How to go to El Nido, Palawan by plane

September 11, 2010

How to Go to El Nido, Palawan by Plane

Updated April 7, 2016

Currently, the only airline flying straight to El Nido is Air Swift. You can book it online via

Manila - El Nido: 
3x daily
fare: P6,344 one way + 200 = P6,544 + 120 booking fee = P6,664

El Nido - Manila
4x daily
fare: P6,344 one way + 120 booking fee =  P6,464

If booked roundtrip, you only pay the booking fee once.

Online booking is payable via VISA and Mastercard.

Updated Oct 8, 2010

If you want to visit El Nido, Palawan and you are coming from Manila, you have these options:
1. By plane from Manila to El Nido
2. By plane from Manila to Puerto Princesa City and by land from Puerto Princesa City to El Nido.

All other options going to El Nido is not as reliable or as consistently available as these 2 options so I won't mention it in this post anymore. What I'm actually recommending if you have kids going with you is that you go to El Nido by plane from Manila. But this option is quite expensive. The roundtrip airfare from Manila to El Nido is around P13,500 or P6,750 per way. If you have kids but do not have enough funds for a plane ride, I suggest you wait until they are big enough to rough it out for the long land trip to El Nido.

Why Go to El Nido by Plane
If you go by land, your option is to travel from Puerto Princesa City to El Nido. This is how traveling by land to El Nido looks like:
  • The trip will take 6-8 hours, depending on road conditions, and on whether or not you're taking the shuttle, the public bus or hiring a van for your exclusive use. Of all these options, taking the public bus will take the longest time. They make several stops and pick up passengers along the way.
  • The 6-8 hour trip is mostly rough road so you can imagine how tired the kids will be after this kind of travel.
  • The amount of time lost by taking the land trip will amount to almost 2 days: a day traveling from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, and another day going back to Puerto Princesa to El Nido. I say a day lost each time because the kids become too tired after that trip that they won't be able to do any sightseeing anymore.
Booking the flight 
As I've recently realized, choosing to take the plane to El Nido is not as simple as it seems. It is unlike other destinations where you simply decide to take the plane and immediately there are several options available to you. Why then is it difficult to take the plane to El Nido?

1. There is at present  only ONE airline flying from Manila-El Nido-Manila.
The only airlines operating the whole year is Island Transvoyager(ITI). They have daily flights, and fly 3x a day. You can only book the Manila-El Nido flights thru them. But you can book the El Nido-Manila flights thru El Nido Boutique and Arts Cafe, based in El Nido.

There used to be 2 airlines, Island Transvoyager and SEAIR but SEAIR suspended its flights for the low season of June-November. They expect SEAIR to resume flights by November 2010, but that's just a prediction. I will update this post once SEAIR announces the resumption of these flights.

New: Seair resumes flights to El Nido starting December 10, 2010

2. The only leg you can book in advance is the El Nido to Manila ITI flight. The Manila to El Nido ITI flight can only be booked 5 days before the flight.
Island Transvoyager (ITI) is the exclusive airlines of El Nido Resorts. Since they are the exclusive airlines of El Nido Resorts, the guests of El Nido Resorts are given priority in allocation of seats. They say that the Manila to El Nido leg has less seats available for those who are not guests of El Nido Resorts because the Manila to El Nido flight carries not only passengers but also supplies to the island, unlike the El Nido to Manila route.

For those who are not guests to El Nido, but wish to take the roundtrip flight, see my tip for you below.

3. Even if SEAIR starts operating the Manila-El Nido route, they only do 2-3 flights per week, with flights only once a day.
Given this situation, you may not get the flights and time that you want.

My tip:

1. Book the El Nido to Manila flight of ITI in advance. They immediately confirm the flight. Make sure to book it at El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe because they are the only authorized distributor of the El Nido - Manila tickets. ITI has made a warning and a declaration at their website. See the booking warning of ITI here.

See details of how to book the El Nido to Manila flight here.

2. Book the cheapest Zest Air one way flight to Puerto Princesa City.
Why Zest Air? 
  • They have the cheapest flight to Puerto Princesa City, which is around P1400.
  • Their cheapest flight is refundable. Your penalty is only P672 pesos for canceling the flight.
3. Email ITI so you can go on their Priority Waiting List. 
Email them at,, and ,  then follow up 5 days before the flight for your flight confirmation.

4. If your flight with ITI is confirmed, you can cancel your Zest Air flight to Puerto Princesa and get a refund.

5. If your flight with ITI is not confirmed, you can take the Puerto Princesa flight. 
Why book the Puerto Princesa flight in advance rather than wait for the ITI confirmation?
If you wait for the confirmation of ITI 5 days before your flight and find that you have no seats on your preferred flight, you will be forced to book the flight to Puerto Princesa which is very expensive 5 days before the flight. This may not be so during the low season. But expect this to happen during the peak summer season.
Note: Of course, the simplest thing to do is to just book El Nido Resorts so they can just take care of everything from the plane booking, airport transfers, resort accomodations and meals. But for those who cannot afford that package or for those who would prefer to stay at El Nido town, the tips I've given will help them book their flight.