The Unreachable El Nido

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December 13th 2013
Published: January 9th 2014
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El Nido is located at the tip of the main Palawan Island. It is really difficult to get to this place, but the view and scenery was really worth the hassle. It was beautiful.

Whenever I go on such trip. It would really be a pain and it's not as easy as it seemed. However, when I finally reach the destination, everything suddenly seemed worth it - the view, the dives, and the company of my friends.

This post will mainly focused on how to travel to El Nido. It was really difficult to source for information as El Nido is not a location which is widely travelled to by many people. After reading so many travel blogs and reviews of the place, we were totally overwhelmed as well as confused at what options we have available to get ourselves there.

Even though there is google map / earth to help us navigate and to find out more about the place before we go, it is not necessary accurate or even updated sometimes. During this trip, we encountered the biggest screw-up by google map - distance.

On this trip, we booked an accommodation at the recommendation of the dive resort owners, and the location was "verified" by google map - as a 10 minutes walk to and forth. However, when we finally got there, the accommodation was a 20 minutes walk from the dive shop. The worst part of it all, there was no way to get there other than on foot or via bike (I will elaborate more about the experience in my next post).

Ways to get to El Nido

After reading several travel blogs and reviews, we realised that there were several ways to get to El Nido from Manila - via ferry, plane, van/bus etc.

Here are several options that one have to get there. It is a compilation of information from several websites. For the information from Puerto Princesa, I had gotten them from Journeying James, El Nido Tourism, and El Nido Palawan.

As for the rest, I'll be mentioning them in my post as I go along.

Direct Flight

As mentioned in my previous entry, the best way to get there is via the direct flight with Island Transvoyager. Even though, it's the fastest way to get there - it is an hour flight, but the cost to get there is ....... very very expensive!

On top of approximately USD$400 air tixs, you'll have to purchase baggage weight. I cannot remember the exact price, but I remember there is a total weight limit on your luggages, as they were afraid that the flight might become too heavy. And before boarding, they would be weighing everything from the passengers to the check-in luggages and even the hand carry-ons. Hence, for those who don't like the feeling of being weighed and scrutinized, this may not be the route to take.

There used to be another one SEAir, but I think it is no longer operational. Even though some website showed that it is still flying, but I think it is best to call and check. Here are the flight timing for Island Transvoyager between Manila and El Nido:

• Manila - El Nido: daily with ITI - 7:30/ 11:00/ 15:00
• El Nido - Manila: daily with ITI - 9:30/ 13:00/ 17:00

It is always best to call them to check the availability of the flight, and other important information such as baggage allowance.


Taking the ferry is another direct way to get to El Nido from Manila. However, the ferry ride is very very long, approximately 28-30hours. It is a very cheap alternative to flying and other land transport. There are several operators and from various ports.

Information from El Nido Tourism

MV Asunsion
IV (+63(0)2-4345-9596) has a boat sailing Wednesday evenings Manila-El Nido, (28 -30 hrs.) Cost Php 800.00.

MV Josille I
(+63(0)2-243 88 45/0918 928 1299) sails from Manila via Coron Friday evening.

MV Catalyn C
Leaves Manila Saturday 8:00PM

Boat for Hire:
From Sabang to El Nido Every Monday and Thursday 6:30 AM (0918-5066123) Fare: Php 1,500.00 Sabang to El Nido, Php 1,200.00 Port Barton to El Nido.

Information from El Nido Palawan

This is an alternative route - Manila > Coron > El Nido. You will need to travel from the bigger ferry to an outrigger boat (which is a smaller boat). I will also be describing my experience (in a later post) on one of the the outrigger boats - Overcomer, which we took from El Nido to Coron.

The website recommended this ferry 2GO Travel, which is one of their more reliable ferry services in Philippines, from Manila to Coron. The entire journey is about 14 hours and there are different prices for different types of seats.

For the outrigger boats, it is a much smaller boat which carry up to 30 passengers. There are daily ferries to and forth Coron and El Nido. The travel time is approximately 7-13 hours depending on the sea condition and weather. However, these boats may be cancelled due to weather conditions, lack of passengers or technical problems.

Before my trip, I did many read up about the locations and other travellers' blog. I came across alot of people who were shipwrecked and they were stuck at sea for days. It didn't help that just before my trip, one of the bigger ferry, from Manila to Coron, sank due to overloading of passengers.

Nonetheless, my friend and I decided to travel from El Nido to Coron via ferry. Our choice to take the outrigger boat had been a great leap of faith. Lucky for us, we had a good ride.

However, not everyone was as lucky as us. One of the travelblog which I follow, TheJetSetters, the lovely couples were stranded at sea and had to spend the night on another island. Fortunately, there were people on the island and they had a fun time there despite the hiccup.

It boils down to each individual, so it is more of a personal choice and how adventurous you wanna be.

Flight to Puerto Princesa and Land Ride to El Nido

For my diving friends and I, we are less adventurous, moreover there is a little kid with us. Thus, this was the route we took.

There are many flights flying from Manila to Puerto Princesa, and some of them were very cheap. However, do take note that this is a domestic flight and you will need to add-on baggage allowances.

The flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa is about 1 hour, and there is not much security clearance at the terminal. The terminal itself felt more like an airstrip and nothing else. We encountered the same thing at Busuanga Terminal, at Coron too.

As mentioned in this travel blog by TravelArcher, there are many shared and private van available from San Jose Terminal. As there were several of us, we booked for a private van with Fort Wally. However, it costed us about Php 1000 each, as there are only 7 of us.

Initially, we wanted to save cost and go to San Jose Terminal, as mentioned by Journeying James. However, the number of luggages and the flight kinda made us weary and exhausted. Moreover, with a private van, we could decide where else we wanted to go and the number of rest stops to have.

Information from El Nido Palawan

The fare for Puerto Princesa - El Nido is about 600 php, with 5-7 hours travelling time.
For hotel or airport pick up in Puerto Princesa, it is an additional 100 php.

Route Timetable Company Contact
Puerto Princesa - El Nido 7:00/11:00/13:30 Fortwally 0917-2762875
5:30/7:00/10:00/13:00:00/18:00 Eulen Joy 0926-6998700
5:30/8:00/9:30/11:00/14:00/17:00 Lexus 0917-5859612
El Nido - Puerto Princesa 5:00/7:00/9:00/11:00 Fortwally 0917-3488078
5:00/7:00/9:00/10:30/13:00/18:00 Eulen Joy 0949-4498858
El Nido - Sabang (1 change) 5:30/10:00 Lexus 0917-5859612
Sabang - El Nido (P900) 7:30/14:00 Lexus 0917-5859602

Puerto Princesa: San Jose Bus Terminal
El Nido: Corong Corong Market Terminal
Sabang: Pier

Private van hires are available directly at these companies or through travel agencies in El Nido.

Information from Journeying James

Public transports that are going to El Nido can be found in San Jose Terminal. To go to San Jose Terminal, you can walk to the main road at outside of the airport and take a tricycle for Php 50-100 to San Jose Terminal (depending on your negotiation skills).

Here are the various ways to get to El Nido:


Travel time: 6 hours

Fare: Php 700

Time of departure: 5:00am; 7:00am; 9:00am. Be there 30minutes before the scheduled departure. It would also be better to reserve a seat one day before trip.

Max Passenger per van: 10pax


Travel time: 5 hours

Cost: Php 11,000 (one-way trip); Php 14,000 (round trip)

Time of departure: Anytime

Max Passenger per van: 14pax


Travel Time: 6hours. This includes 2 stop-overs, one in Roxas for breakfast and restroom break (about 15 minutes) and in Taytay to pick-up some passengers (10 mins).

Fare: Php 350

Schedule: 5:00am; 7:00am; 9:00am

Note: The same schedule if you are traveling from El Nido back to Puerto Princesa City.


Travel Time: 5 1/2 to 6 hours. Includes 2 stop-overs in Roxas and Taytay (15 mins each).

Fare: AC- Php483; Non-AC- Php330

Schedule: First trip- 4:00 am; last trip- 10:00pm


Motorbike rentals are available in front of Kinabuchs Grill in Rizal Ave.

Travel time: 6-7 hours (depending how fast you drive)

Cost: 24hour rental cost Php800-1,000 depending on the type of bike you are renting.

Time of departure: Anytime

Max Passenger per motorbike: 2pax. It is safer to have one bike per person as the road from Taytay to El Nido is terrible rough road.

Extra Notes:

• Bring food with you along the way.
• You can seat at the top of the bus (topload), the view above is awesome (for non-RORO bus). Sit on the bus roof from San Jose to Taytay, and then when approaching El Nido, as after Taytay, the road is quite bumpy
• Road from Puerto Princesa to Taytay is already paved. Road from Taytay to El Nido is terrible rough road.

Well, as I was re-reading Journeying James, it seems like he had started some trips of his own in Puerto Princesa. If you want to rent a van, you can also contact 0935-3705-024 (Globe) 0922-8400-221 (Sun). They can give you discount, if you quote that you got the information from Journeying James. You can also visit this link for available tour packages: Palawan Tours by JourneyingJames.


El Nido is a very beautiful place, just a little inaccessible. Don't be deter, as this trip is really worth it.

Moreover, there are many routes and ways of getting there. I really hope that this entry will help those who are planning to go there. With all these information, I hope that it will be a much easier time planning your routes and keeping all options available on your next trip.


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