The Island hopping tours in El Nido have some of the most stunning scenery in the Philippines. The tours allow you to discover the many reasons El Nido ranks as the best island in the world with its majestic lagoons, exotic beaches, clear azure waters, and dramatic rock formations.
Over the last ten years, I’ve returned to El Nido about seven times, each time bringing a friend or a relative. Even though I’ve done the island hopping tours several times since the first visit, it never gets old. The only difference I see between the first visit and the last is the number of tourists increasing every passing year.
In this blog post, I put together a review of each of the island hopping tours in El Nido, so you have a better idea of what to expect for each tour and help better prepare your trip.
Quick Snapshot of the Island Hopping Tours in El Nido
Before we get started on the individual tours, it is essential to know first hand that there are four different island hopping tours in El Nido: Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D.
Each tour has its unique itinerary that explores the different sites in El Nido. Below is a quick snapshot of each of the island hopping tours:
Tour A – Arguably the most popular out of the four island hopping tours. Tour A explores El Nido’s most famous lagoons.
Tour B – A stunning island hopping tour that explores a different side of El Nido, notably for the beautiful sand bar and charming caves.
Tour C – Along with Tour A, this tour is another popular choice among tourists. Tour C provides an excellent experience for those looking to snorkel and explore El Nido’s underwater marine life.
Tour D – Many consider Tour D to have some of the best beaches in El Nido. It’s an underrated island hopping tour that many skips for the more popular Tour A and Tour C.
How Much is the Island Tour in El Nido?
All of the four island hopping tours in El Nido usually cost between 1200 to 1400 PHP, under $25 USD. Each island hopping tour’s cost includes a delicious lunch that your tour guides prepare at a select remote island. The lunch is usually grilled seafood, meat, with fresh vegetables and fruits.
Before going on an island hopping tour, tourists must pay a 200 PHP (roughly $5 USD) environmental fee, which lasts for ten days. You need to save the receipt because you will need to show proof to your guides that you have paid this fee before going on each island hopping tour.
El Nido Tour A
Tour A is one of the four island hopping tours in El Nido where you can explore mind-blowing lagoons, beautiful beaches, and other hidden islands. The main draw for Tour A is a visit to the famous Big or Small Lagoon, where you can kayak in amazingly clear waters in between towering limestone rocks. In the past, Tour A included both Big and Small Lagoon on the itinerary. However, the municipality in El Nido wants to control overcrowding in the lagoons, so you can only choose one over the other.
Below is the itinerary for Tour A island hopping tour:
The Big Lagoon is the main attraction for Tour A, and it’s definitely as the name suggests – Big! Admittedly, the Big Lagoon is one of my favorite spots for all the island hopping tours in El Nido. I remember being excited to visit after seeing images online on my first visit. But honestly, the pictures or videos you see online do not give it justice.
You can literally spend the whole day wandering the area, and you won’t ever get bored. But ultimately, you will have about 45 minutes to kayak and swim around the Big Lagoon, so try to make the most out of it!
When your boat arrives at the Big Lagoon, there will be a selection of kayaks for you to choose from. The price to rent a kayak is 250 pesos for a regular size, suitable for two passengers. Alternatively, a bigger kayak right for four people is also available for rent.
The Small Lagoon is another main attraction of Tour A. Although it’s named Small Lagoon, the dramatic limestone rock formation that surrounds it is massive. This beautiful lagoon has crystal clear emerald green waters, perfect for kayaking and snorkeling.
The not so ‘secret,’ Secret Lagoon is another lagoon of Tour A that is worth checking out. The difference between the Secret Lagoon and the Big and Small Lagoon is that it’s much smaller. You would only be able to go inside the lagoon by swimming through a tiny entrance, and from there, you can take pictures and relax for a bit. It’s not quite the same experience as the Big and Small Lagoon where you can kayak and swim – but it’s still worth checking out!
Shimizu Island is typically the lunch stop while on your island hopping Tour A. The water in Shimizu Island is exceptionally clear. It provides for another chance to snorkel and swim while our tour guides prepare your lunch.
Seven Commando Beach
Depending on the day, Seven Commando could be either the first or last stop of El Nido Tour A.
It’s undoubtedly one of the best beaches in El Nido and is the perfect spot to relax and unwind. The beach has powdery white sand that rivals Boracay, with crystal clear waters all around. There is also a fruit shake stand on the beach, and it was surprisingly good!
El Nido Tour B
Tour B is a unique island hopping tour that explores a different side of El Nido. On this tour, you get to discover beautiful islands and beaches and sand bars and caves that are not available on other island hopping tours in El Nido.
If you are unsure whether or not to choose Tour B, Snake Island alone is a great reason to go on this island hopping tour. I absolutely enjoyed the time we visited this place because it was so different from any other island hopping tours we went to El Nido. Don’t worry about the island’s name – there aren’t any actual snakes in the area! Snake island got its name because of the S-shaped sandbar that connects two islands. One end has spectacular views that you can hike up to, and the other has beautiful mangroves.
Pinagbuyutan island is a stunning island with pristine aquamarine waters and powdery soft white sand, not to mention the backdrop of the gorgeous neighboring islets. But what you will appreciate most about Pinagbuyutan Island is the lack of crowds, allowing you to have complete privacy and enjoy the peace of the island. Lack of crowds is not something you can say to the other island hopping tours in El Nido.
Whereas Tour A features beautiful lagoons, Tour B highlights El Nido’s fascinating caves. Although Cudognon Cave is not that particularly big, the cave interior is worth checking out with its dramatic rock formations.
Cathedral Cave is the second cave on the El Nido Tour B itinerary. The entrance of the cave is relatively high, resembling a traditional Cathedral you’d see in Europe. Although the cave is tall, the entrance to get inside is relatively narrow. Most of the boats stay just outside the entrance because most of them aren’t able to go too far inside without damaging the rocks.
Entalula Beach is a picturesque beach boasting a beautiful stretch of fine white sands, with a backdrop of coconut trees. It’s a great spot to unwind and relax after a long day of island hopping. I particularly enjoyed the diamond-shaped, giant rock that stands by itself in the middle of the beach – it’s Instagram worthy!
El Nido Tour C
Tour C is a popular island hopping tour that boasts some of the best scenery El Nido has to offer. Along with Tour A, this tour is a popular choice among travelers because it explores El Nido’s kayaking spots with beautiful aquamarine life.
Helicopter Island features a gorgeous beach with crystal clear waters, perfect for exploring El Nido’s aquamarine life. This island got its nickname because it resembles a helicopter, although the shape reminds me more of a dolphin!
This not so secret beach is as exotic as they come with a jungle full of monkeys right above the beach, making this one unforgettable experience.
The majestic views from Matinloc Shrine is a reason in itself to travel to El Nido. Once you get to the Shrine, there are steps that lead to a viewpoint that captures the raw beauty of El Nido that you won’t see anywhere else. Out of my many trips to El Nido, the Matinloc Shrine is where I always look forward to visiting again and again.
Hidden Beach may have gotten its name because of how far and secluded it is from everything. But don’t let its distance deter you from looking forward to visiting this area. This beach boasts an impressive stretch of white sands and crystal clear waters.
Talisay Beach is generally the place where your tour guides prepare your delicious lunch. This beach has a beautiful strip of white sand with shallow and calm waters, perfect for you to relax and unwind while waiting for your lunch!
El Nido Tour D
Tour D is an underrated tour that doesn’t get as much attention as the other island hopping tours. The itinerary on Tour D has some of Palawan’s most magical sceneries with its towering rock formations, crystal clear waters, beautiful lagoons, and hidden beaches.
Ipil Beach offers snorkeling opportunities for those who want to explore El Nido’s underwater marine life. Fun fact about this beach: parts of The Bourne Legacy were shot here!
Pasandigan Beach is a prime example for those who wish to discover beautiful and peaceful white sand beaches. I particularly love the tropical backdrop of coconut trees – very exotic!
Cadlao Lagoon is an excellent addition on the itinerary that goes beyond the beautiful beaches of Tour D. In many ways, Cadlao Lagoon has similar vibes to Small and Big Lagoon, the two most popular stops on Tour A. Just like those two famous lagoons, Cadlao Lagoon features impressive limestone rocks with crystal emerald waters.
You can get to Paradise Beach in less than thirty minutes by taking a kayak for those feeling adventurous. It is one of the many white-sand beaches with fewer crowds than many of the famous beaches in El Nido!
Natnat Beach and Bukal Beach
Both of these beaches are perfect for those looking to have some quiet time. They have a secluded location that gives it a raw and remote appeal.
Private Tour El Nido Price
Private boat tours in El Nido can range anywhere from 3200 PHP to 4800 PHP per passenger, depending on the route you take. Obviously, one of the advantages of taking a private tour is that you control the itinerary and the time you spent on each island. This is an advantage, especially if you want to get to a popular place (example like the Big and Small Lagoon) before the rest of the crowds get there.
What Can I Bring to El Nido Island Hopping?
Expect to take plenty of pictures and videos! For starters, don’t forget to bring these gadgets if you already have them:
– Professional Camera
– Mask for snorkeling (masks are available for rent on the boat if you don’t mind sharing!)
– Waterproof cover for your phone
– Plenty of sunscreen!
Need More Insider Tips on El Nido? I Got You Covered Below!
- El Nido Island Hopping Tour A – What To Expect
- El Nido Island Hopping Tour B – What To Expect
- El Nido Island Hopping Tour C – What To Expect
- El Nido Island Hopping Tour D – What To Expect
- Nacpan Beach – Day Trip Guide From El Nido
- The Big Lagoon in El Nido
- Guide to Small Lagoon in El Nido
- Snake Island in El Nido – Palawan Guide
- 10 Luxury Resorts in El Nido That Make You Go WOW!