Here we go island hopping in El Nido, the northernmost region on Palawan and arguably the most known too.
Hitting the town in the morning we immediately understand that tourism is becoming well established here, way more than previous places we’ve been to in the Philippines such as Cebu and Bohol. El Nido is a simple village with a road on the beach side leading to the port that has become home to plenty of businesses: restaurants, hotels&hostels, dive centres, scooter rentals and travel agencies.
READ MORE: Philippines: our 3-week itinerary guide
EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING TOURS
One can tell that to make it simple everybody agreed to the municipality program to offer 4 tours named A-B-C-D, all of them with fixed prices. Depending on high/low season, or large groups, each agent is then free to offer discounts.
We opted for tour A to begin with on our next available full day, and we found an agency that sold it for 900 pesos/each (early November). Tours leave at around 9 am and return before 5 pm.
We rented a scooter and decided to go farther to Nacpan Beach, about 30 km away (also reachable by tricycle if you don’t mind the 45 min-trip). It wasn’t high season yet, sudden storms were still hitting the area every few days, and the last couple of km were muddy dirt roads! It was a fun challenge to overcome them though, and the reward was absolutely stunning: the majestic Nacpan Beach was awaiting us in all its beauty. This beach is so large that even dozens of people won’t make it look busy.
It is situated in a wide bay with some islets in the middle, and the views are simply wonderful. Luckily the area isn’t much built up, so its wildness is preserved. On the left side of the beach, few meters from the shore, local fishermen families live in stilt houses.
At night the choice for dinner is endless, actually it is not easy to find a local Filipino restaurant among the many western businesses. We later return to our room and prepare the small waterproof bag we’ll need in the morning to go island hopping: sunglasses, a cap and our go pro camera are more than enough!
The next day we get to the meeting point where all tours leave from, it’s a loud mess with guides shouting “Tour A here! Tour C that way!” plus some vendors trying to sell the usual water-shoes, pearls, snorkels, etc.. It’s a lovely sunny day, one of the best we had in the Philippines so far, and when our boat gets going, we have in front of us all the amazing views we’ve been dreaming of: emerald waters, a hot sun, white bangka boats, rocky limestone islands and sandy secluded beaches.
Each boat has a guide who will try their best to keep people happy while informing about the history of the archipelago (indigenous tribes still live on some islands on which it’s forbidden to go), and give everybody the experience they are looking for.
Active people can rent kayaks (even if they tell you so, they aren’t included in any tour, you can bargain for the price when you get them), while the others can stay back on the boat or by the beach, making sure to respect the tour’s schedule.
The kindness and willingness of the Filipino is truly the key to their success in tourism, they do know how to get the best from what they have.
It’s also a good season to be here, not so crowded as they told us, and in some spots we get to enjoy views and places all for ourselves!
As our tour ends, we return to town much pleased and tanned!
EL NIDO TO CORON FERRY BOAT
There are 3 options to go from El Nido to Coron: the fast Montenegro ferry, (6.30am, 3hrs, 1.750pp), the passenger/cargo ship only on Wednesdays (7 am, 8hrs, 1100pp), and the Bunso ferry boats (8am, up to 8hrs 1.400pp).
Unfortunately a typhoon kept us two days longer than expected on Coron island, so when we returned to El Nido we only had one day left. Our plans to try another island hopping tour or find some other remote beach went straight to the bin. We just have the time to visit Las Cabanas Beach the very last morning, for a short hour before it starts raining.
Salamat Pilipinas, it was amazing!
WHERE TO STAY IN EL NIDO:
- Smile Lodge, El Nido: simple rooms in quiet and central locations, cheap prices;
- Aqua Travel Lodge, El Nido: nice seafront rooms on the main road, lovely sunsets.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND:
- Van, Puerto Princesa – El Nido: 300pp/person, 5-6hrs;
- Tricycle to Las Cabanas Beach: 100pp/1way, 10min;
- Fast ferry, El Nido – Coron: 1750pp/person, 3h30, 6am everyday;
- Bunso boats, El Nido – Coron: 1400pp/person, 5-8hrs, 8am everyday.
|Ferry El Nido - Coron $ 30.27 4h|
- Scooter rental: 400pp/half day;
- Island hopping tour A: 900pp/each (discounted from 1200), boat, lunch, snorkels, entry fees included; kayak, snorkel shoes not included;
- Environmental fee, compulsory for every person: 200pp, valid for 1 week for any number of island hopping tours.
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?