El Nido is hot right now. And yeah, it’s pretty magical. Picture white sand beaches lined with coconut trees, crystal clear water, limestone karsts jutting out from the ocean, and some pretty incredible sunsets. I totally get it’s appeal. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. It’s ever-growing popularity has brought hoards of tourists and over-development, which can take away from it’s natural beauty.
BUT it’s not all bad news… There are definitely some “off the beaten track” adventures to be had. Here are my top things to do in El Nido, as well as tips for avoiding the crowds:
Limit your time in El Nido town
The town of El Nido actually leaves a lot to be desired. It’s messy, the beach is dirty and overcrowded. The accommodation is also quite expensive and gets booked up quickly, especially since the closure of Boracay. Good alternatives include Corong-Corong and Las Cabanas beach. Both are just a few kilometers away and offer great food and accommodation options. Better yet, head 45 minutes north to Nacpan Beach (see below).
Go to Nacpan Beach
A lot of people either come for a day trip or miss Nacpan entirely. Don’t. The beach at Nacpan is a sparsely populated, seemingly endless stretch of white sand. It truly feels like paradise. You can easily spend a day or two reading under the palm trees, sunning yourself and swimming in the crystal clear water. The sunsets here are some of the best I’ve seen (it’s nicknamed “sunset beach”).
If you’re feeling energetic, you can also do island hopping tours leaving from Nacpan. Be aware that they are slightly more expensive than those in El Nido.
Where to Stay
Where2Next Nacpan is a great backpackers offering dorms and private rooms. It’s located back from the beach but is super clean and has relaxed vibes. Book in advance.
Where to Party
Mad Monkey is fun any night of the week. It’s a great place to sit back with a beer and watch the fiery sunset over the ocean. Once night falls, the party heats up! They have an open bar for 30minutes every night, plus random free shots. Good music and a great location don’t hurt.
How to Get There
It’s about 45 minutes north of El Nido, and there are regular vans leaving from the town centre (600 pesos return or 350 pesos one way). There’s also a local Jeepney which leaves from the bus station (only goes once daily – 100pesos one way).
Climb Taraw Cliff
Most people stay glued to the beaches during their time in El Nido, but if you look up, there are some awesome adventures to be had. Climbing Taraw Cliff for sunrise was actually my favourite experience in El Nido. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys adventure, then I honestly can’t recommend it enough!
It’s not the easiest hike, but the rewards are totally worth the effort. The views are hands-down the best in El Nido. Click here to find out more about climbing Taraw Cliff.
Visit the Islands
The islands are what make this part of the world worth visiting, and you definitely shouldn’t miss them. Most people do one of the four Island Hopping Tours, creatively named A, B, C & D. Tour A is the most popular as it visits the Big and Small Lagoons. Unfortunately it’s also the most crowded, and the amount of boats can take away from the magic of the scenery. If you can, hire a private boat so you can visit these locations after the tours have left… it’s more expensive, but it’s worth it.
Still too many people?
If El Nido has left you craving a deserted beach and chilled out vibes, fear not. Port Barton is only a few hours away, and it’s heaven on earth!