El Nido vs Port Barton

Planning a trip to Palawan but can’t decide where to go between El Nido and Port Barton? Curious about which one is worth visiting?

Both El Nido and Port Barton offer beautiful beaches and tropical islands that would fulfill anyone’s holiday dream. To help you decide, we put them face to face.

Beaches in El Nido

What leaves the travelers speechless is not the small, sleepy town of El Nido, but the spectacular Bay Bacuit with all its islands, crystal clear lagoons, hidden beaches and caves carved by the crystal blue sea. Bacuit Bay is a heavenly place with a surreal beauty that is very uniques to the Philippines.

The main beach in El Nido town, crowded majorly by hotels and restaurants, is not so inviting for swimming or sunbathing. This beach, however, is the starting point for excursions to the islands of the Bacuit.

While Corong Corong Beach is not far from the center of El Nido, it offers a quieter atmosphere and spectacular sunsets that would definitely be appreciated by anyone.

The beautiful 7 Commandos Beach which has sugary white sand and coconut palms, is located on the coast of El Nido and can be reached by boat.

Probably the spectacular Nacpan Beach, which is about an hour and a half drive north from the town, is one of the beaches in the Philippines.

Beaches in Port Barton

Port Barton is a destination that gains less attention compared to the other destinations in Palawan which makes it less crowded compared to El Nido. Port Barton is a perfect place for a stress-free holiday. It is a charming place where time seems to stand still and where the luxuriant nature prevails over everything. The long stretch of beach overlooking the town of Port Barton is the area that is most frequented by backpackers and where you will find most of the hotels, chalets, and restaurants.

You may rent a boat or walk a little to find some deserted beautiful beaches. One of the nearest is the “White Beach” which is reached along a path that passes through the forest.

Island Hopping El Nido

Those who travel to El Nido for the first time will find the long 6–hour minibus ride journey to El Nido as something unforgettable. Besides that, they will also be reminded always that El Nido is truly a spectacular place making the 6 hours of travel worth it.

El Nido is a place that resembles Halong Bay in Vietnam and Maya Bay in Thailand. But is El Nido really that spectacular? Good question. Until a few years ago the small town of El Nido, which is found at the northern tip of Palawan, was unknown to foreign tourists. El Nido was actually a popular destination among divers who knew it well due to its abundant marine life, and later on became a famous and popular tourist destination in the Philippines which attracts tourists from around the world almost every day throughout the year. Those who go to El Nido remain fascinated by the beautiful islands with white sandy beaches and the scenic cliffs overlooking the turquoise sea.

The small town of El Nido is simply the entry point to one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the world: the Bacuit Bay archipelago which consists of 45 limestone islands.

The islands in Bacuit Bay are not only considered as a tropical paradise but are actually unique places with breathtaking views above and below the sea. It is difficult to describe the beauty of Bacuit Bay, you will have to go see it for yourself. There are standard island hopping tours which are categorized into tours A, B, C, and D.

For those who travel in groups (at least 4 people), we suggest you take a private boat so you can go island hopping freely without having to follow a fixed itinerary. This way you can decide to go to secluded beaches where you could stay away from the crowd of tourists.

Among the activities that can be done in El Nido are snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking.

Island Hopping Port Barton

Port Barton is a very peaceful destination with a very relaxing environment where you will never find fleets of tourists. Many consider Port Barton as one of the most attractive places in Palawan due to its simplicity and remoteness from the rest of the world. Its islands are basically what makes Port Barton very interesting, not only what’s seen in its land area is fascinating but its marine biodiversity as well – which may all be explored! Exciting, isn’t it?

There are 4 island hopping tours, known as Tour A, B, and C. The tours may vary depending on the routes but no matter what you choose, the quality of the scenery that will welcome you will undoubtedly take your breath away.

The most popular is Tour A which includes a visit to the Exotic Island, German Island and snorkeling at the Reef and the Twin Wide Reef. The islands of Port Barton are beautiful and are great places to relax at the beach in the shade of coconut trees and swim in the crystal blue sea.

For those wishing to explore the area better and go beyond the classic circuit, you may rent a boat. This way, you will have the opportunity to visit other beautiful islands and beaches that are completely deserted – basically experiencing the “I have a private beach” feel.

Accommodation in El Nido

In El Nido, you will find everything from budget to luxury. A wide choice of hotels, resorts, and boarding houses are located along the beaches of Corong Corong, El Nido. We are spoiled for choice.

On the islands of Bacuit Bay are the exclusive luxury resort chains such as El Nido Resorts (Pangulasian, Miniloc, and Lagen). The small Village Resort whose chalets overlook the beautiful 7 Commandos Beach is also highly recommended.

Accommodation in Port Barton

The largest resort in Port Barton has less than 15 rooms which have all basic facilities of an accommodation establishment.

Many small resorts are located on the beach of Port Barton, we highly recommend the Besaga Cottages, Greenviews Resort and Cassandra’s Cottages where you will have the feeling of being at home even if you are hundreds of kilometers away from where you actually live.

For those who prefer to stay far from the main beach, can opt for the Secret Paradise Resort & Turtle Sanctuary in the scenic Turtle Bay which is highly dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles. The Secret Paradise Resort is the best resort in the area but is also the most expensive. Other affordable resorts in secluded locations are White Beach AnnexMermaid Paradises JR Resort, Blue Cove Resort and Coconut Garden Island Resort.

Cost of travel

All in Port Barton costs less than in El Nido, from the restaurants, the hotels, to the island hopping tours.

Getting there

Port Barton is only three hours away by road from Puerto Princesa, while El Nido takes up to 6 hours of travel time. The airport of San Vicente that will facilitate travel for those who travel to Port Barton and El Nido, however, will become operational soon after the government of Palawan finishes the construction in the place.

At the moment only the small airline Swift Air operates flights from Manila and Cebu to El Nido Airport Lio. The ticket is quite expensive and most of the seats are allocated to the customers of El Nido Resort.

There are plans to expand the airport of El Nido and open it internationally, but we should wait several years before this happens. Currently, the cheapest way to travel to El Nido is to take a shuttle van that departs from Puerto Princesa.

The road to Port Barton, on the other hand, is in good condition, apart from the last stretch of about 30 minutes where there are works in progress for widening. This could be a problem for those who travel during the wettest months since the road may become inaccessible.

Although the road to El Nido is considered better than that of Port Barton, there are still rough roads along the way one you pass through Taytay. You can book online the shuttle van Puerto Princesa – El Nido / Puerto Princesa – Port Barton / Port Barton-El Nido

El Nido or Port Barton?

We believe that both destinations are worth a visit. If you have enough time available in Palawan you can plan an itinerary with an arrival in Puerto Princesa visit the Underground River and then proceed to Port Barton.  After a few days of stay in Port Barton, you can continue your journey by traveling on another shuttle van going to El Nido.

However, if you have a few days or a limited time, we recommend you to go to El Nido for you to experience its uniqueness which distinguishes Palawan, the most beautiful island in the world.

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