It is 5 km northeast of El Nido Town. El Nido airport is very small and flights are scarce and expensive; it belongs to Air Swift, so all flights are operated by this airline. It has a recently renovated terminal called Lio, so it is sometimes called “Lio Airport”. Direct flights:
- Busuanga (Coron): 1 a day on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, from PHP 2,700, 40 minutes.
- Puerto Princesa: 1 a day on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, from PHP 2,700, 50 minutes.
- Manila: 5 a day, from 5,200 PHP, 1h15min.
- Caticlan (Boracay): 1 a day in high season (none direct in low season), at 13:25, from 4,200 PHP, 1h5min
- Cebu: 2 a day in high season, from PHP 5,200, 1h40min.
Basic rate does not include checked luggage, that costs PHP 200/kg.
To get to the airport from El Nido or vice versa, a tricycle should cost maximum 250 PHP for two passengers with luggage, it will vary according to our haggling capacity. Those who stay at resorts will be picked up by private vehicles.
Given the expensive flights, many travelers choose to arrive at Puerto Princesa Airport and then go to El Nido by road. The recent opening of the San Vicente Airport, halfway between the two locations mentioned, is a new option, although as in January 2019 commercial flights are scarce and only from Manila, they cost from PHP 3,300.
Boats depart from the ferry terminal, west of El Nido Town itself. To book one, we can do it through our accommodation or through the agency with who we have booked a tour if we have good vibes about them; otherwise, the most recommended is to go to Art Café, where you can even pay with PayPal.
- Montenegro Lines. One a day at 6 am. Adults / students 1,760 / 1,500 PHP; between 4 and 5 hours. There are two boats, one smaller closed and the other larger with outer cover. In high season it may be full; You can book in advance on this website.
- M / Bca Bunso. Although it seems scary when you read how many times it has been damaged or even sunk, this is the one that provides the authentic backpacking experience. It is not a ferry, but a large bangka. There are several, which leave daily at 8 am; We did the reverse trip from Coron and we got the Jessabel, precisely one of the ones that has ever sunk, specifically in 2011. PHP 1,200 including water and lunch, it’s supposed to take 8 hours but ours took just over 6. I would use it again, it is a very Filipino experience, quiet and peaceful, and although uncomfortable and sometimes one gets wet, I consider it ideal to enjoy the landscape. Keep in mind that if the sea is rough, the bangkas will not leave, so we must fly or use the fast, expensive, and not at all typical ferry.
- Manila: Atienza Shipping Lines: slow and cheap, with common rooms. Normal passage 1,700 PHP, air conditioning 1,850 PHP, 25 hours. More than a ferry, it looks like a cargo ship. Tuesday at 2 pm from El Nido, although stops at Linapacan (PHP 500) halfway between El Nido and Coron, where several times a week you can take additional boats to Manila, with unpredictable schedules. To have more options by boat, you will be forced to change in Coron.
- There are no longer bangkas to go by sea to Port Barton or Sabang. You can hire a boat privately, but it will be slow and expensive.
There are three means of locomotion: minivans, jeepneys and buses. Reservations are also made through agencies, our accommodation or the Art Café. Transports are very informal and tend to suffer delays. All leave from the “station”, to call it in some way, since it is just a small wasteland, 1 km south of El Nido Town. If we do not want to walk, a tricycle should not cost more than 50 PHP. The road is third world, although it is being repaired; We recommend taking it with resignation or with sense of humor so that the journey becomes another backpacking experience. Since El Nido is north of Palawan, all destinations are to the south, the most common being:
- Port Barton:
- The most recommended: there are direct minivans, 4 hours, 500-700 PHP. They are more expensive but save time and inconveniences. At least there is one every hour from 6 am, but the last one leaves at 1 pm. The companies are Nature Island, Recaro Transport and Santolis.
- Not direct: you can take the bus that goes to Puerto Princesa before 7 in the morning to Roxas (100 PHP) and there change to the only jumbo-jeepney a day (12 noon, PHP 150). If you lose it, you will have to rent a motorcycle with a driver or a tricycle (400 PHP, 1h). If you want to go to San Vicente, you must do the same.
- A private minivan costs 4,500 PHP.
- The most recommended and still a nuisance: “direct” minivan. The company is Lexus Shuttle. I say “direct” because you have to change in Salvacion. I do not remember how much it cost us, between 700 and 900 PHP; supposedly it takes six hours, but our connection minivan arrived two hours late from Puerto Princesa, so we had to wait at the crossroads on the terrace of a restaurant while it rained cats and dogs. There should be at least 3 a day, at 4 or 5 am, 8 am and 11 am.
- Not direct: early bus until Salvacion (220 PHP) and there take a maxi-jeepney.
- Private minivan: 5,500 PHP.
- Puerto Princesa:
- Bus. They take 7 hours, cost between 450 (without air conditioning) and 550 (with air conditioning) PHP. They are newer, more spacious and less uncomfortable than minivans, but slower because they stop whenever someone wants to go down or up. The companies are Roro Bus and Cherry Bus, which alternate every hour a service until 10 pm.
- Most use the uncomfortable minivans for being faster (they are direct). 500 PHP, 5 hours. There are 3 main companies; each one has 6 or 7 minivans per day, from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. They usually include pick up at our accommodation, which more than an advantage can be an inconvenience, since the departure can take up to an hour while the minivan collects customers through half peninsula of El Nido.
- Private minivan: between 7,000 and 10,000 PHP, according to our bargaining capacity.
GETTING AROUND IN EL NIDO PENINSULA
- El Nido Town is very small, and the boat terminal is at its western end, so it can be explored on foot.
- For Caalan Beach or Corong Corong it is preferable to take a tricycle, it should not cost more than 50 or 100 PHP.
- To the beach of Las Cabañas (Marimegmeg) we went and we came back walking from Corong Corong in about 20 minutes. A tricycle should not cost more than 50 PHP from Corong Corong or 150 PHP from El Nido Town.
- For the northern beaches there is a jeepney at noon to Sibaltan (150 PHP, 90 minutes) and several minivans that come from Puerto Princesa. If we want to go to Nacpan, we will have to change to a tricycle or motorcycle at the intersection.
Renting a motorbike can be a good way to get around the peninsula, but taking into account the risk of accidents to which backpackers are prone, many of them inexperienced, who drive without a helmet, wearing shorts and flip flops, is only truly profitable to explore the northern part, without forgetting that the access lanes to Nacpan and Duli are very deteriorated, and that these beaches are located over 20 km away from El Nido, a considerable distance to go and return by vehicle that can be more like a rotten coffee maker than a motorbike. They can be rented for PHP 400-500 per day.