Sleepy El Nido Town
My arrival in El Nido was preceded by 10 days in crazy Boracay, and what I was met with wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I was looking forward to a more low key version of tourist, party-filled Boracay. Instead, I was greeted with a small, sleepy, quiet town. I must admit, upon immediate arrival I was a bit of a downer. I had been in party mode, and that certainly wasn’t El Nido. I knew that after my ten day party binge of all night boozing and all-you-can-drink cliff jumping, I probably needed to give my body a rest and enjoy having the ability to sit on the beach and do nothing, but at first it was hard to adjust to quiet island life. I once again considered changing my flight (knowing that’s possible is dangerous!), but instead I chilled out, embraced the break and put myself on “island time”.
The first day in El Nido (after our hellish van ride), we just checked out the town, relaxed on the beach, took a trike to las Cabañas beach (about a 15 minute trike ride), and took it easy after a long travel day. After that we took Tour A and spent another day hiring motor bikes and driving out to Long Beach (about a 40 minute ride from El Nido). Besides that, I slept in, lounged around, worked on my budget, caught up on real life things, read and relaxed. If you’re looking for a quiet town, island destination in the Philippines, El Nido is it.
Accommodation: I stayed at The Alternative Inn. From what I’ve heard from other people I met on the island staying in El Nido, none of the budget accommodations were any great shakes. Our place, for one, did have an incredible common area (see photos below). They have these nests where you can sit, overlooking the water. There really is no better place to catch up on bills from home, or plan out your travel itinerary, than hanging over the ocean, listening to the waves crash below you. On the flip side though, the rooms were nothing special. What I like to refer to as “just a room”. There were ants on the walls and one night we found a cockroach on my bag. Tr water situation in El Nido is also bit of an issue. This isn’t unique to The Alternative, though. Most of our showers were no more than a trickle of water, and at times there was no water at all. El Nido is more of a roughing destination if you’re traveling on a budget, but as long as you have an open mind it’s not much of an issue. Overall, my stay at The Alternative was pleasant, and the staff was incredibly friendly.
The nightlife in El Nido is pretty quiet. Most of the restaurants on the beach have live music entertainment at night, and the music type varies by location. At Sea Slugs the music was a little more low key. Relaxing, island music, while at Pukka Bar, there was always a reggae band playing. Pukka was by far my favorite, with a chilled out beach vibe, and a nice mix of tourists and locals. Beers are the typical 50 pesos, and mixed drinks run around 120 pesos.
I spent 8 nights in El Nido. In my opinion, it was a bit too long for the sleepy town. Considering that the ride out to El Nido is quite a pain in the ass, I’d say about 5 days is the perfect amount of time to spend there, but just be ready to relax! To see the incredible beauty of El Nido though, be ready to fork over some pesos for the tours which vary from 700 to 900 pesos (plus an additional one time 200 pesos environmental fee). I don’t think I’ll be heading back to El Nido any time in the near future, but it is a beautiful addition to the incredible Philippines.