In recent years, the little town of El Nido, located on the northwest side of Palawan, has captured global attention due to its awe-inspiring limestone cliffs, pristine beaches, and clear blue water. That said, tourists wanting to get a taste of the sand, sea, and seafood of a “small fishing town” may need to have a few notions cleared up:
Myth #1: El Nido is hard to get to.
That depends on how much you’re willing to pay. The quickest and most direct way is by plane. Island Transvoyager Inc. flies direct to El Nido Airport from Manila everyday, with departures scheduled at 7:30 am and 3:00 pm. The flight takes 1 hour 15 minutes. However, this convenience comes with a steep price, as tickets are P13,500 roundtrip and can only be booked 5 days in advance. The next best route is via SEAIR, which flies to El Nido via Busuanga every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Taking SEAIR is less expensive, though total travel time is 2 hours due to the stopover in Busuanga. The cheapest way takes the longest – fly to Puerto Princesa via any of the major airlines (PAL, Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines) then get to El Nido via hired van or public bus. If you’re traveling by hired van, add 8-9 hours. If you’re going via public bus, add 10-12. A hired van fits a maximum of 10 people (depending on the amount of luggage), is airconditioned, and costs P8,000. The public bus is open air and costs P300/person.
Myth #2: El Nido is a tiny little backwater in the middle of nowhere. How will I survive without my cellular phone?
For the record, El Nido has electricity, running water, cable TV, and yes, cellular phone service. There are even Internet cafes where you can upload your vacation photos to elicit envy from everyone else freezing back home.
Myth #3: El Nido is a class-A baranggay because of all the cash tourism is bringing in.
Er… no. El Nido has 18 hours of electricity per day, no centralized water supply, and no telephone lines. There are no banks or ATM machines, and only a select few establishments (usually the larger lodging houses) accept credit cards. There is one doctor and no actual fire brigade for the whole town.
Myth #4: Staying in El Nido is cheap because it’s a small town.
Unfortunately, no. Goods in El Nido are more expensive than in Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan. The increased demand for fish by the tourists and tourist establishments who can afford to pay more are driving up the prices. The cheapest (yet clean) place to eat in town is Skyline, where meals are about P100 to P150, not including drinks.
Myth #5: Malaria and dengue cases abound because this is Palawan.
There have been cases of malaria and dengue in town. However, it’s not as bad as it’s usually publicized. Getting a prescription for malaria vaccine should ease your worries.
I sincerely hope that I haven’t discouraged anyone from visiting El Nido when in fact, it’s currently my favorite place in the world. What I’ve said here is just some friendly commentary to make sure that you know what to expect from my beloved adopted home.
See you soon!