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El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

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Sydney, Australia
posts: 476
reviews: 9
El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

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.

vimeopro.com/user15365810/palawan-mindoro-20…

Cheers.....Glen

11 replies to this topic
Baguio, Philippines
Destination Expert
for Philippines
posts: 3,450
reviews: 236
1. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

@ Glenn

Thanks for the detailed and honest JBR.

I had a similar experience - 2 lousy days at El Nido town proper (Lally and Abet... ) then we shifted to Caalan (Taiyo) for 2 excellent days.

In hindsight, I think it is far better in El Nido to walk in, rather than book in advance.

Sydney, Australia
posts: 476
reviews: 9
2. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

@ YouLiveOnlyOnce....Thank you, i try to be as honest as i can be, and i see no point in giving a place praise when we honestly did not enjoy it that much.

i know we (my family) might be in a minority of travelers who disliked El Nido, and personally for us, we was somewhat very disappointed with the whole El Nido thing to be honest, and found it to be pretty much over rated given how crowded and dirty the place is (Town & Beach) and some of the Island stopovers were very ordinary given the hype that some of them seem to get, and to be honest, we saw many better beaches down neat the Port Barton region while staying at Thelma & Toby's Island Camp, and we only wished we had spent those 3 nights from EN at the Beach Camp, would have been less stressful, and a lot cheaper.

Cheers.

Edited: 8:22 am, July 14, 2014
Melbourne, Australia
posts: 42
reviews: 45
3. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

Enjoyed reading the report.

Too bad el nido has fallen short of your expectation.

We had a lovely time there except snorkeling was not so great.

Sydney, Australia
posts: 476
reviews: 9
4. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

@ Expat wife A .... Thanks for your reply, our expectation of El Nido was not that high to begin with to be honest, especially after reading a few blogs where others had mentioned the conditions around the main Township and the Beach, and for us, those blogs ended up being pretty spot on based on what we saw, but we went there to do the Island hopping trips, and thats about it.

If we was to go back to El Nido it would only be for more of the Island Hopping, and to see a few other places outside of El Nido that we missed seeing on our last trip.

If we decided to use Midnight Sun again for our Tours, we would definately stay over in the Calaan Beach area of El Nido, however upon thinking about our previous trip, we would more than likely stay at either the Doralog Beach Resort, or at one of the beach Resorts along Marimegmeg Beach, both located on the way into El Nido, and we would just book one of their Bancas for Island hopping so we dont have to go into El Nido at all.

Now that we have already seen 13 places on our previous 2 tours, there are probably 6 of those that we would definately go back to, the others we would definately not see again, but there were a lot of beaches along the way that were not on any itinerary that i think should be, and those are the places we would definately ask to go to next time, 2 of them including Helicopter Island and Cadlao Lagoon, and we would definately spread the tours out over 3 or 4 days next time and not cramp so many places into one tour like we did with Tour A & C, where we went to 8 places in 8 hours, and it was just too rushed.

Cheers

Toronto GTA
posts: 48
5. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

@Glenn, thank you for sharing your trip.

I'm visiting PH with 2 friends in Oct and we have set aside 2 days for Palawan. I had ambitions of experiencing some of what you have chronicled in your videos yet now feel 2 days is not nearly enough.

As an alternate I was considering Boracay and yes I understand the 2 islands are virtually polar opposites. My main concern is the over land travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido as it will consume too much time. I would appreciate any insight you can offer.

Sydney, Australia
posts: 476
reviews: 9
6. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

@ s0k..... thx for your kind words, 2 days for Palawan or Boracay i would suggest will be very difficult, and El Nido will be impossible because of lost travel time just getting there from Puerto Princesa, unless you fly direct from Manila to El Nido with ITI, which can be very expensive.

thephilippines.com/2014/….U_YLXRDDWOg

Even if you did fly direct, you would barely have time to see anything.

I don't know much about Boracay so i can't comment on that, however 2 days for it would almost be impossible as well, but it all depends on where your location will be prior to going to Palawan or Boracay.

Cheers

Toronto GTA
posts: 48
7. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

@Glenn, thank you for sharing your trip.

I'm visiting PH with 2 friends in Oct and we have set aside 2 days for Palawan. I had ambitions of experiencing some of what you have chronicled in your videos yet now feel 2 days is not nearly enough.

As an alternate I was considering Boracay and yes I understand the 2 islands are virtually polar opposites. My main concern is the over land travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido as it will consume too much time. I would appreciate any insight you can offer.

Philadelphia...
posts: 11
8. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

I have stayed in Corong Corong too last March 2014... we didn't had a problem at all and we enjoyed it actually as it is quiet... we stayed at Stunning Vista Resort... they do setup tour for the guest and rate is the same as the one you can get in town... tour leave right out of the beach in front of the resort so very convenient.. this area has the best sunset I've ever seen.

btw, we stayed in town on our first time in el nido and we didn't like it as it was noisy.. but if you need to stay there I suggest Marina Garden...

Sydney, Australia
posts: 476
reviews: 9
9. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

Hi everyone, my apologies for the link in my opening post not working, i had to re-structure my larger Vimeo portfolio into several smaller ones, do here are the links to each portfolio that covers the destinations we went to.

http://vimeopro.com/user15365810/el-nido-2014

vimeopro.com/user15365810/palawan-camping

Cheers

Stockholm, Sweden
posts: 12
reviews: 14
10. Re: El Nido 2014 (just got back report)

Hi! Thank you for an informative post (and answers)

I just started a thread here:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294256-i9213-k782…

About hotels/resorts. It seems to be hard to find good resorts that are not over priced or too cheap. Would you have any good recommendations on the higher lever but not highest level accomodations?

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