El Nido Tour Guide 101: Island Hopping In Paradise

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It’s no secret that El Nido truly is a tropical island paradise and one of the most visually pleasing locations not just in The Philippines, but in the world. 

It’s also no secret that those flawless photos of this Southeast Asian oasis has us on Skyscanner on the hunt for the next flight out.

El Nido is is so perfect it even made it to the top of CNN Travels’s list of ‘The Philippines’ best beaches and islands’. 

Check out our El Nido Destination Guide to find out why you should book a Philippines trip right now!

el nido tour drone shot of 7 commandos

However unlike many other marvelous destinations, most of El Nido’s sights are scattered far and wide through the Philippine Sea and can only be accessed by boat.

The only way to possibly see all of El Nido’s overly impressive sights is to book an El Nido Tour.

An El Nido tour is a sure boat ride through Shangri-La, taking you to five of the most treasured and preserved lagoons and beaches of Palawan.

Photos will never do El Nido justice, but an El Nido Tour will most definitely do favors for your Instagram! These are the anomalous images you really won’t find anywhere else in the world.

El Nido Tour

El Nido isn’t just known for its hidden lagoons and perfect beaches. This emergent beach town is known to have abominable wifi and frequent power outages. This is a gradual progression from before October 2014, when El Nido didn’t even have electricity running 24 hours a day.

Anyhow don’t let this little factor deter you from visiting El Nido. When you’re there, you’ll quickly find out how easy it is to sacrifice checking snapchats everyday in exchange for exploring some of the sacred prodigies of The Philippines.


Related Articles: The Ultimate El Nido Backpacking Party Guide

Why You Need To Go On An El Nido Tour

Although El Nido has a few activities to do on land such as hiking, going to the beach, motorbiking, and sunset chasing, most of the tropical beaches, lagoons and caves are what highlights El Nido to be a backpacker favorite.

The only way to see these majestic wonders of Palawan is to go island hopping on an El Nido Tour. You have the choice of doing tour A, B, C, or D, or by doing combination tours A & B, or C & D.

Pro Tip
If you like to party with other backpackers, we recommend booking a combination tour with Outpost Hostel. They run boat party type tours with the price inclusive of lunch and beer, and you get to play drinking games at some of the islands during the tour.

They offer both tours A & B, and C & D.

El Nido Tour Information


7-8 hours

Pick-Up Time


Drop-Off Time


Group Size

1-30 people

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When To Go On An El Nido Tour?

The high season in The Philippines is between December – April when the weather is all too perfect and the El Nido is crawling with backpackers.

How Much Will It Cost?

An El Nido Tour should cost around P1200-1500 per person. Of course prices are subject to vary, but this was the price for when Wild & Away explored the Philippines in April 2017.


  • Lunch
  • Life Jackets
  • Snorkelling Equipment

el nido tour el nido bay

El Nido charges an Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETFD) for anyone who goes on a boat tour. It only costs a one time fee of P200 and is valid for 14 days.
This can be used for multiple tours so keep your receipt handy as you’ll need proof of purchase! You will purchase this when booking a tour.

How To Book An El Nido Tour?

Agency or Hotel

There’s no need to book online.

You can book an El Nido Tour once you’re in El Nido about 1-2 days prior to the desired tour date.

You can book at your hotel or any agency on the street. They all offer every tour.

Lots of places offer combined tours of A & B, and C & D.


Lots of hostels will offer the tours as well, which means you will be with other backpackers.

It’s a boat party tour with all inclusive beer.

We recommend booking at Outpost Hostel!

Outpost Hostel offers combined boat party tours of A & B, and C & D.

Where Will You Go On An El Nido Tour?

el nido tour blonde girl smiling on kayak


Small Lagoon

Only one of the many marvels of El Nido that will stay embedded in your memory. This gorgeous lagoon surrounded by limestone monuments is nothing short of stunning.

At Small Lagoon, you will be swimming in El Nido’s lukewarm, vibrant blue waters alongside the plethora of multihued marine life awing over its dazzling beauty, you won’t want to leave.

But best believe, the next destinations on this El Nido Tour will have your jaw dropped and dragging behind you.

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Big Lagoon

A pathway to Heaven so beautiful you’ll believe it’s been created by the Gods. Big Lagoon is undoubtedly the most memorable stop throughout El Nido Tour A.

So much so that we even took another excursion just to experience the magnificence of Big Lagoon one more time.

You have the choice to walk or kayak through the shallow waterway walled by limestone karst that amply opens up to the big lake that is big lagoon.

However, don’t let the shallow walkway fool you… once you reach the end of the pathway to the big lagoon opening there is a 30 meter drop in depth! 

Most of our tour decided to Kayak, but we wanted to do things differently our second time around and elected take our chances to swim past the safety of the shallows into the mysterious dark blue waters of the lagoon.

Although not advised by our boat captain due to safety concerns, it was definitely an experience we will never forget.

el nido tour secret lagoon

Secret Lagoon

Secret Lagoon was once upon a time a large cave that eventually collapsed into an enormous  caldera surrounded by nothing but limestone cliffs, creating a stunning but secret lagoon in the middle of the ocean.

Some would say Secret Lagoon is not nearly as impressive as other locations on this El Nido tour but is still a cool experience having to climb through a cave just to get to this hidden location.

Pro Tip
Don’t forget to bring your flip flops along with you as the path to the lagoon can be quite rocky.

el nido tour entalula island

Entalula Island

This is an island that is technically part of El Nido Tour B, and one you definitely don’t want to miss out on. Feel free to swim and sun-bake while the tour hosts prepare a delicious and fresh seafood lunch spread for everyone.

Oh, and about tables and chairs… You’ll be eating your lunch sitting on the sand which feels so comfortable it’s like sitting on a cloud.

el nido tour shimizu island

Shimizu Island

This is the point in the El Nido Tour where the boat stops at yet another incredibly gorgeous island where you have the choice of snorkelling, swimming, or simply basking under the sun. 

Interesting Fact: Shimizu Island is also known as Simizu Island, and was named after a Japanese explorer who died during an underwater cave exploration many years ago.

The marine life vibrantly lights up the sea so you can easily find Nemo and Dory while snorkelling, ultimately avoiding any catastrophic diving disasters!

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Snake Island

Snake Island makes you feel like you’re in Bora Bora with it’s snake-shaped sandbar (giving Snake Island its name). The sand bar is clearly visible when the tide is low, so be sure not to miss this amazing photo opportunity.

The tiny yet standout island features a small trail leading to the peak of the mountain offering a birds eye view of the iconic sandbar of Snake Island. 

Snake Island is a fan favorited destination on this El Nido tour and a magical find on the Southeast Asian trail.

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Pinagbuyutan Island

The only sign of life you’ll find on this deserted island will be the lush vegetation and the few stray dogs you’ll see running around.

It’s incredibly enlightening to see a part of the world literally empty of human life, buildings, and technology, and yet so full of natural life and greenery.

Bonus: If you do El Nido Tour A & B with Outpost Hostel, you get to play a drinking game at this location.

el nido tour 7 commando beach

7 Commando Beach

Think ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Although this classic movie that spawned the aggressive wanderlust in just about every backpacker was filmed in Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, 7 Commando Beach will fulfil your every secluded tropical island desire.

Cottages line the shore of 7 Commando Beach, offering some much needed refuge from the glaring sun as the ideal spot for some rest and relaxation!

Theres even a cool swing strung up from one of the larger overhanging palm trees. It’s a huge hit with the tourists and locals, so if you’re in need of a change of pace from all the tanning give it a go.

When in need of some refreshments, just look around for some of the locals walking around selling water, sodas and coconuts. Theres even a quaint little snack shack on the far end of the beach conveniently nestled between the cottages in case you get the rumblies and crave a quick bite to eat.

el nido tour cadlao lagoon

Cadlao Lagoon

Cadlao Lagoon is the largest island in El Nido bordered by 12 different gorgeous beaches that will have you feeling like a mermaid!

You’re guaranteed to see a picture perfect tropical island no matter which direction you turn, so be sure to have the camera out for some unbeatable shots!

el nido tour nat nat beach

Nat Nat Beach

Another insanely perfect beach on this El Nido Tour. White sand, turquoise water, abundant marine life, and sunshine for days.

We have nothing bad to say about Nat Nat Beach, except that it’s beauty makes it so hard to leave!

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Hidden Beach

This location cannot be seen from the open sea, and it takes a 5-minute float or walk through shallow waters to get to this beach tucked away between the limestone rocks. But boy is it worth it!

At this point you may be all beached out, but there’s more beaches to see! Can you imagine how Tom Hanks felt in Castaway?

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Secret Beach

I guess it’s called Secret Beach because it’s yet another beach you can only access this stunning by swimming through a keyhole like opening in the limestone wall. A tropical oasis awaits you!

It can be overwhelming to visit so many hidden islands and beaches that not many people have been able to explore yet.

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Helicopter Island

Helicopter Island is a great place to snorkel and dive. If you’re lucky enough, you may even see a turtle! Similar to other islands in El Nido, Helicopter Island features various mountainous peaks covered in dark green wilderness provoking an exploratory sense in us.

Interesting Fact: Once you’re approaching the island, you’ll notice it’s shaped like a helicopter giving Helicopter Island its name.

Don’t Forget

  • Sunscreen
  • Camera (fully charged)
  • Swimsuit!
  • Flip Flops
  • Drone (if you have one) – the aerial view of these destinations are on another level!
  • Water! You’re in the sun for most of the day so be sure to keep hydrated!
  • Money – for snacks or water on the islands

So that’s the end of our El Nido Tour Guide 101 to island hopping in paradise! Boat Tours really are an incredible experience, and sometimes the sights you see will literally take your breath away.

Going on a boat tour allows you to see the best of El Nido and experience the immense beauty of the Philippines. If you don’t do an El Nido tour, you’re not doing it right.

Are We Missing Something?

Did we forget any information, tips or tricks in El Nido Tour Guide 101 | Island Hopping In Paradise? Comment below!

Don’t forget to check out some of our other favorite Philippines’ blogs!

14 Best Beaches In Asia That REALLY Allow You To Escape From Reality
Nacpan Beach El Nido Palawan 2019 {Everything To Know Before You Go}
Where To Stay In El Nido 2019 {Best El Nido Accommodation For Backpackers}

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