The Ultimate Guide to an Active El Nido Vacation

The massive limestone karst cliffs scream “climb me”.

The lush green jungles beckon adventurers with with twisting paths.

The turquoise blue water entices swimmers to take a plunge.

El Nido is the ultimate destination for an active vacation.

Hiking, Biking, Swimming & Kayaking; There are so many ways to stay active while traveling through Palawan and El Nido. From easy nature walks to adrenaline pumping cliff diving, there is something for everyone in El Nido.

In this guide you will find many of the different options for active travel and resources to accomplish those activities.

Hike

Taraw Cliff

Hike Taraw Cliff in El Nido, Philippines

This hike was recommended to us our first night in town. An older American Expat told us that if he could still make the journey up Taraw he would do it all of the time! The “trail” takes you up and over one of the massive limestone cliffs that make El Nido so beautiful.

This hike is not for the faint of heart or couch potato. It is exhausting and dangerous! For one hour you will climb the steep mountain up and over jagged rocks. Just when you start questioning why you would put yourself in this situation, you will reach the summit and realize why.

The top offers incredible views of of El Nido Town Proper and Bacuit Bay.

Details: You cannot do this tour on your own. Ask around town for a guide to take you up (we asked our hotel), I also heard the guys at the Pawn Shop lead people up. A guide should cost 500 pesos ($10).

Nagkalit-kalit Falls

These waterfalls are about halfway to Nacpan Beach, and are a 30 minute tricycle ride out of El Nido Town. The hike is 30-40 minutes into the jungle, past rice fields and over streams. This hike is an easy-moderate way to do some trekking and experience hidden jungle waterfalls!

Details: The waterfalls are highly publicized and many tour companies offer day trips. Tricycle drivers will also offer to drive you to the waterfalls where you can hike and they will wait for you.

Bulalacao Falls

Not as accessible as popular Nagakalit-kalit Falls, Bulalacao Falls is a 45 minute tricycle ride out of El Nido to Barangay Pasadena.

There are two parts to this hike: the small falls and the big falls. About 45 minutes from the entrance will get you to the small falls: a calm and inviting swimming area. If you are able to do it, keep going for another hour to get to the big falls: a 70 foot high waterfall hidden in the jungle.

A guide is necessary for the this hike and can be found at the entrance to the falls.

Details: Hire a tricycle(1000 pesos) for the 45 minute journey to Sitio Bulalacao in Pasadena. Hire a guide at the entrance, about 200-400 pesos. Check out World Wanderings for many pictures of the falls.

Nacpan Beach

Hiking at Nacpan Beach in El Nido, Philippines

More of a nature walk than a hike, get some exercise while lounging on Nacpan Beach. When looking at the water, head toward the left where you will see two big hills. Hoof it up them for fantastic views of the long beach.

Details: Get to Nacpan Beach on an hour long (very bumpy) tricycle ride. Round trip should cost 1000 pesos ($20)

Swimming and Snorkeling

Swimming and Snorkeling in El Nido, Philippines

The best place to get some snorkeling done is on an Island Hopping Tour. You will, however, have to battle a lot of people to get into the lagoons and hidden beaches. You can also rent snorkels and fins from many places in town and take them to any of the local beaches (Marimegmeg Beach, Airport Beach, Nacpan Beach) for some snorkeling on your own.

If swimming is your thing, I saw a lot of people hop in the water right in El Nido town and swim laps parallel to the beach! I also spent a lot of my time floating and swimming in the shallow waters at all of the beaches!

Details: Island Hopping Tours are offered by many companies in El Nido. There are 4 tours (A, B, C and D) and they cost 1200-1500 pesos and include an all day tour and lunch.

Kayak

A dog on a kayak in the Big Lagoon, Entering the secret lagoon, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

The feeling of propelling yourself through the islands of Bacuit Bay by your own strength in a kayak is incredible! Kayaking in El Nido is extremely popular and many companies around town offer day trips, sunset kayaking trips and multiple day trips.

It is also possible to rent a kayak from someone for the day to do your own kayaking. Remember, sea kayaking is a lot different than kayaking in a lake, it can be a lot harder than anticipated depending on the weather and sea conditions! The tours usually have some sort of support in case the kayaking gets too hard.

Details: Check out El Gordo’s Action Adventures and Art Cafe for kayak tours.

Yoga

Yoga in El Nido, Philippines

Around town you will see signs for Yoga Under the Cliff. After searching around for awhile, I finally discovered the location. Underneath the massive limestone karst that towers over town is a playground, bar and patio area. At 4PM everyday, yoga class is offered! A pretty cool place to get your zen on if you ask me.

There were also other signs around town for sunset yoga and yoga at Nacpan beach, but I couldn’t find any other information about them. Best to ask around once you get into town!

Bike

The jungle of El Nido is perfect for exploring

The trails and roads that surround El Nido have turned into popular mountain biking destinations. It is possible to bike to Corong Corong Beach, Nacpan Beach, the waterfalls and even circle the northern tip of Palawan. Like the kayaking trips, the best resources for mountain biking are the Art Cafe and El Gordo’s Action Adventures. Both have many different trips (one day and multiple days).

Massage

The best way to relax those muscles from all of the hiking, biking and kayaking is to get a massage! The streets of El Nido are lined with massage parlors, all offering the same services. A one hour, full body massage will set you back 400 pesos ($9). There is no excuse to not get rubbed down in El Nido.

If hiking, biking and kayaking aren’t extreme enough for you, there are lots more adventurous things to do in El Nido. Again, Art Cafe is going to be a great resource for your options.

Rock Climbing

If you see the mammoth limestone cliffs and feel you need to scale them, you are in luck! A few different people offer deep water soloing and rock climbing around the archipelago. Check out this resource from Once Upon A Climb on their experience climbing in El Nido.

Zip Lining

An 800 meter zip line connects Las Cabanas Beach to a small island just off of the main beach. 500 pesos ($10) will get you across where you can choose to walk back or pay 400 pesos to make the return trip.

Scuba

A huge range of coral and over 850 species of fish makes scuba diving very popular in El Nido. Just walk down the streets of town and you will find a company to take you scuba diving, or certify you. I am not a scuba diver, so unfortunately I didn’t get to experience this side of El Nido! El Nido Adventure Scuba seems to be a good resource to get started.

I love to enhance my vacations by combining active adventures, quality relaxation and cultural experiences! El Nido proved to be an excellent place to intertwine all of these things!