Unfortunately our initial experience upon arriving at the guesthouse was not great, as we found bed bugs in our bed (exactly why I do sweeps of ALL hotel rooms!). In my previous jobs, traveling and hotels rooms were constant, so my bed bug detection skills became vitally important. Bed bugs can be nasty and they are not something you want to carry around.
Anyway, once we told the owner about the issue, they immediately switched us to another room and luckily this one was clear. The trade-off was that we went from the best room with hot showers to a more basic one without a water heating unit, but it still had A/C so we were happy enough. Not the best start to a new city, but we were ready to put it behind us and enjoy everything El Nido had to offer!
Tours for island hopping are the main attraction in El Nido as the beach is not well designed for laying out and lounging. It can still be done, but we did not see many people on it during the day, similar to our time in Alona Beach. In the evenings some beach restaurants and bars bring chairs and tables out for dinner, so you definitely see more action on the beach at night. The city offers four different tours (A, B, C, D), which can be set up through any of the local tour agents.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the tours and these are a must if you visit the city. The views of the limestone islands shooting out of the water along with the beaches are truly amazing. We are so happy we decided to visit El Nido and Matt was able to cross an item off his bucket list as well. 🙂
We loved the feel of El Nido from the beginning. It is a nice little beach town, which is the exact type of place we love to visit. We enjoy a big city now and again, but this type of laid back and relaxed atmosphere is right up our alley. There are about five roads throughout the beachfront city, so you can casually stroll around the entire place in less than an hour. After a few days the local restaurant and shop owners start to remember you, which is fun.
We went in November, which is not low season, but it is not high season either. So, we were lucky the city was not full of tourists, which made the experience even more enjoyable for us. We were able to enjoy the island tours without the massive crowds and most restaurants and bars had no lines to wait in before sitting. I don’t care how trendy or highly rated a place is, I absolutely hate waiting for an hour to sit down and eat. Feed me some decent food quickly and i’m a pretty happy guy.
A few of our favorite hangouts in El Nido are:
Trattoria Altrove – Our favorite pizza on our RTW trip so far! They are known to have the best pizza in El Nido and we would not dispute it. It is wood fired and ready minutes after you order. Lucky for us it was located just down the street from our guesthouse, so we may have visited it a couple times. 🙂
Mezzanine El Nido – Fantastic spot for quality happy hour cocktails at 2 for 1 prices. It is right on the beach and has a great upper level to sit and watch the beautiful sunsets.
Ogie Pension & Resto Bar – Nice and cheap beachfront dining. Food and drinks were the cheapest we found in El Nido and even the Philippines in terms of beer. Happy hour ran until 9pm and a San Miguel was only 35 pesos! By far the best bang for your buck in terms of location and price.
We did notice increased costs in lodging as well as the tours from what we had read prior to coming, but I think the city is starting to realize the gem that it is. For visitors unfortunately, that means increased costs pretty much across the board. While costs are going up, they are still not expensive necessarily, especially compared to other destinations. Below are a few averages that we found during our week in El Nido, but these are sure to be higher if you come in high season.
Lodging – $20-25 USD for an private room with A/C
Eating – $5-15 USD per person for a meal with beverage (you can go cheap or more expensive, but this covers most)
We really enjoyed our time in El Nido and would absolutely recommend it to others. If you are looking for beautiful scenery, gorgeous beaches and plenty of sun, this is a place for you! If we ever make it back to the Philippines, El Nido will be on our list of locations to visit again.
If you’ve been here before and have feedback or high season costs to share, please leave a comment!