15 Best Things To Do In El Nido, Philippines [2021]

Other El Nido travel tips

Island Hopping In El Nido

Okay, so this whole section will be the island hopping options in El nido in detail.

I’m going to go through each tour individually, what they include, how much they cost, why they’re good and then end the section with the best way to book your El Nido island hopping tour.

el nido secret lagoon

Tour A: Lagoons & Beaches

Tour A is one of the most popular island hopping tours in El Nido and it’s the tour Bradley and I did!

I think this is a great tour if you’ve only got limited time in El Nido and want to see some amazing sights. Our tour operator was awesome and our whole boat had so much fun together. We actually booked it through our hotel, so I’m not even sure what it’s called.

You can book El Nido Tour A online here (for a fantastic price- they all go to the same spots, so it doesn’t matter if you book online or in person)

Seven Commando Beach

This was actually our final stop on the tour and it’s bloody awesome! It’s a beautiful beach that has great snorkeling spots, places to relax, a volleyball net and of course stands selling beer and rum. Since it was our last spot we enjoyed a few rum and coke with our new friends we made on this awesome tour.

Big Lagoon

The Big Lagoon was everything I wanted it to be…amazing. You can rent out kayaks for 200 or swim once you get there, but I recommend getting a kayak. As you head down the lagoon you’ll see how blue and clear the water is as you are submerged between beautiful limestone cliffs.

We threw the drone up and got some amazing sights of the lagoon! There is also a cave you can kayak to and you might spot some turtles.  

Shimizu Island

It’s either this island, or a similar that you will stop at for lunch. Lunch will always be a fresh BBQ consisting of fish, pork, chicken, rice, noodles, vegetables and fruit. It’s super delicious and you just dine on the beautiful beach.

The place we stopped had stunning water and great snorkelling spots around it, Brad seen nemo (clown) fish here.

Secret Lagoon

I believe the area next to the secret lagoon is nicer than the Secret Lagoon itself, BUT, if you’ve never been to a secret lagoon before, then you’ll find it cute.

You have to “queue” to get through the little rock into the secret lagoon. Be aware the water is filled with little stinging jellyfish. It just feels like little shocks and it’s not painful, just really annoying!

Don’t stand on the coral!

When you get into the lagoon, depending on the tide, the water will either be clear, or just murky. For us it was murky and it didn’t impress me! But next to the lagoon is a beautiful beach and blue waters to chill at.

PS, you used to visit both Big lagoon and small lagoon on tour A, but this is no longer the case. Due to the areas becoming over crowded, they limit the amount of people on each sight each day. Which is a good thing!

Cost: 1200 for the tour with lunch PLUS you have to pay 200 for an environmental fee that lasts 7 days in El Nido. You need it to do a tour, but you only pay once.

If you book online via Klook, it’s cheaper. We had every intention of booking online, but you need to book 2 days in advance, and I didn’t realise, so there was no spots left!

Check out my full guide on El Nido Tour A here.

seven commandos beach el nido
Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido

Tour B: Caves And Beaches

Love beaches and unique caves? Then tour B is the tour for you! I’m not a big fan of caves, so this wouldn’t be for me. But snake island looks awesome and looks like a great drone opportunity!

Book tour B online here for a fantastic price.

Pinagbuyutan Island

This is a dome shaped island and is considered to be one of the most picturesque spots in all of El Nido…and the Philippines, so definitely worth a visit!

Snake Island

Snake island (also known as virgin island) is basically a sand bank that stretches in the water, but it looks pretty darn cool! You can get great views from above and you can walk on the sand during low tide.

Cudugnon Cave

You enter this cave through a narrow opening and inside you’ll be greeted with unique rock formations and bats! It’s quite a huge cave.

Entalula Or Papaya Beach

These are idyllic islands and beaches, perfect for a spot of lunch, the chance to swim, snorkel or simply relax on the beach. They are truly beautiful with amazing scenery surrounding them.

Cost: 1100, again it’s cheaper to book online via Klook!

Tour C: Hidden Beaches And Shrine

If you want a tour that takes you to unique spots with a lot less people than tour A, then this is the tour for you. This was actually the other tour Brad and I wanted to do, but simply ran out of time. It looks amazing and has some truly unique spots to see.

Book tour C online here for a great price.

Helicopter Island (Dilumacad Island)

Helicopter island is famous for its beauty and unique shape. It boasts towering limestone cliffs, great snorkelling, lush vegetation and amazing beaches.

Secret Beach

Secret beach can only be accessed via swimming through a keyhole, which makes it a true secret. It’s very small too, but ever so beautiful. The author of the famous “The Beach” movie wrote this book in El Nido, so it was probably inspired by this beach.

Matinloc Shrine

You reach this beautiful shrine by climbing the steps of an abandoned building. There is a chapel on top and you’ll be greeted with a stunning panoramic view.

Talisay Beach

This is a great spot for your on the beach lunch. It’s got beautiful white sand and blue waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling.

Cost: 1300, again, cheaper to book online.

Tour D: Islands And Beaches

If you want a tour that consists of beautiful beaches, unique islands and lots of chances to snorkel, then tour D is the one for you. This tour is quite popular due to its inclusion of the famous small lagoon, so it’s quite a popular choice.

Book a private tour D tour right here.

Small Lagoon

Small lagoon is literally the famous little sister/brother of the big lagoon. It’s very picturesque and beautiful and one of the most popular spots to see in El Nido. You need to swim via a hole to reach the small lagoon and you’ll be greeted with stunning clear waters surrounded by amazing limestone rocks as your backdrop.

You also have the option to rent a kayak.

Cadlao Island

This is the largest island in El Nido and a perfect place to escape the crowds and experience untouched beaches and beautiful waters.

Nat Nat Beach

This is a long stretch of white sand beach perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. You can only access via boat and it’s sheltered by amazing limestone rocks.

Bukal Island

This a beautiful small island that is often the setting for lunch. You could relax all day here and take amazing photos.

Pasandigan Cove

Another beautiful beach with bright blue water perfect for swimming and relaxing! Great drone pictures.

Cost: 1250, it will be cheaper to book online.

el nido big lagoon
Big Lagoon, El Nido

Private Island Hopping Tours In El Nido

If you want to create your own unique itinerary combining the options above and beat some of the tourists, then a private tour is the way to go.

We really wanted to do a private tour, but they are nowhere near as good value as the private tours in Coron!

You can check out these companies online, but expect to pay a lot of money!

So, Which Tour Should You Choose?

If you can only do one tour, I suggest tour A, and if you’ve got time to do two, I suggest tours A and C. Of course if your budget stretches and you have time, then absolutely do them all!

Or if money isn’t an issue and you have limited time, then create your own private tour with the best of the above so you can see everywhere you want in one day.

I believe you still can’t combine big and small lagoons on the same day due to environment constrictions.

You should check if your tour includes:

  • Kayak and snorkel rental (may be extra)
  • Environmental fee (200 PHP as of 2019)
  • Water (no plastic water bottles allowed)
  • Lunch

When it comes to price, the government has regulated the maximum amount that can be charged for the tours, so you’ll probably only find it ever so slightly cheaper online, as in person, they’re not really prepared to go lower than they have too.

This means if you book at one of the tour agencies or even through you’re hotel, then everyone is paying the same, if you book online via Klook, or even Get Your Guide, then you’ll get a couple of pounds off your tour.

The other benefit of booking online (in my opinion) is that you can read reviews of the tour and see what the experience is like. When you book with an on-the-street company, it’s a little hard to trust their reviews unless you know someone who has went with them before.

brad in el nido

Other Things To Note

  • There are many ATM’s in El Nido town, so you’ll be able to withdraw money. If you’re planning on heading to Port Barton, make sure you get enough money out at El Nido as there are no ATMS in Port Barton!
  • There are no longer party boat tours for island hopping due to environmental concerns
  • Please be wary about coral and animals that surround you, don’t touch anything and go plastic free if and when you can. Don’t leave anything behind!  
  • You can get a transfer to Port Barton from El Nido at various times throughout the day, you only need to book one day in advance.

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