Post Summary: A 5 Day El Nido Itinerary guide to help you plan your trip.
I think we can agree that discovering secret beaches, exploring stunning lagoons, and stepping foot on some of the world’s most stunning islands should be on top of your itinerary when planning a trip to El Nido.
Admittedly, it can be quite challenging to organize all of your things to do in El Nido when you have a limited amount of time on the island.
In this article, we will go over some of the not-to-miss El Nido activities and arrange them on five days to ensure you get the most out of your trip to El Nido!
Let’s get started!
Looking for Accommodations? Check out these luxury resorts in El Nido
Staying a few days in Manila? Check out this wellness resort The Farm at San Benito
Checklist of Things to Do in El Nido:
Before we organize our itinerary, we first need to write down all of our El Nido things to do so that we don’t miss anything.
Below are the must-see and must-do while in El Nido
1. Island Hopping Tour A
2. Island Hopping Tour B
3. Island Hopping Tour C
4. Island Hopping Tour D
5. Spend a Day at Nacpan Beach
6. Go to Le Bar and watch the sunset at Corong-Corong
7. Head to Las Cabanas for sunset and drinks
8. Get a massage
9. Eat at La Trattoria Altrove
10. Have seafood for dinner!
11. Walk around El Nido town
12. Go workout!
El Nido Itinerary – Day 1:
7 am to 11 am – Day of arrival. Many of the flights that come from Manila usually arrive in the morning. However, if you are taking a shuttle from Puerto Princessa or taking the speed boat from Coron, you will be arriving mid to late afternoon. Use much of your morning or early afternoon to get yourself settled and rested because the next few days can get quite busy!
Noon – If you make it to El Nido before noon, take the time to walk around and familiarize yourself with where to eat in the main town or the area you are staying in.
2 pm to 4 pm – Take the time and explore El Nido town. Although El Nido town proper is not the most photogenic island town that you’ll see, there is still a sense of charm and island feel walking around town. I remember my first visit to El Nido in 2013; there was hardly anything in the town proper. I remember the two ATMs (where most of the time it was out of cash, and you can only pay cash while on the island), and a few restaurants here and there. Today, the island is a lot more developed, although still not on the same level as Boracay.
5 pm – Go back to the hotel and freshen up
5:45 pm – Head to Le Bar for a drink and experience the legendary sunset of El Nido!
7:30 pm – Go to the main town, pick a restaurant along the beach, and try fresh seafood! Most restaurants, along with the beach grill seafood and pick one that has the best selection for that day.
Post Dinner – Check out some of the bars in El Nido town and have a drink or two!
El Nido Itinerary – Day 2:
730 am – Wake up call! Have breakfast, and prepare for the day.
9 am – The first thing on your to-do list on your first full day in El Nido is island hopping the famous islands. As mentioned above, there are four island hopping tours you can pick – creatively named Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D. Out of the four island hopping tours, Tour A and Tour C are the most popular.
You can pick whatever tour for this day, but let’s just say you choose Tour A for your first island hopping tour. Here’s what you explore with Tour A in El Nido.
Tour A explores El Nido’s most iconic sites. In this tour, you will see the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Seven Commandos Beach, and Miniloc Island. My favorite part of the island hopping tours is when the tour guides prepare our lunch on some remote island! The lunch is typically grilled meat and fresh seafood with vegetables and fruits!
I particularly like Tour A (although it can get quite crowded) because it combines Lagoon exploring and relaxing at the beach.
430 pm – The Island hopping tour ends, and you should be back on the town proper by this time.
545 pm – After you get back to your hotel and freshen up, it is time to head out to Las Cabanas and watch the sunset. The tricycle ride to Las Cabanas is roughly 25 minutes, so I recommend leaving El Nido town early to ensure you get the right spot on one of the bars on Las Cabanas to watch the sunset.
7 pm – Dinner time! I recommend trying Trattoria Altrove, a famous pizza place in El Nido that usually has a long line during peak dinner time hours.
Post Dinner – Perhaps a drink on one of the bars on the main island.
El Nido Itinerary – Day 3:
730 am – Wak up call! Rise and shine and have your breakfast.
9 am – For today’s itinerary, we will take a break from island hopping a spend the day in Nacpan beach. We are going to rent a scooter for the day, and you can ask your hotel to organize a rental scooter for you. The cost of the scooter is about 350 to 400 Pesos for the day.
Alternatively, you can also take a tricycle to Nacpan Beach if you don’t feel safe riding a scooter. There are also private shuttles that go on a scheduled service from El Nido town to Nacpan Beach.
The total travel time with a scooter and tricycle to Nacpan beach is about 40 minutes, while a van takes about 25 minutes.
9:45 – Leave El Nido town for Nacpan Beach
10:30 am – Arrive at Nacpan Beach.
Since my several visits to El Nido since 2013, I make it a point always to reserve a day to hang out at this beach. I love coming here because it’s peaceful and able to enjoy the stunning white sand beach and the warm, aquamarine waters without much of a crowd.
It’s very easy to spend a whole day here. Nacpan Beach has a couple of restaurants on site where you can order lunch, snacks, and even fresh fruit shakes on the beach. There are also lounge chairs with an umbrella you can rent and little private huts if you have a big group of people.
Nacpan Beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of sand you’ll experience in the Philippines – and that says a lot considering the number of beautiful beaches there are in the Philippines.
Nacpan Beach is everything you’d imagine a paradise to be. The soft cream-colored sand, stretching four kilometers long, with the backdrop of the aquamarine waters with a few crashing waves and swaying coconut palm trees dotting the whole island. It’s perfection
4:00 pm – Leave Nacpan Beach.
Since it takes roughly 45 minutes by scooter from Nacpan Beach to El Nido town, I recommend leaving Nacpan Beach no later than 4:30 pm so that you have enough time to get back to your hotel, freshen up, and get ready to watch the sunset at either Las Cabanas or Corong-Corong with a drink in hand.
5:45 pm – Leave the hotel and watch the sunset at Le Bar at Corong Corong beach or Las Cabanas. By this time, it should feel like a tradition heading to either two of these places to enjoy El Nido’s legendary sunsets.
If you want to skip watching the sunset, I recommend getting a one-hour massage in El Nido town as an alternative. Traveling to these islands and pampering myself with hour-long massages for a low price is one thing I look forward to when traveling to El Nido!
7 pm – Dinner time! I suggest taking a walk around El Nido town and see which restaurants you are in the mood for!
El Nido Itinerary – Day 4
7:30 am – Rise and shine! Do your morning routine and get ready to start the day!
9:00 am – For today, we are going to do a second island hopping tour. Since we already signed up for Tour A for our first tour, we have Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D as our options for today.
Tour C is another popular island hopping tour in El Nido, where you get to explore some iconic beaches and hidden coves. If you choose Tour C, this is the itinerary:
Tour C explores some of the most stunning beaches in El Nido. In this tour, you spend ample time exploring some of these hidden beaches, where you also get to snorkel and explore some of the aquamarine life on the surrounding islands. Highlights include Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Star Beach, and Hidden Beach.
A delicious lunch prepared by your guides is included in this tour.
3 to 4 pm – By mid to late afternoon, you should be back in El Nido town. Use this time to relax for a bit, have a nap, or just have downtime.
5:30 pm – Time to have drinks and watch the El Nido sunset at your preferred bar. Another alternative is to use this time and get a massage in El Nido town.
7 pm onwards – Dinner and drinks to end the night!
El Nido Itinerary – Day 5
730 am – Rise and shine!
9 am onwards – Before checking out of your hotel, I recommend using this time to have breakfast and perhaps walk around the nearest beach. Perhaps take another time to walk around El Nido town and buy some souvenirs.
11 am – Depart El Nido
Where to Stay In El Nido
Spin Designer Hostel (budget) – This hip and modern hostel is located in El Nido’s most central location, a short distance away from Corong Corong, the beach, and El Nido’s main town. The rooms are clean and well kept and provides a great vibe for their guests.
Nacpan Glamping (mid-range) – Nacpan Glamping is a unique accommodation in El Nido that started in 2019. It’s right on Nacpan Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches you’ll see in Palawan. The glamping sites are comfortable and spacious and feature a swimming pool and an onsite restaurant and bar.
El Nido Pangalusian Island Resorts (luxury) – One of the few five-star resorts in El Nido, Pangulasian, is a perfect resort for those looking to get luxury treatment and service while in paradise. The resort is exclusive and private and everything you’d want in a luxury resort.