ISLAND HOPPING IN EL NIDO, PALAWAN

El Nido, Palawan has quickly become one of the most popular tourist destinations in The Philippines.  Mesmerising beaches, paradise islands, spectacular landscapes & hidden lagoons, are just a handful of the wonders to be discovered here.

Heading to El Nido? Check out these articles to help plan your trip:

ISLAND HOPPING IN EL NIDO, PALAWAN

*Before You Travel to El Nido, have you got your travel insurance sorted?  Cover yourself for the unexpected, read why you really need travel insurance or get a quote from World Nomads.

*Have you got your travel Visa sorted? Check if you need one here and retrieve a quote. It’s simple, fast and reliable.

*Don’t leave home without any backpacker essentials with our free printable packing list.

ISLAND HOPPING TOURS IN EL NIDO

Surrounded by a number of spectacular islands & other points of interest, it is no surprise that the Island Hopping Tours are the number 1 thing to do in El Nido.  However with 4 main tours to choose from, how do you choose the right tour for you?

Here is a breakdown of what each of the tour package looks like:

Tour A – 1200PHP/pax*         Tour B – 1300PHP/pax*
Small Lagoon                            Snake Island
Big Lagoon                                Cudognan Cave
Simizu Beach                            Pinagbuyatan Island
Secret Lagoon                          Cathedral Cave
7 Commando Beach                 Entalula Island

Tour C – 1400PHP/pax*       Tour D – 1200PHP/pax*
Matinloc Shrine                      Cadlao Lagoon
Secret Beach                          Paradise Beach
Hidden Beach                         Pasandigan Beach
Star Beach                              Nat Nat Beach
Helicopter Island                    Bukal Beach

*Environmental Tax (200 peso) not included – This is a one time fee valid for 10 days and you won’t be able to book any tours without paying it.

island hopping el nido

Unless you have masses of time and money to spare, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to take part in all 4 tours.  So to help you decide which one is right for you, we elaborate even further on each below:

For the ADRENALINE JUNKIES try TOUR A – From kayaking to cliff jumping, and big lagoons to small lagoons, this tour is perfect for those seeking ‘adrenaline pumping” adventure.  Fun and laughter is guaranteed!

For the ADVENTURE SEEKERS try TOUR B – A nice balance between paradise beaches & fascinating caves, this tour is perfect for those seeking a little adventure.  It is also one of the less popular tours, so a good choice if you like to escape the crowds.

For the BEACH WORSHIPPERS try TOUR C – From 1 paradise beach to another, this one is for the beach lovers.  Beaches found on this tour are spectacular and unrivalled amongst most other beaches found in SE Asia.

To ESCAPE THE CROWDS try TOUR D – The least popular choice of the 4, this is for those really looking to escape the crowds.  Due to its unpopularity, it can be difficult to even book an organised tour, therefore you may need to book a private boat.

*TIP – The destinations on tour D, is situated close to El Nido Beach.  Many visitors opt to kayak to them instead.

OUR EXPERIENCE

After much deliberation, we decided on Tours A & C and were not disappointed.  Being the most popular of the 4, we were worried they would be overly busy, however we didn’t find this at all.  If you book with a good tour company, or even better a private tour, then they will go out of their way to ensure an enjoyable experience for you.

All of the places we visited on our tours were absolutely breath taking.  It’s the first time we had seen such clear waters on our travels, and we were mesmerised by the limestone cliffs that adorn the area.  Make sure to also take to the waters and snorkel among the abundance of marine life.

Secret Lagoon el nido
(Not so) Secret Lagoon

*TIPS – If budget permits, it is preferable to hire a private boat for the day and explore all that El Nido has to offer! You get to tailor your own tour to suit your interests & have full control over the itinerary.  If you leave early enough, it’s an opportunity to beat the crowds!  Nothing quite beats the feeling of sharing a dazzling blue lagoon, with nobody but your friends… For a group of 5 or more, expect to pay around 1400 peso pp.

The great vibe on these tours can put you in the mood for a few drinks.  You can conveniently buy cold beers or a small selection of spirits from guys on kayaks at most of the stops, but be prepared to pay a big mark up on it. Our guide suggested taking your own bottle with you to avoid paying the steep prices.

Big Lagoon el nido
Kayaking through Big Lagoon

HOW TO BOOK THE ISLAND HOPPING TOURS

To book a private boat, you can enquire with any of the tour agencies in El Nido town.  However, if this isn’t an option, then we recommend you to book your tours through the Fruit Shake shop next to Squidos on Calle Hama Street.

They are not one of the larger tour operators however this is a good thing.  We had a small group of 11 on our boat, whereas we saw others crammed with over 20 people. We also got a small discount on the usual price, an extra location added for snorkelling and a feast fit for a king at lunchtime. If you’re lucky you will get Ralph as your guide who was fun, charismatic and knowledgeable.

Simizu Beach el nido
Simizu Beach
WHERE TO BOOK MAP LOCATION

WHERE TO STAY IN EL NIDO

TOP CHOICE – Amakan Bed Bunk & Breakfast – One of the more premium options in the town, and although the rooms were a little cramped (not unusual for El Nido town), they were extremely clean and comfortable. There are a variety of room options available, including dorms, and room prices include free buffet breakfast

MID RANGE PRIVATE – Bulskamp Inn – Perfect for those looking to escape the bustle of El Nido Town.

HOSTEL – Spin Designer Hostel – Recently voted the best hostel in the whole of the Philippines, Spin is a relaxed hostel, offering basic private rooms & dorms with free breakfast included.

For more places to stay in El Nido, you can check the latest prices here.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING

Below are the essential items that we carry with us on every adventure. But to ensure you don’t leave behind any of those backpacker essentials, here is our free printable packing list.

1. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE

It is no secret that single-use plastic is causing irreversible damage to our ecosystems, it is therefore imperative that as travellers, we try to minimise our consumption as much as possible.

We always carry a reusable water bottle and you will find that most hotels or hostels have a refill station.  Not only is it better for the planet but you’ll save cash too!

We Recommend: Stainless steel Insulated Water Bottles

2. VERSATILE WALKING SHOES

When going on any backpacking adventure, we always carry some versatile walking shoes with us.  We personally love the 2 in 1 shoes by Aleader as not only can we wear them hiking, but they act as water shoes too!

We Recommend: Aleader 2 in 1 Hiking Shoes. Use code OURTASTEFORLIFE15 for 15% off your order.

3. GOPRO ACTION CAMERA & ADVENTURE KIT

If you want an action camera that is durable and safe to take in the water, then look no further than the Go Pro.  Small, lightweight, and easy to handle, you really ought to carry one of these with you on any backpacking adventure. Check out our full photography travel kit.

We Recommend: GoPro Hero 7 (White) Action Camera + Adventure Kit

 
4. QUICK DRY MICROFIBER TOWEL

They really do dry fast! Ultra-compact and lightweight so you can take to the beach easily. Not just the beach, this item is great for hiking, swimming, any outdoor adventure!

We Recommend: Microfiber Travel Towel

 

TRAVEL RESPONSIBLY

It should go without saying; however, when enjoying the underwater world, it’s important to be mindful of the environment.  It is no secret that some of our planets fragile ecosystems are at risk of extinction. There are many small steps you can take to becoming a responsible traveller, check out the Eco-Travel essentials here. It is our duty as travellers, that we reduce our footprint where we can, here are some tips:

  • Be careful with any rubbish that it doesn’t fly overboard.  Keep it secure until you can dispose of it properly.
  • Do not leave anything on the islands, or take anything away – unless you’ve purchased it from a local supplier.
  • Wear Reef Safe Sunscreen.
  • Try to avoid touching coral, marine life or anything underwater… unlesss it’s plastic, help keep our oceans clean.

More on Philippines

Planning a trip to the Philippines? Check out some of our other articles to help plan your trip:

Did you enjoy our guide to Island hopping in El Nido, Palawan?

Let us know. That concludes our guide to Island hopping in El NidoPalawan.  We hope you enjoy your time in this magical city. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram herewhere we share further travel advice & inspiration.

Stay adventurous and Happy travels.

Charlotte & Natalie x

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