Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Island Hopping Tours El Nido Philippines

Island Hopping Tours in El Nido

There are 3 basic island hopping tours in El Nido, Palawan.  These are labeled as Tour A, B, and C.  Upon the recommendation of my friend's sister, we took Tours C and A.  According to her, Tour B isn't that nice because it mostly involves exploring caves.  If you like that kind of stuff then you should take Tour B.  With tour A and C on the other hand, you'll go snorkeling in lagoons, beaches, and hidden coves.  
Island Hopping Tours in El Nido - Do's and Dont's Please READ.  Click on the image to view a larger picture

We weren't disappointed.  For first timers, you must take Tour A as this offers the more usual attractions.  Personally though, I was blown away by the beauty of Tour C.  The places you go to in tour C are magical.  And I guess I enjoyed it much more for the simple fact that there were less tourists around.

(Island hopping tour details and pictures after the jump)

Island Hopping Tour A- Lagoons of Miniloc Island (Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon), Shimizu Island, Entalula Island, 7 Commando Beach.

(as offered by El Nido Boutique and Artcafe)

A lot of tour operators have started sprouting around town offering tours with the same labels - others even cheaper by a hundred pesos compared to El Nido Boutique's rates.  While they would still probably take you to the same sites and attractions, the tour itself could be a little different.  That's why I'm specifically stating here that this was the tour, as we experienced it, offered by El Nido Boutique and Artcafe.

Tour A costs 800 pesos / person.
Tour A with Kayak is at 1,400 pesos / person. (Limited to 4 kayaks per boat so book early if you want a Kayak)

While it would be enough to see the lagoons without kayaks there's a smaller lagoon inside the small lagoon that's more accessible with a kayak.  There's also the plus factor of experiencing El Nido like how the participants of Amazing Race did.  And most importantly, the opportunity to exercise and sweat. (^o^)/ (So don't take the kayak if you're not an active person.  Admittedly, I was exhausted after. hahaha)


Outside the small lagoon
Outside the small lagoon is where the boats park and where you can snorkel.  Don't expect to see that much marine life though as around the lagoons there aren't that much corals.  On our way back, our boatman did inform us that they saw a blue-spotted sting ray.    

Entrance to the Small lagoon Miniloc Island
The entrance to the small lagoon.  You can kayak or snorkel going in.  You'll have to know how to maneuver the kayak so ask your guide if you don't know how to.  They didn't hold a Kayak 101 before departing El Nido Town.  But don't worry, it's fairly easy to control the kayak.

Inside the Small Lagoon, Miniloc Island

Kayak your way from the small to the Big Lagoon, Miniloc Island
You'll Kayak your way from the Small Lagoon to the Big Lagoon.  It's one of the most scenic routes you'll encounter.  The trip will take about 15 minutes.  It's time to work up those muscles.  I wanted to take more pictures along the way but didn't wanna be left behind because people in the boat will be waiting for the Kayak group - I had to settle with a few.  It would have been best to this leisurely while enjoying the beauty of Miniloc Island, El nido.

The BIG lagoon, Miniloc Island
A platform is available inside the Big Lagoon where you can board and have your pictures taken.  The platform was supposedly made by El Nido Resorts.  They supposedly offer tours to take their guests here for lunches or dinners.  

Rock Formation - the Virgin Mary
Look up and watch out for the rock formation of the Virgin Mary looking after the inhabitants of the island of Miniloc.  


Lunch stop at Entalula Island, El nido
Next stop was Entalula Island.  This is where we had lunch.  The El Nido Boutique and Artcafe staff will grill the food on the beach giving you enough time to lounge, to take pictures, and to snorkel in this island.  I believe Entalula is a big island and your boatmen may stop at a different spot depending on where there are still areas to anchor the boat.

Picture perfect rock formation
Our boatmen picked one of the best spots for pictures.  This magnificent rock formation will look awesome on its own or with subjects in the picture.

The area was also beaming with marine life.  Let my companion guide you to where the best spots for snorkeling are.  He was obviously encouraging us to go in the water already as we were still very busy taking pictures by the rock in the picture just before this one. (^o-)

Our view during lunch - Click on the image for a larger picture.
Ooops! This view was during lunch for Tour C and not Tour A ... the beach just across Star Beach.

There's an island named after a Japanese!  Makes you wonder who Shimizu-san was?
(If you ask me if there was something lacking with the tours offered by Artcafe, the lack of history and explanations from the guide is definitely one.)

Shimizu Island El Nido Palawan Philippines - Click on the picture for a larger view.

Fish feeding at Shimizu Island
The main attraction here is to feed the fish.  We used the heads of left over fish from lunch to feed the fish.  Ironically, those fish heads were bigger than the fish here.  It's as if they were savoring the moment of being the predators for ones.  It's a brief stop of about 15-20 minutes.  After which the Kayak team will have to kayak again all the way to the next attraction, THE SECRET LAGOON.

Czech couple enjoying the clear waters of El Nido

Entrance to the Secret Lagoon, Miniloc Island
You have to crawl your way in to THE SECRET LAGOON.  The name makes you want to think of Brooke Shields swimming in the blue lagoon. hehehe  

Where's the crocodile?
Check out the Crocodile or Alligator rock formation on the right side of the secret lagoon.  It's not very clear in the picture but it's right above where my friend is standing.  It's an alligator looking down on the unsuspecting swimmers in the lagoon.

Outside you'll be greeted with a nicer view.
Just behind those magnificent limestone rock formations is where a SURVIVOR franchise is shooting.  And below is how the beach on that side looks. *breath-taking*

Beach front where SURVIVOR reality show is shooting. 

7 Commando Beach El Nido

Last stop is the 7 Commando Beach.  One of the few stops where you can just lounge and relax.  The only thing I don't like with this stop is that it can get crowded.  If you notice, the whole shore line is actually covered with boats used for island hopping.  There's very little open spaces left for guests to swim.  It was actually disheartening to see a boatman blow the whistle on swimming guests, disturbing their swim time, simply because they wanted to park on the area where the guests were at.  If it were up to me, boats should not be allowed near the shore line unless they were dropping off or picking up passengers.

Regardless, there's still much to do in the island to enjoy.  After swimming the whole day, you can opt not to swim and do all these equally enjoyable activities the island has to offer.

Play beach volleyball with other tourists and locals.

Enjoy fresh YOUNG COCONUT (or BUKO) while watching the games.

Build sand castles under the afternoon sun.

Train to be a KUNG FU MASTER!
Wow! Writing this post makes me want to go back to El Nido already.  Wasn't that worth 800 pesos? (or 1,400 pesos with the Kayak?)  It definitely was more than worth it.  I wouldn't hesitate to take the tour again given the chance.  

Tip: When you plan a trip to El Nido, don't just stay for a couple of nights!  Book the entire week!  Most foreigners we talked to, sharing a boat with us, were actually staying for 5 to 7 days.  Aside from the countless island hopping tours you can take.  Locals say you have to do an inland tour as well to fully appreciate all the beauty that El Nido has to offer.  

Planning my next trip to go back there already! Come join me!

Lucky us ... on our way to 7 Commando we spotted a pack of Dolphins!
The day before we spotted ....  You'll have to wait for details on ISLAND HOPPING TOUR C on my next post.  Don't miss the next article. Subscribe to My Friend Sun Jun for FREE. Click this link!


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  1. so when's the return trip?

  2. maybe in December! hahaha
    My friend plans to go back with some foreign friends. I'll probably just tag along hehehe

    Great side you've got - very organized unlike mine hahaha.

    Are you planning another trip to El Nido?
    Can I still catch up for Russia? wahahaha

  3. Next week I am going to EL NIDO, my first time. Your description of TOUR C is very HELPFUL. I think I will opt for this tour. I am not a stranger to island hopping or life near the sea. I own a very nice BEACH FRONT Property in SARANGANI ISLAND but this is still "VERY RAW"..
    I hope to get somebody to be MY CO-DEVELOPER of my PLACE.
    My name is ALLAN TECSON (09297266272)
    I am based in GenSan..

  4. Hi allan,

    How big is your beach front proterty in Sarangani?
    and which area in Sarangani is it located?
    Let us know.



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