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 D 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 D – What To Expect
Tour D is the least popular of all the El Nido tours, and most people move on without doing it, but I think it’s really underrated.
All of the sights are amazing, and this is the only place where you get to see two lagoons. The tour includes 4-5 scenic island stops, and you can expect to spend about 60-90 minutes at each one.
It’s worth noting that your tour guide will probably tell you 45 minutes at each stop, but it usually ends up being over an hour at each stop because of stragglers (and that’s okay!).
The full tour runs from 9 AM to 3 PM (or later) since you also have to spend an hour or two 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!
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
• Paradise Beach
The first stop on Tour D is usually this nice beach on the southeast end of Cadlao island.
Actually, it’s a pair of beaches separated by a clump of rocks, but both of them have soft white sand and great coral for snorkeling.
The western beach even has a stairway and small platform you can climb up to for a better view of the area.
• Pasandigan Cove
This is a group of coves and beaches with some great snorkeling opportunities.
If you have a drone, it’s even better! This whole area has amazing landscapes that are perfect for taking aerial pics.
• Cadlao Island
Your lunch break on the tour will usually happen at Bukal island, Natnat beach, or one of the many other amazing beaches on Cadlao island.
Ours stopped at a small unnamed beach near the western end of Cadlao island. My wife and I hung out in a small hut on the beach while I did some droning, and then our group went under one of the shade trees for lunch.
This was actually one of the nicest beaches we visited in El Nido, with towering cliffs on both sides and no crowds at all.
• Cadlao Lagoon
The highlight of Cadlao island is the turquoise lagoon on the west side of the island.
This is a great spot to rent a kayak and explore the lagoons and see the jagged limestone rocks up close. The inside of the lagoon even has a few tiny beaches where you can dock your kayak and look around.
If you go for a snorkel, the best corals are outside of the lagoon, near the entrance.
• Small Lagoon
The small lagoon at Miniloc island was formerly part of Tour A, but it was moved to Tour D because it was becoming too popular.
There’s a reason why, too! This is one of the most scenic and beautiful places in El Nido.
The big multicolored pool on the outside is amazing, but make sure you take a kayak through the narrow channel and discover the little green lagoon inside!
Best El Nido Tour Packages
Klook.com has high rated El Nido boat tours for very competitive prices.
Their package for Tour D costs 900 pesos ($17 USD) and includes most of the usual stops: Paradise Beach, Natnat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, and Small Lagoon. 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!