El Nido is Neato: Part 2

Our fourth day in El Nido, I left early to meet up with my dive instructor for my first ever scuba dive and left Liz to have the whole day to herself. She said the snorkeling during the tours was enough adventure for her. I think she really just wanted me to go first and report back.

I signed up for what they call a discovery dive. I did not want to commit the time and money to get certified until I tried it. On a discovery dive, you have your own personal instructor with you for the entire dive. There were only two others who had never dived before, so it was the three newbies with three instructors.

I met my dive instructor randomly at the Angle Bar in town and though he’s a perfectly adequate diver, his tour company is very new and I feel like I could have had a better overall experience choosing a well reviewed company on trip advisor instead.

The underwater experience is really incredible, and for those brave enough, the 65 dollar discovery dive was totally worth it. I felt perfectly safe and got to see very interesting fish, a three legged turtle,  and other sea creatures.

I felt the fish at deeper depths are far less skittish than the ones you see snorkeling. They will hang out while you swim right past them.

Do you Scuba?
My dive instructor Martin

After the tour, Liz and I met back up around mid-day and went to town to get some lunch at The Mezzanine, which has beautiful views views and good food.

Liz told me about her day which included her own lunch at Art Cafe, some wedding research, booking our Ubud stay in Bali and an $8 USD,  1 hour massage. She needed some new sandals as well and had a funny encounter.

The first stall that she stopped in said her feet were much bigger than Filipino women and they couldn’t find her size, they giggled at her and she left feeling like big foot. As she walked passed another street stall, a little 5 year old boy popped out and asked to help her. He hooked her up with the right size and two hundred pesos later ($4 USD) she had some knock off Havianas.

When we got back to Coron Coron beach (the area we were staying just out of El Nido), we needed to check into a new hotel. Unfortunately the JM Pension House was full so Emily arranged for us to stay at another place across the street. It was even cheaper ($20 USD a night) but not as nice and sans Emily’s welcoming personality. We picked up our newly cleaned laundry and walked across the street reluctantly to our new room.

We sat outside with a cold beer and chatted more about our day until it was time to stroll to the beach for another picturesque sunset. We found a different beachside cafe and grabbed another beer and a seat for the show.

With music playing in the background and the gorgeous view in front of us, we both fondly talked about how much our time in the Philippines had been so memorable.

After the sunset we met back up with our two other couple friends for a homecooked Filipino meal at Emily’s, that she wanted to prepare for us ( and not take any money for). It was rice, vegetables and prawn essentially.

We talked about how great our time had been with the six of us and sadly said our goodbyes. Shon and Amy were headed back to New York the next day and Kelly and Daniel were headed to Singapore but we made loose plans to meet them in Bali.

The next day was our last full day in El Nido. We got up early as per usual (in El Nido, we were up between 5-6 every morning with the roosters howling). We went up to town to have a waterside breakfast at Art Cafe then walked over to Deli Nido Cafe again for Nates favorite Mint Mango Smoothie.

Our friends Peggy and Eric had arrived the night before so we made day plans with them for the day. Who’s this now?

Sidebar: remember…we met Eric and Peggy canyoning  on Cebu Island, they are from Ohio!  We exchanged emails to meet up in Palawan. Eric and Peggy are pretty adventurous, as they are now on their second year of traveling full time.

The four of us met at the beautiful serene beach Marimegmeg just a 15 minute trike ride from Coron Coron.

The famous beach in ElNido is called NacPan but there is no shade there and it takes 30 – 40 mins and an expensive taxi so we opted for this one and it was perfection. The four of us caught up at the beach and had lunch as well.

That evening we took them to Republica Bar for a sunset welcome to their first day in El Nido, followed by dinner in town.

Japanese style eating in an Italian restaurant

They are going to be in Bali and Thailand the same time as us so even though we said goodbye, we know we will see them in another country soon!

The next day, Liz and I piled on a bus that took us back down to Puerta Princessa where we would eventually fly out of the Philippines for good.

everyone looks excited for 7 hours on this bus

El Nido is at an amazing place in its development as a tourist destination. The majority of people around are locals living as locals do. You can experience one of the most beautiful spots in the world without the trapings of an overpopulated tourist destination.

At the same time, El Nido is developed enough to have (in my opinion) the world’s best bar and greatest smoothie. We both can’t wait to come back and see it thriving, though it might not be as desirable for travelers like us in search of untouched land, we know the development will be good for the people here. They really seem to love tourists and are reaping the benefits in a very positive way.

The Filipino people have been so welcoming and we will not forget the people and their lovely country. The time to move on has come and sadly this requires Liz and I to part ways. I’m headed to Australia for a few days of wrk and Liz is leading the charge in Bali. 

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10 thoughts on “El Nido is Neato: Part 2

  1. Hi there! Your friend Lance Suttle recommended me to your site after I booked my solo trip to El Nido followed by a flight to Bali (almost mirroring your itinerary exactly haha!)

    I’ll be in El Nido for three days before a 5-day sailing excursion from El Nido to Coron, and then flying to Bali from there. What are your recommendations for lodging, food, and an itinerary if you wouldn’t mind sharing your thoughts? šŸ™‚ Since I’ll be on the sailing trip stopping at various remote islands, do you think it makes sense to do the boat tours on 2 of the 3 days or I should stay put on the island? I’m happiest on the beach with a book and rum-filled coconut in hand, for reference ha!

    For lodging, my budget would be up to $100/night but I’m not super picky and happy to stay somewhere cheaper as long as it’s accessible to restaurants and the beaches!

    Day 1:
    Marimegmeg Beach
    Best place to see the sunset?

    Day 2:
    Tour A
    Seafood dinner with view of bay at sunset
    Beach bar/fun bar to go to w/ good sunset view

    Day 3:
    Tour C or B OR beach/hike/rent kayak?
    Dinner/Cocktails to go to w/ good sunset view


    1. Hi Christina… Here is our feedback! You will have a great trip regardless because the Philippines is wonderful!

      We don’t know what you will see on your 5 day trip to it’s hard to say what you should/shouldn’t skip but I would say one tour is all you need to get a sense. Your A is by far the most popular but very touristy. We enjoyed your B as well and it was much less touristed.

      Def go to Marimemeg Beach, if you are staying in the town expect to pay 150 pesos to get there by trike. You can eat lunch while you are there and it would be a good time to stop at Republica Bar for the sunset since it’s probably only 50 pesos back towards town on a trike. It looks like a small hut on the outside. Best place for the sunset.

      Most accommodations will include breakfast, def try a Philippino breakfast with longaniza (sweet sausage). And they make banana pancakes a lot or mango or pineapple and those are good. If you need a good western breaky, the omlet at art cafe is good (in town).

      Another place to watch the sunset is at Sterling but the food was okay, the food was great a Republica, the sashimi was excellent. I think the sunsets are just better in that direction because of the direction you are facing.


    2. If you are solo, you’ll want to stay in El Nido town. If you are along Coron Coron beach there isn’t much to do at night. El Nido town is walkable and full of people, shops and restaurants. You can just take a trike out to the beach and out to Republica bar which is why I suggest doing that all on one trip since they are near each other.


    3. As for places to stay, up to $100 will get you something really nice there. I’m sure if you spent $50 you will have something decent. There was a place that looked over the water just bast art Cafe that seemed nice. Confirm that you will have hot water, A/c and wifi at your hotel. Wifi is very spotty so don’t count on using it much. Deli Nido had great cold coffee drinks and smoothies and decent wifi.


  2. If you are the type of traveler that is comfortable arriving without something booked and sorting it out in person you can get way more bang for your buck. If not, I suggest using agoda.com and booking.com


  3. WOW! Thanks so much for the very detailed response! I am so, so, SO excited for the Philippines especially after reading your travel account! šŸ™‚ And the trip will be all the better for your recommendations, so, truly many thanks!

    Safe travels through Bali and beyond!


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