Your Guide To Island Hopping El Nido: Tour A

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Island hopping in El Nido is one of the top reasons people go to Palawan in the Philippines.  In case you didn’t know, which I didn’t really before I got there, island hopping is the thing to do in El Nido.

I figured I should do it, but then the tough part came, which tour to go on.  Even though there are four options (A, B, C, or D) there are two that everyone recommends. 

Everyone says the best is El Nido Tour A or C.  I know some people go on multiple tours if they are in the area for a while.

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Boat on the ocean with cliffs in El Nido, Philippines

The island hopping tours are offered everywhere in town and they are all exactly the same.  The only things that would be different is if the preservation fee is included, what lunch they have, and if the snorkels are included. 

After asking around a bit and talking to some less than enthusiastic people about the options, we decided on booking it through our hostel, Our Melting Pot.  I think it was 1200 or 1500 PHP.

This was pretty average between places, but through OMP it included the 200 PHP nature preservation fee, lunch, and snorkel gear.  

Kayaks were available once we were out on the water for 300 PHP at a couple of the stops.  The 300 PHP kayak fee could easily be split between two or three people.

Boats in Cove with cliffs in El Nido, Philippines

We decided on El Nido Tour A that had five stops: Secret Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Seven Commando Beach, and Shimizu Island.  

Like I said, these tours are offered by every place of accommodation in town and they all leave at the same time.

This meant that each stop was pretty busy with boats all along the shoreline because everyone goes to the same places in the same order at the same time.  

At Secret Lagoon, we had to jump out and swim up to it.  This is probably because it was shallow.  There was a line waiting to crawl through the hole into the lagoon.  Sounds pretty serene, right?

Palm trees on white sand beach with rocky cliffs in El Nido, Philippines

That stop also felt a little rushed.  We came out of the lagoon and were told to get back on the boat.  But half the people were still in there, so we went to the beach instead to take pictures and try to enjoy it and still ended up on the boat way before everyone else.  

We were all a little bummed we just had to wait there and that it was such a fast stop, but we didn’t want to swim all the way back to shore through the jellyfish in the water.

I do have to say though, as busy as all of it was, it was totally worth it.  I mean, have you looked at any pictures up until this point?  Nice, right?  

I don’t know if I could pick a favorite place from the tour, but our last stop, Seven Commando Beach, was pretty awesome. 

Feet in blue kayak in lagoon with towering limestone cliffs in El Nido, Philippines

I really liked the two stops that we were able to kayak at, as well.  The picture above and the featured picture at the very top were those two places.

The sun was starting to sink and it was time to head back to El Nido.  The wind was blowing in my hair as I resumed my spot at the front of the boat.  No matter what boat I’m on, that’s my spot. 

The water was perfect, which it usually was in the Philippines.  It might not sound like I enjoyed this, but I really did, even with how busy it was.  

Everyone in our group was super nice and really fun, too.  Even if I had been alone, this would have been enjoyable.

Book El Nido Tour A here!

Emerald green water with kayaks and towering gray cliffs in lagoon in El Nido, Philippines

What are the stops on El Nido Tour A?

There are five stops on El Nido Tour A and they’re all beautiful! I think Shimizu Island and Big Lagoon were my favorites.

  • Secret Lagoon
  • Small Lagoon
  • Big Lagoon
  • Seven Commando Beach
  • Shimizu Island

How long is El Nido Tour A?

El Nido Tour A leaves by 9:30 AM and lasts pretty much all day. Expect about 8 hours out and about. The tours do provide lunch and it was delicious.

How much is El Nido Tour A?

El Nido Tour A is about $27 USD. No matter the tour you choose, I would plan on it being $25-30 USD. Kayak and snorkel rentals will likely have an additional fee.

Boat with towering island cliff covered in trees on El Nido Tour A in Philippines

Should I book El Nido Tour A online or when I get there?

That mostly depends on how organized you like to be. Like I’ve said, it’s offered by most hostels in El Nido so it should be easy enough to find a tour once you get there.

But if you like being organized and having your plans all set, then definitely book online. If that doesn’t matter, there isn’t much difference between booking online or in person.

Book El Nido Tour A here!

Is El Nido Tour A worth it?

I would say so yes! It’s a great way to see some of the best sights around El Nido and based on reviews, it seems to be the best of the El Nido island hopping tours.

Boats in cove with towering cliffs on both sides in el Nido, Philippines

Where do the other El Nido island hopping tours go?

All island hopping tours in El Nido provide lunch and last 6-8 hours (expect 8). Some include the 200 PHP nature preservation fee but it depends on where you book.

Kayak and snorkel availability and price depends on the specific tour. Tour D looks like the only one that doesn’t have kayak rentals at all but the others do.

El Nido Tour A – Tour A features lagoons and beaches with stops at Big Lagoon, Seven Commandos Beach, Secret Lagoon, and Shimizu Island.

El Nido Tour B – Tour B features islands and caves with stops at Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Cathedral and Cudugnon Cave, and Entalula Beach.

El Nido Tour C – Tour C features hidden beaches and shrines with stops at Matinloc Shrine, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Star Beach and Hidden Beach.

El Nido Tour D – Tour D features islands and beaches with stops at Cadlao Island, Pasandigan Beach, Small Lagoon, and NatNat Beach.

Which El Nido island hopping tour is the best?

Well, I only did El Nido Tour A so I would say that, but from what else I’ve heard and read over the years, Tour A really does seem like the best, followed by Tour C which is the best for snorkeling.

Book El Nido Tour A here!

Chicken cooking on grill with tongs over crystal clear water on El Nido Tour A

What to bring on El Nido Tour A

Sunscreen If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch a lot AND it’s reef safe! If you’re sensitive to fragrance though, it’s not a good choice. I also like the same one but specifically for your face.

Water bottle It’ll be hot and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  Even if it’s not hot you need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Long sleeve shirt – A long sleeve shirt will help protect you from the sun. It’s nice especially later in the day if you got a little too much sun.

Dry bag – This is a must if you’re kayaking or canoeing.  You’ll want to keep your phone and camera dry while you’re on the water.  Here is a set with three different sizes.

Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.

Final Thoughts on El Nido Island Hopping

If you took the time to come all the way to El Nido from wherever else you came from in the Philippines, an island hopping tour is a must.

It’s one of the most popular places in the Philippines for backpackers for a reason and island hopping is the best way to find out why.

Where to stay in El Nido

Spin Designer Hostel – This looks like a fancy little hostel with breakfast, tours, and plenty of space to socialize with fellow travelers.

OMP Hostel – This is where we stayed and I liked it. It was in a great location and affordable. They also had tour options available here.

Pukka Hostel – This is a newer hostel that offers wide bunk beds, balconies on some rooms, and plenty of room to socialize.

Maligaya Beach Bungalows – I would love to stay here if I ever went back (unlikely). This bungalows are right on the beach in El Nido and have breakfast included. Each bungalow has a balcony and bidet!

kayaks on beautiful clear water with limestone cliffs in El Nido

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Have you been to El Nido?  Did you do one of the island hopping tours?  Which one?  How was it?  Do you want to go?

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