I have always included island hopping activities in my schedule for beach tours. It is one of the most known activities done whenever people travel to the beach here in the Philippines. Why? Because the Philippines is composed of 7500 islands! Though only 2000 islands are currently inhabited, that’s still a huge number of islands to visit! Do take note that the strenuous island hopping tours in El Nido, Palawan is so much different from the island hopping tours in Boracay ~
El Nido has a lot of surrounding islands to visit, unlike Boracay. If you’ve been to Boracay, you’ll know that Boracay only offers one island hopping tour. On the other hand, there are four island hopping tours in El Nido.
El Nido Island Hopping Tour A: Lagoons and Beaches
Duration: 6~7 hours
Tip: Tour A is one of the most famous island-hopping tours in El Nido.
1. Small Lagoon – You can reach the small lagoon by swimming or kayaking through a small hole to get to see the tranquil turquoise green waters of the island.
2. Big Lagoon – the island with the most fishes and crustaceans as it is their breeding grounds. You will get to see different fishes as you snorkeling along the beach of Big Lagoon.
3. Secret Lagoon – a small island surrounded by limestone karst cliffs. You will have to enter a hole from a cave to view the limestones. The lagoon is in the center of it.
4. Shimizu Island – the place where the boat will park to prepare for your lunch meal. You can snorkel around this place while the captain prepares the meal for you.
5. Seven Commandos Beach – the relaxation part of the tour. Enjoy an hour along the long white sand beach. There’s also a bar along the beach where you can just chill. The island is named after the 7 Japanese commandos who lived on the island after World War II. There are a lot of sea turtles on this beach! Be sure to snorkel when you have time.
El Nido Island Hopping Tour B: Caves and Coves
Duration: 6~7 hours
1. Pangalusian Island – There are clusters of corals underwater that makes this island a good place for diving and snorkeling. The sand of the beach is fine powdery sand. Perfect for some sunbathing.
2. Snake Island – A unique S-shaped island, hence the name of the island. However, the ‘S’ shape of the island can only be seen during low tide.
3. Cadugnon Point and Cave – This cave is an archaeological and historical cave. Potteries from Sung Dynasty were found from this cave. It is also the place here the locals hid from the Japanese during World War II.
4. Pinasil Island and Cathedral Cave – To get to the other side of the cave, you have to enter into a small hole by swimming or by kayaking. The interior of this cave is spectacular as the sunlight lightly shine through the cave entrance.
5. Pinagbuyutan Island and Entalula Island – You’ll have your lunch stop at this beach. Listen to the sounds of the waves as you munch on the captain’s grilled cooked meals by the beach. This island has the best seascape with the best white sand that can be compared to the beach sand of Boracay Island.
El Nido Island Hopping Tour C: Hidden Beaches and Shrines
Duration: 6~7 hours
Tip: Tour C is another one of the most famous island-hopping tours in El Nido.
1. Dilumacad and Helicopter Island – You can see the shape of the helicopter from the shape of this island from a distance, hence the name of the island. The beach of Helicopter island stretches to almost 300 meters of white sand beach, perfect for picnics by the beach.
2. Tapiutan Island – The beach of this island is a bit narrow compared to other beaches. However, this is one of the best places in El Nido for scuba diving and snorkeling.
3. Matinloc Island and Secret Beach – Located in Matinloc Island is the Secret beach where you have to dive underwater through a narrow crevice to get to the beach. It may seem hard but it is totally worth it!
4. Star Beach – Another great place for snorkeling. This is the stop where you’ll have lunch for the day.
5. Matinloc Shrine – A sacred monument hidden in the forest built in 1982 to honor the blessed Virgin Mary.
El Nido Island Hopping Tour D: Island Beaches
Duration: 6~7 hours
1. Cadlao Island – The largest and the highest island in El Nido with 609 meters peak level above sea level.
2. Pasandigan Beach – The beach where you’ll be having your lunch. Another perfect picnic place.
3. Nat Nat Beach & Bucal Beach – Spend the whole day on the beach and watch the sunset! This beach is perfect for those who just want to chill by the beach and relax.
4. Paradise Beach – A tropical island beach that will take your breath away. If you want to learn how to swim, it is best to do so by Paradise beach with its calm sea water.
What you need to know:
- The prices of the island hopping tours in El Nido Palawan are fixed. All the travel agencies and island hopping tour guides charge the same price. Make sure to voice out if the price given to you is different from the price I have listed here.
- Aside from the island hopping tour fees, you will have to pay for the Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF) as well. It costs ₱200 and is good for ten days.
- I would recommend not to bring your kids to the island hopping tours in El Nido, especially when they are still very young. The island hopping tour activities are quite strenuous that involves a lot of swimming.
- Make sure to wear your aqua shoes when you go swimming or snorkeling. El Nido is known for its corals and you may get wounded by the sharp corals underwater. If ever you get wounded by the corals, make sure to put alcohol or visit the nearest pharmacy for treatment to avoid infection. A lot of dangerous organisms that are unseen by the naked eyes are living on the corals that may infect the wound.
- All boats for the island hopping tours depart by 9 am in the morning at the El Nido town beach.
- The tours include lunch buffet grilled by the captain himself on the boat while you snorkel!
- When the tour guide tells you that drinks would be included in the tour, do not expect soft drinks or beers. When they say drinks, it means bottled water. However, there are a few locals who rides a kayak out in the sea that sells soft drinks, snacks, buko juice and beers. They usually hang around the island stops.
- Not all tours include masked and snorkeling equipment. Make sure to ask them first a day before the tour so you can rent one in a store along the beach.
- If you plan to stay for a short period of time, you can choose the Combo tour A and C. Island hopping tour A and C are the two most popular island hopping tours in El Nido. If you ask the locals, they would say the same as well.
Things you should bring:
- Snorkeling equipment (if the tour doesn’t provide one or if you want to use one of your own)
- Aqua shoes (you will need this if you want to swim from the boat to the beach without a scratch)
- Your own snacks and drinks (if you want to)
- Isopropyl alcohol (to disinfect wounds from the sharp corals if you ever get wounded)
- Extra clothes
- Your best swimsuit
- Towel (use this to warm yourself while on the boat)
- Waterproof bags (you don’t want your things to get wet)
- Waterproof camera or GoPro (you would definitely want to capture the beauty of El Nido)