El Nido Tour B: Island Hopping in Palawan

Published Categorized as Philippines Travel, Asia Travel, Destinations, Travel Blog
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Do you want to know if El Nido Tour B is the right island hopping tour for you? Read on to see what you will see on Tour B, the places you will visit, included stops on the standard itineraries, and the additional costs you may not be aware of.

If you are considering an El Nido island hopping tour, but also want to know more about Tour A, Tour C or Tour D, check out these articles:

EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING TOURS – WHICH IS THE BEST ONE FOR YOU?

EL NIDO TOUR A: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

TOUR C EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING

ISLAND HOPPING IN EL NIDO: TOUR D


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on our affiliates / advertisers links and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, but at no extra cost to you. AND, many times, you will receive an offer. Win/win! The products and services we write about and mention are the ones we love. We only recommend items that we feel are of good quality and would be helpful to our readers. While we pay for our travels out of our own pockets, these small commissions do assist in keeping us on the road. Thank you!


“Gilligan’s Island is wherever you want it to be in your mind.”

– Bob Denver –

Where is El Nido?

El Nido is a small, coastal settlement and major tourist destination on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. El Nido is the primary base for exploring the beautiful Bacuit Archipelago, which comprises 45 islands and islets.


How to Get to El Nido

There are a number of ways to get to El Nido:

  1. The most common and cheapest is flying into Puerto Princesa International Airport and then taking a mini-van to El Nido. The journey by van along windy roads will take between 4 hours and 7 hours depending on the time of day and traffic.
  2. The quickest way is to fly into El Nido airport with Air Swift airlines flying direct from Manila, Cebu, and Caticlan.
  3. A third option is to catch a fast boat from Coron. The trip takes about 4 hours and we highly recommend doing this at least one way so you can see what Coron has to offer as well.

El Nido Island Hopping Tours

Bacuit Archipelago is the ideal place for popular activities such as climbing, diving and snorkelling. However, the most popular activity and the reason most choose to visit El Nido is to go island hopping. Tours cost from P1200 (USD$25 / AUD$32) a day including a pork, chicken and seafood BBQ lunch, bottled water and snorkel gear.

There are four basic day trips to choose from named Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D; and can be booked from all over town. Each tour offers different destinations but all of the tour boats follow roughly the same schedule. The quality of the boat, guides, food and tour depends on who you book it through.

It is worth mentioning here that all El Nido island hopping tours require some level of swimming ability.  In saying this, there were many weak swimmers on our tours who were still able to participate by wearing life jackets all the time.

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Summary of El Nido Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D

Tour A:

A great mixture of beautiful beaches, lagoons with turquois water, limestone cliffs, and perfect snorkelling. You will see:

  • Big Lagoon or Small Lagoon
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Seven Commando beach
  • Shimizu Island

Tour B:

Far more relaxing due to the fewer crowds in each of the locations. Great for those who have an interest in history. You will visit:

  • Snake Island
  • Pinagbuyutan Island
  • Entalula Beach
  • Cudugnon Cave
  • Cathedral Cave

Tour C:

This tour is the pick for those that love snorkelling and viewing marine life. This was by far our favourite! The places you will visit include:

  • Helicopter Island
  • Hidden Beach
  • Matinloc Shrine
  • Secret Beach
  • Talisay Beach or Star Beach

Tour D:

For the beach lovers who are looking at more of a relaxing day or for those that have already done the ‘must-sees’. Your tour includes:

  • Small Lagoon
  • Cadlao Lagoon
  • Paradise Beach
  • Pasandigan Beach / Cove
  • Ipil Beach
  • Nat Nat Beach
  • Bukal Beach

N.B. If you have the money and the time, we highly recommend doing more than one of these tours. Tour A (see why HERE) and Tour C (see why here) are the most popular for a reason and we would suggest doing both of these tours.


READ A MORE IN-DEPTH SUMMARY OF EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING TOURS HERE


El Nido Tour B – Everything You Need To Know

El Nido Tour B is not one of the most popular tours so is far more relaxing and laid-back due to the fewer crowds in each of the locations. This tour is great for those of you who have an interest in history, snorkelling, and some of the best and most beautiful white sand beaches in Bacuit Archipelago.

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El Nido Tour B – General Booking Details i.e. Cost, Duration, Inclusions etc.

  • Cost: from 1200 PHP per person (USD$25 / AUD$32)
  • Departure Time: 8:30 – 9:00am
  • Pick-Up: from any hotels within El Nido town proper
  • Duration: approximately 7 hours
  • Attractions: Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Entalula Beach, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave
  • Availability: Tour B is available on a daily basis. 
  • Types of Tours: offer both a shared tour and private tour
  • Boat (‘bangka”) Capacity:  either 12, 15 or 25 passengers (boat type depends on the availability and number of participants)
  • Inclusions: BBQ lunch buffet, bottled drinking water, mask and snorkel (depends on tour operator), towel (depends on tour operator)

El Nido Tour B – Stops on the Itinerary

Snake Island

The first stop on this tour is Snake Island, also known as Vigan Island. Prior to arriving in El Nido, we had read about its beautiful lagoons and beaches, but Snake Island never got much of a mention. If this island was anywhere else in the world, it would be the areas number one attraction.

It is a unique spot in El Nido as it has a long “S” or “snake-shaped” (hence the name) sandbar that connects the Palawan mainland to the island. The sandbar only appears during low tide and is the perfect place to take a stroll along the powdery white sand.

Due to the fact this sandbar only appears during low tide, a visit at high tide will diminish some of the magic of the place. The tides in El Nido are predictable, so make sure you check with your tour company or a local about the best time to visit.

Visitors can also enjoy a swim in the most beautiful crystal clear turquoise water you will ever laid your eyes on along both sides of the sandbar. At low tide, you can also walk along the sandbar to Vigan Island where you can hike up the hill and get spectacular panoramic views of the bay and the surrounding islands

It is very easy to see why Snake Island is one of the more popular destinations on El Nido island hopping tours and is what many look forward to the most about Tour B.

Top Tip: This is the perfect place to put the drone up and get some spectacular video footage.

Snake Island - El Nido, Philippines
Snake Island – El Nido, Philippines

Pinagbuyutan Island

Pinagbuyutan Island, which is also known as Ellis Island, features huge 125 million year old towering limestone cliffs that shoot straight up from the beautiful beach below.

The main destination here is Ipil Beach where visitors can relax, swim, and explore. There is a distinctly desert island type atmosphere here with very little evidence of human presence. There’s nothing more than a shack and coconut trees, and when we arrived there was just one local selling coconuts and no other tourists. It stayed that way for the majority of our visit.

There are also some great snorkelling spots just off the shore with amazing reefs waiting to be discovered below the surface.

If time allows, it is worth venturing beyond the beach. You can walk around the outside of the island in between the tall grass and scattered palms. We discovered a bunch of little secret coves and pockets tucked away that were beautiful.

What we appreciated most about Pinagbuyutan Island was the lack of crowds which allowed us to have complete privacy and enjoy the peace of the island. Lack of crowds is not something you can say about many of the other island hopping tours in El Nido.

Pinagbuyutan Island - El Nido, Philippines
Pinagbuyutan Island – El Nido, Philippines

Entalula Beach

Entalula Beach is considered by many as one of the best beaches in El Nido. It is actually a privately owned island so going on Tour B is one of the very few ways of experiencing its magic.

A stop here will likely entail a lot of swimming and splashing in the crystal clear and blue warm waters, relaxing on the pristine white and as soft as powder fine sand beach, and admiring the unreal natural beauty. Entalula Beach has a distinctive towering rock formation shaped like an Indian arrowhead.

This is a popular lunch spot due to the many shaded areas in the caves along the shoreline.

As an El Nido Tour B stop, it should be pretty quiet, so there won’t be lots of tourists to detract from the magic.

Entalula Beach - El Nido, Philippines
Entalula Beach – El Nido, Philippines

Cudugnon Cave  

Cudugnon Cave is a small cave on mainland Palawan. To access this cave you need to crawl through a small hole which will take you into an opening inside the cliff itself.  Watch your head as you move through the rock passageways but once you enter the cave, it is simple breathtaking and somewhat chilling. It gives an impression that you entered a room with really high ceilings.

Cudugnon Cave is of significant ancient and historic importance. The cave is believed to be a Neolithic burial place of the Cudugnon tribe making it a very important archaeological site because of the artefacts i.e. human bones excavated inside the cave. According to experts, the people who used to live in the cave were from Borneo and travelled to Palawan thru the ancient bridge.

Potteries and even jewellery traced back to the Sung Dynasty between 960 and 1279 in Mainland China have also been discovered in this cave. In addition, this site was also used by locals during World War II, to hide from the Japanese invaders.

The internal rock formations vary from smooth textures to rough ones. There are elevated parts perfect for picture taking especially for photography enthusiasts.

The cave itself is interesting, but the beach and surroundings were also not to be missed.

A visit to this cave was a nice diversion from the usual island hopping and an excellent way to refresh and cool down in the shades

Also, it is an amazing spot for drone flying if you have one!


Cathedral Cave 

Situated in Pinasil Island in El Nido, this cave cannot be accessed by most tour boats, but you can swim into this cave and explore. Inside, the cave has towering walls resembling a cathedral’s interior, and is surrounded by black, limestone rock formations.

The sun shines through the opening in the ceiling during certain times of the day, lighting the cave’s interior and creating a magical scene. The birds also make their nests on the cavern walls which are in turn gathered by the nest gatherers called “busyadors”.

N.B. Kayak rental is available at Cathedral Cave for a small fee (300 peso)

Cathedral Cave- El Nido, Philippines
Cathedral Cave – El Nido, Philippines

Booking El Nido Tour B

If you are looking to pre-book an El Nido Island hopping tour, Trip Advisor offers some great tour packages at very competitive prices.

BOOK YOUR EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING TOUR NOW


Additional Costs

Eco-Tourism Development Fee:

  • 200 pesos per person (mandatory)
  • Check with the tour operator whether this has been included in your tour price or not
  • N.B. Valid for all tours occurring within a 10 day period. Keep it in a safe place because if you lose or misplace it, you will need to pay this cost again.

Mask / Snorkel Rental:

  • Check whether mask and snorkel hire is included free in your tour cost
  • If not, rentals start from 200 peso
  • N.B. These are a must if you want to get the most out of your tour!

Spending Money:

  • Kayak rental at Cathedral Cave – 300 peso per kayak
  • Refreshments on one of the islands – coconut water, soft drink, beer etc.

Island Hopping Rules

At the start of each tour, your tour guide will give a brief rundown on some of the island hopping rules. These are the main ones:

  1. Life jackets are compulsory during boat travel and this is enforced by the Coast Guard. In saying this, we were only required to wear life guards when we left the beach and again upon our return because that’s the only time the Coast Guard seems to be checking.
  2. You cannot pick up coral, sand, any marine life such as starfish etc. and you should not stand on coral. This rule is one of the basics of marine conservation and helps protect the islands from the multitude of tourists that come here every year.
  3. Single-use plastic water bottles are prohibited on all boat tours (technically), but again this rule is not enforced and there were many people with plastic bottles.
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What to Take on an El Nido Island Hopping Tour?

You don’t need to bring much for any of the island hopping tours in El Nido, but this is what we think are essential items to pack for the day.

  1. Dry Bag: We highly recommend keeping all your gear in a dry bag, especially those items you do not want getting wet. Everyone on the boat is in and out of the water all day and the boat gets very wet. In addition, if the wind picks up in the afternoon on the way home, it is impossible to stay dry as the water splashes on-board.
  2. Camera: A waterproof phone (or phone in a good waterproof phone case) or camera is a must on this trip due to how picturesque the area is. We took our GoPro and managed to get some magnificent pictures.
  3. Sun Block: You’ll be in and out of the sun all day so this is a must! Make sure you reapply at least once during the day to ensure maximum coverage.
  4. Towel: Some companies provide you with a towel for the duration of the tour but we recommend you also take your own as they get extremely wet. We travel with fast drying microfiber towels so these were dry again by the time we came back from each of our swims.
  5. Water: Most tour companies will provide you with water throughout the day but we always take our own to ensure we never get thirsty. Just remember, single-use plastic bottles are not permitted on your tour so you will need to have a reusable bottle.
  6. Money: There are a few extra costs (detailed above) so it is good to have some extra cash on you. 
  7. Mask and Snorkel: If you don’t already have your own, masks and snorkels are readily available for rent (if not included in your tour cost) from 200 pesos. We always travel with our own masks and snorkels because we use these often so for us, it pays off to have own not only because it is more hygienic, but also rented equipment is not often in the best quality.

READ OUR MARES X-VISION DIVE MASK REVIEW and MARES ERGO DRY SNORKEL REVIEW

  • Reef Shoes: These are an optional extra which are available to rent for the day. Although there are only a couple of places that are a little rocky on Tour A, these shoes are recommended for the other tours. 

 New Rules and Regulations for El Nido Island Hopping Tours

Due to the new government regulations mentioned above embracing sustainable tourism, a number of changes are now in place which have effected El Nido tour companies offering the four island hopping tours. These are:

  1. Government standardised pricing of tours per person
  2. You can’t do both Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon on the same day
  3. Pre-registration is now required to visit a Premium stop (Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon or Secret Beach) – to pre-register you must contact your tour operator at least one day ahead of departure. Only a certain number of pre-registered people on a pre-registered boat can go inside each lagoon on a given day, and it’s first-come-first-served to get access. If a given premium tour has hit its limit, you will have to select a non-premium tour that doesn’t have a premium stop.
  4. The Protected Area Office is charging a 200 peso per person fee for pre-registration to visit a Premium stop. This fee will be in addition to the 200 peso charge for your ETDF (Eco-Tourism Development Fee).
  5. Premium stops now have time slots
  6. Boats can’t go in Big and Small Lagoon – To protect their fragile marine ecosystems, when you’re at either Small Lagoon or Big Lagoon, island hopping boats will no longer be going inside the lagoon. Instead, you can rent a kayak from an approved vendor for 300 peso.

Accommodation Options in El Nido

El Nido was once a small fishing village, but in the past 10 years, the word of its beauty is out and has spread far and wide. Nowadays, almost no Philippines itinerary is complete without visiting Palawan and El Nido. In order to satisfy this high demand, you can find many hostels and hotels in El Nido to suit every budget.

Luxury (US$100 and Up)

  • Lagun Hotel – Rooms come with all mod cons and the plunge pool on the rooftop has a great view.
  • MaryGold Beachfront Inn – Beachfront property with breathtaking views.
  • Vellago Resort – Superb ocean views from your beautifully spacious room set on a secluded island.

Mid-Range (US$30 to US$100)

  • Forest Camp – Chalet style accommodation with magical views of either the sea or mountains.
  • Bulskamp Inn – Centrally located with spacious rooms, great WiFi, and close to lots of great restaurants.
  • Inngo Tourist Inn – Very quiet, despite its central location.

Budget (Up to $US30)

  • Wilnag’s Guest House – Located in the centre of town and only 50m to the beach, there are a variety of cottages available from share rooms to private rooms with A/C.
  • Aleston Secret El Nido Hotel – Large double room centrally located in El Nido town proper with breakfast included.
  • Bunakidz Lodge – Rooms are basic, but clean and comfortable and within easy walk of all town amenities.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN EL NIDO AND MAKE A RESERVATION!


Where We Stayed in El Nido

We stayed at the Relucio Travellers Pension right in the heart of El Nido town proper and right on the water front. We stayed in a clean private A/C room with our own private bathroom, and paid USD$19 per night. This also gave us a beautiful continental breakfast each morning served on the balcony outside our room overlooking the water. We have recommended this place to many other travellers and none of them have been disappointed.  If you are travelling on a budget, we cannot recommend this place highly enough.

Relucio Travellers Pension - El Nido, Philippines
Relucio Travellers Pension – El Nido, Philippines

In Summary

El Nido is rich in untouched natural beauty and the sights showcased on the El Nido Tour B island hopping tour will endure in your memories.

The planned stops on the El Nido Tour B island hopping tour are simply breathtaking and the beauty of this part of the Philippines never ceases to astound us. If you are looking for a more relaxed and laid-back tour with fewer crowds in each of the locations, then El Nido Tour B is the tour for you!

I hope you find this El Nido Tour B island hopping guide useful in helping you make a decision in deciding what tour to do, and in planning your own time in El Nido.

Have you been on an El Nido island hopping tour? Which tour did you like best and why?

If you are considering an El Nido island hopping tour, but also want to know more about Tour A, Tour C or Tour D, check out these posts:

EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING TOURS – WHICH IS THE BEST ONE FOR YOU?

EL NIDO TOUR A: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

TOUR C EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING

ISLAND HOPPING IN EL NIDO: TOUR D


Exit 45 Rating

The Exit45 Rating scale runs from a low of 1 to a high of 5 in each of the 9 categories.  As such, the higher the score out of 45, the better the Exit45 Rating.  N.B. These scores are our own personal opinions and are based on our experiences, budget constraints and what we love doing i.e. adventure seeking foodies who love snorkelling and water related activities.

Value for Money5
Cuisine4
Friendliness of Locals5
Ease of Language Barrier5
Climate4.5
Activities and Tours4.5
Ease of Travel4.5
Culture Barrier4.5
Safety4.5
TOTAL EXIT45 RATING41.5 / 45

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EL NIDO TOUR B: ISLAND HOPPING IN PALAWAN

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on our affiliates / advertisers links and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, but at no extra cost to you. AND, many times, you will receive an offer. Win/win! The products and services we write about and mention are the ones we love. We only recommend items that we feel are of good quality and would be helpful to our readers. While we pay for our travels out of our own pockets, these small commissions do assist in keeping us on the road. Thank you!


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By Peta Wenzel

We are Peta (Australian) and Jonas (Swedish/Australian), a couple in our mid 40’s / early 50’s who have been travelling the world fulltime since January 2018. We met and lived on the Gold Coast, Australia and spent many evenings researching and watching YouTube vlogs about travel and dreaming of the day we would retire and be able to enjoy a lot more travel ourselves. Over the years, a number of events happened to family and friends and an opportunity arose which made us decide to not wait but to instead take a “Gap Year”. We are now in our 3rd year of travel and still hunger for new adventures and embrace the uncertainty that comes with full-time travel. If you want to know more about who we are, why we choose this lifestyle and how we do it, please follow our adventures and see how you can do it too.

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