There’s no shortage of things to do in El Nido, Palawan. This small town is the gateway to sun, crystal clear water, sea turtles and beach BBQs. Sounds pretty idyllic right? Read on for our pick of the bunch, our top things to do in El Nido…
1. Island Hop!
There are 4 island hopping tours available from El Nido, named A, B, C and D for easy recall. If you only have limited time, Tour A or Tour C are the ones to book.
Tour C is the most popular and is for the snorkelling enthusiasts- the boat will take you to around four sites where you’ll see numerous fish, coral and if you’re lucky, sea turtles. Tour A is for those who wish to see Palawan’s famed lagoons. You’ll be able to rent kayaks at the lagoon spots and explore that way or you can just choose to swim. You’ll get to visit a couple of snorkelling spots but they definitely aren’t as good as the ones on Tour C. All tours, no matter where you book cost between 1200-1400PHP/$25-30USD and include lunch we recommend booking island hopping tours with the Art Café on Serena Street.
2. Sun and surf at Nacpan Beach
Head out of El Nido to Nacpan Beach about a 45 minute drive away by scooter or tricycle (rent a scooter and make your own way here if you can). You’ll get a glimpse into Filipino village life and drive past lush green rice paddies before you arrive at the breathtaking beach. Nacpan Beach has surf, golden sand, a small beach bar selling buko (coconuts), beer and snacks and locals and tourists alike shrieking with delight over the waves. What more do you need?!
3. More sun and surf at Duli Beach
15km north of Nacpan Beach lies Duli Beach, an even more remote beach paradise. Duli Beach sees only a smattering of people, mostly surfers and it rivals Nacpan in the beauty stakes. You might even find you won’t have to share the beach with another soul!
4. Make the most of Happy Hour on El Nido Beach
Most places along the beach do a decent happy hour between 4-6pm with two for one cocktails or cheap beers. Our favourite spot for a beer is Bacuit Grill where you can sip on ice cold San Miguel or Red Horse for 40PHP/$1USD a pop and you can have your feet in the sand as you watch the day’s light fading. Note that Bacuit Grill’s Happy Hour starts at 5pm and ends at 7pm. If you fancy a cocktail, Sava Beach Bar or Mezzanine are our picks. Both places know how to mix a decent drink and they have great views looking out over the bay.
5. Discover local street food
It can be hard to eat local food in El Nido town, there just aren’t that many options. If you spot a ‘Dirty’ ice cream seller (so named because the ice-cream is homemade) you must nab a cone- mango, jackfruit and ube are popular flavours and be sure to get a mix. The ice cream is absolutely delicious and a steal at around 15-25PHP/$0.30-0.50USD). Another good spot for street food is outside the school on G. Del Pilar Street in the late afternoons- here you’ll be able to try ice crumble or munch on some pork skewers.
6. Kayak to 7 Commandos Beach and Papaya Beach
Rent a kayak from one of the shops on El Nido beach (we paid 500PHP/$10USD for the day) and kayak to 7 Commandos and Papaya Beach. It takes about an hour and it’s worth the trip. Make your first stop Papaya Beach- just around the headland from 7 Commandos. It sees less boats, has white sand and the clearest water you ever did see. You can even buy a cold beer from the simple beach shack. In the afternoon head to 7 Commandos for some more sun bathing and swimming. Grab a halo halo from the shop for afternoon tea- this Filipino dessert made up of evaporated milk, jelly, ube, mung beans and coconut is refreshing and oh so tasty.
7. Eat the best beef stew at Beef Stew Hauz
The most delicious thing we ate in El Nido (and we were there for two weeks so we ate a lot!) was the beef stew at Beef Stew Hauz. Tender beef shin, rice noodles and fragrant basil languish in a sweet, flavoursome broth. Be sure to add a dash of chilli oil and lime for an extra kick and opt for the ‘special’ version for the addition of a boiled egg. You’ll find yourself returning time and time again!
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