How To Get To El Nido Palawan In The Philippines

by David & Intan

El Nido, Palawan is a pristine, exotic island destination in the Philippines that can be reached by air, van, bus, or ferry.

It’s not hard to get there, but there are a bunch of different options so the process can be a bit confusing. There are also some old pages floating around out there with conflicting or outdated info.

Hopefully this post clears some things up about how to get to El Nido!

Where To Stay In El Nido


How To Get To El Nido Palawan

• Direct Flights

The easiest, fastest, and most expensive (but recommended) way to get to El Nido is one of the direct flights sold by AirSWIFT.

However, the El Nido airport (ENI) is not served internationally, so you’ll first need to fly to one of the big cities in the Philippines — Manila or Cebu — and go to El Nido from there.

You can shop for flights to the Philippines at Skyscanner.

AirSWIFT is a boutique airline that owns and runs the El Nido airport as a private airport, so it’s the only airline company you can fly with to get there.

It’s a bit strange how that works, and the monopoly does drive up the prices, but in this case at least it simplifies things!

(Tip: Sit on the left side of the plane if you want the best island views when flying in from Manila!)

The El Nido airport (also called Lio Airport) is not served internationally, so this means you will need to fly there from one of the following domestic airports in the Philippines:

  • Manila – Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL)
    Flight duration is 1h 15m and costs 6,800 PHP ($130 USD)
  • Cebu – Mactan–Cebu International Airport (CEB)
    Flight duration is 1h 40m and costs 5,650 PHP ($105 USD)
  • Coron – Francisco B. Reyes Airport (USU)
    Flight duration is 40 minutes and costs 4,000 PHP ($75 USD)
  • Cataclan/Boracay – Godofredo P. Ramos Airport (MPH)
    Flight duration is 1h 5m and costs 6,150 PHP ($115 USD)
  • Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS)
    Flight duration is 40 minutes and costs 2,400 PHP ($45 USD)

The Lio airport is located just 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from El Nido town, and the drive from the airport to town takes about 20 minutes.

When you arrive at the airport, there will be motor tricycle drivers waiting to transfer you to town, or your hotel can arrange a pickup for you if you ask them.

Shop Now: El Nido flights at Skyscanner

Plane at the Lio airport in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Boats and footprints at Helicopter Island beach in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines       Beach in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

• Van From Puerto Princesa

The second way to reach El Nido is by taking a van from Puerto Princesa. This is one of the most popular ways to go.

You can reach the Puerto Princesa Airport (PPS) by taking a flight from Manila (MNL) or Cebu (CEB).

Vans are waiting at the PPS airport and go daily to EN, or some companies can arrange to pick you up at a hotel in PPS.

From Puerto Princesa, the drive north covers about 270 kilometers (170 miles). The trip takes 5-6 hours by van and costs 875 PHP (~$17) per person.

Drone view of Entalula Beach and boats in Palawan, Philippines       Beach at Pinagbuyutan Island in Palawan, Philippines

• Bus From Puerto Princesa

The third option to get to El Nido is to take a bus from Puerto Princesa.

As above, you can reach the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS) by taking a flight from Manila (MNL) or Cebu (CEB).

From the PPS airport, the bus terminal is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away, so you will need to pay a tricycle driver to transfer you there.

The two bus companies are Cherry Bus and RoRo Bus. The bus drive from Puerto Princesa to EN takes 6-8 hours, and costs 500 PHP (~$10 USD) per person.

Beach hammock in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines    Travel guy relaxing on a beach in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

• Ferry Boat From Coron

Coron is El Nido’s less famous cousin to the north, and it shares some of the same incredible Palawan scenery.

Many people visit both places in the Philippines on the same trip, in which case taking a fast ferry to El Nido from Coron can make sense. The boat journey from/to Coron takes about 4 to 5 hours.

There are multiple companies running a ferry route between the two places now, and you can book tickets online at or Bookaway.

Read More: Coron To El Nido Ferry Boat

Drone view of Cadlao Island in Palawan, Philippines

• Multi-Day Sailing Expedition

If you have time, another very interesting way to get to El Nido Palawan is with a multi-day sailing trip that lasts up to 4 days and 3 nights, taking you all the way from Coron to El Nido, or vice versa, while seeing some of the islands in between.

This can be a great way to go island hopping in paradise without the crowds and time constraints of a simple day tour, and you get to see a lot of nice new islands that are off the beaten path and not included on the main day tours. It’s also a fun way to meet other travelers.

There are several companies offering multi-day trips in Palawan, but one of the highest rated is Big Dream Boat Man. They’re based in Coron, and they also have sailing expeditions that go all the way to El Nido, stopping at some amazing places along the way!

Book Now: Coron Palawan Sailing Expeditions

My woman on a boat at Cadlao Island in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

More Palawan Travel Tips

I hope this was helpful for planning your own Palawan trip. Looking for more information on this amazing island in the Philippines?

Don’t forget to check out my full El Nido Travel Guide with free tips, photos, and more!

See Also

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Doreen Pendgracs January 5, 2019 - 1:36 pm

I’ve not previously heard of El Nido, but the Philippines is on my radar as they are growing some great cocoa there. Thanks for connecting and enabling me to discover your blog.

David January 5, 2019 - 9:37 pm

Sure thing, thanks Doreen! I hope you do get a chance to check out the Philippines sometime, and especially El Nido!

Billy January 16, 2020 - 7:07 pm

What a great post. I love El Nido. It’s fantastic that you addressed the so many confusing information on how to get to El Nido. Great job!!

Sandy March 5, 2023 - 10:08 pm

I land in Manila and wanted to go to Boracay and El Nido but I’m confused where to start. I’m arriving on Mar 11 late evening so would probably leave to one the island on 12th and my return flight is from Manila on Mar 20 so I prefer to be back on the 19th. I’m assuming I only have time to see 2 island unless I can squeeze another island in close to the other 2

David & Intan March 6, 2023 - 3:48 am

Hi Sandy. Sure, that should be plenty of time to see El Nido and Boracay, but probably too rushed to add a third place. I would do El Nido first since it has more to see and do. And then spend some time relaxing in Boracay before you end back in Manila. Cheers


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