Philippines, Southeast Asia

Island Hopping in the Philippines: El Nido Tour A

January 12, 2016
El Nido Palawan Philippines Island Hopping Tour A

Around the World with Justin
When traveling to the Philippines there’s one thing you MUST do – ISLAND HOPPING! With over 7,000 islands the possibilities in the Philippines are endless and the best news is you can’t go wrong. Before traveling to the Philippines I asked some friends for travel advice (and did some #Philippines Instagram stalking) and everyone’s top recommendation was the same – go island hopping on an El Nido tour.

El Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Around the World with Justin
El Nido is located at the northern tip of Palawan on the westernmost region of the Philippines. The two main international airports in the Philippines are Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in Manila and Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB) right outside of Cebu City. From either of these airports the most common route to El Nido is flying to Puerto Princesa (PPS) and then taking a 4-5 hour shared van ride to El Nido. I found that across the many companies, vans and prices were pretty much the same. I ended up  booking through the Lonely Planet recommended company El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe.

If you want to cut down travel time, there are direct flights from Manila to El Nido but it’s a more expensive option. More info with The El Nido Art Cafe Travel Center and Air Swift.

El Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Around the World with Justin
When exploring the islands off the coast on an El Nido tour (known as the Bacuit Archipelago) all companies have standard prices for the same 4 options – Tour A, B C and D. Here’s the breakdown:

El Nido Tour MapsTour A – “Lagoons” – P1200 – Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Secret Beach, 7 Commandos Beach
Tour B – “Caves” – P1300 – Entatula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave
Tour C – “Secret Beaches” – P1400 – Mantiloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Talisay Beach, Helicopter Island
Tour D – “Beaches” – P1200 – Bukal Beach, Ipil Beach, Pasandigan Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Paradise Island

In addition to the standard prices you’ll also have to pay a 1-time P200 Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF) good for 10 days. You’ll also pay extra for kayaks and snorkel gear, but lunch is included.

Travel TipIf you have shoes that can get wet, wear them! You’ll be walking on jagged rocks while exploring.

When I asked friends and Instagrammers who had been to the Philippines which El Nido tour was the best everyone recommended Tour A and Tour C. The next step was picking a tour company. While tour options are limited, actual tour company options seem limitless! Everywhere you go in El Nido there are tour operators selling island hopping packages. Highly recommended by Lonely Planet, I used El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe and loved them. The boats were extremely clean, operated by awesome guides, had medium-size groups (around 10-14) and provided great food.

El Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

The best way to describe my experience and the beauty of island hopping in the Philippines is by showing rather than telling. Here’s a visual representation of my breathtaking journey on Tour A.

EL NIDO TOUR A

Small Lagoon

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Big Lagoon

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Shimizu Island

El Nido Tour A Philippines Shimizu Island aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Philippines Shimizu Island aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Philippines Shimizu Island aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Philippines Shimizu Island aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Philippines Shimizu Island aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Philippines Shimizu Island aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Philippines Shimizu Island aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Philippines Shimizu Island aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

7 Commandos Beach

El Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

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My friend Morgan and I stayed at Rico’s Beach Cottages during our 3-night stay in El Nido. We really enjoyed Rico’s. It’s a simple, mid-range option (about $15 USD each per night) and located on the beach in the northeastern part of town. It was clean, had a friendly staff and breakfast was included.

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El Nido itself is a small beach town that has everything from low to high-end lodging, surrounded by a lot of construction and tourist-focused businesses. If you’re looking for something quieter and away from “the action,” I would suggest checking out the options near Corong Corong and Las Cabanas Beach.

Around the World with Justin
Island hopping in the Philippines is one of the hidden gems of Southeast Asia! The Philippines may not have the “hype” of a country like Thailand, but if you’re looking to explore some of the most pristine, stunning and remote islands in the world – it delivers! A trip to the Philippines would be incomplete without island hopping in the Bacuit Archipelago (and check out my post on El Nido Tour C)

El Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Nido Tour A Island Hopping Palawan Philippines aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Psst – did you find this post informative? Useful? Inspiring? Save it for later on Pinterest!

Thinking of island hopping in El Nido Palawan Philippines? Check out this guide for Tour A

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14 Comments

  • Reply Island Hopping in the Philippines: El Nido, Palawan - Tour CAround the World with Justin January 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    […] my recent post “Island Hopping in the Philippines: El Nido, Palawan, Tour A” I wrote all about exploring the Bacuit Archipelago including travel tips on what to do, where to […]

    • Reply Ivy April 14, 2016 at 7:34 am

      Hi Justin! Thank you for sharing your story in El Nido 🙂 your photos are as well inviting! May I know what camera did you use including underwater? 🙂

      • Reply Justin Walter April 14, 2016 at 11:07 am

        Thank you Ivy! For my underwater photos I used a GoPro Hero 3 camera in a waterproof case. GoPro’s are amazing! I love using mine and suggest getting a selfie stick for it.

        • Reply Paulo R Abesamis November 18, 2016 at 9:43 am

          Hey justin, awesome pictures… so you only used go pro hero 3 which I have one. Did you do any editing with those clear photos? That’s super amazing!

          • Justin Walter November 28, 2016 at 11:29 am

            Hi Paulo and thanks! I did use mostly a GoPro Hero 3, iPhone and Canon. I do minimal editing on my photos, just slight lighting and color adjustments. I like letting the camera and subject do most of the work. Let me know if you ever have any questions!

      • Reply Sasha November 26, 2016 at 5:06 am

        Hey!

        I want to do one of these tours in a couple of days, as I can’t afford to do both I was wondering which tour you preferred? Also did you spend any time in Puerto Princesa, if so did you like it? Or should I just spend my time in El Nido?

        Thanks!

        • Reply Justin Walter November 28, 2016 at 11:34 am

          Hi Sasha, here’s my suggestion. Look at both of my blogs for Tour A and Tour C. After you look at them, which photos speak more to you? Which ones excite you more? Go with your gut and that trip! Both are amazing so it’s a win-win. I would say Tour A is more about beaches and Tour C is more about caves, in general. I also did not spend any time in Puerto Princesa, from what I hear most people enjoy El Nido better. Hope this helps!

  • Reply Swimming with Oslob Whale Sharks - Philippines Travel GuideAround the World with Justin April 12, 2016 at 11:28 am

    […] Oslob and Donsol Bay. Geographically Oslob fit perfectly into my to do list that already included El Nido, Bohol and Boracay so swimming with the Oslob whale sharks was added to my Philippines […]

  • Reply Brad April 15, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Hello Justin. These are really great photos! Just wondering, why you don’t have photos of secret lagoon in tour A? It is included in the package right?

    • Reply Justin Walter April 17, 2016 at 7:01 am

      Thanks Brad! We were supposed to eat lunch at the secret lagoon, but it was a little too crowded when we arrived so we just ate lunch on the boat. We went by it, but just didn’t make the stop.

  • Reply Top 10 #OMGB Moments in Pembrokeshire WalesAround the World with Justin November 1, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    […] game. Looking for help from my new travel friend, Jenn Malka – who I met over Instagram while traveling in the Philippines – she recommended joining Travel Massive, a networking group that meets monthly. On January […]

  • Reply Why Joining Travel Massive Was the Best DecisionAround the World with Justin February 7, 2017 at 8:14 am

    […] step up my travel writing game. My new travel friend, Jenn Malka – who I met over Instagram while traveling in the Philippines recommended I join the Los Angeles chapter of Travel […]

  • Reply Alexandra plourde May 15, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Hi Justin,
    I was wondering how you explore Taraw Cliff (with a guide or on your own)
    What you recommend?
    Thanks

    • Reply Justin Walter May 15, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Hi Alexandra, we made friends with one of our island hopping tour guides and had him do the hike. In my post I have a link to El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe – they have awesome tours and guides you could talk to. Let me know if you have any more questions!

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