El Nido (officially the Municipality of El Nido) is a first class municipality and managed resource protected area in the provinceof Palawan in the Philippines. It is about 420 kilometres (260 mi) southwest of Manila, and about 238 kilometres (148 mi) northeast of Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s capital. According to CNNGo, it is the Best Beach and Island destination in the Philippines for its “extraordinary natural splendour and ecosystem.”
Situated in Bacuit Bay, El Nido, covering a land area of 465.1 square kilometres (179.6 sq mi) in the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan, is bordered by the Linapacan Strait in the north, the Sulu Sea in the east, and the South China Sea in the west. It is composed of 45 islands and islets, each has its own unique geological formations. The highest peak is at Cadlao Island, towering up to 640 metres (2,100 ft) above sea level.
Together with Sulu Archipelago, Sabah, and South China Sea, El Nido, being part of Palawan, is located in the tectonically active and seismically active Sunda Plate, a plate that is entirely separate from the Philippine Mobile Belt to which the rest of the Philippines belongs. The Permian to Paleogene rocks and limestone cliffs of El Nido are similar to those that can be found in Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Guilin in China, as well as Krabi in Thailand, all of which are part of the Sunda Plate.
El Nido has been inhabited by humans as early 2680 BC, or even up to 22,000 years ago. This was confirmed by the fossils and burial sites, dating back to the Late Neolithic Age, that can be found in many caves and excavation sites surrounding the municipality, particularly the Ille Cave in New Ibajay. Chinese traders had been regularly visiting the area of El Nido for its edible birds’ nests during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 CE). In fact, El Nido is specifically mentioned in Chinese records as far back 1225 CE. Caho Ju-Kua, a member of the Chinese Royal Family, Trade Commissioner and Superintendent of Customs of the Port of Chuan How wrote about the island, Pa-Lao-Yu or Land of Beautiful Harbors in his book Chu Fan Chai.
During the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the town was under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Taytay, which was the capital of the former Province of Calamianes from 1818, and the Province of Castilla, the area of what is now known as northern Palawan, from 1858. It remained part of Taytay until 1916 when it formally became an independent municipality. The new municipality was then known as Bacuit.
On June 17, 1954, Republic Act No. 1140 was approved changing the name of the town from Bacuit to its present name El Nido after the edible nests of swiftlets (collocalia fuciphaga), found in the crevices of its limestone cliffs. These nests, nido in Spanish, the main ingredient for the gourmet nido soup, are being sold at approximately US$ 3,000 per kilogram.
El Nido is a showcase of the Philippines’ geological and biological diversity. In recognition of the importance of its unique ecosystem, the Philippine government made the entire area of El Nido first to a turtle sanctuary in 1984, then to a marine reserve park in 1991, and finally in 1998, to that of a managed resource protected area.
Climate and sea conditions
The climate in El Nido is distinguished by two seasons: generally dry, from December to May, and wet, from June to November. April and May are typically the driest months, while the heaviest rainfall occurs around August. The Northeast wind blows from December to March, occasionally interchanging with the North wind during December to February. The Southwest wind is felt from June to October while the East wind, the mildest of all winds, blows during the months of April and May.
The average surface temperature ranges from a low of 22°C to a high of 33°C. The coolest temperatures are usually experienced during the month of January, while the hottest temperatures are felt in April and May.
The current in El Nido differ from very slight to moderate depending on tidal conditions. Divers and snorkellers can swim back to the boat without difficulty since currents are usually very manageable.
The average water temperature ranges from 24°C to 26°C during the months of December to March and 26°C to 29°C during the months of April to November.
Water visibility ranges from 3 meters to 10 meters from December to February, 10 meters to 30 meters from March to May, and 10 meters to 15 meters from June to November. The best time for diving at El Nido is during the months of March to May, as surface conditions are good.
Island Transvoyager’s “ITI” at Lio Airport.
The fastest and most direct way to El Nido is from Manila. The flight takes one hour and fifteen minutes, and lands directly at Lio airport, which is located about 4 kilometres from the Población. Price for a one way ticket around 7,000 PHP
The main roads of El Nido are organised around a set of radial and circumferential roads that radiate and circle in and around the town proper and its rural Barangays. Its interconnected roads are connected to the major highway that leads Puerto Princesa City, Palawan’s capital. Daily Buses and Minivans around 600 PHP depart at San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa for El Nido. Tricycles are used for short-distance trips around the town proper.
The 60 km national road between Taytay and El Nido was rehabilitated, and this has helped boost tourism and business activity in the area.
Seaports and piers
The main port in El Nido, which is under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), is located in Buena Suerte (Zone II), although a number of small and accessible wharfs, such as the San Fernando pier, are being used in other rural barangays. A number of ferry and other sea vessels owned by Atienza Shipping Lines and San Nicholas Shipping Lines have regular trips from Manila to El Nido and almost on daily basis from El Nido to Coron (Busunga). The ride takes around 8 hours depending on sea condition. Price around 1,200 PHP.