Updated November 28, 2014: Combination Tours are no longer allowed in El Nido. I have also updated the details below.
I was a bit reluctant to join Paula of ponderingpaodaolei.net and Marx of marxtermind.com in their island hopping tour as I’ve done all the tours except for tour D. I thought about getting bored to death without any activities for a whole day while the two are out having fun under the sun. It became an easy decision… Take me with you!!! Please!
The plan was for us to do a Combination Tour, A & C. Doing combination tours is actually a good decision if you have limited time in El Nido, Palawan. You can do two tours in a single day, plus it’s cheaper too. Tour A costs 700 Pesos per person while tour C costs 900 Pesos per person, doing both would cost 1600 Pesos per person… plus time… plus snacks… But the standard rate for Combination Tour A & C is 1,500 Pesos per person, a hundred pesos cheaper. And we still got it at a discounted rate of 1,000 Pesos per person from Northern Hope Tours. 😉 (The prices on this paragraph are already outdated. Updated prices can be found here.)
Here’s what happened that day.
7:00 AM – The Fin Fitting
At our lodge, Northern Hope Inn, one of the staff, Ate Eva, brought us pairs of fins so we could fit them for use in the island hopping. Mask, snorkel and fins were included in what we were paying for our combination tour. Ate Eva told us that our tour will start at 8AM, an hour earlier than the usual, as we would be visiting more islands in a day.
8:00 AM – Boarding Boat Time
Armed with a snorkeling gear, a bottle of water and some snacks we were now ready to board our boat. But first we had to pay our ETDF. During the loading of the boat of supplies, I was surprised to see them loading 5 gallon containers of water that came from the local water purifying stations. The tours I have tried before never had those. That’s a plus!
Our boatmen helped us carry our stuff over the water and into the boat. And when all of us have boarded at around 8:23AM we started our Combination Tour A & C adventure!
8:57 AM – Helicopter Island
When we were nearing our first stop Helicopter Island, our tour guide, Kuya Nil, told us that we only have 20 minutes to explore the island. He explained that we only had a short time as we have to cover 10 islands in a single day. This is the disadvantage of doing a combination tour, we can go to many islands but we can only spend a little time on each stop.
So we all quickly unboarded the boat and photoshoot like crazy!
9:46 AM – Hidden Beach
On my first time at Hidden Beach I was not able to take a picture inside because it was low tide and we all had to swim from the outside. Poor me for not having an underwater camera. But luckily it was high tide when we arrived and the boat was able to enter up to the beach! I was now able to take a picture inside and explore the small cave.
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10:37 AM – Matinloc Shrine
Back at the heart shape island, we explored the history of the island and it’s different parts.
Still my favorite part of the island was climbing the limestone cliff and seeing the view from above.
11:19 AM – Talisayen Beach
While our guides prepared our lunch we were good boys and girls that were just swimming.
Then lunch came. My techique when doing island hopping in El Nido was to eat the watermelon first as it can neutralize my taste buds from the salty sea.
And after some rest, we proceeded with our tour at 1PM.
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1:19 PM – Secret Beach
A beach where we needed to go inside a tunnel under a limestone cliff to reach. Unfortunately, I could not find courage to risk my camera but Marx did and he brought in his dSLR!
A notable experience in the Secret Beach was when we were going out of the tunnel. There were a lot of people inside going out that when it was my turn I just floated and let others push me out. 😛
3:00 PM – Secret Lagoon
We were now finished with the Tour C part of our island hopping adventure and this was the first stop of the Tour A part.
This time the tide has turned and it was low tide. Our boat could no longer approach the beach and we needed to somehow swim to the opening of the Secret Lagoon. I could not bring my camera again! O well, at least on my first time I did take lots of pictures inside.
When we got up on the boat I was surprised that coconuts were now waiting for us! Wooo! Perfect to rinse our taste buds from the salty waters of the sea. And when we finished drinking, our guides chopped the coconuts and made spoons from coconut husks so we could eat the buko meat. 😀
3:38 PM – Simizu Island
One of my favorite snorkeling site during the island hoppings as there are a lot of fishes.
I asked our boatmen why they no longer encourage the visitors to feed the fish, according to them the fishes clean the corals by feeding on them. How would the fish clean the corals when they are already full from the food of the visitors?
4:10 PM – Big Lagoon
On my first and second time in Big Lagoon, I did not enjoy it that much as our boat just went in then at the end the boat would just turn around, go out and on to the next destination. Not very interactive if you ask me. But when we arrived at the Big Lagoon it was low tide and our boat could not enter the lagoon. So we had to go down and walk through the hall created by limestone cliffs while taking care not to step on sea urchins. I loved it! I loved Big Lagoon more during the low tide than the high tide.
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5:07 PM – Small Lagoon
We jumped from the boat and started swimming to the entrance of the Small Lagoon, entering the tunnel and continually swim until we reached the other side. Before, the guides would guide us onto the small cave at the other end but Kuya Nil had other plans for us. He asked if we wanted to see a swimming pool inside the Small Lagoon. We all said yes. It was a bit of a swim on the deep waters of the Small Lagoon but it was worth it! There was a small swimming pool like area where the bottom was white sand and there were some corals. I wanted to swim on it but decided not to so we would not disturb the place and it was getting late. So we decided to go back to the boat.
Since it was already late, our captain decided that we would no longer go to 7 Commandos Beach. Besides we could no longer reach 7 Commandos and view the sunset so we had to go straight to back to El Nido.
We arrived back at the town of El Nido at around 6:30 PM.
Thinking back, I’m glad I joined my friends on this trip. Though I went to the same places I’ve been to before, the tides were now different and the people I was with was now different. I now had a greater appreciation for Big Lagoon because I have walked on it during the low tide and Small Lagoon for its small swimming pool. I will definitely do this again!
I have noticed that compared from the first time I visited El Nido last October of 2011, many types of small corals are now growing on the many different areas of the beaches. Kudos to the people of El Nido, especially to the boatmen who are taking good care of them! Keep it up!
- 0939-902-2216 (Smart)
- 0927-735-3221 (Globe)
Effective November 16, 2013, below are the standard rates.
|Tour A||1,200 Pesos per person||9 AM to 4-5 PM|
|Tour B||1,300 Pesos per person||9 AM to 4-5 PM|
|Tour C||1,400 Pesos per person||9 AM to 4-5 PM|
|Tour D||1,200 Pesos per person||9 AM to 4-5 PM|
|Combination Tour A & C||No longer allowed by the Municipality of El Nido|
|Combination Tour B & D|
- For private tours you can call Northern Hope Tours for their rates.
- They also book land tours to Nacpan and Calitang Beach and Maremegmeg Beach.
- There are no ATMs in El Nido. Better to bring enough cash for your whole stay there. The nearest reliable ATM from El Nido is at Puerto Princesa.
|November 28, 2013||As of November 16, 2013, the standard rates have now increased. Former standard rates are
Rates include Lunch, Boat and tour guide.
Rates exclude the Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF) of 200 Pesos/person.
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