Five months before our trip to El Nido, I went online, did my research, binge watch El Nido videos on youtube, and read blogs. I was obsessed and literally day dreamed what it would be like to be in El Nido.
I made an inquiry and booked our Island Hopping Tour from Northern Hope Tours. Even though I asked a lot of questions and made tons of changes on the itinerary, they were very responsive and helpful.
I wanted this post to be short, so lets start!
Tip 1: Boats don’t leave before 9am
For our day one island hopping, I booked a private tour and emailed them if we can head out for our tour as early as possible. They said, sure we can do 8am, we will pick you up at 7:30 am. We were ready at 6.30am (I know were too excited), we waited in vain, and that 8am turned 10am! I was so disappointed, and I lost my patience that morning. Turns out the coast had to be cleared; they usually start 8am and every boat needs a permit before leaving. And another setback was, since I asked them to go on so many islands that day, they had a problem getting a permit for the boat because that boat was only assigned to a specific tour in El Nido. Before we left, the person who managed our tour came to us and apologize for the all the mishap that morning. I was mad, but later that day it was all good.
Not sure if something changed, but I watched some youtube videos where they did a private island hopping. I might be wrong, but I read that they started at before 9am. I don’t know how they did that, so if anyone knows, let me know! 🙂
Tip 2: Pick one tour at a time
I got too aggressive with my plan for the private tour, and wanted to see everything at one day! I picked 3 destination from Tour A, 4 destination from Tour C, and 1 destination from Tour D.
Tour A – Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Simizu Island
Tour C – Matinloc Shrine, Star Beach, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach
Tour D – Cadlao Lagoon
And we ended up only going to: Cadlao Lagoon, Matinloc Shrine, Star Beach, Small Lagoon, and Big Lagoon.We were supposed to go to Secret Beach but it was to wavy that day, and we had to go through a hole before getting into that Beach.
Overall I like the place that we visited. The Matinloc Shrine has an entrance of P100/person. You can rent a kayak in Small Lagoon for P500-P700, and you can paddle and bump your way in to the lagoon.
Going to each destination will take you 20-40mins max. So if you’re planning to go every island or lagoon, make sure that you include the time your spending on the boat. And all boats are required to be on the dock before 5pm, you literally have 6hours to Island Hop.
Tip 3: Pick the Top 5 island you wanted to visit if you wanted a Customized Tour.
If I ever come back, would definitely go to Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and Matinloc Shrine again, and the go to the rest I haven’t been to.
Tip 4: Bring your waterproof camera!
Waterproof Camera is a must! and Don’t forget to bring extra batteries!
Tip 5: Waterproof your items!
When we were there, it was raining and sea was not at its best. The waves we’re quite big and it can get inside the boat. Make sure to put all your items in a waterproof bag. They sell waterproof bag in the El Nido town, not sure how much it cost as it varies on the size.
Tip 6: Rain or shine, Have Fun!! 🙂