Travel Guide: El Nido and Puerto Princesa in 4 Days
Last labor day, I and my family visited Palawan. It was a family vacation and though I was pretty excited about the fact that we will visit the most beautiful island in the world, I was worried. The reason? It was because of the planning part. I already knew that one way or another I will make our itinerary for this vacation. As I told you before, I’m not good at itineraries, it stresses the hell out of me and though it was (and still is) not my cup of tea, I needed to figure out the ways to make our vacation smooth.
And guess what? It went ‘okay’. Okay means we survived and we hit our itinerary on time. Also, okay means some things can improve… as always.
So, in case you want to visit Palawan with a tight schedule, I will generously share with you how we did ours.
To tell you honestly, it was a bit complicated when I booked our flights. We came from different cities. My parents flew from Tandag to Cebu. My cousin flew from Davao to Cebu. So when Cebu Pacific changed its flight schedule from morning to afternoon, it was a bit messy and we had to rebook some flight to meet the time going to our specific destinations.
If you have connecting flights, make sure you have enough vacant time before the next flight (which we did), but sometimes it is out of our control when the airline company suddenly changes the flight schedule way beyond our allotted time. Always remember, to bring some stacks of patience with you when traveling.
Also, look for cheap flight promos! During our travel, we manage to buy Php1900.00 per Pax for round-trip via Cebu Pacific Air. We booked a month before our trip, so if you will book at least 3 months before your desired date, you can get a cheaper price for your fare.
If you have a huge budget, you can go straight to El Nido via Air Swift.
Check flights here:
Going to El Nido
We opt to visit first the farthest, El Nido. Since we will be flying back to Cebu in Puerto Princesa. It is better to be near the area on the flight day than catching a flight almost 300 kilometers away.
At Puerto Princesa Airport, there are a lot of vans going to El Nido for Php500.00. It will be a 6-hour drive. The road is a bit zigzag so those who are inclined to motion sickness, take your medicine on your way. And most probably you’ll have 2 stops on your way.
If you want to book transfers between El Nido and Puerto Princesa, you can book your transfer here.
What do you need to know about El Nido?
- First, you need to read my post on what to expect when you visit El Nido.
- Getting around in El Nido is via tricycle for Php50.00 per ride.
- I did not see any ATM but based on my research they have one near the gas station. It is mostly out of function so you should bring enough cash during your stay in El Nido
- There’s no nearby clinics or hospital so you better be extra careful during your visit.
What did we do? I asked a friend you went to El Nido a few weeks before our visit. She suggested Tay Miloy’s. We booked a room good for 6 people. It was only Php6000.00 for two nights. It has 3 beds, with CR, and no wifi.
You can book through Booking.com to find accommodation suits for you. You can also check Airbnb for more cheap rooms.
This is the highlight of our visit. The island hopping! Seeing the beautiful islands with stunning rock formations was definitely overwhelming. Each island has a different personality that offers unique scenery. No wonder it is listed as the most beautiful island in the world.
For the island hopping, they have 4 tours to choose: A, B, C, and D. The most popular is tour C. We booked our tour a week before our departure date online in El Nido Paradise. We choose Combined Tour A and C. The islands we visited are the following:
- Helicopter Island
- Hidden Lagoon
- Secret Beach
- Big Lagoon
- Secret Lagoon
- Simizu Island
- Small Lagoon
- 7 Commando Beach
The Inclusions of the tour are:
- Lunch Buffet
- Drinking water
- Mask and Snorkel
- Life Vest
- Do wear reef shoes during the island hopping. You can also rent 1 for Php100 for the whole day
- Bring dry bags for your belongings.
- Do bring water bottles.
- There will be small boats selling food and drinks around the area.
You can book similar tours below:
El Nido Tour A
- Discover the clear waters of Miniloc Island, where you will find three breathtaking lagoons
- Soak up the sun and relax on the white sand beaches of Shimizu island
- Relish a delicious grilled lunch on the beach
- Snorkel in the pristine waters of Seven Commando beach, and get a chance to see a few sea turtles!
El Nido Tour B
- Discover Snake Island, known for its unique sandbar in the middle of the sea!
- Swim and snorkel in beautiful Pinagbuyutan island and see its famous limestone formations
- Visit the Cudugnon Cave, where locals used to hide from Japanese invaders during World War II
- Relish a delicious grilled lunch on the beach
El Nido Tour C
- Visit the unique Helicopter Island, named for its limestone cliffs resemble that of a helicopter
- Discover the Secret Beach’s hidden natural wonders
- Get to hear the local stories and history behind the Matinloc Shrine
- Relish a delicious grilled lunch at the hidden beach
- Snorkel at Talisay beach, another fantastic spot to see the beauty of the coral reefs near the island
El Nido Tour D
- Discover Cadlao island, known for its hidden lagoons and white sand beaches
- Relish a delicious grilled lunch at Pasandigan beach or dive into El Nido’s famed Small Lagoon
- Walk along the long stretch of white sand beach at Natnat
- Relax on the beach or snorkel around and admire the colorful aquatic fauna
The night before, we looked for available slots that can take us to the Underground River. I asked almost three tour agencies and all of them said it was already full for the next three days since it was a long weekend. With a little hope, I asked El Nido Paradise if they can look for six slots just in case there will be people who will not take the tour. We waited and they called that they found a slot that will take us to the Underground River. I was pretty happy because my mother wants to experience the underground river. It is listed as one of the 7 wonders of nature. And to be honest, I was not as excited as much as her. Nevertheless, we must go, just to see what it offers.
At 4 AM, we started our travel to Puerto Princesa. We switched van at Tapul and met our tour guide to the river.
Visiting the underground river is a waiting game. During our visit, they said it was over 1600 tourists visiting the river and we have to wait for our turn. While waiting, they have some activities like a zip line at the beach and a mangrove forest tour.
Underground River surprised me the most during this whole trip. The cave was unbelievably amazing. The stalactite and stalagmite formations were very fascinating. I had goosebumps on the entire trip and I was amazed how nature created such a beautiful thing for thousands of years.
I am actually out of words now describing my whole journey inside the cave. All I have to say is you should visit it to know what I’m talking about.
For the underground river. We booked our tour for Php1800.00 each and we need to pay for the environmental fee of Php150.00.
The inclusion of the tour:
- Transportation from El Nido to Puerto Princesa
- Lunch Buffet
- All the fees and permit expect an environmental fee
- Motorized boat transfer
- An audio device
- Tour guide
- Wear comfortable clothes during the tour.
- Don’t bring plastic bags, the monkeys will assume it has food inside so they will snatch it from you.
- Shut your mouth during the tour. Bat poos are dropping inside the cave.
- Don’t touch the rocks inside, it is very delicate.
- Always, as in always, follow the instructions to conserve this wonder of nature.
You can book your transportation and Underground river tour in advance below:
BOOK Transfers between Puerto Princesa and Sabang
BOOK Puerto Princesa Underground River Day Tour
We stayed at a newly opened Dang Maria’s Bed and Breakfast. They had a soft opening last April 25. The place was recommended by my cousin’s Aunt.
I was surprised when we got there. It has a beautiful garden in front of the house. I believe the place was once a restaurant, and no question to that, they served delicious food.
We got a room good for 2 for my parents. It cost Php1500.00. And we had a room good for four people for Php2800.00.
You can visit their page for booking or call 0917 512 8909.
If you want to choose other accommodations, you can book below:
Last day in Palawan. We went to a Pasalubong Market Center before our flight to buy some pasalubong for our families and friends. Their delicacy is cashew nuts, so you better buy those foods with cashew nuts. I personally recommend cashew tarts. 😀
- 1430 Flight from Cebu to Puerto Princesa
- 1600 Transportation via Van to El Nido (6-hour drive)
- 2200 Arrival at El Nido
- 2215 Settling in the accommodation
- 2300 Walking around El Nido
- 0005 Sleep
- 0630 To El Nido Paradise Tour booth for confirmation and paying the remaining balance
- 0700 Breakfast at Skyline Restaurant
- 0800 Start of Island Hopping
- 1700 End of Island Hopping
- 1800 Wash and change clothes
- 1900 Dinner at Jarace Grill
- 2000 Stroll around El Nido
- 2100 Dessert at Gusto Gelato
- 2200 Sleep
- 0400 Going to Puerto Princesa
- 1000 Arrival at Puerto Princesa
- 1200 Lunch Buffet
- 1300 Boat Ride to Underground River
- 1320 Arrival at Sabang Beach
- 1400 Start of Underground River Tour
- 1500 Back in Sabang Port
- 1700 Arrival at Dang Maria’s Bed and Breakfast
- 1900 Dinner at Dang Maria’s
- 2100 Stroll around Puerto Princesa
- 2130 At Bona’s Chao Long
- 2300 Sleep
- 9000 Breakfast at Dang Maria’s
- 1000 At Pasalubong Market Center
- 1200 Lunch at Dang Maria’s
- 1600 Flight to Cebu
- 1725 Cebu Bound
Palawan is a bucket list destination that everyone should tick off. I will not lie that it is a bit expensive but it offers a lot of amazing scenery that you wouldn’t mind paying extra cash. As our tour guide jokingly said, they need tourist’s money to survive. Their number one source of income is tourism. And we need to support them. I’m pretty sure they use it well for the conservation of every tourist attraction.
Though I never visited all of the islands in the world. There is no doubt that Palawan is the most beautiful island in the world.
Watch the video!
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I miss Palawan. The view, people and food. Looking forward to visit soon. Will bookmark this post for future reference
Thank you. 🙂
Sandy N Vyjay
Palawan is an enchanting place, as most of the Philippines is. The island hoppig is something I would love to do someday when I get to this beautiful country. The video is really cute and captures the fun moments and the beauty of the place so endearingly.
You should visit Philippines soon. Thank you for watching the video. 😀
Philippines is on our bucket list! The Underground River sounds amazing. Thanks to your post we know that we need to book it in advance. Also will remember to not bring plastic bags. A lil scared of monkeys. Haha
Yes, you should visit Philippines. Haha. Luckily we did not encounter some monkeys. I was also afraid they might snatch my things! 😀
I would love to do island hopping! It’s just so much fun! Thanks for a few tips here and there on how to travel sustainably without harming the environment.
You’re welcome. 🙂
you don’t really look that much bad in inteneraries at all! I wish myself to visit Palawan soon
Thank you! That means a lot. You should visit soon and tell your own story about the place. 🙂
This is a very crips itinerary with all the details required for one to plan a trip to el nido. This is definitely going to be helpful when I plan my trip here. Thank you for compiling this
Thank Neha! Happy to help. 🙂
Ahhh! El Nido is indeed one of the best in our 7000+ islands! You have a detailed itinerary so I’d share this to my friends when they ask me about El Nido. 🙂
Thank you Joan!!
Thank you for the detailed itinerary. This makes it so much easier to plan your trip. Especially since there are so many options here.
You’re welcome Ami. 🙂