Your El Nido Survival Guide

Your El Nido Survival Guide

Best time to visit El Nido

Best weather conditions – December to May
Best time for island hopping – April to May
Best time for scuba diving – April to May
Best time for sailing and kitesurfing – November to April
Best time for surfing – November to April
Average Temperature – 28° Celsius (82.4° Fahrenheit)

The best time to visit El Nido is during the dry season between December and May. The sweet spot, however, is between April and May, when the weather is calm, great for island hopping, and the water is at its clearest, perfect for scuba diving.

If you’re heading to El Nido for sailing or kitesurfing, the best time to go is during the Amihan Season, when the wind is blowing from the northeast, between November and April. The north swell also brings awesome waves for surfing, especially during December and January.

There are isolated showers and squalls during the Habagat Season, when the monsoon wind is blowing from the southwest, between June and October. Also expect hot and humid weather during this time. Palawan is not that much affected when it comes to typhoons passing by the Philippines, which is awesome.

The average temperature in El Nido is about 28° Celsius (82.4° Fahrenheit) during the day. It can get really hot during noon, so it’s best to always bring water and an umbrella or a hat.

The cost of traveling in El Nido

Tours and Adventures
Tours and adventures in El Nido follow a standard price wherever you are and each usually takes a whole day. Currently, there are six established island hopping tours in El Nido—five in the west and one in the east. These include Tour A, B, CD, and Yacht Tour in the west, and Tour E in the east. Joining a group tour costs P1,200 to P1,400 per person. Private Tour A or Tour D starts at P7,600 per day, good for two guests. With private tours, you can pick which islands to visit and come and go as you please. Lastly, it would be best to book your tours for at least two weeks in advance (and one month ahead if you want to see the lagoons) as slots can get full especially during peak season.

Food and Drink
Filipino food and seafood are abundant in El Nido, taking up about 60% of the restaurants in town. Flavors from around the world, meanwhile, include Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, French, and American. Walking around the town proper, you’ll find a number of hole-in-the-wall restaurants, serving yummy quick bites and healthy snacks. A common meal in El Nido costs between P150 to P300 (or $3 to $6), although you can get a meal as cheap as P50 ($1) and as high as P1,000 ($20). Check out our best restaurant picks and get more value for your buck!

There are also several bars and beachfront hangouts in town. The best ones are found in the Town Proper and Corong-Corong, featuring stunning views of Bacuit Bay. Beers and coconut juice can go as cheap as P50 ($1) while cocktails usually come between P100 ($2) to P400 ($8). Clean mineral water is available in most restaurants and hotels usually at no cost. The local government is limiting the use of plastic, particularly plastic-bottled water, so it’s always a good idea to bring your own refillable water bottle. You can also buy one in the Town Proper.

Hotels & Resorts
With more than 300 accommodations to choose from, picking a place to stay in El Nido can be time-consuming. The most recommended places to stay are beachfront hotels and hotels with bay views, but if price is not an issue, you can choose to stay in an island resort right in the heart of island hopping destinations in El Nido.

If you’re looking for budget accommodations, we’ve also created a list of camping and glamping sites and budget-friendly accommodations under P800 ($16) per night, with the cheapest going as low as P400 ($8). Entire islands can also be rented out in El Nido for groups, weddings, and other special occasions. Contact us to know your options.

VISA and Immigration

Most foreign nationals can visit the Philippines VISA-free for 30 days. You can check here if your country is included. To get a 30-day VISA-free visit to the Philippines, you should have a passport valid for six (6) months and an exit ticket booked beforehand. You can extend your stay 30 days at a time up to a maximum of two (2) years at any immigration office. The closest immigration office to El Nido is the Department of Foreign Affairs in Puerto Princesa City, which is about 5.5 hours away by van.

Department of Foreign Affairs
2nd Floor Robinsons Place Palawan
Puerto Princesa North Road, Brgy. San Manuel,
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (see map)
(+63) 48 434 1771

Internet and WIFI

Hey, you’re in paradise! Who needs internet? The truth is, internet is often terrible in El Nido. Some hotels, resorts, and restaurants have WIFI but the speed is just frustratingly slow. Local mobile carriers Globe and Smart have LTE connectivity, but the speed can be disappointing too, especially in the Town Proper. If you’re looking for reliable internet, you can head to the restaurants Tambok’s in Lio and Art Cafe in the Town Proper. You can also try using LTE connectivity in Lio, where it’s faster. Otherwise, you might want to consider buying a reloadable pocket WIFI, which is available in Puerto Princesa City. There are also computer shops in the Town Proper where you can pay as you go. Read our internet guide here.

Electricity

Due to the electricity demand in the Town Proper, power outages are common—up to thrice a month. Majority of the establishments in the Town Proper, including Corong-Corong, have electricity 24 hours a day. In northern and eastern El Nido, however, locals generally rely on solar power, which lights up their homes at night between 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Establishments in these areas, if they’re not connected to a major power line, rely on a combination of solar power and diesel-fueled generators. Outside the Town Proper, air-conditioned rooms are rare, except for those found in posh resorts.

Money and Paying Guide

When staying in El Nido, some people run out of cash. While there are a few establishments accepting credit cards, credit card transactions are not common in El Nido. There are three ATMs in Town (see below), one bank, and six pawnshops, where you can receive money sent through Western Union. And while there are ATMs, it’s a common scenario that they run out of cash or, in some occasions, won’t work because of power outages. It would be better to book all your accommodations and tours beforehand, bring the cash you need, and add some extra in case of emergency.

Banks and ATMs

There are one bank and three ATMs in El Nido. It’s not advisable to rely on just these as they often run out of money. Sad but true. Best to withdraw your money from major cities like Manila or Puerto Princesa.

Bank of the Philippine Islands (bank and ATM)
Calle Real, Brgy. Buena Suerte,
El Nido, Palawan (see map)
(+63) 48 244 0960
The bank is open Monday to Friday,
9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
The ATM is open 24/7.

RCBC Bank ATM
Municipal Hall, Gregorio del Pilar Street,
El Nido, Palawan (see map)

BPI Lio Tourism Estate Branch – 2 ATMs
Near Globy restaurant and Kalye Artisano
Sitio Lio, Brgy. Villa Libertad,
El Nido, Palawan (see map)

Safety and Security

The crime rate in El Nido is zero. It’s a pretty safe place. Although there has been a few cases of theft, these were made by outsiders and were not reported to the authorities. Do secure your belongings at all times and follow the rules and regulations from tour guides. In case you run into trouble, you can go to the Police Station near the church, or the Parish of Saint Francis of Assisi.

El Nido Police Station
Calle Hama, Brgy. Buena Suerte,
El Nido, Palawan (see map)
(+63) 939 363 8560

Hospitals and Clinics

There are two clinics in El Nido where a doctor and a group of nurses can treat minor health problems or injuries. For major cases, the closest hospital is in the next town, Taytay, about an hour away. More hospitals can be found in Puerto Princesa City, which is 5.5 hours away.

El Nido Health Center (clinic)
Lisang St., Brgy. Buena Suerte,
El Nido, Palawan (see map)

Palawan Medical City (clinic)
Rizal St., Brgy. Buena Suerte,
El Nido, Palawan (see map)

Northern Palawan Provincial Hospital
Alimanguan National Highway,
Taytay, Palawan (see map)

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