How to travel from Cebu city to El Nido Palawan Philippines

How to get from CEBU to EL NIDO PALAWAN

I decided to write this blog post as there are many of you who have asked me about my trip to the Philippines. Thought it would be easier to turn it into a blog post so you can read it easier. We decided to go to Bali and Philippines in the Middle of the year to escape the cold Sydney Weather and go somewhere that was nice and warm! We had never been to Bali and yet it was sO close to Sydney (literally only 5 hour plane ride) and you’re in another country.

Why we chose BALI and PHILIPPINES?

Easy!  BALI and PHILIPPINES are ONLY a 5 and 7 hour plane ride from Sydney (respectively). It’s so WARM and tropical, it has hikes, waterfalls, canyoning, rice terraces, animal sanctuaries, yoga, healthy food options, yummy local foods, cheap beer and amazing islands!!

Bali was amazing but I also wanted to go the Philippines with my husband. We had been together before during our family trip and we remember having so much fun but that was back in 2010! I had been to Philippines 2015 with my dad and sister and remember it developing soo much. Experiencing it with Matt would have been such a different experience. I must admin, JUNE & JULY is NOT the ideal time to go and visit the Philippines because of the ‘wet season’ But it is still BEAUTIFUL and a great get-a-way anytime of the year.

CEBU- Canyoning through the MOST gorgeous waterfalls (Kawasan Waterfalls)

As I was researching areas to go to the Philippines, I remember Matt sending me a photo (story in previous blog post) and I knew we HAD to go! This photo was of Kawasan Falls in Cebu and because we had never been there before, I wanted to make sure we included it during this visit. there’s only so much research you can do before hand right? So we learnt A LOT of this during our trip and would love to pass on any tips before you start planning.


What? There’s NO UBER from Cebu Airport to Moal Boal?

We came from Bali so we got a flight to Cebu City (stopping over in Manila for a few hours). When we arrived into Cebu City, we THOUGHT we could simply call an UBER and they were to drive us down to a place called Moal Boal.

Moal Boal is south of the island where the main outdoor water activities and attractions are. It wasn’t until we got into the UBER that our driver realised that the trip was 3 hours from the city and that he didn’t normally do those trips. After negotiating with him, we were able to come up with a price that suited both us and the Driver. Thank GOODNESS he said yes, because I wasn’t prepared to catch a bus (the flight from Bali to cebu was an overnight flight) and we BARELY got any sleep . Another option is to call up your hotel and see if they do transfers from the airport directly to your destination.

When we checked into our hotel (turtle Bay resort) and asked our receptionists what other local things we could do. we couldn’t fit all of them in and so we just focused on our main reasons for coming which was Kawasan Falls and swimming with the whale sharks. (I’ll list down all the activities down below even if we didn’t have the chance to do all of them!).

During our stay in Cebu, the weather was turning around and would sometimes rain during the day. We didn’t want to risk paying to swim with the whale sharks and not being able to actually see them. (Apparently, if it rains, the conditions are very poor and not ideal) so we cancelled that and hired a scooter instead. WE explored around the island and watched the Sun set at white beach and that was AMAZING! the sand was white and the sunset was breathtaking. It was such a good time to go, as the beach wasn’t crowded, but if you feel uncomfortable riding your scooter in the dark on unpaved roads, i’d suggest to leave before it gets dark because it does get a bit freaky!


The next day, we went canyoning through the beautiful Kawasan FALLS! and to think we almost didn’t go because we were told that the waterfalls were closed. So lucky we got to experience canyoning through the waterfall and cliff jumping! there is no better way to explore the place. For those who don’t really like adventure, there are a few trails you can follow that will lead you to all the parts of the Kawasani Falls but don’t forget to go to the BIGGEST one, that’s the most picturesque of all and the water is just stunning!

How to get from CEBU to EL NIDO Palawan- AIRSWIFT

The day after, we boarded the plane to get to EL NIDO, Palawan. When we first booked this plane, we did not get many reviews on it so I was a BIT skeptical catching it. I even asked my dad about it and he was pretty worried too.  The site back then, needed a FACELIFT and didn’t look to inviting. hahaa

The thing was, we didn’t want to waste precious time having to go back to Cebu City, catch a plane back to Manila City,  then catch another plane  to PALAWAN Puerto Princesca and then a 10 hour Van ride to El Nido. We took our chances and BOOKED with AIRSWIFT airlines and cut a WHOLE day of travel and were able to get to El Nido Palawan in a few hours. I WAS so happy with our decision and the plane ride was SOOO smooth! it was the more expensive option but it was WELL worth it! I would recommend them to anyone and AIRSWIFT was a smaller airlines but they did take security and safety very seriously and they were professional too! Did I mention how CUTE their airport was?

Go into EL NIDO town to compare TOUR Prices

When we arrived at our hotel, we started booking our activities and one thing I really wanted to do was go island hopping. We went into EL nido town to compare prices with what our hotel was offering and we found that the prices were very competitive. It was just a matter of what boats were available at the time of booking. If you have limited time during your stay in El Nido, I suggest to book the tours as soon as you get there. Or you can pay the bit extra and secure your tour before you to El Nido.

Island Hopping in El Nido

We chose Tour A/B which included seven commandos beach, shimizu Island, secret lagoon, Big Lagoon and small lagoon! I loved every island we visited but the only down fall was Secret Lagoon. There were just SOOO many people trying to enter and exit the cave which made it a little difficult. We didn’t stay there for long at all. I’m sure which ever tour you choose, you will have a great experience as all the islands in El Nido are just BEAUTIFUL!. In my personal opinion, If you love water activities, this is a great tour to go on. You can swim, snorkel, paddle board and kayak. You can hire your equipment at the actual island (we hired our kayak at the small lagoon) or the company you go with might supply it for you. Our company supplied our snorkel gear. I would also highly recommend looking for a tour that includes small lagoon and Big Lagoon. They were in the Leonardo Di Caprio movie called “beaches” and other than that, they are BEAUTIFUL too!

Join a group tour VS hiring your own boat with Skipper

1) You can join a group tour. Joining a group tour is great for those who want to save a little bit more money and want to meet new friends from around the world. Everyone on holidays are so friendly and I’m sure you’ll have a great time! Matt and I have joined group tours before and met so many people who we still keep in contact with today and you share awesome memories with them too!

2) can hire your own boat and driver. Matt and I opted for our own boat and driver because when we were visiting the islands, we could spend the time we wanted and didn’t have to cater for anyone else. If we wanted to stay longer at a certain place, we could do that. It was also great because our driver and skipper didn’t have to go in a particular order. They did the islands that they thought would be less busy during certain times. Definitely helped when you want to have our own space cause once the tour groups joined you, it was so packed!


If everything went in our favour and the weather was nice this would’ve been our IDEAL itinerary. Because of the weather, we had to skip on some things and re-arrange it. I’ll list down the places we went to, how long it’ll take for the activity and then any other local recommendations too.


  • travel down to South to moal boal by bus or scooter-around 3 hour bus ride or check with your hotel and see if they do transfers
    • Sunset at white beach (gorgeous white sand)
    • HIRE A SCOOTER and explore the Island (it’s so easy to get around)
    • kawasan waterfalls which is 20 mins from moalboal in BADIAN
      • with larger groups and if you’re coming from cebu city, tours can start from 5am. If you stay near Moal Boal which is where Matt and I stayed, there were no specific times. Best to book ahead and give them the time that suits you. The whole canyon took around 2 hours but some of the places were closed off due to weather safety. I think the whole thing will take 3 hours but you also want to leave time to enjoy the waterfall and swim there.
      • details of the company we used :
    • panagsama beach – swimming with the sardines.. doesn’t sound appealing but it looks beautiful!
      • we didn’t get to go but our receptionist recommended going
      • you don’t need to book you can just go to Panagsama beach and snorkel
    • next town south is Oslob by taxi or bus
      • whale sharks (start early in the morning around 6am)
        • apparently a MUST DO.. we were going to do it but the weather wasn’t the best.. but so MANY people recommended for us to go. This is SO popular so your hotel will most likely be able to arrange a tour for you
    •       tumalog falls

      • puerto princesa (i havent been but my family have and said it was beautiful)
        • underground cave but it is a 10 hour van ride from El Nido so spend a couple of nights there to make the trip worth it
      • island hopping
        • matt and I chose tour A and it was beautiful! I’m sure any tour you choose will be good but we wanted the ones that required more activities e.g. snorkelling and kayaking, paddle boarding
        • we also hired our own boat with our own driver (highly recommended) cause we got to stay as long as we wanted per beach and leave when we wanted to but if that doesn’t bother you, group is fine and you’ll save money too
        • really recommend including small lagoon and big lagoon.. (they’re beautiful!)
        • our tour started at 9am and finished at 5pm. The time really depends on how long you want to stay at each island.

      One of the many lagoons of El Nido- Big Lagoon #palawan #kLmmLk #Mkhoneymoon16

      A post shared by Kerstin Del Rio (@kerstinsherie) on


      • SUNSET at NACPAN Beach
        • it takes a 45 min tricycle ride to a beautiful beach called NACPAN. I’m sure you can hire a hut and stay the night but we only wanted to go for the day.


If you would like any MORE details please comment below and make sure you add your email address so that I can get in contact with you too!

6 Replies to “How to travel from Cebu city to El Nido Palawan Philippines”

    1. Hey Leo! thanks for reading! if you need any help planning your trip, let me know and I’ll help you out as much as I can 🙂 hope you have an awesome holiday !

  1. Love reading your blog. Residing in North America now but believe it or not I went to a university in Cebu and stayed there for almost 10 years but never been to Kawasan. It was so remote then when I was there BUT planning to visit with hubs and kids. Can a 10 and 11 y/o can do the canyoneering without much problem you think? Also thinking of going to El Nido via Airswift but I hear the flight can be expensive. Did you book in advance? online/in Cebu? I am still researching what options I have. Thanks for the info. More power and more travel to go!

    1. Hi Thamara,

      Thank you so much! Aw wow, So nice you went to university in Cebu! A lot has definitely changed since you visited and it’s great that you get to go back with you hubby and kids. I’m actually not too sure if they have age restrictions with canyoneering. It also might depend on which company you choose to go with. A few jumps are quite high so it might also depend on whether or not your kids will feel comfortable or not with the jumps and swimming. I posted on youtube a bit of what is involved in the canyoneering so maybe you can have a look there if you feel like it’s still something you and your family would like to do 🙂

      We went directly on the Airswift website and booked in advanced. We were a bit hesitate because it was such a small plane but when we got on the flight, the whole experience was great! i would highly recommend it. It is expensive, but it cut our travel time by more than 10 hours and cut out a city we had no desire to go to. We flew straight from cebu city right into El Nido. We found it much more convenient and the price was definitely worth it. If you’re going into Puerto Princesca and want to explore that area, it might be worth just going with another company. If there’s anything else I can help you with, please let me know 🙂

      Happpy Planning and I hope you have an amazing trip there!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *