El Nido Tour A – Palawan Island Hopping & Big Lagoon

El Nido’s famous for having some of the finest island scenery in the Philippines, and the best way to see it is on a shared boat tour.

The island hopping tours in El Nido are split into 4 different areas of coverage: A, B, C, and D. In my opinion, there is no ‘best’ tour, because they’re all amazing!

This page covers Tour A and what you can expect to see there. We’ll have more general info and a map of the other El Nido tours soon!



    

Tour A – What To Expect

Tour A includes 4-5 scenic island stops, and you can expect to spend about 45-60 minutes at each.

It’s worth noting that your tour guide will probably tell you 30-45 minutes, but it always ends up being closer to an hour at each stop because of stragglers (and that’s okay!).

The full tour runs from 9 AM to 4 PM (or later) since you also have to spend a couple hours on the boat riding between islands. No worries though, because even the transit bits are scenic and filled with good photo ops!

Lunch

Free lunch on the boat is included in every tour, with a typical lineup of grilled fish, pork, chicken, veggies, rice, and plenty of fresh fruit like pineapple and watermelon.

All of the food is great. Some people worry about the hygiene / food prep safety on these boat tours, but in more than two dozen tours our stomachs never had any issues at all (and we ate like pigs)!

    

Rules

At the start of the tour, your guide will give a brief talk about some of the island hopping rules.

One of these is no picking up coral, sand, animals like starfish, etc. This is a good rule, of course, and it helps protect the islands from the hoards of tourists that come here every year.

Life jackets are required during boat travel, but they don't really enforce this except when the boat is leaving the harbor, because that's the only time the coast guard is likely to notice.

Plastic water bottles are technically not allowed on the boat tours, but again they don't enforce this and we saw lots of people bringing plastic. Just make sure you dispose of it properly when you get back to El Nido town!

Conservation Fee

There’s an obligatory conservation fee / tourist tax of 200 pesos ($4 USD) per person for island hopping in El Nido.

This is separate from the cost of your tours, but the ticket is good for 10 days so you’ll probably only need to pay it once. Just don't lose your ticket, or you'll have to buy another one!

Lagoon Fee

Since November 2018, there’s a new fee of 200 pesos per person that applies to anyone visiting the Big or Small Lagoon. That means you'll have to pay extra for Tour A (Big Lagoon) or Tour D (Small Lagoon), even if you don't go inside the lagoons (silly, I know).

Secret Beach (from Tour C) is also expected to join this list eventually, but so far it hasn't. The main point of this new fee is to cut down on the crowds and charge prices that are more in line with demand, because the lagoons have turned into 'premium stops' that almost everyone wants to visit.

Again, this fee is separate from the cost of your tours.
 

Things To See
• Big Lagoon

This emerald colored lagoon is one of the spots that put Palawan on the world map, and really showcased its beautiful and exotic scenery.

Unfortunately, that also means this is the most popular stop on any of the El Nido tours, so it’s gotten a bit crowded.

Boats are no longer allowed inside the lagoon for environmental reasons, so you have the option of swimming in (the water is not deep), or renting a kayak and paddling in. The kayak is a great choice.

• Shimizu Island

Shimizu is another island that sits just south of the Miniloc lagoon. Supposedly it got its name from a Japanese scuba diver who drowned a long time ago while exploring the caves here.

The waters around Shimizu island are great for swimming and snorkeling, with some nice corals and fish hanging out here!


• Secret Lagoon

This is another lagoon, but it’s even better hidden and the small entrance blends in perfectly with the huge cliffs and palm trees on Miniloc island.

Crawl through the opening, and it will open up into a hidden area with towering cliffs surrounding you on all sides!

The beach here is a popular spot for grabbing lunch on the tours.

• Seven Commando Beach

This is a nice big stretch of beach that sits opposite the tall mountains that straddle El Nido Town.

It’s one of the most developed beaches you’ll see in any of the island tours, with drink shacks, tree swings, hammocks, volleyball nets, and all that good stuff.

7 Commando Beach is an ideal place to relax after a full day of island hopping, and also a great place to watch the sunset.


Best El Nido Tour Packages

Klook.com has high rated El Nido boat tours for very competitive prices.

Their package for Tour A costs 1,200 pesos ($23 USD) and includes all the usual stops: Big Lagoon, Shimizu, Secret Lagoon, and 7 Commando. You also get free lunch and hotel pickup. This is a better price than many of the tour companies you’ll find on the street in El Nido town!

The other advantage of booking an online tour like this is that you can pay by credit card or Paypal, so you won’t have to run to the ATM constantly (and the ATMs in El Nido are not known for being very reliable in the first place).



More Palawan Travel Tips

Looking for more information on Palawan island in the Philippines?

Check out my full El Nido Travel Guide with free tips, photos, and more.

Palawan Island Hopping — Tour A | B | C | D | Coron

You can click the links above for more info on the other Palawan island hopping tours!

Where We Stayed

We stayed at David’s Guesthouse in El Nido town for 1,600 pesos ($31 USD) per night. This price got us a clean double bed with cold A/C and a private bathroom.

Keep in mind this is a relatively remote town in the Philippines, and the hotel scene in El Nido is still struggling to develop and catch up with rapid demand, so don’t expect luxury.

Even so, this is one of the best budget friendly hotel options we could find in town. The location was perfect -— just a 3 minute walk to the beach and all the best restaurants -- and the owner was very helpful in booking all of our island hopping tours!

We stayed at this hotel in the center of El Nido town (Image courtesy of Booking.com)

 

Hotels In The Philippines
Booking.com