Flying in from Manila
Flying to El Nido is the quickest, easiest, most direct, and also the most expensive way of getting to El Nido from Manila and back. Two domestic carriers fly directly to El Nido: Island Transvoyager Inc. (ITI) and South East Asia Airlines (SEAIR). Both normally use 19-seater Dorniers, and charge roughly 5,000 pesos, and that's just one-way. The flight takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
ITI flies an average of TWICE DAILY, as they service guests at the upscale El Nido Resorts (Miniloc and Lagen), sometimes more during peak season. Resort guests are prioritized, but as long as they have available seats, booking should not be a problem. In Manila, call +(632) 8515674 or 8140408; or fax 854 1418. Note that ITI has its own terminal, separate from the domestic airport. (Address is: A.Soriano Aviation Hangar, Andrews Avenue, Pasay City. The hangar is in front the Shell gasoline station at the end of Tramo.)
SEAIR on the other hand flies to El Nido TWICE A WEEK (sometimes thrice when there is sufficient demand). The flight is either direct to El Nido, or is a multi-stop flight as when the point of destination is Puerto Princesa City and El Nido is one of their stops in Northern Palawan, along with Busuanga island. (Hence, an option for travelers doing the El Nido-Coron transfer.) SEAIR's Manila hotline is +(63 2) 884 1521. In Puerto Princesa, call +(63 48) 434 5272. In El Nido, the local agent is Judith Distal at the El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe +(63 906) 255 1020 or +(63 918) 328 7487. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Long Way
For most people, this is the very last resort: There is a "batil" which is the local term for large wooden boats that usually carry cargo plus some passengers, that go direct to El Nido from Manila and back. The trip is a whopping 36 hours long! The accommodations for passengers are also extremely "spartan" --- usually just a canvas "bunk" (which isn't even really a bunk, i just don't know what to call them) that is maybe 20 inches across and 5 feet long, placed side by side with the others. Sardines, anyone? (A peace corps volunteer friend of mine who took the boat ride sure had funny stories to tell about sleeping with another passenger's kid's feet literally in her face...)
This is NOT for those who want to travel comfortably, and definitely NOT for those who get seasick. Neither would I recommend this during the rainy season.
I do know some people who have done this and say "actually, it's not THAT bad." But be warned that these are friends of mine who were either on a tight budget and had not much of a choice... or really adventurous people who took the batil precisely because they were looking for this type of experience... The upsides to this alternative (besides the savings on transpo costs) would be the scenery along the way...
Contact either Atienza Shipping Lines (vessel is called Joselle) or San Nicolas Lines (vessel is Catalyn C) for rates and schedules.
- Budget Travel
Via: Puerto Princesa City
For those with lots of time, another option is to make Puerto Princesa City your gateway. You can: FLY to PPC (airfare would be lots cheaper than a direct flight to El Nido, especially if you can find discounted seats) via any of the major domestic carriers (PAL, Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines, Asian Spirit, Seair); or take a PASSENGER FERRY (this will be a 24- hour journey from Manila, either via WG&A SuperFerry or Negros Navigation).
From PPC, there are several options:
1) Take the ROAD TRIP from PPC to El Nido via bus or van-for-hire. This is anywhere from an 8 to a 10 hour road trip --- depends on whether you're using public or private transport (the bus takes longer due to the pick-up and drop-off stops) and the condition of your vehicle (some parts of the road can be rough, especially in between Taytay and El Nido so flat tires are common). Bus fare is affordable at around PhP 500 per head. If you're a large group, a van-for-hire is good, though expensive at about P10 thou (includes the driver, and cost for the trip back to PPC). If you want the van to stay with you in El Nido, there's extra acharge on a per-night basis, maybe 1,500. Try to haggle. Contact any PPC-based tour agency or rent-a-car. The public buses contact nos. (cell phones) are below.
2) Go to SABANG (site of the Underground River), from where there are PUMPBOATS which can take you to El Nido. Not sure how long the trip takes but I'm guessing around 8 hours as well. Preferably only during summer.
3) There are those 1x or 2x-weekly SEAIR FLIGHTS from PPC to El Nido. Great for those who have extra cash and those with business in both PPC and El Nido.
These options are for the more adventurous --- perfect if you prefer the scenic route and would like to explore PPC and the northern half of mainland Palawan. If you take the road trip, you can even make pit stops in the towns of San Vicente, and/or Taytay, which are also worth visiting. Also, I've heard that the entry into Bacuit Bay from the water is quite dramatic.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
The Coron option
Another point of entry is Coron/Busuanga from where Seair has those once- or twice- a week flights. I'm afraid however that between El Nido and Coron flying is the only option. (There are supposedly "batils" plying the route but I have no information about this. I heard too that this takes almost as long as the "batil" trip from Manila.)
This would be perfect for those who want to see both El Nido and Coron.
To get to Coron, you can take the affordable and convenient WG&A Superferry passenger boat. It's a 12-hour boat ride, that leaves Manila late Friday afternoon and stops over at Coron early Saturday morning to let off/ pick up passengers before heading for Puerto Princesa. (You can also fly to Coron/Busuanga via Seair or Asian Spirit).
Chartered Flights to El Nido
Direct Access to El Nido from Manila is via chartered flights in a 19-seater Dornier in 1 hour & 15 minutes. Daily flight schedules are as follows:
Manila - El Nido ETD 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM
El Nido - Manila ETD 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM
- Spa and Resort
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Getting to El Nido
Getting to El Nido in the rainy season is a pain. Of course, that was when I went!
Because the only road to El Nido from Puerto Princessa is too wet to traverse, you would need to go to Taytay, then board a boat that will take you to Sibultan, 2 hrs away if the water is not too choppy, double that if it is. From Sibultan, it's another couple of hours by jeepney to reach El Nido.
Or, there's an airport just a few km north of El Nido, so you can shell out more $$ and skip the adventure.
LINAPACAN, CORON & EL NIDO BOAT SCHEDULE
Here is the schedule of the boat that operates the routes between El Nido, Coron and Limapacan, but be sure to check ahead of time as the schedule may change due to bad weather, ship maintenance etc.
SHUTTLE VAN SCHEDULE
Thereare several shuttle van operators between El Nido and Puerto Princesa but here is the schedule of a more established company, LEXXUS
Vans to El Nido
JB Van Rental provides transport services to El Nido.
For rate and other inquiries,
kindly contact +639175530421
Tricycles are very common to towns and provinces in the Philippines.Some resorts or guesthouse in El Nido hire them to pick up/drop off the guests from/to El Nido airport.
If there's a hop on,hop off bus to see the sights in big cities,El Nido is proud to have boats that will take you to the hidden beauty of the islands.
I had to take this private plane back to Manila in order to be checked by a doctor
the plane arrives into a private hangar in the Manila airport
- Budget Travel
i took seair from Puerto Princesa because I missed the bus
the flight was about 2800 php, whereas the bus 250 php, oh well, it was a very fast and scenic flight
- Budget Travel
Flying to El Nido
The planes from Manila to El Nido are quite tiny... around 12 seaters.
There are plenty of air pockets on the way so be prepared. And don't eat too much breakfast before you board the plane.