Travel writers the world over have been proclaiming El Nido as heaven on earth and once you land, you’ll most likely agree. Still, there are few things you should know and prepare for to maximize your time spent wandering around this particular Eden.
1. Choose the Best Time
Unless your idea of tropical paradise contains a lot of rain, the best time to travel to El Nido is between December to May. El Nido has two distinct seasons: a dry season from December to May and a wet season from June to November.
2. Book in Advance
The downside of coming during the lovely dry season is that it’s also high season then. And as El Nido as increased in popularity, so have the flocks of tourists.
El Nido’s high season is between December to around April-ish so if you’re planning on coming then, make sure you get a room ahead of time. A lot of people drop in to enjoy the weather and beaches so snagging a place early on makes sure you don’t get stuck in a hovel or an overpriced hotel.
3. Be Prepared to Go Without
El Nido has 12 – 18 hours of electricity. The exact hours and time frames vary, but overall, electricity is inconsistent here. So, no working on your laptop until 3 in the morning. Inconvenient, but also encourages complete relaxation.
When there is electricity, there is WiFi. Many hotels offer free WiFi and you can also access broadband at Internet Cafes.
4. Bring the Monies!!!
There are no banks or ATM machines so come with cash money. The nearest banks are in Puerto Princesa, about 5 – 8 hours away. If you’re uncomfortable traveling with large amounts of money, it might be a good idea to spring for an all-inclusive resort. Or, pay for your accommodations as soon as you arrive so you can lighten your load.
El Nido has a few places (such as the El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe) for currency exchange. In town proper, you can exchange USD, Euros, British Pounds, HK Dollars, Australian Dollars, Japanese Yen, and Singapore Dollars. A few places in town also accept credit cards, but it is rare.
5. Bring Plenty of Money
El Nido is not that cheap, so make sure you bring enough money to tide you over and then some. The increased demand for goods by the tourists in El Nido have raised prices considerably. You can still find cheaper places to eat, but meals will still be about 100 – 200 PHP, not including drinks.
6. Travel Insurance is a MUST
There is one health center and one private doctor in all of El Nido. The nearest hospital is one hour away in Taytay.
If – God forbid – anything happens, you want to make sure you’re covered. We highly recommend World Nomads. They cover travelers from over 150 countries around the world, offer great rates, and cover a range of travel-related costs from the more commonplace – lost baggage and cancellation costs – to the more severe – emergency medical and evacuation assistance as well as coverage for a wide range of adventure sports and activities.
7. Don’t Start a Fire
There is no fire station for the town of El Nido so please refrain from doing stuff like, you know, falling asleep with a lit cigarette.
8. Avoid Mosquitoes
There have been a few cases of malaria and dengue fever in El Nido, but the malaria situation is not that bad. That said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and better safe than sorry and all that, so stock up on mosquito repellant with DEET and malaria vaccines. It’s always a good idea to see a travel doctor before you travel.
9. Be Ready for a Water Shortage
There is no centralized water supply and some of the budget accommodations may have problems supplying water for showers and toilets. This is pretty rare.
10. Get a Skype account
There are no landlines in El Nido. You can buy a SIM card from Smart Telecom or Globe Telecom for mobile phone service. Simply recharge your credits at any local convenience store. For long-distance calls, you can head to the El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe.
11. Be Prepared to Wait for Your Food
There is no fast food in El Nido so expect everything to take as long as it does when food is made from scratch.
12. Bring Vinegar
During certain seasons, the jellyfish abound. Bring vinegar when you’re planning to go in the water.
13. Sunburn is NO Fun at All
This applies to all beach-side vacations: do not ever go without sunscreen.
14. the MOST important one is…
Relax and have fun!