El Nido Palawan

Right in the far north of Palawan in the Philippines, El Nido has exploded as a tourist destination in recent years – largely due to the excellent beaches along the coast! The town of El Nido itself is the main hub of tourist activity – but travel further afield and you will find cleaner beaches, secluded villages and local culture.

As a relatively new destination, figuring out where to stay in El Nido can be tricky. This area comprises a large mainland area with small villages along the coast, as well as 45 small islands. El Nido is one of the safer parts of the Philippines, but it’s still important to gather your bearings before jumping right in.

That’s why we’ve created this guide. We’ve figured out the five best neighborhoods in El Nido, and arranged them based on who they are best for. Looking for a great party spot? We have you covered. Prefer something a bit quieter? Don’t worry, we have some great suggestions for you too!

So let’s get started!

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in El Nido

  • Where to stay in El Nido for the first time – Caalan Beach
  • Where to stay in El Nido for nightlife – Marimegmeg
  • Coolest place to stay in El Nido – Nacpan

El Nido Palawan

Where to Stay in El Nido

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in El Nido.

Best Hostel in El Nido: Happiness Hostel

As the highest rated hostel in El Nido, Happiness Hostel has to take our top pick for best backpacker accommodation in the area! It’s location in the heart of El Nido Town is perfect for exploring all the most popular attractions, and is ideal for those visiting the area on a strict budget.

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Best Hotel in El Nido: Seaside Hue Resort

In keeping with the Nacpan Beach area that it is based in, Seaside Hue Resort is our off the beaten path pick in El Nido! This hidden gem comes with colorful houses, great facilities and a complimentary breakfast. It is located right on the beach, giving you a serene place to wake up every morning.

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Best Airbnb in El Nido: Sampaguita Villa

This gorgeous villa is traditional in style – giving you a truly unique experience a few minutes walk from both Caalan Beach and El Nido Town! Though prices are more than reasonable for solo travellers and couples, they have two bedrooms making it a great option for families heading to the area.

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El Nido Neighborhood Guide

El Nido is a large peninsula on the top of Palawan. Most tourists stick in the area surrounding the main town, but there are plenty of great options across the region! El Nido is surprisingly diverse, with a wide array of activities and culinary treats awaiting you. There are also a few good party spots, and some decent beaches outside of the main area.

El Nido Town is not only the place where most tourists flock, but also one of the cheapest parts of the region! This is where you will find the party strips, beach facilities and tourist traps. If you are on a budget, we recommend avoiding the beachfront area – but the rest of the town is deceptively cheap and has plenty to offer.

In terms of nightlife,  whilst El Nido Town has the biggest range of options we prefer Marimegmeg! This is a laid back beach resort by day, but has some of the most unique nightlife options in the evenings. Whilst you won’t get the pulsing clubs of El Nido Town here, it is a great opportunity to mingle with other guests and locals.

About halfway between El Nido Town and Marimegmeg is Corong Corong Beach! The beach in the main town is amongst one of the dirtiest in the island, however, Corong Corong has some great facilities and is safer to swim in. This makes it a great pick for families visiting the area.

On the opposite side of El Nido Town is Caalan Beach. Whilst first time visitors might instinctively flock to the main town, we believe Caalan is a much better option! It is quieter, whilst still well connected with El Nido Town. It is also where most of the island hopping tours depart from due to the smaller port.

Finally, we also recommend heading outside of the main tourist strip and exploring further afield in El Nido whilst you are there! Nacpan is our favourite, and has a secluded atmosphere whilst still benefiting from plenty of excellent facilities. It also has one of the best beaches in the area.

Still undecided? Check out our longer guides below!

El Nido Neighborhood Guide

5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in El Nido

Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods in El Nido. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.

#1 Caalan Beach – Where to stay in El Nido for your first time

Just north of El Nido Town, Caalan Beach is a great introduction to the area for first time travellers – especially if this is your first trip around the Philippines! It has a much calmer atmosphere than its larger neighbour, however, it is still within easy walking distance of the main attractions.

Caalan Beach, El Nido

Caalan Beach is also where most of the tour companies offering island-hopping excursions are based – giving you the quickest route to the gorgeous region! Caalan Beach is somewhat cleaner than the beach in El Nido, providing a great spot for sunbathing and admiring the ocean views.

More awesome things to see and do in Caalan Beach

  • Head to Maambeng Travel and Tours where you can enjoy an island-hopping experience for reasonable prices
  • The large Caalan Beach is much quieter than others in the area – and comes with excellent sunbathing facilities
  • Yes Yes Diving are the most popular scuba diving operators in the region, and they offer PADI certification for decent rates
  • Take a wander along the Caalan Beach Walking Path – it stretches from the beach right into El Nido Town
  • Harmony Floating Bar is technically in El Nido Town – but it is only a ten-minute walk from Caalan Beach and is great for nightlife
  • Cadlao Resort & Restaurant, located right on the beach, offer a wide range of local delicacies and international dishes

Best Hostel Caalan Beach: Sun Valley Inn

Located halfway between Caalan Beach and El Nido Town, Sun Valley Inn gives backpackers the best of both worlds! They have a restaurant on-site offering budget-friendly meals throughout the day, and a small communal area where you can play games and meet other guests.

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Best Hotel in Caalan Beach: Bella Athena Garden

This hotel is reasonably new but already comes with excellent reviews! Guests are given free bike rental – providing an excellent way to explore the region. A complimentary Asian style breakfast is also included in the rate, as well as high-speed WiFi throughout the property.

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Best Airbnb in Caalan Beach: Sampaguita Villa

If you want an authentic El Nido experience, Sampaguita Villa is a typical house of the region allowing you the chance to live like a local whilst in town! Surrounded by beautiful gardens, this is a calm oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourism strips. Guests can also enjoy facilities at a nearby hotel.

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#2 El Nido Town – Where to stay in El Nido on a budget

Surprisingly, the main tourist town in El Nido is also the most budget-friendly! The waterfront itself is tourist trap levels of expensive, but even just a few seconds inland you will find the best prices in the area. It also comes with the best tourism infrastructure thanks to the recent boom in activity.

El Nido Town, El Nido
| source: Jack Versloot (Flickr)

In the evening, the town burst into life with the largest nightlife scene in El Nido! If you want a typical clubbing experience, El Nido Town is the place to be. You can also hop on board a boat at the pier in the town centre to take a trip to the gorgeous, verdant Cadlao Island if you want something quieter and more scenic.

More awesome things to see and do in El Nido Town

  • Climb up to the top of Taraw Cliff – the highest viewpoint in the town, you will be rewarded with panoramic views across El Nido and the islands
  • Nagkalit Kalit Falls are another great scenic attraction right in the heart of El Nido – they’re easy to get to regardless of your ability
  • You can hop on board a boat to Cadlao Island – or if you want something a little more off the beaten path, check out Entalula Island instead
  • Want to party? We recommend starting your night off at the aptly named Rooftop where you can sample reasonably priced cocktails and admire the view
  • Keep the night going at Happiness Beach Bar – a little pricier, but they are the best rated cocktail bar in the town
  • Beat your hangover in the morning with a trip to ArtCafe – though not right on the beach, it comes with great views and even better prices!

Best Hostel El Nido Town: Happiness Hostel

Located right above the famous Happiness Beach Bar, this hostel takes you right to the heart of the action! It also comes with the best ratings in the region thanks to the excellent social facilities. For backpackers that want to meet other travellers whilst in El Nido, this is the perfect choice.

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Best Hotel in El Nido Town: Cuna Hotel

This three star hotel might seem pretty basic – but it comes with some great facilities, especially considering the budget friendly price point! Rooms come with views either of the beach or of the surrounding mountains and are fully air conditioned. An American style breakfast is included every morning.

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Best Airbnb in El Nido Town: The Apartments Small Lagoon

The Apartments is a small accommodation chain located in El Nido Town – and Small Lagoon is one of their best rated properties. They come with superhost status, ensuring you enjoy the best levels of service possible. Apartments come with well stocked kitchens, as well as high speed fibre optic WiFi – perfect for digital nomads!

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#3 Corong Corong Beach – Best neighborhood in El Nido for families

Corong Corong Beach is located just south of El Nido Town and is the perfect pick for families in the area! Though it is within easy travelling distance from the airport and the main town, Corong Corong has a calmer atmosphere and a safer beach. The water in El Nido Town is heavily polluted, whilst Corong Corong is more swimmable – especially in the off season.

Corong Corong Beach, El Nido
| source: Xavier Smet (Wikicommons)

Thanks to the better water conditions, Corong Corong is home to some excellent water sports companies! Whilst it can get busy during the day with tourists visiting from El Nido Town, this mostly clears up in the evenings meaning you get to relax and admire the laid-back atmosphere the town is still known for.

More awesome things to see and do in Corong Corong Beach

  • Unwind on the gorgeous sands of Corong Corong Beach, with great views across the bay and swimmable waters
  • El Nido Sailing offer boat hire – as well as taster sessions and courses on yacht and catamaran sailing
  • If you’re interested in diving, Plankton Divers offer scuba diving, freediving and snorkelling – and even have some child friendly activities
  • Relax at Namaste El Nido – the most popular spa in the area, they offer a variety of holistic therapies and relaxation experiences
  • If you’re more interested in seeing the beautiful sights that lay inland in El Nido, Tao Expeditions have some excellent packages
  • Lion’s Bar and Restaurant is located right on the beach – they have great prices on food and a kid friendly menu

Best Hostel Corong Corong Beach: Big Paul Hostel 

With fantastic reviews, spacious rooms and sturdy furnishings, Big Paul Hostel offers great value only a stone’s throw away from the beach! A complimentary breakfast of toast, fruit and hot beverages is provided every morning. Rooms are fully air conditioned and come with comfortable mattresses.

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Best Hotel in Corong Corong Beach: El Nido Moringa Resort

For families visiting El Nido, Moringa Resort offers great value for money in the heart of Corong Corong Beach! All of their rooms can sleep at least three adults – with a few also being able to accommodate two adults and two children. The front desk is 24 hours, providing you with great tourism information services.

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Best Airbnb in Corong Corong Beach: El Nido Beachfront Villa

This is one of the few Airbnb options in El Nido that is located right on the beach! Sleeping up to four guests in two bedrooms, this is a great pick for families looking for a relaxing getaway in the Philippines. Ping pong and beach racket equipment is provided to keep you entertained throughout your stay.

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#4 Marimegmeg – Where to stay in El Nido for nightlife

South of Corong Corong, Marimegmeg is one of El Nido’s hidden gems! This neighborhood, as well as the neighboring Las Cabañas Beach area, are known for having the most spectacular sunsets in El Nido. This makes them the perfect backdrop to experience the laid back nightlife that Marimegmeg has developed.

Marimegmeg, El Nido

Whilst most tourists head to El Nido Town to party, if you want something a bit more easy going with a local flair Marimegmeg is well worth a visit! The bars here are a little pricier, but give you the perfect atmosphere to socialise with both locals and other visitors.

More awesome things to see and do in Marimegmeg

  • Marimegmeg Beach Bar is the main nightlife venue in the area with beach views, regular parties during the tourist season and even the occasional deal
  • The Shed Beach Bar, in neighbouring Las Cabañas, has an even more laid-back atmosphere – perfect for couples visiting the area
  • Head to the Las Cabañas zipline during the day where you can enjoy an adrenaline pumping journey to the beach
  • Interested in yoga? El Nido Yoga are based south of Las Cabañas and offer sessions every morning as well as classes for beginners
  • Vanilla Beach El Nido is located right on Marimegmeg Beach and offers a unique selection of souvenirs and local crafts
  • The Beach Shack also operates as a bar in the evenings – but is more well known for its excellent sandwiches right on the beach during the day

Best Hostel Marimegmeg: Lexias El Nido

Holding the title of the best sunsets in El Nido, this is one for backpackers that want to chill! Only a short walk away from the famous beach bar, it also gives you easy access to the area’s nightlife. It is on top of a hill – but if you can handle the short walk, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views and an infinity pool.

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Best Hotel in Marimegmeg: Marimegmeg Beach Club

Attached to the Marimegmeg Beach Bar, this hotel is right in the heart of the area! It is situated right on the beach, giving you immediate access to the unspoiled sands and breathtaking sunset views. A continental breakfast with vegetarian options is also available.

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Best Airbnb in Marimegmeg: Treehouse

One of the most unique Airbnb accommodations in the area, this apartment is housed within a treehouse overlooking the beach! The surrounding forest provides a calm environment where you can kick back and relax. It is powered entirely with renewable sources – perfect for the eco-conscious.

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#5 Nacpan – Coolest place to stay in El Nido

Located in the far north of El Nido, Nacpan is far less visited by tourists but is well worth a trip if you want to experience local culture! There are plenty of excellent towns outside of the main tourist area, but Nacpan is the easiest to get to from the airport – making it a good starting point for further excursions.

Nacpan, El Nido
| source: Jakub Barzycki (Shutterstock)

The beach in the area is one of the cleanest in El Nido, and offers gorgeous views towards the Bolog Islands! Though Nacpan does not have as many tourist facilities as the larger towns in the south, the locals are friendly and more than willing to help.

More awesome things to see and do in Nacpan

  • The Gardens Day Club is a small waterpark just slightly inland from Nacpan – perfect for adults and kids alike
  • Nacpan Beach is a large, unspoiled stretch of sand looking out towards the South China Sea
  • Take a trip out to the Bolog Islands and discover some of the most secluded areas of El Nido
  • Nacpan Beach Van Transport specialise in airport transfers – but they can also help with pre-arranged itineraries of El Nido at reasonable rates
  • Sunmai Nacpan Beach might be the most expensive bar and restaurant in the area – but the views and excellent service make it more than worth the price

Best Hostel Nacpan: Mad Monkey Nacpan Beach

Whilst Nacpan Beach isn’t quite a party resort yet, Mad Monkey nevertheless offers some fantastic beach parties throughout the week! This makes it a great choice for socialising with other guests. They also offer booze cruises and weekly island hopping trips for guests at reduced rates

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Best Hotel in Nacpan: Seaside Hue Resort

This colorful hotel will take your breath away! Aside from the striking decor, it is well placed right on Nacpan Beach – giving you easy access to all of the main attractions in the area. An Asian style breakfast is provided every morning – as well as some American dishes for the less adventurous.

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Best Airbnb in Nacpan: Romantic Luxury Villa

Not only is this our top pick for Nacpan – it is also a great choice for couples visiting El Nido! A truly secluded villa, it comes with beach views and a calm atmosphere. The host also comes with superhost status.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in El Nido

El Nido should be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting Palawan as it’s just drop-dead gorgeous. Though El Nido Town can get busy and has many tourist traps, heading further out will reveal some gorgeous beaches, laid-back local attractions and excellent island-hopping opportunities.

For the best area, we are going to go with Nacpan Beach! This truly is a hidden gem in the far north of El Nido, and is well worth a visit if you want to get away from the main tourist strips.

That being said, every area has its own benefits depending on what you are looking for. We hope this guide has helped you to narrow down your options.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

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