The Philippines

Island Hopping in El Nido, Philippines: A Guide

The Philippines is widely known for its white-sand beaches, pristine islands, and turquoise waters. Naturally, a lot of people flock to the country to spend a well-deserved summer getaway. So it should be no surprise when I tell you that you need to put island hopping in El Nido on the top of your Philippines bucket list.

The Philippines are made up of over 7000 islands, so there is no shortage of ones to visit. But what sets the Bacuit Archipelago of  El Nido apart from the others is its incredible kart limestone cliffs, coral reefs and crystal clear waters. You will also find enchanting lagoons with tranquil turquoise-green water, caves that can take you to hidden beaches, and a very diverse variety of wildlife.

Check out my Philippines Backpacker Travel Guide here!

El Nido Island Hopping Tours

Some creative genius named the tours here Tours A,B,C, D & E with E being a land tour. They must of been thinking of all the hungover backpackers when they came up with this. There are unlimited companies that run the tours and they are follow the same itineraries as listed below. Tours can be booked the day in advance at nearly every shop in El Nido or through your accommodation.

Most backpackers book tours through their hostels so don’t worry if you are not a backpacker about getting stuck on a boat with a rowdy bunch. We booked one trip through our hostel, The Outpost, which was really fun and then booked a separate private tour for just Tom and I through our accommodation at The BirdHouse, El Nido.  Tours start from PHP700 (approx. AU$15). Most tours include lunch, life jacket, snorkel gear and a guide. They each explore different places in El Nido and are all amazing, but the most popular are tours A & C.


Top 5 Tips for island Hopping El Nido

1. Buy your Environmental Fee the day before

When you go on an island hopping tour in El Nido, you will be asked by your booking office or your tour guide to pay an “eco tax” or “eco fee” of 200PHP. to get a receipt witht your name, valid for 10 days. You can use this for multiple tours, but they wont let you on the boat without seeing your receipt.Pay the fee and get your receipt at the Municipality Office located in behind the Basketball court in the middle of town. The money from the fee goes into keeping the area beautiful.

2. Keep your things dry

Make sure you pack your belongings for the day in a dry bag unless you want everything to get wet. An underwater case for your camera and mobile phone are a must! You’re going to get wet and so will any of your tech gear that you choose to bring along on your island hopping tour. Unless it stays in your bag – but what good is your camera in your bag? It should be out and on capturing life! Purchase an underwater case and make sure it’s attached properly before hopping on the boat. You’ll be able to take photos without freaking out every second that your camera will get ruined and also capture those cool underwater shots.

3. Pack aqua shoes

Depending on the tide, the first walk out to hop onto the boat is quite a far distance with plenty of rocks and reefs to walk through. When you reach different places you’ll be hopping on and off the boat to explore hidden lagoons, secret beaches and limestone cliffs. With a pair of aqua shoes on you’ll be able to breeze through all of this with the rubber grip. I’d recommend to just get a slip on pair. Our first tour we didn’t wear shoes and ended up with cuts all our our feet.

4. Bring some cash with you

Some beaches have small shops on them where you can purchase food and drinks. There is nothing like a fresh coconut with local rum in it on the beach overlooking the most beautiful jade coloured waters.

5. If you have a group of 4 or more, hire a private boat

If you have a group of 4 or more it’s best to hire a private boat. This way you’ll be able to explore a more flexible route and escape the crowds of the other tour boats. Plus it will work out to cost about the same. If you can hire a private boat, ask the guide to do the tour but in the opposite direction of the normal itinerary so you miss most of the crowds and get the beautiful places to yourself.

I hope you found this guide useful if you’re planning on island hopping in El Nido Palawan – please share if you did! And if you have any additional tips, please leave a comment below!

Check out my Philippines Backpacker Travel Guide here!

Happy travels!

Philippines backpacker guide
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24 year old dysfunctional backpacker, creative & storyteller. Cannot do a cartwheel, but I can eat an entire lemon so if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is. Follow my (mis)adventures around the world!