Last Updated on August 13, 2021 by Tina
If you are a regular reader of my posts, you probably know by now that El Nido in Palawan, Philippines is one of my favorite destinations. I had a great time the first time I was there even if I was alone and I swear when this pandemic is over I will definitely visit the place again. El Nido is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the Philippines. It has beautiful white sand beaches, lagoons, coral reefs, and limestone cliffs. I visited this beautiful town in 2018 but was not able to finish my posts about my trip back then. And with the current situation, I think now is a good time to catch up on my backlogs. Today, I’m going to write about El Nido’s island hopping Tour C.
Island Hopping in El Nido
One of the most famous activities in El Nido is island hopping in Bacuit Bay. Back in 2018 during my trip, the island hopping tours were named Tour A, B, C & D. These island hopping tours usually take you to 4 to 5 different spots. Tour A is lagoons and beaches tour, Tour B is caves and coves tour, Tour C is hidden beaches and shrines tour and Tour D is island beaches tour.
A few months after my trip to El Nido, the tours have been rebranded into the 7 Wonders of El Nido Tours. With the rebranding, you can’t visit both Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon in one day. One of the reasons for the rebranding is to avoid crowding in the spots.
On my trip to El Nido, I did island hopping tour A for my first day there, and on the second day, I did Tour C.
Tour C Cost and Where to Book
I booked my tour at my hostel and the tour operator is Spider Travel and Tours. The tour costs Php 1200.00 (~ USD 24) and costs the same for almost all the tour operators in El Nido town proper. There are plenty of booking offices in the town proper where you can book your tour. And with the current situation, limited capacities were set and pre-booking of these tours is strongly advised. Only Department of Tourism (DOT) Accredited Local Travel Operators are allowed to conduct premium tours, so make sure you check that your travel operator is DOT accredited before you book a tour. Check out my El Nido Guide for more details about traveling to El Nido.
One of the things I love about El Nido is that their tours are join-in tours. It means even if you are traveling solo, you need not worry about spending more on the tours.
The tour comes with an English-speaking guide. The tour fee is inclusive of buffet lunch, drinking water, hotel pick-up and drop-off (although we just walked to the jump-off point because it was very near our hostel), snorkeling gear, and a towel.
I’m not sure if the guidelines are still the same, but back in 2018, aside from the tour fee, you are required to pay Php 200.00 (~USD 4) El Nido Eco-Tourism Development Fee. But you only need to pay this once every 10 days. So if you go on an island hopping tour and you pay for this, keep the receipt so as not to be charged again in case you are doing another tour in the succeeding days.
Tour C has five stops: Helicopter Island, Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, Tapiutan Island, and Matinloc Shrine.
Helicopter Island was the first stop of our island hopping tour and is just a 20-minutes boat ride from El Nido town proper. The island got its name from its helicopter shape when it is viewed from afar. This island has a white sand beach. We were given a few minutes (I don’t remember how long anymore, probably 40 minutes) to enjoy this place.
Hidden Beach was included last year in the prestigious luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller’s “The 30 Best Beaches in the World”. It is surrounded by limestone rock formations and cannot be seen from the open sea. To get here you need to swim for five minutes from where the tour boats stop. Then you’ll walk to the beach when you reach the area where the water is waist to knee-deep. If you’re not a swimmer, the guides will help you to get here. I recommend that you wear the aqua shoes provided by the tour operator as the corals and rocks may scratch you.
This beach is really nice and the pictures I took didn’t do justice. The swimming area has crystal clear waters, and it has fine white sand. My only comment would be that it was a bit crowded. But maybe after the rebranding, this place is not as crowded anymore.
The Secret Beach is separated from the ocean through a small opening. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs. The beach cannot be seen from the open sea.
To get here you need to swim through a door size opening through a narrow crevice in a rock wall. Again if you’re not a swimmer, tell the guides and they will help you. It was actually a bit challenging getting inside because of the many tourists.
It was super crowded when we visited. Most recommend that you book a private tour and going early and make this your first stop to avoid the crowd.
Our next stop was Tapiutan Island. It has clear water and very beautiful scenery. It is where we had our lunch. While the boat crew prepared our lunch, we were given time to go snorkeling.
The lunch they prepared was really good. And everything was prepared in the boat. We had chicken adobo, shrimps and fish, roast pork, sliced fruits, and ensalada.
Matinloc Shrine is a deserted Virgin Mary shine with a white dome on the western coast of Matinloc Island. It was built in 1982 and tucked between the beach and cliffs. You get a really nice view of Tapiutan Island if you climb the jagged limestone peak.
Tips When Doing Tour C
- It is highly recommended to have a dry bag when exploring the islands to keep your gadgets dry.
- Bringing of single-use plastics such as plastic bottles are banned when going on island hopping tour. Free drinking water is provided on the tour. If you plan on bringing your own water, use a water tumbler.
- Bring sunblock, preferably a reef-safe one like Magwai, to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun.
- Wear the life jacket provided especially if you’re not a good swimmer.
- Wearing aqua shoes is highly recommended to protect your feet from the rocks.
I had a great time during this tour because it was a relatively smaller group. There were only nine of us and seven of us are ladies. One of them stays at the hostel I stayed at and she was my companion during the tour. She was really nice. It didn’t feel like I was traveling alone. I really wish this pandemic will be over so I could go back to El Nido again. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding this post, please feel free to write them down in the comments section.
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