3 Days In El Nido: The Perfect Travel Itinerary!

Cazzy Magennis
Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
May 10, 2022
Looking for an awesome El Nido Itinerary? Then keep reading to find out everything you need to know about spending three epic days in El Nido....
el nido itinerary

Located on the island of Palawan, a visit to El Nido is definitely one of the most popular things to do in The Philippines, thanks to its gorgeous beaches, water and epic island hopping tours.

But with so much to do, it's hard squeezing it all into such a short trip!

Well, if you want to plan a fantastic El Nido Itinerary, here's my guide on how to spend 3 days in El Nido ...

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Why visit El Nido?

Why not! As mentioned earlier, El Nido is one of the more popular areas in The Philippines, and there’s a reason for that, it’s amazing! 

If you seek beautiful clear blue waters, stunning beaches, amazing snorkelling, a great vibe and much more, then El Nido should definitely make it on your Philippines itinerary. 

3 days in el nido

Planning the ultimate 3 day El Nido Itinerary

Okay, so this El Nido itinerary is based on 3 days. This is because 3 days is what we spent in El Nido and we think we got to experience a lot.

What I will say is that if you intend on doing ALL 4 of the island hopping tours that El Nido has to offer, then you’re going to need around 5-6 days in El Nido….but this itinerary is for those who are seeing all of Palawan in a shorter period of time. 

seven commandos beach

El Nido Itinerary: Day 1

Day 1 starts with exploring the beautiful island of El Nido. The best way to see what El Nido has to offer is to rent a moped. You can do this in the main town of El Nido and it’s typically 500 pesos for a day, but we also rented for half a day at 250 pesos.

You should always remember to get helmets too! 

First stop: Las Cabanas Beach: This is a very beautiful beach in El Nido, one that’s perfect for relaxing, or even catching a sunrise if you can face getting up early! 

Second stop: Bulalacao Waterfalls: You’ll typically be asked to take a guide to the waterfalls in El Nido nowadays and the waterfalls aren’t extremely high or as powerful as other famous waterfalls in The Philippines, but they are a short trek and a great spot to swim and cool down under the hot stun. 

Third stop: Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls: When we visited here, the guide said it took around 40 minutes to walk to the waterfall and that you visit a couple on the trek. We actually didn’t have enough time, but you are required to take a guide in order to pass through the land to find the falls. You’ll see lots of people offering the same service, which I guess means you can probably barter on the price. 

Fourth stop: Nacpan Beach: I think this is my favourite place in all of El Nido and should 100% be on your El Nido itinerary! This is the perfect place to enjoy a stunning sunset, then grab a romantic dinner on the beach, or a booze filled one with friends! I suggest you head there around an hour before sunset so you can swim and relax in the water, then get ready for an epic view.  

Optional extra stop: Taraw Cliff, Brad and I didn’t actually visit this point, and basically because I didn’t actually know it existed.

It does require “scrambling” up a cliff to reach the viewpoint, so it’s not for the faint hearted but the views do look amazing. It should take around 30 minutes up then your return journey. 

relax at nacpan beach in el nido

El Nido Itinerary: Day 2

Your second day in El Nido will take you on one of the many El Nido island hopping trips on offer. Actually, we only did one island hopping trip in El Nido and that was Tour A. 

Tour A Stops at: 

Big Lagoon: Really awesome spot that you can rent out yellow kayaks to explore 

Secret Lagoon: This is another cool spot, but watch out for the tiny stinging jellyfish that infest the waters

Seven Commandos Beach: An awesome place to grab a cheap rum and coke alongside a game of beach volleyball! 

Shimizu island: Beautiful white sand beaches, perfect for relaxing and it’s typically the location for your BBQ island lunch which is awesome in The Philippines. This a great spot for snorkelling too! 

Tour A begins early and you finish just before sunset, so it really does take a full day of your El Nido itinerary. When you return, you can head into town for a delicious bite to eat (some brilliant Greek restaurants in El Nido!) and perhaps a cocktail by the beach. 

Book your tour online here (It’s actually cheaper than in person!)

Check out my full guide on El Nido Tour A: how to book and what to expect...

el nido palawan

El Nido Itinerary: Day 3

Day 3 on our El Nido itinerary can be a variety of things, you could either drive around the island to discover some of the other beautiful beaches that El Nido has to offer, or you can head out on another island hopping tour. I would have liked to have done another island hopping tour, but we didn’t plan it well! 

The two I would recommend are tour B and tour C. 

Tour B Includes:  

  • Cudugnon Cave
  • Pangulasian Island
  • Cathedral Cave
  • Pinagbuyutan Island
  • Snake Island
  • Lunch 

Buy your tour online here. 

Tour C includes: 

  • Helicopter Island
  • Matinloc Shrine
  • Lunch
  • Secret Beach
  • Tapiutan Island
  • Hidden Beach

Buy your tour online here. 

Big Dream Boat Man- a better alternative

If you don't want the fuss of swapping tours, or sharing the boat with loads of people, and simply want a more authentic experience, then I suggest you check out the guys at Big Dream Boat Man!

They offer multi-day excursions starting in either Coron or El Nido, and it's perfect if you hate organizing things, and want to see the best of what El Nido has to offer. You'll get to see some of the more famous sites, but you'll also get to go "off the beaten track" where there will be less crowds and more of a chance to connect with your surroundings and the beauty on offer.

The reviews for this company are crazy good, and if we had of found them on our travels, we would have headed out with them! We have full intentions of doing so in the future. But if you want something that's not associated with mass tourism, then you're gong to love this trip. Limited to 18 people, the chance to make friends, connect with locals, eat amazing food and do make a better decision for the environment, a trip with BigDreamBoatMan is a good choice!

Check it out here.
sunsets in el nido

Getting around El Nido

Getting around El Nido is fairly easy and you’ve got a couple of options: 

  • Moped: It’s super easy to get around El Nido via moped. You can rent them from the town for around 500 pesos for a day or 250 pesos for half a day. If you’re renting for a couple of days, then you’ll be able to secure an even better deal. Don’t forget your helmets!
  • Tuk-Tuk: Tuk tuks are super cheap in El Nido and if you’re just heading around the town then it’s a set fare of around 30 pesos per trip (This was true as of 2019).  You can arrange for a tuk tuk to take you further out, but it will cost more. 
  • Shuttles: There are various shuttle companies who offer shuttles to different spots in El Nido, for example you can get the Nacpan beach shuttle to and from the beach, which is cheap, and useful if you want to have a couple of cocktails on the beach (don’t drink and drive).

For more advice on getting around The Philippines you can check out my complete guide here. 

planning an el nido itinerary

Where to stay in El Nido

El Nido has lots of choices when it comes to finding somewhere to rest your head. Whether you’re looking for a hostel, romantic hotel for two, basic cheap accommodation, or even something more unique like “glamping”, they’ve got it all.

You can check all the best places to stay in El Nido with our awesome guide!

Budget for El Nido

You’ll be happy to hear that El Nido is actually very reasonable when it comes to budget. You could easily survive on a budget of around $30 per day, and that would include a nice place to stay, 3 meals a day and your moped rental!

If you choose to do the tours, they only cost around $12-20 which isn’t too bad either.

Classic Filipino BBQ!

Final Tips

I highly recommend you get a local sim in The Philippines as the Wifi is known to be the worst in all of Southeast Asia and I can confirm that’s true. You can actually get a sim card ahead of time right here. 

My second and final tip is to purchase some water shoes and a water bag. Both are super cheap and the water shoes will be perfect for island hopping and walking through rocks, on the boats etc, and when you are heading off and on boats, you can protect your cameras/phones etc with your water bag! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post on 3 days in El Nido! Hopefully this will help you plan your adventures a little better and don’t forget you can check out my complete guide on the best things to do in El Nido for even more inspiration. 

Any questions or comments then simply drop a comment below.

Happy travels! 

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Some images courtesy of Deposit Photos.
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