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El Nido History: Enriching Your Next El Nido Getaway

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

You probably already know that El Nido is known for its magnificent beaches, glorious limestone cliffs, crystalline waters and magnificent caves just waiting to be explored. But here are a few things you might not have known about El Nido, which will enrich your stay on your next getaway:

Earliest Records

El Nido has been shown to be inhabited as early as 2680 BC. The island was even mentioned in Chinese records as far back as 1225 where a member of the Chinese Royal Family had called it “Pa Lao Yu” or “Land of Beautiful Harbors”.

Throughout the Spanish colonization, the town was under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Taytay but became an independent municipality in 1916.

History of the Name

The first recorded name of El Nido was Talindak but the town was renamed to Bacuit during the Spanish colonization in the 1800s. Later in 1954, the town acquired its name, El Nido which is Spanish for The Nest, because of the numerous edible nests built by tiny swiftlets in the crevices of limestone cliffs.

Ethnic Groups

The Tagbanwas and the Cuyunons are the known original settlers of the town but there are migrations from various ethnic groups such as Tagalogs, Visayans, Bicolanos, Chinese, Spaniards, and a small number of Germans and Koreans.

Protected Area Status

El Nido, one of the most diverse ecosystems, is a Managed Resource Protected Area with a total land coverage of 92 thousand hectares, surrounded by 45 islands and has 2,645 hectares of mangrove forest. Its ecosystem contains 447 species of coral, 888 species of fish, 5 species of marine turtles and 114 species of birds.

In 1984 the Ministry of Natural Resources issued Administrative Order No. 518 established a 360 square kilometer maritime area in El Nido as a turtle sanctuary.

Then, the rest of Bacuit Bay was proclaimed by the Philippine government as a marine reserve in 1991. The area was expanded a year later by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The status was elevated to a Protected Area which included the terrestrial ecosystem of El Nido and portions of Taytay.

Eco-Tourism Development Fee

According to some studies, the government needs at least Php 10 million a year to limit the impact of tourism on the environment and to preserve El Nido's beauty.

In 2008, the Eco-Tourism Development Fee or ETDF Ordinance was approved. The Ordinance requires all visitors to pay Php 200 before entering a tourist destination and will be valid for 10 days. Tourists staying for longer than 10 will pay Php 500.

50% of the funds collected from the ETDF goes to environment and tourism related projects, 10% to barangay eco-tourism projects, 10% to the Protected Area Management Board, 10% to the general fund of the Municipal Government and 20% to implementation costs.

Some tourists complain about this fee and see it as an extra payment but rest assured that this is meant to fund the environment and tourism-related projects.


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