We’ve long heard about the highly raved about beautiful pristine beaches of Palawan, the crystal clear azure waters and finally we get to check it out for ourselves! Both of us absolutely love diving and couldn’t wait to dive at El Nido!
Ps. We went during the monsoon season but all turned out great! Read on to see our experience on what it’s like to dive during the rainy season!
What to look out for when choosing a dive company
So first thing first, the challenge was selecting a reliable and trustworthy dive company to dive with! There were just too many to choose from and after reading tons of reviews from online blogs and forums, we’ve decided to go ahead with Deep Blue Dive Seafari (highly recommended by us!).
When travelling, we’re willing to save on food/accommodation, but activities (especially when it involves safety) is something that we will never compromise on.
Always do your homework and research online first for travellers’ reviews of that shop. Check that their equipment look reasonable and safe (not rusty or looking too old). Assess the dive master’s knowledge, talk to them and make sure they know what they’re talking about. Never make a decision based on lowest price offered (red flag alert if their prices are too cheap to be true!)
We dived with Deep Blue Dive Seafari and we’re both very satisfied and happy with them. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a safe and trustable company to dive with. You can read more reviews on them here by other travellers!
We did a 6 dives package (2 days) with them and lunch was included too! Lunch was prepared by the chef on board and it was sooooo good! 😀
So, what to expect when diving in El Nido during “monsoon season”
Unfortunately, we went during the rainy season in October to El Nido and we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Since most people say that the best time to visit El Nido would be during summer (March-May). Well, there’s always a good out of every “bad” situation right?
True enough, it rained almost every day that we were there in El Nido. But thankfully, the rain usually either starts in the late afternoon onwards (after 3pm) or throughout the night. Usually in the morning, it’ll be clear and sunny, perfect for diving!
But best part of it all? There aren’t as many people/boats here as compared to during the summer months! Apparently our guide told us that during peak season, there are 5 times the number of tourists and boats! Can’t imagine!
Visibility was not as great as compared to summer months, but still it was good enough! One thing we love about diving in El Nido is the wide variety of marine life! We spotted nudi branches, lion fishes (plenty of them, be careful not to go too near!), trumpet fishes, barracudas, ghost fish, cuttlefish, trigger fish, sting rays, electric clam, eels, and many more! Enjoy the photos taken below during our dives!
When is the best time to dive in El Nido
It really depends on your priority. For us we had no choice as our schedule only allowed us to travel during this period (October) which happened to be the rainy season in Philippines. But thankfully all turned out great still! We would avoid summer (peak season) though, can’t imagine diving with 20 other boats around.
Dec-Feb: Whale Sharks, Sperm Whales, Manta Rays
Summer months (March to May): Dry season, excellent visibility
Where to stay in El Nido
Relucio Travellers Pension
This little hideout is truly a hidden gem in El Nido. Free drinking water, coffee, hot shower available, aircon/fan option, great location and best part of it all, amazing balcony that overlooks the sea! Room rates start at 500php for a fan room without shower. The owner, Marie, was really nice and warm too!
Click here to check latest pricing and to book for accommodation in Palawan!
Another benefit of travelling during off peak season in El Nido, cheaper and more available accommodation options! We practically had the whole balcony to ourselves since there wasn’t anybody else staying here! You can also try asking for discounts during off peak season.
Tip: Remember to book your accommodation in advance when travelling to El Nido even during off peak! We didn’t and most hostels were fully booked and we had to walk around for quite some time with our big backpacks before finding the hidden gem as described above!
Where to eat in El Nido
We found another little hidden gem that offers cheap and delicious local cuisine! It’s called Maa Grill and Restaurant and they have a special lunch menu of their local fare for only 80PHP for a meal. Pretty decent we say!
How to get to El Nido
Lexus van, 700PHP, 5.5 hours. You can book the tickets directly at the Lexus booth at the bus terminal. Van leaves Sabang at 7.30am, 8.30am, 1pm, 2pm, 4.30pm.
Direct flight (1 hour) – Airswift
Manila to El Nido: 8:00, 12:00, 16:00, 17:35 daily
El Nido to Manila: 6:30, 9:55, 11:00, 14:00
Estimated cost: 5,000-7,000PHP one way
Cheaper alternative: Take a budget flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa via Air Asia or Cebu Pacific (est. cost around 2,000PHP) followed by a van transfer (500PHP) from Puerto Princesa to El Nido.
From Puerto Princesa
Van transfer directly from Airport or terminal – 600 to 700 PHP, around 6 hours