Exploring El Nido on a scooter is one of the highlights of our Philippines trip! It is a convenient, cheap and a fun way to get to all the undiscovered “future tourist traps.” We have seen things that we would never have got to see on a tour bus and met some friendly locals and made a few friends along the way.
TRICYCLE VS SCOOTER
When we first arrived in El Nido we hired a tricycle with a driver to get around. It was a great experience and I would suggest everyone tries it for a day or two while you finding your way around. I can remember my first ride in a tricycle, sitting next to Liza and thinking… “How are two people suppose to sit in here without breaking the chassis?” I looked at Liza giggling and realised she was thinking the exact same thing. Only later during our trip we realised that there is always space! One day we drove past a tricycle with 6 people stacked inside… with a mattress strapped to the top… and a chicken… It makes an awesome story!
WHY EXPLORE EL NIDO ON A SCOOTER
Although catching a tricycle was fun, it actually becomes a bit pricey after a while, especially if you want to visit places that are a bit further away. One day we hired a tricycle with a driver to take us on an excursion and the cost for one day was more than hiring a scooter for 8 days with petrol. So we hired a scooter to save a few Pesto’s but had no idea what epic adventures we would have. We have put together a breakdown of some of the things we found in El Nido on a scooter.
THE NO NAME SCOOTER HIRE PLACE IN TOWN
GPS: 11°10’48.4″N 119°23’23.1″E
Hiring a scooter in El Nido is very easy and laid back. We hired a bike for approx 500 pesto’s a day from the scooter hire next to the police station in town. We presumed since they right next to the station they should be legal and roadworthy. The scooter hire just needed an ID (which they keep until you return the scooter) and off we went. We didn’t have a number plate or helmet but the bike had a registered sticker so we just went with it.
GETTING TO NACPAN BEACH
GPS: 11°19’15.0″N 119°25’38.4″E
We heard Nacpan beach come up a few times while out and about from the locals and decided to check it out. Before getting to the beach we had to go through the tourism office. They normally charge a small fee to get to the beach. The roads were so muddy that they were letting people pass for free at their own risk after signing the register.
We were in the Philippines early October and only had about an hour or two of rain per day. It really didn’t worry us… it was a bit of a blessing and really cooled us down. If you have been to Philippines you will know how hot it can get. An hour after the storm you would have never said that there had just been a downpour.
EXPLORING NACPAN BEACH
The day we went to Nacpan the roads were extra muddy but it was such an adventurous ride. We giggled and laughed all the way and got a little muddy too. I couldn’t believe that these roads would lead us to one of the most beautiful beaches in El Nido.
After we arrived at Nacpan beach, we wiggled our toes in the sand and we both agreed that the muddy road was a small price for an unplanned adventure. We were rewarded with peaceful views, crystal clear waters and beautiful white sands. What I would give to be back there now?
I think everyone should experience a beach like this at least once in their lifetime. Local fishing boats are docked along the shore adding to the perfect photo. Nacpan is a photographers dream!
I could not resist jumping into the crystal clear water. If you would like to try something a little different there is a floating bar available to enjoy a cocktail or two.
GPS: 11.207950, 119.416192
Lio beach is located within Bacuit bay on the west coast of Palawaan. Getting to Lio beach is easy, once we signed in at the check point, the security pointed us in the right direction and we just followed the signs.
The beach is clean and well maintained with an eco-friendly approach as part of the Lio Tourism estate. There is a lot of development taking place around the area. (I can only imagine how much different it is going to be in a few years.) The beach seems to be a favorite amongst the locals with only the occasional tourist. We snapped a few pictures and enjoyed a relaxing stroll along the shore, the weather was perfect. There is a promenade walk under the trees if you prefer some shade on a hot day.
PUKKA BAR @ LIO BEACH
GPS: 11.207252, 119.415629
We came across the Pukka bar, just opposite the pier on Lio beach. The bar had an awesome vibe with a live DJ, a friendly barman, awesome decor and cold beers. We saw a few plates of food come past from the kitchen and it looked delicious.
SNAP THE LIO SIGN
GPS: 11.207950, 119.416192
Just outside the Pukka bar we took a few photos of the Lio sign. There are a few shops, souvenirs for sale and you can hire a canoe or snorkeling gear. It’s worth spending a morning exploring the beach and catch a bit of sunshine. If you lucky you may even spot a plane landing at the airport next to the beach.
EL NIDO AIRPORT
GPS: 11°12’08.1″N 119°24’59.4″E
The airport is right next to Lio beach. El Nido is quite a remote place so it a bit pricey to fly to there directly from Manila and it takes just over an hour. If you looking for a cheaper option you can fly to Puerto Princesa and then drive up to El Nido. Puerto Princesa has a variety of transport options available, catch a jeepney, a tricycle, hire a car or even a scooter. The drive to El Nido will take approx 5 to 6 hours depending on the road. We decided to book a flight directly to El Nido from Manila with AirSwift. It would have taken a extra 2 days out of our trip if we went to Puerto Princesa first.
Related Article: Milagrosa Ferry from Iloilo to Palawan
ALL ROADS LEAD TO EL NIDO
A huge advantage about hiring a scooter is that you can travel in your own time and stop when you want. Liza and I simply followed the road and stopped whenever we saw something that interest us. We got an insight of the roads less traveled, took photos of the local houses, animals, abandoned structures, beautiful landscapes and even met some of the friendly local Filipinos.
THE TOWN OF EL NIDO
GPS: 11.180000, 119.390155
There wasn’t nearly as many shopping options as in Manila but you could find all the essentials, restaurants, bars, live music and a few souvenirs for mom. People are helpful and most speak English fairly well.
The streets get narrow and traffic can become congested in some places. If driving gets a little overwhelming just park your scooter and explore by foot. The town is not very big but make a note where you parked so you don’t loose your scooter or walk down ten different alleys to try find your ride.
TATTOO AT ISLAND LYF INK
GPS: 11.179735, 119.387964
We were suppose to get a tattoo during our travels in Goa but our plans didn’t quite work out. When we saw Island Lyf Ink studio in El Nido we decided to get a permanent souvenir of our Philippines adventure. Liza has had a few tattoos done before but this was my first tattoo and being a newbie there were defiantly some huge butterflies flying around in my stomach. Our tattoo artist Lloyd is excellent, he is polite, professional and his work is top notch.
After watching Liza get her tattoo the butterflies went out the window and excitement took over. We decided to get something plain but effective and eventually settled for a Wanderlust tattoo on our collar bone. In short Wanderlust means “An impulse, longing, or urge to wander or travel”
Would I do it again? Yes! Was it sore? Honestly it wasn’t very painful and I’m already wondering what I should get next.
HAPPINESS EXPRESS BAR
GPS: 11°10’49.0″N 119°23’18.8″E
Lloyd gave us a free “Happiness” shooter to celebrate our new tattoo at the nearby Mediterranean Happiness Beach Bar. The bar is unique with swings for chairs, catchy slogans and chilled vibes.
After our daily shot of Happiness, we celebrated our new souvenir with the friendly bar staff who all loved our new tat. We decided to stay for lunch and take advantage of their happy hour margaritas which was like an alcoholic slush puppy, it’s very refreshing on a hot day. We ordered the “Maza to share” off the menu which we highly recommend! (Just thinking about it is making my mouth water)
FALAFEL SNACK FOOD
GPS: 11.180754, 119.390386
Did someone say falafel? Along Real Street, not far from the tattoo shop we found this little gem. This little take away serves chicken, beef and vegan falafels with a choice of fresh salads, pickles and sauces. The price doesn’t dent the pocket, its filling and was so delicious that we came back 3 times.
GUSTO GELATO ICE CREAM
GPS: 11.181131, 119.391123
I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream… There was no way we were riding past this ice cream shop one more time without stopping, my persistence paid off and Liza agreed to stop!
I tried Avocado flavor which was definitely a bit out of the ordinary! On the other hand the cookies and cream and Nutella was to die for.
BUENA SUERTE BEACH
GPS: 11.180547, 119.389026
The main beach in El Nido Town is called Buena Suerte Beach, boats line up throughout the day taking visitors on different tours and the beach comes to life at night with different bars and restaurants that have amazing views.
** I just had to include this picture that we took on the beach. (This is Liza’s favourite picture and how cute?!)
TOUR A,B,C,D – TOUR BOATS
So since we arrived all we heard and read about was Tour A, B, C and D. They are tours to different islands and some include snorkeling and visits to pristine beaches. We agreed we had to endure at least one touristy thing so we booked tour C. The morning we were set to sail Liza’s foot was terribly swollen but we agreed to still try anyway. We arrived at the beach and it was packed, I silently gulped and tried to convince Liza to abort our mission but she insisted. We were shown where to sit on the boat which had about 40 tourists not even 60 seconds later we were back on the beach looking for a tricycle to take us to the clinic.
GPS: 11.179362, 119.390455
After a small panic attack, a jab and some love and attention from the amazing nurses, Liza was on the road to recovery. We found out the hard way that you can get bitten by tiny sand flies, and have enough bites your skin can swell and get really irritated. If you planning a visit please remember insect repellent!
THE EL NIDO ON A SCOOTER JOURNEY CONTINUES…
We were back on the scooter heading for the open road in the opposite direction to see what we could discover next. We passed some waterfalls, plenty of little local shops and dozens of locals waving and smiling.
STOP TO ADMIRE THE VIEW
GPS: 11.158434, 119.397855
There are view points along the way from town to Corong Corong beach so if you can it is worth pulling over to take your camera out. This was one of our favourite views to stop.
BELLA VISTA BAR
GPS: 11.149002, 119.397299
We followed a dirt road that headed down towards the ocean so we came to the entrance of this little bar called Bella Vista. It is a great spot to sit and relax while admiring this view. It wasn’t very busy and offered us an opportunity to unwind, dip our toes in the ocean and cool down.
CORONG CORONG BEACH
GPS: 11.146065, 119.396162
If you continue further along the road, just continue to the top of the hill. Once you see an unusual amount of tricycles and scooters parked on the side of the road you know you have arrived at Corong Corong Beach. There are some great spots to swim and it has some of the best bars in El Nido.
MAREMEGMEG BEACH BAR
GPS: 11.146187, 119.396318
Best Cocktails! Nearly every bar in El Nido has happy hour. These guys have a huge variety of cocktails in every colour, shape and form. The barmen are full of character and you can have your drink served to you on a swing. The bar has Wi-Fi available. (The signal on the island is not very reliable and when it is, the signal is very weak)
Maremegmeg has kayaks and SUP boards to hire. We hired a transparent kayak for the afternoon and went around Depeldel Island which you can reach at the end of the beach.
THE BEACH SHACK
GPS: 11.146050, 119.395984
The beach shack has some delicious options on their menu. They provide chairs on the beach to relax, soak up the sun and order lunch and drinks. We couldn’t get enough of their Calamansi slush which is made up from a local lime and crushed ice. It’s really refreshing on a hot day! The bar has a great vibe and good music. They also have Wi-Fi available, just ask the waiter for the password.
FULL MOON PARTY @ THE BEACH SHACK
Every full moon the beach shack host a Full Moon party where they will have a DJ playing until the sun comes up, the crowd loved the fire dancers and the fire works!
El NIDO ZIP LINE TO DEPELDEL ISLAND
GPS: 11.143789, 119.392989
This was a very adventurous stop and I am not talking about the actual zip line… it was getting there. If you jump on your scooter from Corong Corong Beach and carry on a little further you will see the sign that says zip line this way. What the sign doesn’t tell you is…. get there at your own risk! (There is a easier way along Corong Corong beach just follow the signs.)
Going in the end of October and having an hour or two showers every day, the dirt road and hill to the top of the zip line becomes a mud slide. We came out battered and bruised, but the actual zip lining was well worth it!
The zip line is 750 meters and there are two options available. You can either sit or lie superman style. Two people can go at a time so you don’t have to share the incredible view on your own.
Coming back you have a choice of a 10 min walk to the beach below or you can zip line back again to the start (which is the option we went for)
The views are spectacular and the experience offers a unique way to see the island and it’s beauty. It’s not as scary as it looks, its actually quite slow and laid back.
LAS CABANAS BEACH RESORT
GPS: 11.144233, 119.393028
Leaving the best for last! At the end of Corong Corong beach you will find one of the places to stay on the island. This is the place to unwind and enjoy the view, the service is first class, food is delicious and they have some great cocktails! You can read more about our stay at Las Cabanas Beach resort here.
Las Cabanas is most popular for it’s incredible sunsets. If you explore El Nido on a scooter you will often pass locals asking if you going to Las Cabanas to see the sunset.
There is snorkeling gear available from the bar at a reasonable daily rate. Ask the staff to point you to the best snorkeling spots and you will be mesmerised for hours!
Have you explored El Nido on a scooter? What is your favourite way to explore a new city? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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