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.
This page covers Tour C 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 C – What To Expect
Tour C includes 4-5 scenic island stops, and you can expect to spend about 45-60 minutes at each major stop (with the exception of the Matinloc Shrine).
It’s worth noting that your tour guide will probably tell you 30-45 minutes at each stop, but it usually 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 5 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!
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)!
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!
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!
Things To See
• Matinloc Shrine
This is a small beach with some abandoned buildings, including an old Catholic shrine that looks a bit like a Greek gazebo.
Matinloc Shrine is generally the shortest stop on any Tour C, and some tours skip it completely, but it’s a neat artifact and the snorkeling here is pretty good!
• Tapiutan Island
This is a huge, rugged island with multiple sandy beaches that are great for taking a lunch break.
The most popular ones are Talisay Beach and Star Beach, but there are several others too, so ultimately the one that your tour brings you to will depend on the crowd levels that day.
Talisay is the biggest beach on the island, but it’s gotten a bit crowded now, and the others are nice to see as well. Did I mention this island is perfect for droning?
• Secret Beach
This is a small beach that you can access through a hole in the rocks, but this time the opening is on the water and you have to swim through it!
It’s an easy swim, and completely life jacket friendly (you don’t have to dive down or have your face underwater).
Inside, there’s a tiny beach area with pointy limestone rocks sticking up in all directions.
• Hidden Beach
This is another hidden cove on the opposite side of Matinloc island, but with a bigger beach and even more scenic towering cliffs surrounding it on all sides.
This one is a short swim in shallow water to reach the peaceful, sandy beach inside the rocks.
If you fly a drone up from here, you can get some amazing views of the Tapiutan strait, with the end of Matinloc island looking like a gigantic elephant face and trunk!
• Helicopter Island
Dilumacad Island is also known as Helicopter Island because of how it looks from above. I think the shape could also pass for a whale or dolphin.
This is one of my favorite islands in El Nido, with a big beach, lots of photo ops, and some cheap coconut sellers so you can sit back and chill on the white sand at the end of your day tour.
Best El Nido Tour Packages
Klook.com has high rated El Nido boat tours for very competitive prices.
Their package for Tour C costs 1,300 pesos ($25 USD) and includes all of the usual stops: Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Tapiutan Island, and Hidden Beach. 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.
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!