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- 06 Dec 2021, 3 nights
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Located on the northernmost point of Palawan Island, El Nido is your gateway to the heart-stopping beauty of the Bacuit Archipelago. The dazzling clarity of the teal waters and towering limestone cliffs contrast against the somewhat haphazard buildings of the town. El Nido is less westernised than other well-known spots in Southeast Asia, making it both a thrilling discovery and, at times, an adventurous challenge. The prize? Unspoiled views, truly wild marine life and an up-and-coming party scene.
There are El Nido hostels right on the sand, some with beach bars and restaurants for watching the sunset with a cold beer. For a party, stay in an El Nido hostel with resident DJs and visiting musicians. A hostel with a campfire on a quiet beach can be just the thing for a peaceful retreat. As with many growing destinations, comforts like hot showers and always-on electricity won't be available everywhere, though you will find hostels in El Nido that pride themselves on having such luxuries. Check out the best hostels in El Nido here.
The municipality of El Nido has 18 barangarays (neighbourhoods). The liveliest is Maligaya, or Zone I, which is where most of the hostels are. This is where to come for a party, plus the white sands, azure ocean, bars and restaurants of Las Cabanas beach are just a walk away. 45 accessible islands promise natural wonders – you'll find glittering lagoons around Miniloc Island, and Snake Island is easily recognised by its S-shaped sandbar and untouched beaches.
El Nido's main attractions are its marine wildlife, geological formations and inviting waters. Snorkellers are spoilt for choice around Bacuit Bay, and experienced divers can try the Dilumacad Underwater Tunnel – 40 metres of colourful coral and schools of fish. For something unique, steal away to Matinloc Island's secret lagoon. Its soft shore and tranquil waters can only be reached by swimming through a small hole in the towering karst cliffs that hide the beach from view. Prefer to stay on land? You can hike up Taraw Peak for unrivalled views of mountains, sea and sky.
If you're flying in internationally, you'll likely need to catch a connection from Manila to Palawan's Puerto Princesa International Airport. From there it's a twisty six hour drive via shared minivan to El Nido itself. Buses are cheaper but the trip can be up to 3hrs longer. You'll arrive at Corong Corong bus station, and the town is a short tricycle ride from there.