Island hopping tours in El Nido are one of the main attractions in this charming town. When you head there, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is which tour to go on. Fortunately, I was able to go on two incredible tours: Tour A and Tour C. If you’ve read up on island hopping in El Nido, you’ll probably know that Tour A is highly recommended if you can only do one during your stay. If possible, you should try to get around to going on both tours.
I had such an incredible time on Tour A; great guides, a small group (there was only myself and a friend, and three fun guys from our hostel), and beautiful weather, islands, and beaches. Unfortunately, on this tour we were stuck with a large group. There were about 20 of us: a Filipino family on vacation and two not so interesting French guys. The sites we saw were incredible, but I think I enjoyed Tour A better. This probably/definitely has something to do with the above-mentioned factors.. Either way, if you’re there and have the time, I highly recommend both. The beauty of El Nido could never get old.
Tour C is slightly more expensive than Tour A at 1,400 P, but was well worth the extra 200 P (about $5 CDN; I know, big spender). To get the scoop on island hopping in El Nido, check out my last post to bring you up to speed before continuing.
Tour C takes you to five different islands around El Nido: Helicopter Island, Talisay Island, Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, and Matinoc Shrine. Almost as cleverly named as Tour A’s islands..
Stop 1: Helicopter Island
Our first stop was Helicopter Island, which – surprise! – is in the shape of a helicopter! The beach was quite nice, though there were a lot of other tours going on at this stop. Our guide recommended we head down the beach to snorkel. You could see coral covering the ocean floor and little fish swimming about. The beach itself wasn’t anything spectacular, however, the water was crystal clear and the scenery unsurpassable. I think the real draw to this island is just its shape from afar.
Stop 2: Secret Beach
We were heading straight for an outstretched wall of limestone cliff when our guide told us that we were approaching Secret Beach. “Clearly, this stop was aptly named as there are no beaches in sight,” I thought to myself as we continued closer and closer to the limestone. There were a few other boats surrounding one area of the limestone and as we sailed closer I could make out an ever-so-small circular opening at the bottom. Our guide told us that we would be swimming through there and on the other side we would be greeted with Secret Beach. As a precautionary note: the water was quite rough near the entrance, so be careful when swimming through. I swam under the water to get through to avoid the uneasy water and the possibility of crashing into the limestone. Once on the other side, there is a small, beautiful oasis of green (but not in a gross, algae way) water and sand. There are also a few fishes swimming about, some of which ever so graciously decided to nibble on my legs.
This beach is located on Matinloc Island, where you will later visit the Matinloc Shrine.
Stop 3: Talisay Island for lunch
While soaking up some sun on the beach, our guides were busy preparing our lunch. I went snorkeling for a bit, but there wasn’t much to see in these waters. Some other people on the boat went canoeing about, but I really couldn’t be bothered as I was beyond hungry at this point. Thankfully, a delicious meal was cooked up, of which I unfortunately did not take any photos of since I was far too busy stuffing my face.
Stop 4: Hidden Beach
This beach was pinned between two towering limestone rocks. Because of the shallow and extremely rocky water, the boat could not pull in very far, which left a bit of a swim to get to the beach. This would have been fine, except that the rocks were everywhere; large, small, sharp, and jagged. If you have swim shoes, I’d recommend wearing them, regardless of how much of a loser they make you feel. The plus side to all these rocks is that they made snorkeling really interesting. You can venture around on the beach to your left (when facing the beach) to find a cave.
Stop 5: Matinloc Shrine
For our last stop, we went somewhere that was unlike any of the other stops I had been on this tour and on Tour A. Our guide gave us a bit of insight into this abandoned shrine, stating that it was once built and owned by a male resident of El Nido in the early 1980’s, though it has since been deserted for a number of years. There is a little underground museum you can go into to see various relics and artifacts detailing the shrine and the island itself. One of the highlights of this stop is a small (but incredibly steep) cliff you can climb to see the breathtaking views of your surroundings.
My other adventures in Palawan:
Things To Do In Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Puerto Princesa Palawan: Accommodation & Aimless Wanderings
Ugong Rock Caving & Zipline: Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Puerto Princesa Underground River: One Of The New 7 Natural Wonders Of The World
Accommodation In El Nido, Philippines
A Walk Around The Little Town Of El Nido, Palawan: Restaurants, Bars, & Beaches
El Nido Island Hopping Tour A