A very popular tourist destination, due to its Jurassic Park like islands that surround the town. Tucked away on the North West of the Palawan island, El Nido is no doubtably become one of the most "must do" places to visit for the last couple of years. Most of the stereotypical photos you see that advertise The Philippines are more than likely taken from El Nido. The town and the area cater for all, with luxury high end resorts, hotels and very nice dining to an abundance of backpacker hostels and a lively nightlife. But with huge expansion plans taking place with the airport and various resort/towns being erected for example Lio Beach just 5km north of the town, has tourism overstayed it's welcome for El Nido...?
Ofcourse the scenery of the place and The Philippines goes without saying it is one of the most beautiful jaw dropping places in the world, in my view and I'm sure a lot of people's. The boat trips that visit a number of tiny islands from the town are just out of this world, well organised with incredible lunches. There are 4 boat tours in which all travel shops sell, TOUR; A,B,C,D. We went on Tour A that includes; 7 mission beach, The Secret Lagoon, or as I like to call it The Not So Secret Lagoon, there was a queue of 100 people to get in but the beach in which you dock up onto is unreal, you feel like you are stuck halfway between the films The Beach and Jurassic Park, The Small Lagoon, the waters here are so crystal clear, you can hire 2man kayaks at this spot for 300P so you can kayak into the lagoon and also The Big Lagoon, you have probably seen photos of this places whenever you see Philippines Advertised, and finally as I said before the food is all catered for and it is amazing, full on buffet style spread of local and western foods.
Also due to its massive influx of tourism, the accomodation standards have had to up their game to suit every type of holiday maker, traveller, backpacker that arrives in the town. Some of the hotels are proper 5star resorts, the hostels and backpacker are party central and there is a good mixture of whatever comes in between. A new area has become popular in El Nido, just out of the town about 1.5km south on Corong Corong beach. I believe in 2/3years time this will be the place to be with all the development happening there. We were lucky to stay in a very nice place called Eco-Hotel El Nido, a small chain that run across the country that have a big emphasis on sustainability without loosing the high end touch. I would highly recommend trying to stay at this place, right on the beach, beautiful views from your balcony of Corong Corong beach and ofcourse the world famous Filipino hospitality that you get all across The Philippines.
The negatives start with the sheer amount of people here. I guess with the influence of social media, and the internet in general El Nido has had so much publicity due to its beauty. But in someways this is now a downfall. The out of this world boat trips were as said a once in a lifetime experience but you are sharing this with so many other people. Although the boat trips are very well oragisned the pure amount of people on the boat trips made it much more like an attraction in the centre of a major city not a ting cluster of islands of one of The Philippines 7,000 islands.
This point then continues to the locals, whereas all the other areas of The Philippines during our time we felt very safe, trusting with the locals. In El Nido, the vibe was a lot more like Southern Thailand where the locals have got bored of tourism in a way and are now out to make money over giving someone the best experience possible. How I'd explain it is that the other areas are still relatively new to the influx of tourists, the likes of Moalboal, Oslob, Cebu, Siquijor and Bohol and are reaping the benefits of money money going into the local economy.
It is a well known fact in the El Nido community that the sanitation systems are not the best. And it is very common to hear stories of tourists getting very ill, with sickness and fever. Unfortunately I can speak first hand on that, and it was the worst 48hours I think I have had travelling over the last 5years. Luckily I was in an air con room but certainly wasn't pleasant any way shape or form.
Just make sure that when you use anything to eat you wash them thoroughly before using. When you get a drink anywhere in the Philippines you will receive the top with a tissue wrapped around it. This is due to that in The Philippine they recycle the glass bottles so make sure you use the tissue to give the rim a clean before drinking.
There is no question that I would highly recommend you to take a trip to El Nido but there are just a few tips that you should take on board before you go. Firstly when booking, stay outside of the town, it is way too busy and pretty dirty if im honest. There is a great new developing area around 1.5km south of El Nido town on Corong Corong beach where there are much nicer hotels, resorts and accommodations. Secondly, try and book outside of Peak Season which is December through to March/April time but also don't go in the wet season which is the couple of months leading up to Christmas. This way you will hopefully beat some of the crowds and be able to enjoy the incredible spectacles that El Nido holds. Lastly, when you are there just make sure that you clean everything, even when you receive your knife and fork, give it a wipe down with a tissue just to make sure.