While most of the world famous travel destinations are getting saturated with tourists, tropical retreat El Nido, situated in Palawan province of the Philippines, still proudly retains its laid back, small town charm. Dubbed the final frontier of the Philippines, the ravishing island beauty is surrounded by Karst rock formations similar to Vietnamese Ha Long Bay or Chinese natural wonder Guilin. The relaxing, crystal clear blue water has an innate charm of its own; surrounding the island from all directions and rushing out to meeting glistening, white, sandy beaches. Be it travel-savvy backpackers or luxury travelers, El Nido is perfect for everyone and for people of every budget. This article goes all out to let you know how to get to El Nido by air, water, or by road.
El Nido, Spanish for ‘The Nest’, is a relatively less heard of travel destination. The sleepy little town is situated between Bacuit Bay and the majestic Karst cliffs that oversee a vast expanse of deep blue sea. Until recently, uncharted island beauty El Nido was only frequented by local tourists during the extended holiday of the Holy Week. Now that neighbouring Palawan Islands have gained worldwide fame thanks to the subterranean river and Tubbataha reef- more and more international tourists are discovering the lush green charm of El Nido. Unparalleled sights and sounds of the laid back little town, clear waters, steep cliffs made of limestone, lush greenery of the virgin forests and stunning natural inlets make for a wholesome tropical getaway experience to cherish for a lifetime.
How to get to El Nido
Now that you have enough incentive and motivation to visit this tropical paradise, let us help with how to get to El Nido. As mentioned before, tourists can either opt for air travel, a journey by road or a ride on a ferry in the waterways. Depending on your budget, time constraints and priority on comfort, you can choose any of these easy options to get to your dream holiday destination. Below is a detailed account on how to get to El Nido- the oceanic tropical beauty waiting to be explored by you.
Flying to the nest: Getting there by air
El Nido Airport
Before you make up your mind to plan an air travel to El Nido, an overview of its only airport is necessary. El Nido Airport, also known as Lio Airport is owned and operated by a tourism company called Island Transvoyager Incorporated (ITI). This humble, rolled gravel airstrip is about four kilometers away from the proper town or población; in the barangay of Villa Libertad. It is to be mentioned that the only direct flight from capital city Manila to El Nido is operated by ITI.
How to get to El Nido by air
The luxury carrier operated by ITI has many daily flights directly from Manila to El Nido. This is the official air carrier of El Nido Resorts; both resort guests and other tourists can avail. The flight from Manila can be booked either from the company’s General Sales Agent or by visiting the website of ITI. Perhaps the most luxurious; this airline promises a relaxing journey from entry to their private hangar till after the flight. Prices are a little steep compared to flights from Puerto Princesa airport, i.e., P6750. However, you might want to keep an eye on the website for promotional offers or off season discounts. Airport pickup is available for resort guests only; they are ushered away in resort vans upon arrival. Other passengers board tricycle taxis, which can be called by ITI workers. The tricycle taxi ride cost around P200 to P250, covering a five kilometer distance.
From Puerto Princesa International Airport
Those who have ample time in hand, have come to visit both Palawan and El Nido and do not want to spend that much on a luxury airline can easily board a flight to Puerto Princesa airport from Manila. Being Palawan’s premier gateway and a direct link to the capital city, many airline carriers such as Zest Air, Air Asia, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Seair and Palexpress etc. have flights to Puerto Princesa. Upon arrival, tourists can avail buses or vans to reach El Nido by road.
Road Tripping: El Nido by land
If you are at Puerto Princesa and wondering how to get to El Nido, vans and buses are available for tourists, waiting to take you to the ultimate island destination.
Taking a van
Vans depart directly from the San Jose bus terminal in Puerto Princesa, fares ranging from P600 to P700 per person. If you opt for a hotel or airport pickup, prices will be on the higher side with a travel time of five to six hours at a stretch. Be prepared for a bumpy ride as vans are going to sway a little at El Nido-Taytay road. At present, there are three van companies that conduct regular trips to El Nido. However, if you are in a hurry, it is best not to depend on the timeliness of these minivans as they tend to be about thirty to forty minutes late in and around town.
Taking a bus
From San Jose Bus Terminal, both air conditioned and non air conditioned buses leave for El Nido Market regularly. Fares are P550 for air conditioned buses and P450 for non air conditioned ones, taking around seven hours to get to El Nido. Buses are quite comfortable as they can absorb the shock of the uneven terrain and have much more leg space compared to small vans.
Uncharted territory: Travelling by sea
If you have ventured into tourist town Coron and are wondering how to get to El Nido, you have the option of travelling by boat. Several outrigger boats operate four to five times a week from Coron to El Nido and back. The journey can feel really long and time consuming; heavily dependent on local weather. This seven to ten hour trip costs around P1800.