Is El Nido, Palawan, paradise on earth?

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ August 3rd, 2009. Published in: Travel blog » Philippines.
View of El Nido from above (click to enlarge)

View of El Nido from above (click to enlarge)

I arrived in the late evening. After taking the wrong turn (there are only two) I found myself walking down main street El Nido. And, I immediately got a good vibe from the place. It was a touristy town, no doubt.  Guides here, tour that, go here type signs were everywhere. But, not one was hassling me.

Which was a shame as I couldn’t find a place to stay. The local police where friendly, but had only arrived there themselves so couldn’t give be directions. The locals themselves seem not to have heard of any place other than the one they were sitting at. And, the cost of the average hotel was 1000 plus. There were worse. I had the name of a single place at the end of the beach. Which end it was at, I didn’t know. Sufficed to say, I took the wrong turn.

Streets of El Nido, Palawan

Streets of El Nido, Palawan

Beach front restaurants, open bars, idle dogs, locals and foreigners all sat soaking up the end of the day’s sun. Colorful boats lined the shore line, and the water sparkled a translucent blue. One could see how beach lovers would like the place. What for a non beach lover like me?

I walked on. Occasionally asking for directions from vague passerby’s, more occasionally nodding in approval and the local children merely said “Hello, welcome.”

Rather than “Give me  money!”

Towards the end of the beach as the sand wore out and rocks became more frequent I finally started to come across cheaper accommodation. 800, still to much.

I took a turn to the place in my notes.

“600, but we are booked out until tomorrow.”

I walked on, passed more trees and down what seemed like a more local area. I wondered if I’d end up in the wrong part of town.

“500 pesos, with breakfast”

Maybe not.

Then the jackpot, a friendly old lady. “400 pesos.”

Then the usual travelers kick in ass. “But booked out until tomorrow.”

I like the place. Big, spacious, and the cottages looked very clean.

“How long you stay?” asked the old lady.

“Not sure,” I paused to look around. “Mind if I take a look?”

El Nido, Palawan Sunset

El Nido, Palawan Sunset

The old lady smiled and followed me as I made my way to her shoreline. It was rocky, but the view was quite spectacular. The sun was setting and the sky was lit up into a brilliant orange. Straight ahead were several small islands. Each one looking like it could be straight out of that scene from a pirate movie when they arrive somewhere tropical.

Lush green trees hiding a small cliff, under which there were bright strips of white sandy beaches. As the sky deepened in color small fisher boats began to appear. The still sea water reflecting the sheer serenity of it all.

“Do you know a place I can stay tonight?” I asked the old lady. “I will come back and stay a few days here.”

She looked at me and I could see here thinking. So I added some new incentive that often worked for me.

“And maybe, I will stay longer. Is it possible to rent something here for long term?”

I could see the old ladies business mind click in as her expression remained blank. She looked around and then pointed me back towards the main building.

“You can have this tonight. 300 hundred pesos.”

She open the door to what I can only describe as an outhouse with a bed.

“200, ” I replied. “There’s not mosquito net.”

“300, I get you one.”

“No fan.”

“I bring.”


“I bring.”

I was about to ask if she’d bring me dinner as well, but by then she’d already started to bark orders at her underlings to clean the place up. “Tomorrow we discuss long-term.”

I nodded and then she was off. Any time I agree to long-term accommodation I get a little worried about just what the owner thinks long term is. But, in this case at 400 a night I was sure I could do better even for a week.

My next step was to test if my internet connection worked!

Coming soon:

Is El Nido the place to stay a while?

Liked this post?

Never miss a post!

Enter your email address:


10 Great responses to Is El Nido, Palawan, paradise on earth?

  1. I’ve been in el Nido last year. Well… I confess…. That was no budget tavel… But… I have to say that if this is not paradise, it is a place that is close to it. I remember that dramatic landscape, the small islands, the rocks, the small beaches. One of the experiences I enjoyed at most was canoeing through canals within the islands, that made me think at small fjords. And I also remeber the smile of the people, always so kind. I believe Philippines are worth to be further explored… Keep waiting to read about ur trip.

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed El Nido too. The Philippines really is very untouched as far as over exploited tourist areas are concerned when you compare it to the rest of SEA. I really hope it remains that way. But that may just be wishful thinking…

      Good to have you you reading along, I hope you enjoy. If you like Filipino smiles, stay tuned, I’ll have something on that in the not too distant future!

  2. rose says:

    I’m new to your blog.. WOW. I have so much of your travels to sift through…

    This is inspiring, wonderful, lovely and insane that you are doing this. I love it.

    The best to you on your journey!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Sara says:

    Thanks for the post. My partner and I are thinking of moving to El Nido to lease some land in the area in the near future. We’ve lived in several Pac islands but nothing beats PI!

    • -Sara- You’re very welcome Sara, and welcome. Good to hear you are thinking about El Nido, it’s a one of a kind place. The very best of luck with your endeavors there, keep me posted!

  4. Elijah says:


    Where exactly is the old lady’s place? is the sunset view within the same area? I’m currently staying at Marina (690php/day) and that’s the cheapest I could get here, trikes everywhere cannot suggest a cheaper place. I wonder if it’s the season? they say Europeans flock the town from Dec-May due to the winter season.

    The only sunset place I found is Las Cabanas which is a beautiful white sand beach 15mins away from the town beach, unfortunately the cost is 4-5k but it’s allowed to visit there for 150×2 roundtrip from a trike. I just love photography and the sunset/sunrise is covered up by the cliffs in the town beach =(

  5. Richard says:

    I always keep coming back to your blog and discover new pages. I thoroughly enjoyed your write up on El Nido … if I had not known the budget ( I had been there recently) I would have thought the old lady was the friendly lady at Taiyo! Or was she?

    I just wish El Nido was a bit breezy or had some semblance of electricity (it is downright stuffy – a lot like apo island), a bit normally priced (this must be the most expensive place I have visited in the Phils – probably double of Boracay and triple of Malapascua / Camotes) adn the people were a bit less pretentious (My general experience in the rest of Phisl has been of warmer and friendlier people – El Nido unfortunately reminded me of a backpacker hippie hang out!)

    With the above corrected, it would be a great place to revisit.