Have you ever heard about El Nido, Palawan or dreamed of visiting this amazing magical island – The Last Ecological Frontier, hands down, the most natural, well preserved beauty and one of the best beaches in the world. El Nido is not only dotted with limestone cliffs and powdery white beaches, but it is a world class showcase of biodiversity marine life, with a chance to learn and observe nature over land and underwater. The entire province of Palawan itself is protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
El Nido is really a magical beach destination in the Philippines. From its sky high marble cliffs to its beautiful white fine sand beaches with crystal blue, turquoise green clear water, many refer to it as a paradise on earth. El Nido boast over 50 beaches for you to discover, and because it is not as crowded with tourist yet (as compared to Boracay), you will feel you own these secluded private beaches most of the time. You will also find enchanting beach lagoons with turquoise green water, caves that lead you to the secret, or hidden beaches. You are guaranteed a never dull moment in the El Nido beaches.
El Nido is a more ideal beach destination for island hopping than Boracay. It is a truly relaxing and inspiring place. However, if water sports and nightlife is what you are aiming for, then Boracay offers more activities than El Nido. In my opinion, El Nido is more relaxing, romantic and accompanied with many beautiful islands than Boracay, whereas Boracay is more crowded, loads of water sports and nightlife than El Nido.
Many people may not know that getting to El Nido can be relatively fuss-free. Most people will get to El Nido by flying to Puerto Princesa from Manila, then followed by a long 7 hours bus ride to El Nido town. This is considered the cheapest option, ideal for travelers who are on budget or wanting to take their time to explore. However, this may deter people from visiting especially for people who do not have the luxury of time. Flying via Puerto Princesa will also mean a need for transit stay in Puerto Princesa due to the flight schedule and the long bus journey, more importantly it affects you to and fro.
Unless you wanna visit the spectacular underground river at Puerto Princesa, otherwise one of a better option is to fly direct! Yes, fly directly into El Nido! 🙂 I will now share with you my experience of how to get to El Nido by a direct flight from Manila via Island Transvoyager Inc. (ITI) or simply ITIAIR. This is perfect for time constraint traveler like me and the best part about traveling via this private airline is your vacation starts when you hit in the private hangar in Manila. Everything is well organised and smooth all the way to El Nido. Isn’t it great? The only setback for this is the price which will add up a significant amount into your overall budget. In my opinion, it’s worth it especially when time is a scarcity.
Booking your air tickets
The ITI offers daily flights schedule as follow:
ROUTE: TIMETABLE: FARE PER PERSON:
EL NIDO – MANILA daily 9:00, 13:00, 17:00 P 6,750.00 one way
MANILA – EL NIDO daily 7:00, 11:00, 15.00 P 6,750.00+200
*Child fare is P5,000 / Infant P1,900
The fare is standard price but sometimes they do have promotions, so do check it out with them directly or El Nido Boutique & Art Cafe’s facebook page. There is no direct website for booking. The only way is to email them directly and pay via paypal. 🙂
Email to ITIAIR:
Option 1 – ITI Direct: firstname.lastname@example.org
Option 2 – Sales Agent – El Nido Boutique Artcafe Travel Center: email@example.com
The flights are first come first serve basis. Once it’s full, you will have to be on the waiting list.
Finding the ITI Hangar
Once you have booked your air tickets, the next challenge is to scramble and find the private hangar in the crazy Manila traffic. Please allow yourself some time in case you really lost your way in the airport area. Even the local taxi drivers do not know the exact location of the hangar. It is in between Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 and Terminal 3, look out on your right after Civil Aviation Authority Of The Philippines (traveling from Terminal 4 towards terminal 3 direction). The traffic is crazy plus the entrance and signboard is small, so you might have a chance of missing it. Some travelers who were on the same flight with me shared their experiences on how lost they were in finding the hangar, so do not underestimate this factor. 🙂
Actual Address: ITI Hangar, Andrews Ave, Tramo Corner, Pasay City.
Note: The ITI hangar is NOT inside the domestic airport.
ITIAIR’s check in and lounge facilities
Congratulations for finding the ITI hangar. Your vacation officially starts once you arrived the ITI hangar. You will proceed to a luxurious check in area and the service manager will then welcome you by taking you to the lounge with your name clearly labelled on the table. 🙂 From the time you check in till your boarding time, you are free to enjoy drinks, snacks and dessert at your convenience.
Note: The baggage weight limit is only 10kg including your hand carry bag. So, either you prepare to pay the extra weight of 100 peso per kg or you pack well within the 10kg limit. Each way will cost you this much and add up to your overall budget. That’s the harsh reality of traveling with ITIAIR.
Once the departure time is up, there will be shuttle service to bring you to the ITIAIR’s airplane. I should say they are pretty good in making you feel special. Especially with the red carpet treatment (literally). LOL
The ITIAIR’s flight was pretty cool and stable, probably because the aircraft is pretty new and it was a perfect weather. The en-route view of course, was marvelous! 🙂
Upon arrival, there will be red carpet and a cute little jeepney. The Jeepney was fully painted with marine wildlife, awaiting for your arrival and will take you to the arrival hall, or maybe I should call it as – arrival hut. 🙂
You will see (and hear) some locals singing to welcome your arrival to El Nido and be brought to this beautiful hut with refreshments waiting for you.
As you are the only flight and airline, you won’t see a massive crowd. The best thing about this experience, you do not need to wait long for your baggage. Isn’t it great? 🙂
The local tuk tuks are readily waiting to take you to your hotel/resort. Of course, the tuk tuk will be at your own expenses. The journey to town will not take more than 20mins. Your magical El Nido experience begins… 🙂
Journey to the town
During the journey, you will see the amazing local life in El Nido and you will soon realise the beauty of this little town, indeed surrounded by all the high towering limestone mountains. An enchanting feel to commence your vacation.
Returning to Manila
Returning is even easier and smoother as you do not need to scramble to find the airport. Basically, it is the same place where you arrived. The facilities are so straight forward and easy. 🙂
You will still require to check in the baggage and pass through the security examination. After that, you will then need to pay for your extra baggage weight AGAIN! (all the best to you if you didn’t shed some weight when you were vacationing…haha)
After your check in, you will proceed to the beautiful lounge for refreshments. YAY especially if you skip the breakfast in the hotel/resort.
When it is time to bid goodbye to this beautiful island, the locals will then sing you a song to wish you a good journey back. Somehow, it sort of makes me feel so sad and reminded me of the reality back home! haha ITIAIR never failed to make you feel special every single moment.
Get the shuttle service if you are transiting via Manila
If you are flying off to elsewhere via Manila, and you have a short connecting flight, I STRONGLY recommend you to pay for the shuttle service at El Nido with ITIAIR. They will provide you priority check out upon landing at Manila and straight away you would hop onto their shuttle service to the airport terminal. You do not need to wait for your baggage with the rest of the passengers, and you do not need to scramble in Manila to find a taxi once you arrive.
Well, I hope this article provides you a good idea of how to get to El Nido via ITIAIR. Flying with ITIAIR is definitely more costly, but they will ensure you a smooth journey, comfort travel and most importantly, save you lotsa precious time. I will write on El Nido islands hopping and activities in a separate article.
Do check out the following articles related to El Nido
- Unveil The Enchanting Beauty & Unspoiled Paradise of El Nido, Palawan
- Revel In The Tranquil Turquoise Waters of El Nido’s Lagoons (El Nido Tour A)
- Discover The Hidden Secrets & Wonders of El Nido’s Beaches (El Nido Tour C)
“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.” – Cesare Pavese