Palawan Travel Guide
WHAT’S NEW IN PALAWAN
July 27, 2017 – Now Puerto Princesa has it’s own page. If you’re looking for travel information on this area visit our new page Puerto Princesa: Gateway to the Underground River
July 19, 2017 – We’re excited! Now that we’re living in Palawan we’ve launched a Facebook page. It’ll be easier for us to share tips, adventures and up-to-date information. If you have any questions contact us on Facebook. Visit us at https://www.facebook.com/thefeists/
Intro to Palawan Philippines
Palawan Philippines is known as the ‘Last Frontier’. It’s a paradise of white sand beaches, turquoise water and limestone cliffs. Palawan is a mecca for nature lovers and those looking to get away from it all. If you’re looking for more of a party like atmosphere, lazing on the beach with drinks, lots of shops, restaurants and bars then Boracay Island might be more suited to you than Palawan.
When we first started to research the area in 2011 there was very little information to go by and when you’re trying to plan a trip from half way around the world that can be a little scary. Now that it’s been voted the “World’s Best Island” (2017) for the third time by Travel & Leisure Magazine travel information has gotten a whole lot better. I’ve been asked a lot of questions from people wanting to visit this beautiful area so I’d like to share what I’ve found to help others plan their trip.
Most people seem to only visit Puerto Princesa to see one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature, The Underground River but Palawan has so much more to offer. We flew to Coron from Manila, took an expedition through Linapacan Island to El Nido and for our final leg a shuttle van to Puerto Princesa City. We stayed 16 days in total.
Out of all the websites, I found TripAdvisor.com the most helpful when it came down to the nuts and bolts of planning the trip. The information is the most up-to-date and most of the reviews are pretty spot-on even though I’m not too keen on its ranking system and other flaws. Make sure you also compare it to other site reviews to get a more balanced view. I then like to use HotelsCombined.com to book a place to stay. It’s a multi-search website that finds the best prices on accommodations. I find it can save you a lot of time and is usually cheaper and more convenient than trying to book a hotel directly.
Palawan is becoming pretty popular so new places are springing up quickly. El Nido has doubled in size from the first time we visited in 2011. The downside to this is prices have also gone up because of this popularity and it’s become more touristed. As time goes on I’ll be updating this page with more information.
If you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can. We’re currently living in Puerto Princesa.
Busuanga Island – Coron
There is so much information about Coron it now has its own page. >> A Practical Travel Guide to Coron, Palawan
Palawan Island – Puerto Princesa
There is so much information about Puerto Princesa it now has its own page. >> Puerto Princesa: Gateway to the Underground River
Palawan Island – El Nido
The Feist’s Quick Guide to El Nido Palawan
El Nido is located in Bacuit Bay on the northern part of Palawan Island and is the ultimate destination for island exploration. It’s a stunningly beautiful area and while not the easiest place to get to your effort will be richly rewarded. Bacuit Bay is dotted with picture perfect islands some of which have towering limestone cliffs, hidden lagoons, turquoise water and the finest white sand you may ever set your feet on.
The town itself where most of the accommodations and restaurants are located is not much to look at but it’s only the base from where you’ll explore. It has a so-called beach with restaurants lining its shores but it’s only good to look at and not really swim. Besides, it’s essentially a parking lot for bangkas (local outrigger boats). The town is small enough to walk around in but if you feel lazy you can flag down a tricycle.
Here’s a fantastic video of stunning El Nido from above. It sends my heart fluttering every time I view it. If you want to see more here are a couple of my favourite videos.
There are no direct flights to El Nido by the major airlines. Most people fly to Puerto Princesa from Manila then take a bus or shuttle van. You can find more information about bus and van services from Puerto Princesa to El Nido on our page ‘El Nido FAQs.’
There is one private airline, AirSWIFT that has flights from Manila, Clark, Cebu and a new route to Boracay. It is expensive (starting @5,200 pesos each way) but might be worth it if you have limited time.
They have a brand new website (www.air-swift.com) but people have reported having trouble booking through it (they probably need to work out the kinks). A traveller posted a review on travel site which is quite helpful. You can read it here. Here’s a video of what to expect.
A lot of people want to know how to get to El Nido from Coron. There’s no easy or fast way. You have to fly back to Manila or take the local ferry. I’ve posted information and schedule of the ferries on the page ‘Coron FAQs‘.
We were in El Nido in January. The weather was beautiful, sunny and hot. Make sure you bring lots of sunblock, sunglasses and a hat. Bacuit Bay, where all the island hopping is done, was quite choppy and windy.
- Dry Season – Coolest months (December to February)
- Dry Season – Hottest months (March to May) – This is their summer season.
- Rainy Season (June to November) – This is considered low season. July to October is also typhoon season.
WHERE TO STAY IN EL NIDO
Accomodations in El Nido Palawan range from cheap backpacker style hostels (like the new and clean Spin Designer Hostel) in town to pricey high end island resorts and everything else in between. Most people stay in town but there are other areas worth considering. HotelsCombined has an extensive list of all type of accommodations.
El Nido Resorts – Eco-friendly island accommodations
When I was planning our first trip to Palawan I considered staying at one of the eco-friendly El Nido Resorts like Lagen Island or Miniloc Island. It seemed like the perfect romantic hide-away to celebrate a belated honeymoon but since there’s only so much your budget can stretch we opted to go on a private Tao Expedition instead. Since then, they’ve opened up their latest resort on Pangulasian Island and it’s been described as ‘heaven on earth.’ (It was just hailed as Southeast Asia’s Best Sustainable Boutique Hotel 2015 at the World Boutique Hotel Awards.) Our anniversary is coming up. Who knows, maybe we’ll splurge and celebrate at one of their luxurious beach villas. I hear they have a fabulous house reef and you can snorkel right from your room. You can find out more about them on their website El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Island or you can book it on HotelsCombined.com.
Caalan Beach – 10 minute walk from El Nido town
We stayed at the Golden Monkey Cottages in 2011 which is about 10 minute walk outside of town at Caalan Beach. You can read my review ‘Quiet retreat from town‘ on TripAdvisor. If you’re thinking of staying there make sure you compare it to other accommodation in the area and check updated reviews. You can book it online and read the latest reviews at HotelsCombined.com. Right next door Cadlao Resort had just opened. We walked passed it everyday and tried to peek in. It looked good and has a pool. From the reviews I’ve read it also seems like an excellent place to stay in this peaceful and tranquil part of El Nido.
Corong-Corong – 10 minute tricycle ride from El Nido town
Another alternative if you don’t like the busy town atmosphere is Corong-Corong which is about a 10 minute tricycle ride from El Nido and is close to Marimegmeg Beach. Some good choices of Corong Corong hotels would be budget friendly Greensview Resort, excellently located El Nido Coco Resort or Coral Bay Resort El Nido with great views and spacious rooms.
Qi Palawan – Remote and affordable
Okay, so you don’t have the budget for a fancy 5-star resort. Qi Palawan has the remoteness and seclusion to make you feel like it’s your own little secret. It’s in a beautiful setting on the northeast side of Palawan Island, gets consistent positive reviews for its attentive staff and good food and it even has its own beach. It’s definitely a place for peace and relaxation, yoga or kiteboarding. You can book it through HotelsCombined.com
Other El Nido Palawan Hotels & Resorts:
- TripAdvisor Reviews – Hotels, B&Bs & Specialty Lodging
- Search over 120 El Nido Hotels & Resorts – HotelsCombined
WHERE TO EAT IN EL NIDO
In 2011 we really didn’t find anything special about the food. Often restaurants ran out of items like calamari and service was quite slow. We had a good experience at Marber’s which is right on the beach. You can read my review ‘Something different‘ on TripAdvisor. We had good salad and bread at the Artcafe, good shake and slow service at Sea Slugs, and okay lunch at Corner Beach restaurant.
Here’s what other people had to say about restaurants in El Nido:
- Top Restaurants with Reviews on TripAdvisor
- (March 21, 2015) – The Ultimate Guide for Traveler Foodies: El Nido Palawan Restaurants
WHAT TO DO IN EL NIDO
Island hopping is the thing to do here. Our last day of our Tao Expedition from Coron was dedicated to island hopping and snorkelling in the lagoons around Bacuit Bay. We also rented a motorbike for an excursion to Nacpan beach.
Here are some great resources on things to do in El Nido:
- Travel guide: Touring El Nido’s enchanting lagoons and beaches
- Inland Tours in El Nido
- Top Things To Do in El Nido According to TripAdvisor
- El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe
- Tao Expedition
- Abandon Paradise Expedition
- 33 Things To Do In El Nido Palawan
- Canopy Walk in El Nido
Do you have questions to ask other travellers? Check out these helpful forums.
Stories about Palawan on this Blog – The Feist’s Great Escape
- My Favourite El Nido Videos
- Recommended Travel Accessories for Palawan
- Be Prepared: Dangers in a Tropical Paradise
- The #1 Reason We Love Palawan
- ABANDON PARADISE: Camping in Palawan
- Living in a Pink House
- Amazing Grace
- Beautiful Busuanga
- The Other Side of Paradise
- Journey into the Unknown
- Coron in Pictures – Leaving our Worries Behind
- NEVER SAY NEVER – How I came to eat a worm
- TAO EXPEDITIONS: Adventure of a Lifetime
- Seduced by Palawan
Other Helpful Travel Information for Visiting Palawan
We were last in El Nido and Puerto Princesa in 2011. Since then development has grown significantly. In order to stay up to date I’m constantly researching Palawan. Here are some current posts that may help you in planning a trip.
- November 10, 2015 – TRAVEL TIPS: How to explore Palawan without ruining your budget
- October 28, 2015 – 10 things you should do in Palawan. What most tour guides probably won’t tell you about this year’s most beautiful island (for the nth time in a row)
- October 12, 2015 – Palawan islands, Philippines travel guide: Into the depths
- September 25, 2015 – Featuring: The Nearest Beaches in Puerto Princesa City Proper
- September 16, 2015 – 9 Ways to do El Nido on the Cheap
- September 13, 2015 – El Nido Palawan, A Budget Travel in Paradise
- September 10, 2015 – Corong-Corong Beach (Palawan, PH)
- July 11, 2015 – IN PHOTOS: Which of these 5 Palawan destinations will you visit next?
- June 8, 2015 – 18 Reasons Why I Fell in Love With El Nido
- May 22, 2015 – HOW WE TRAVELED TO EL NIDO, PALAWAN FOR 5 DAYS FOR ONLY PHP 6,730.66 ALL-IN [EXPENSES]
- March 16, 2015 – Untouched Paradise of El Nido: 5 Things Beginners Should Know
- March 12, 2015 – Taraw Cliff (El Nido, Palawan)
- January 15, 2015 – El Nido, Palawan Island – Paradise You Can Afford
- November 24, 2014 – Palawan, The Most Beautiful Island In The World, Is Sheer Perfection, Huffington Post
- November 1, 2014 – Palawan has a new attraction to explore – its capital, Puerto Princesa
- October 22, 2014 – Palawan Philippines named best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveller
- October 17, 2014 – Discover the unspoiled paradise of El Nido: And why it is a better place than Boracay
- October 13, 2014 – Adventure 2014: Nacpan Beach, El Nido