El Nido Island Hopping Tours, Palawan
There are 5 main tours in El Nido. A, B, C, D, E. Tours A to D are El Nido island hopping tours and tour E is on the mainland. You have many choices for tour companies for each of these tours. They are all very similar though exact El Nido attractions you will go to can vary a little depending on the company.
In this article you will get to see what most of the tour companies offer in each tour. There are short descriptions of each attraction so you can make an informed choice of which tour (s) you would like to do.
I took the points of interest of each tour from a variety of tour company packages and put them together. This means one or two places might be different depending on the company you choose. For example, in tour A, most companies go to either 7 Commandos Beach or Papaya Beach, but not both. You can always ask to include places if it is around the same area.
At the end of the article there are some El Nido tips. It’s a good idea to read these before you book your tours they can save you some time and money.
- Tour A—Lagoon Tour
- Tour B—Cave Tour
- Tour C—Shrine Tour
- Tour D—Beach Tour
- Tour E – Land Tour
- Other El Nido Attractions
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El Nido Island Hopping Tours
Tour A–Lagoon Tour
Standard Price: 1,200PHP per person
7 Commandos Beach
7 Commandos Beach is another white sand beach with crystal clear waters. It has coconut trees, rock formations, kayaking, and a beach bar.
No-one really knows how it got its name, but one popular theory is that 7 soldiers got stranded here in WW2.
Next to 7 Commandos beach is Papaya Beach. This is a private beach is also open to the public. It has powdery white sand and scenic rock formations.
This small snorkeling island gets its name from a Japanese SCUBA diver that died nearby. It has sandy beaches and clear waters.
Small Lagoon is a great place for snorkeling and it also has kayak rentals. If you only want to swim, then that’s fine too.
Small Lagoon is one of a few beautiful lagoons in El Nido.
Big Lagoon is next to, and bigger, than Small Lagoon (what a surprise)! It has emerald color water and mountains on all sides. When people refer to crystal clear water… this is what they mean.
You can come to Big Lagoon for boating, fishing, snorkeling, and more.
Tour B–Cave Tour
Standard Price: 1,300 PHP
In a corner of Bacuit Bay is Snake Island. It gets its name from its S-shaped sandbar that connects it to the mainland.
Cathedral Cave is a huge cavern inside a rocky outcrop. Unfortunately, the opening is too small for bigger boats to enter, and swimming in is not a good idea since sea snakes live there.
Cudugnon Cave is an important archaeological site and possibly a Neolithic burial site. Besides human bones, archeologists also found pottery and jewelry from the Sung Dynasty.
With its 300+ meter tall limestone cliffs, this island earns the nickname of “Enchanted Island”. Its beach has powdery white sand and its waters turn from white to green to blue as you get further from the shore. It is also an amazing place to go snorkeling.
This privately own island is not a default in many tours, but you can request it. It is small and secluded with white sand beaches and nice waters for swimming.
Tour C–Shrine Tour
Standard Price: 1,400 PHP.
A common place to stop for lunch on your tour, Talisay Beach offers great views while filling your tummy. Afterwards (or before) you can play in the water and there is even some good snorkeling about.
Star Beach is on Tapiutan Island, a short island hop away from Matinloc Shrine. This sandy bottom beach is amazing for snorkeling. It is also has a cliff backdrop, fine white sand, and clear waters.
Hidden Beach is a secluded white sand beach on Matinloc Island. It has clear waters and limestone cliffs.
Survivor Sweden left some of their props on this beach.
The official name of Helicopter island is Dilumacad Island. It looks like a helicopter as you approach it so that’s where the nickname comes from.
Besides its shape, Helicopter Island has a beautiful beach, tall cliffs, and thick rainforest.
Another amazing beach on Matinloc Island is Secret Beach. To get there, you need to swim through an opening in a rock wall. Once inside, limestone cliffs surround you on a beach that is not visible from the open ocean.
Matinloc Shrine is an abandoned shrine between the beach and the cliffs. Built in 1982, it is now in ruin.
Tapiutan Strait has several beaches. Most of which are great for swimming and snorkeling. The Matinloc Shrine is also along this strait.
On the SE corner of Matinloc island, is Payong-Payong beach. Yet another white sand beach with limestone cliffs. Some waves can be strong but the water is still okay to swim in. There are also calmer waters if you don’t like the waves.
Tour D–Beach Tour
Standard Price: 1,200 PHP.
This picture perfect lagoon is in the largest island in El Nido, Cadlao Island. You can swim, jump into the water from rocks, and go snorkeling.
Besides the lagoon, Cadlao Island has 12 beaches and the highest peak of the El Nido islands. It is also one of the best places to snorkel.
Beauty surrounds this small beach, and it has calm swimming waters.
This fine, white sand beach has turquoise waters, coconut trees, and a picnic hut. Is is also great for snorkeling.
Ipil beach is a private beach which belongs to the Ipil Travelodge, but anyone can go there. It has clear waters, palm trees for shade, and some on-beach activities such as table tennis and volleyball.
Paradise Beach is only a short boat ride from the mainland and is a great place to relax. Like many of the beaches in El Nido, it has coconut trees, powder white sand, and pristine waters.
Nat-Nat Beach is on Cadlao Island and is an ideal spot for picnics. There are huts, calm waters, and some nice scenery.
Tour E – Land Tour
Standard Price: PHP 1,500
Often referred to as the most beautiful beach in town, Nacpan is one of the “twin beaches” in El Nido. This 4km long beach is lined with coconut trees and is about a 1 hour drive north of the town. It is a popular beach to swim in.
The other twin is the smaller Calitang beach. It meets Nacpan to the south with a small hill that gives a great view.
Marimegmeg Beach is a golden sand beach on the mainland. One of the best things about it is the zip line to a small island just off-shore.
Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls is about halfway between town proper and the Twin Beaches. To get there is about a 30 minute jungle trek from the main road. It is a great place to hike, see a few waterfalls, and take a refreshing dip.
Other attractions on the Mainland
Here are a few other things you can do on your own or as separate tours on the mainland. A good way to to it is to hire a motorbike for a day or two and check out the things on this list and some from Tour E while you are at it.
Corong Corong Beach
Corong Corong beach is one of the more peaceful beaches in the El Nido area, and it is only 10 minutes south of town proper. It has amazing sunsets and calm shallow waters.
The canopy walk is near to town proper and is a good way to get a view of the town from above. The other alternative is for the more adventurous and involves trekking up Taraw Cliff.
Taraw Cliff is a limestone karst looking over town proper. It is an awesome backdrop, the highest peak in the area, and you can climb it!
Ille Cave is a museum inside a cave. It is an important archeological site. They excavated pottery and animal bones there but they are not on display. Instead, there are informational boards. The cave itself is also interesting.
Makinit Hot Springs
About a 20 minute drive from town proper is Makinit Hot Springs. You can not swim in it, but it’s still interesting to visit.
Kawayway falls is a set of 3 falls, each of which you can swim in. The further you go the less crowded it gets.
The road in is not very good, but tricycles go in. Be careful if you are on a motorbike if its muddy.
Kalye Artisano Artists Village
If you like art then this little village is a nice place to visit. Inside the village are several local artisan shops. Even if you don’t want to shop, looking around the village is nice.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church
This is the main Catholic Church in El Nido. El Nido’s Patron Saint, St. Francis, is the Patron of the Environment. Fitting for this ecotourism destination.
Pangko Maritime Museum
This maritime museum is on the East coast of the mainland. It is about the Cuyonon people who originate from Cuyo Island.
A Pangko is the traditional boat of the Cuyonons.
The museum is right on the Sulu Sea which has white sand beaches and amazing snorkeling.
Mt. Mansilawit is the highest mountain in the El Nido area. You can see it from the main road about 12km North of the town proper. To climb it is about a 1 hour trek.
This is one of the more developed beaches in the area. There are bars, restaurants, and tourist shops. A nice place to chill out and a short drive from the town.
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As you can see, there is enough to keep you busy in El Nido for at least a week. Even our boat tours were cancelled for 3 days and we still had things to do.
The prices I gave are standard tour prices per person in a group tour. If you have enough people it is worth considering a private boat. If you do, get it from a tricycle driver, as opposed to the tour shop. It ended up costing us 8,000php for 4 adults for Tour A, including lunch. In the shop was double!
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