As I mentioned in my last post, El Nido is a must-visit destination with its incomparable beauty and small town charm. When you visit, you will undoubtedly go on an island hopping tour, as it is one of the main things to do here. There are four tours you can choose from, cleverly named Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D. These tours are a great way to explore the islands of El Nido and take in all of its rare visual appeal. Tour A and C are the most popular tours, which I was lucky enough to have been able to do both. However, if you can only squeeze one tour in during your stay, I would recommend doing Tour A.
There are advertisements for El Nido island hopping tours every direction you turn and the prices are all the same, so there is no need to travel far to scout the best deal. We booked our tour through our accommodations, Francisco Inn, and we ended up having an amazing time. We went with three other guys from our place who were a tonne of fun and our tour guide was wonderful. Unfortunately, not long before we left for El Nido I had read that the municipal government had doubled all the prices for the tours. I’m not sure the exact reason for this, but it would be naive to think this increase was for something other than the higher-ranking officials’ personal benefit.
Tour A – 1,200 P
Tour B – 1,300 P
Tour C – 1,400 P
Tour D – 1,200 P
There is also a mandatory 200 P national park fee that you must buy before going on your first tour. Fortunately, if you plan on doing multiple tours or heading to multiple beaches throughout El Nido, you will not need to purchase this again.
Food is also included in the tour prices. On one of the island stops, the boatmen prepare an amazing lunch for everyone. During this tour, they started their own fire and cooked the different types of meat and fish right there. I thought this was really neat and a fun way to experience a bit of the local food culture. Oh, and it was delicious.
What you see on Tour A:
Tour A takes you to five different spots (as do all the tours). The order in which they go might depend on the traffic in each place at the time your boat pulls up. We actually ended up skipping an island to head to the next one because there was too many boats there already and our tour guide didn’t think we would be able to enjoy it as much, so went back there later on in the day.
The five islands you’ll be able to explore on Tour A: Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Secret Lagoon, and 7 Commando Beach. I know, clearly a lot of thought and creativity was put into naming these..
Leaving El Nido town bright and early to start our tour
When we were leaving in the morning, the weather wasn’t looking too promising. Thankfully, as the day moved on, the sun came out and made for a great day. Leaving the town this early in the morning, you will see the water littered with other boats for the many other tours that will take place. If you end up sticking around El Nido for the day, it’s interesting to see the contrast of the water when the boats depart and when they all come back after the day versus during the day when the water is empty.
First Stop: Small Lagoon
At each stop, you are able to hop off the boat into the water and snorkel or swim around for about 30 minutes or so.
What else can I say that these pictures can’t.. Small Lagoon was absolutely stunning – the water was a pristine green-blue and the surrounding limestone rock made the sight unworldly. Like the name suggests, this was a smaller lagoon, yet its beauty was far from the same. Unfortunately there wasn’t much fish life when snorkeling, but the views above the water more than made up for that.
Second Stop: Shimizu Beach for lunch
Shimizu Beach was comprised of two small beaches with an area behind the beach where our guide cooked lunch. We spent about an hour or so on this beach; soaking up the sun and wandering about while lunch was being prepared, and then sitting around and eating a lovely meal. There were other tour groups here and other guides cooking alongside ours. This beach is actually right next to Secret Lagoon.
Third Stop: Secret Lagoon
From Shimizu Beach, we walked along the right side of the beach in the water until we reached an incredibly small circular opening in the limestone. After carefully swimming through, we were greeted with a small circular lagoon with towering limestone cliffs surrounding us. This was probably the least impressive stop on the tour, but still quite interesting. I’m pretty sure the secret’s out with this lagoon..
Fourth Stop: Big Lagoon
When we first entered Big Lagoon, all I could think of was, “is this real life?!” Absolutely stunning; the water, the cliffs, the sky, all combined to make this place worthy of an award. We circled the lagoon in the boat and then stopped in a smaller part of the lagoon for a dip in the water. At this point of the tour, I was quite cold (albeit, I get cold quite easily) and my lips were actually purple so I passed on the swimming. I would definitely recommend bringing an extra towel or sweater – when you’re wet and in the shade with the wind blowing on you, it can be quite chilly.
Fifth Stop: 7 Commandos Beach
The 7 Commandos Beach was our last stop. A long, stunning beach where all the other tour boats from Tour A finish, so it’s a great way to meet some other people staying in El Nido. There is also a beach bar where you can grab a drink (or two, or three..) and enjoy the stunning views. A great way to end our tour.
Heading back to town after a great day
As the sun begins to set, we made it back to El Nido town. Unfortunately, because of the massive limestone cliffs, you are not able to see the sunset from the town. Despite this, the views of the town as we made our way to shore were great. Seeing the town from afar was really interesting and gave a bit of perspective on how modest, yet fascinating El Nido really is.
My other adventures in Palawan:
Things To Do In Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Puerto Princesa Palawan: Accommodation & Aimless Wanderings
Ugong Rock Caving & Zipline: Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Accommodation In El Nido, Philippines
El Nido: Restaurants, Bars, & Beaches
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