Manila to El Nido

I really don’t enjoy flying. It doesn’t make me scared or nervous, it’s just that at this point in my life, it’s more of a necessary evil than something to be excited about. Flights can be long, uncomfortable and more than anything – they can be boring. However, there have been a few plane journeys in my life that have been exceptions to this general dislike. Flying over icebergs in Greenland was glorious, jumping out of a light aircraft in South Africa was amazing, and now I can add the flight from Manila to El Nido in the Philippines to this rather short list.

After a 3.30am rise, I caught a ride to the ITI private hanger. ITI stands for Island Transvoyager Inc. and is a privately owned company exclusively running flights out of El Nido Airport to both Manila and Cebu. Also known as Air Swift, this airline is by far the easiest way to get to El Nido from the Filipino capital.

Once I arrived at the private hanger, I was immediately treated to a complementary breakfast and selection of fresh juices, decent coffee (a rarity in the Philippines) and delicious arroz caldo – a sort of savoury rice porridge.

I checked in, and in doing so, obtained (however briefly) the coolest boarding pass I have ever seen!


The flight departed on time, and shortly after getting off the ground we were treated to a pretty fantastic view of Manila.


The small 50 seater aircraft is comfortable, and the 55 minute journey is short and sweet. Before too long, the concrete jungle that is Manila was a distant memory and had been replaced with amazing views of El Nido.


Once the plane had landed, it was time for a quick airport shuttle bus ride to the main area of the airport. This wasn’t your everyday kinda shuttle bus though!



The company that owns the Air Swift airline is also the owner of the incredibly stunning El Nido Resorts. With four eco-resorts on four separate islands on El Nido, these resorts are the definition of luxury, and I was lucky enough to score a few nights in one!

The four islands are Pangulasian, Apulit, Lagen and Miniloc. I was headed to the latter, Miniloc.

To get to Miniloc, one must take another shuttle bus to the coast (5 minutes) then take a boat ride (30 minutes) from Lio (El Nido) airport to the resort.

As soon as I jumped on the shuttle bus, excitement set in.


Then it was time to grab my gear and get on the boat!




The 30 minute boat ride to Miniloc was nothing short of absolutely glorious. The incredible rocks, limestone formations and the sheer amount of islands in this small area was like nothing I’d ever seen.






Before long, the incredible sight of Miniloc Island Resort came into view, and jaw-droppingly beautiful doesn’t even begin to cover it. I could not wait to get off the boat, explore my beautiful overwater villa and dive headfirst into exploring the region. Stay tuned!



T H E Β  L O W D O W N
Getting There: From Manila, book a direct flight with Air Swift
El Nido Resorts: Click here to read more about this incredible collection of eco-resorts
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm M.Zuiko Pro Lens
Threads: I am wearing a gorgeous maxi by Aussie label Tigerlily
Remember: Bathers and factor 50 sunscreen!

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

99 thoughts on “Manila to El Nido

  1. Wait! Decent coffee is a rarity in the Philippines? What do you mean? I haven’t heard this before. I’m glad though that you are enjoying one of my motherland’s beautiful islands. You have got to try the mangoes. They are absolutely delicious and the kind that are not easily available outside the country. :))

    1. Really? I was not able to find much in the way of good coffee! However I did only visit Palawan, so I suppose I cannot speak for the entirety of the Philippines! Oh my lord I did enjoy the mangoes! Easily the most juicy mangoes I have ever eaten! I could not get enough!

      1. I have to admit instant coffee is ubiquitous in the Philippines. What you’ve had so far may be instant coffee. Native coffee called “barako” is good. However, it’s only available in some places like Batangas and Cavite. I miss Philippine mangoes. I can’t find them anywhere in the Northeastern United States!

      2. I only realized how special Philippine mangoes are when I didn’t have access to them! It looks like you are enjoying El Nido. Have more mangoes for me. πŸ™‚

  2. Love those Maxi dresses! tHE SCENERY THERE IS BEAUTIFUL, LUCKY YOU TO BE THERE. The mountains surrounding the coast are gorgeous, so is your smile. Sorry about the caps. πŸ™‚

      1. I liked the photo looking across the huge bay, best. Would love to go there! Your welcome, your smile is beautiful. πŸ™‚

  3. I have a list on places I would like to travel to within the Philippines and to hear your story of how to journey between places is very helpful. Thank you. Looking forward to hearing what happens next πŸ™‚

      1. Caring for my Parents severely limits any traveling/holidays these days, I did get to Thailand and my first visit to Philippines end of 2014, had around 12 flights in 2 weeks in Philippines with a stinking flu virus I’d caught on my arrival in manila, so that wasn’t much fun lol

  4. El Nido looks most inviting. My primary reason for going to PI next year is to visit friends in Bicol. I will have two weeks in country, so will be reading your Philippine posts attentively.

    1. El Nido is easily one of my favourite places I have ever visited! If you get the chance during your Philo trip – it is definitely worth a visit.

  5. I used to work for Amanpulo whose hangar is just in front of ITI. But El Nido is equally lovely and has a different vibe. I think most of Palawan islands are like thatβ€”unique and beautiful. Glad you enjoyed!

  6. Awesome! I felt the same too when I first see the place last July 2007. Spent our honeymoon in El Nido (Miniloc Island). It was a great experience! Glad you love El Nido. Hopefully you can also visit the Underground River in Puerto Princesa Palawan. =D

    1. That would have been a pretty wonderful honeymoon!
      I did actually get to the Underground River! It was fantastic! Island hopping in Honda Bay was my favourite part of Puerto Princesa though!

  7. Now this kind of trip…all full of warmth and sunshine….is DEFINITELY up my alley! Looks amazing! I am going to have to use the wonderful resources of the World Wide Web to look this little location up!

  8. Lovely and Cool Boarding Pass. Is it for passenger or give it back to the airplane?
    Anyway, really love with the scenery of El Nido from your photos. Nice share

  9. Looks fantastic, from the cool boarding pass to the amazing boat ride with spectacular scenery. What an adventure. πŸ™‚

  10. Starbucks and instant coffee are the most popular here in the Philippines but we also have good coffee like “Barako” from Batangas. You can also find here “Civet”, the most expensive coffee in the world. Enjoy your trip! It is more fun in the Philippines!

  11. You nearly got the resort, flight etc an immediate sale! Unfortunately their booking site is down 😒. I’m currently sitting in the Kibera slum having fallen in a stream full of rotting waste, urine, and human/animal faeces. Facing the prospect of teaching a class shortly with wet feet that are making me want to vomit! So reading your piece made me desperately want to head out there!
    Great photographs and descriptions. I’m exactly the same as you about flying – not anxious but just bored and uncomfortable. My own favourite flight has been Ukunda to Nairobi on a 15 seater with complimentary home-baked cookies in flight.
    Looking forward to reading the next part of your adventure.

    1. Both sites are working on google chrome for me! What browser are you using?
      Oh my goodness that sounds horrible – you need a proper getaway!

      1. Using Safari as I only have my iPhone with me in the school. Will try with Firefox when I get home this evening.

  12. Wow!! Finally..welcome to the Philippines. I am so happy to see your post. I hope you have a great time and a blissful nature overdose.
    Lovely photos..lovely island,so splurge!

  13. I had a quick look at the site and was a little shocked to see the price of the rooms per night. Did I read right that a night is USD $500 or there-abouts?

    1. Yep that’s right. It may seem steep but the place absolutely warrants such a price tag, every little detail is catered to and the staff go out of their way to make your stay incredible. The perfect place for a splurge!

  14. You are such a brave young lady, I admire your enthusiasm and zest for life! I love travelling as well, and have always taken the kids with me!! It’s one of the greatest ways to learn everything and anything!

  15. Great pictures and I absolutely love the boarding pass! So cool! Will look into this resort. I’m really jealous of your traveling solo! I’m a mom of two but I’d love to take a longer trip all by myself one day.

  16. Great to have you here in the Philippines. Hope you enjoyed your trip. πŸ™‚ There are a lot of beautiful beaches and sights here. Hope you’ll come back. πŸ™‚

  17. Sometimes, a journey is all about wonderful smiles that automatically comes on your face. πŸ™‚
    You really have got some amazing clicks from some fabulous places. πŸ™‚ Happy Journey.

  18. Great read! I must admit I’m jealous😊 in a good way, haven’t been to these parts of my country; you just lit a fire in me😊 enjoy the rest if the trip!!!

  19. I also share the same opinion about long flights! also long bus rides here in the Philippines, I will be travelling to El Nido next year for my birthday hopefully Air Swift will have its seat sale haha fingers crossed thanks for the info!

  20. Thanks for stopping by my blog – I came to this post because I live in Manila! If you’re ever in the city again, we’ve got a guest room for ya. We also know a whole bunch of amazing coffee shops. Happy traveling!

  21. OMG I got goosebumps reading your blog. El Nido is sooooo beautiful. I’m from Davao City, Philippinesand it is my dream to explore this island!!! How much did you spend all in all on your trip? May I ask?

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