The SEO-maven in me wanted to write this El Nido Palawan travel itinerary/staycation story into three separate posts. But the lazy and equally busy mom in me thought it can be compressed and digested into one post. I will include the flight details, and how much we all spent on the trip. A rough estimate of course, but most of all our wonderful experience in the 5 days and 4 nights we’ve stayed on the beautiful island. (I’ll try my best to recall as much detail as I can alright?)
Without further ado, continue reading until the end to find out what you need to know 😉
Wow, a direct flight to El Nido?
This vacation was way overdue. Our flights were initially booked early 2019, but I backed out (forgot the reason why). It was re-scheduled 2020, but then the pandemic happened. Re-booked (again) mid-2021, but a critical lockdown ensued. Talk about luck right?
Well, everything happens for a reason. We were finally able to fly direct to El Nido this 2022 via AirSWIFT.
I was surprised when a friend asked me “How were you able to go to El Nido? Did you ride a boat after the plane? Did you take a shuttle?”
I told them “No, there is actually a direct flight going there via Airswift”
A round-trip ticket cost us roughly around 13,000php/person for May, which I guess is peak season because technically it’s summer?
The premium was worth it because Lio airport is one of the best I’ve been in for an island in the Philippines, the other one that marked my memory is Cebu (gorgeous gorgeous city!)
The flight took 40-minutes, and there weren’t any delays or cancellations during our time. Whew!
Travel Requirements to El Nido Palawan
Restrictions are much looser now compared to our Boracay trip last 2021 where we even had to spit into tubes to get rapid testing lol. Now thanks to vaccines and boosters, all you have to present now are the ff:
Where we stayed: Sanse Boutique Hotel
My friend and I wanted to stay somewhere not so cheap, but not so expensive. But we didn’t want to sleep in a small, boring room. Thankfully we discovered Sanse Botique Hotel. It’s located in the townsproper of El Nido, near to the banks, hospitals, cafes, and restaurants, but also just 15-20 minutes away from the island hopping activities.
It costs us around 8,000php/night for a spacious and gorgeous loft room that includes 2 king-sized beds, one on the top floor and one on the ground floor, shower, refrigerator, and basic necessities like towels. It doesn’t include toiletries so don’t forget to bring your own. But you can also help support their local economy and purchase from the sari-sari stores nearby 😉
The stay already includes breakfast: the typical pancake meals, granola and yoghurt, tapa or fish and garlic rice, our sourdough bread bacon and eggs.
It seems like sough dough is the staple bread on the island because it’s served everywhere and they all look and taste the same lol. Like it’s from one supplier? It’s pretty good though and filling. Perfect for the adventures of the day.
The bedsheets were a bit itchy for our skin we assumed it wasn’t cotton. But it had the perfect balance of softness and firmness. We loved the big pillows though! The air conditioning was also fine and you can leave it on an entire day because they had the inverter type.
Yep! We had a good night’s rest here! I’ll probably rate it a 4/5. Could be higher if the bedsheets didn’t make us itch, or they actually served granola instead of rolled oats XD
PS: You can have an in-room massage service for an additional 800php/hour to cap off your day.
Where to eat?
What’s travel without good food right? That’s why the moment we landed in Palawan, I sent messages to all my friends and followers who’ve been here and asked for food recommendations.
Here’s a list:
- Altrove (Pizza)
- Biryani Kitchen (Indian Food)
- Art Cafe (Sushi/Sashimi, Cakes, Cafe)
- The Kollective El Nido (Filipino food, Cafe)
- Angkla (bar/drinks/beach front)
- Sunmai Nacpan Beach (bar/drinks/beach front)
- Angel Wish (Seafood, but so medicore)
- Gusto Gelato (Gelato)
- Scape Skydeck (Hotel restaurant, great view)
- D’ Factory (yummy ice cream! better than Gusto’s)
- Punta Playa Lio (Mediterranean , yummy paella! pricey!)
Along with our food photos…
By all means, this can just serve as a guide, go on adventures and try to eat where you feel like it. As an island, we expected exotic delicacies, but instead, they were mostly pizzas, cafes, bars, and burger joints. The same things you’ll find in the Metro. Don’t get us wrong, the food is good, only not what we expected. We’ve been to Coron and Puerto Princesa and El Nido seemed to cater more to foreigners and styled as a tourist destination.
Wish they made it feel more local, more Philippines.
Important: A bit disappointing though, is that we craved seafood but it was nowhere to be found! Ironic because El Nido is surrounded by water, and as an island, we sort of expected to have a fresh supply of fish and shells. Sadly, according to the boat riders, we asked, most fishermen received a lot of money during the elections that they paused from fishing for a while. So the marketplace was empty.
On the brighter side, at least the seafood source has the possibility of being replenished, and the fishermen gets their rest.
What to do?
My friend and I had a small debate. Go to all the island hopping packages? Or split and just “relax” for one or two days. We met halfway, so we had 2 island hopping days, and 1 beach and chill in Nacpan beach.
Remember: Take nothing. Leave nothing. Don’t throw trash or anything else in the place, and don’t keep shells or any dumb memorabilia you can think of.
Also, it pays to TIP TO THE BANGKEROS. I was shocked when I found out that most tourists especially foreigners, just leave them without tipping! They earn a measly percentage from the hopping fees because most of the payment goes to the middlemen and tour companies. So please please please don’t forget to tip. Generously if you’re blessed and want more blessings.
Each place took our breath away. Especially the lagoons! There weren’t that many tourists so we were able to enjoy the place. Our package already includes a nice fancy lunch courtesy of the boat chef, and if you get thirsty or hungry, there are boat stores that offer chips, ice cream, and coconuts at sea! So fun!
We had Tour A and Tour C
White sand, but coarser than Boracay’s. Me and my friend thought we prefer this than the baby-powder like texture in Bora hehe.. Like the sand here has enough grit. The ocean has a nice sweet spot temperature to cool you off the sun’s heat. And it’s best to just lay on the sand, with your cocktail on hand, while staring at the sea. *sigh* I miss it already.
We got small souvenirs like magnets and t-shirts located inside Art Cafe 🙂
Food is expensive in El Nido. We couldn’t even find “cafeterias” or maybe we didn’t look hard enough? A meal could cost around 500-600 PER PERSON. So be prepared.
Travel-wise, the place has got to have one of the clearest, bluest seas I have ever seen. It has the most beautiful shade of turquoise! However, do not expect live corals. Most died due to over-tourism and overfishing. 🙁
Just being honest. I hope we take care of our planet more. I believe we can find a healthy balance of enjoying our planet while still protecting the environment.
Are you planning to visit El Nido anytime soon? 🙂