Hi everyone, this is my "Just Got Back" report summing up our 3 night stay at El Nido as part of an 11 day trip to Palawan in April this year.
After a lot of research, we thought 11 days would be sufficient for our first trip to Palawan, so thinking we had planned things pretty well, we booked our airline tickets and all we had to do was book our accommodation at various places, book Daytripper for 3 of our main trips by road, and book Midnight Sun for our Island hopping tours in El Nido.
We stayed at Buena's Haven Travelodge in Corong Corong for the 3 nights we had in El Nido, believing this place would be rather nice, and thinking that this region just outside El Nido would be a better choice, and to avoid the hustle and bustle of the main El Nido township.
Wrong, this decision was probably the biggest mistake we made during our whole trip, Corong Corong is a very busy place, it is dirty, noisy, and just too far away from most of the main tourist centres, having to get a trike every time we wanted to go anywhere, and as for Buena's Haven Travelodge, just avoid it completely, much better places to stay than this one.
After our 2 days of Island hopping with Midnight Sun (based at Calaan Beach) we came to the conclusion that we should have booked our accommodation at one of the Beachfront Resorts over near Calaan Beach, because this area of El Nido is quite simply the most amazing place, especially the area known as the "Gawad Kalinga Community" where Midnight Sun is located.
As a recommendation to TA forum readers, i would highly recommend Kalinga Beach Resort, owned by a really nice Filipino chap named Ricardo, located just past Midnight Sun Tours.
We booked 2 private tours with Midnight Sun, one was tour A & C and the other was Tour B, and after going on these 2 tours, and talking to other private tour travelers during our stopovers about their private tour experiences, we may have been better off, and it would have been cheaper just going on a public tour with other people in a bigger, faster Banca, and doing each tour individually rather than doing combined tours.
Anyway, needless to say, the Island hopping was ok for the most part, but other parts of it fell a bit short of our expectations, but i will cover all this in a separate Island Hopping report later on, because i think it may be of help to other travelers.
As for the El Nido Township and the Beach, well sadly for us, both left a lot to be desired, and there was pretty much nothing that we liked about either of them, and this place will definately not be on our "To Do Again List" when we return to Palawan for an extended 4 week trip we are planning at the start of 2016, because for us, we found much nicer places that we would prefer to go back to again rather than return to El Nido.
The back streets in the Township were narrow and crowded, there were trikes and motor bikes everywhere, and i lost count of how many times we was nearly hit, the air was filled with exhaust fumes, and in places wreaked with the smell of sewer runoff.
The whole Beach was very dirty and very crowded, there were dogs and dog droppings everywhere, the far northern end (towards El Nido Corner) was so bad you could never swim in the water because it was full of green slimy seaweed, and many of the Beachfront Resorts had smelly drains out the front running off into the beach (we had to jump over them) and you have to watch for bikes and trikes entering the beach in that area as it was the only way to get to the walking track that goes around to Calaan Beach, and can be very dangerous.
The best place to eat in our opinion was the El Nido Corner Beach Bar & Resturant, absolutely fantasic food, and a great view over the whole Beach and the Bay, especially at Sunset.
In summing up El Nido from our experience, we suggest that you stay somewhere over in the Calaan Beach region (Kalinga Beach Resort for example) and plan your Island hopping tours very well, some of the places they take you to in my opinion are not worth going to, and if you have time, take a trip on a trike to some of the places outside of town, especially over to the Dolorog Beach Resort region of El Nido, it is an absolutely beautiful region of El Nido to visit, or even to stay at if you can afford it, and you can do all your Island hopping from there, rather than have to mess about going into El Nido.
Finally, here is a link to my "Palawan & Mindoro 2014" Vimeo Portfolio full of videos of our trip that you can look thru, maybe some of them you might find interesting, especially the ones shot while in El Nido.