even when it’s busy you can still find a peaceful spot for yourself.

Good to know
You’ll need to pay a 20 pesos parking fee for your scooter (around € 0,30). We also paid 500 pesos (around € 8) for two sunbeds and a parasol. We think this was well worth it, because there’s not a lot of shade to be found on the beach.

Vanilla Beach

The ultimate travel guide to El Nido: Vanilla Beach

If you’re looking for the best sunset spot on El Nido, look no further than Vanilla Beach. We witnessed some of the most magical sunsets there during our time in the Philippines! The beach is lined with bars offering happy hour deals, so you can enjoy a mango daiquiri (or any other cocktail 😉) while watching the sun dip below the horizon. Plus, it’s a great place to make friends – we met a sweet German girl and a lovely Dutch couple there!

Where to eat on El Nido

El Nido was definitely our favorite destination in the Philippines when it came to dining out. The island has such a variety: from cozy lunch spots to vegetarian restaurants and perfect spots for a romantic dinner. In this ultimate travel guide to El Nido we discuss our favorite restaurants on the island.

Oppa (Dryft Fish)

The ultimate travel guide to El Nido: Oppa

Our go-to spot on El Nido has to be Oppa (also known as Dryft Fish). They whip up the most delicious dishes: from rice bowls to buns, noodles, and tacos. The tofu kimchi bowl was our absolute favorite. The tofu was out of this world, especially paired with kimchi. Also, don’t miss the bulgogi shawarma rice or the kimchi grilled cheese if you’re a fan of cheesy goodness!


Gorgonzola, El Nido

When on El Nido and in need of some pasta or pizza fix, Gorgonzola is the place to be! Their Gorgonzola pasta is heavenly, blending eggplant, gorgonzola, and tomato sauce just right. Plus, their pizzas are massive – the small ones are 16 inches (about 40 cm), and the large ones are a whopping 24 inches (about 60 cm). You definitely won’t leave hungry!

Ver De

Ver De, El Nido

An Instagram-worthy plant-based restaurant? Yes, please! This place was so good we had to come back a second time. We fell in love with their lasagna roll-ups, they are so so good. The only downside is that they only serve pasta dishes after 5 PM, which meant we couldn’t get them for lunch. Luckily, their veggie panini is just as delicious. The roasted vegetables with ricotta and pesto are incredible! Chances are you’ll see Ver De on your travels in the Philippines, as they have multiple locations.

Holy Smoke

The ultimate travel guide to El Nido: Holy Smoke

Looking for a tasty and budget-friendly meal? Holy Smoke is the spot to go! They serve mouthwatering wraps, bowls, Turkish pizzas, and loaded fries. Our favorite is the chicken wrap: so flavorful and generously sized! You won’t be hungry for hours after enjoying one.

Where to stay on El Nido

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