You cannot travel to the Philippines and not treat yourself to the Bacuit Archipelago island tours in El Nido! It is no wonder the Palawan province – which includes El Nido and Coron – was voted the ‘The World’s Best Island‘ on numerous occasions.
These islands and lagoons in El Nido form part of the Bacuit Archipelago which are made accessible via the 4 tours, known famously as Tour A, B, C and D. The map shows the most beautiful spots on the tours, thanks to Salt in Our Hair , who also have some great posts on the area.
The tours range from P1200 to P1600 and include a colourful and tasty lunch. They leave at 9am from El Nido port harbour and arrive back at roughly 4pm. If you have flown all the way to the Philippines and took either that crazy bus ride from Puerto Princesa or that 10 hour ferry from Coron Island, then treat yourself to all 4 tours!
Here are our favourite things about the
El Nido Island Hopping Tours:
We had SO much fun sup boarding over the amazing turquoise waters of the Big Lagoon !
Floating on our backs and looking up at the lime stone cliffs was our highlight in the smaller lagoons.
They can get a little crowded though.
The adorable beach pups:
These little beach puppies literally stole our hearts! We are quite obsessed with pugs and labradors already so when we saw this little lab with eyes the colour of the water, we were finished!
The Postcard Paradise beaches:
We would very much like to stay here at Star Beach, forever!
Papaya Beach was another paradise destination and within kayak distance from the mainland.
As always, the food was a highlight for us! Freshly barbecued fish and chicken, crispy pork and an array of beautifully displayed fruit and salads. Had to elbow off a few travellers just to get this photo. Theres definitely something about swimming in the ocean that makes you so hungry?!
Accompanied by a few local monkeys, we took a short walk up the hill at Snake Island to see this incredible view. We somehow always discover these beautiful hiking trails when we are in the most inappropriate outfits (i.e. just a bikini/shorts) – worth every mosquito bite though.
We also really enjoyed wandering around the mysterious Matinloc Shrine. It was once a Chapel that was completely secluded from the rest of the world, in the middle of paradise (lucky priests)!
Make sure you climb the cliffs at the back to see this view over the neighbouring islands:
The Banca Boats:
The tours are all done on traditional banca boats. They are very sturdy and always brightly painted.
We were lucky enough to go on the 4 – 6 seater boat when we booked at Greenviews Resort. This was so great as the 4 of us (Wanderers parents and us) had our own boat and therefore much more flexibility with how long we got to stay at each place.
The Bacuit Archipelago contains over 888 species of fish and over 400 species of coral – making it an absolute hotspot for snorkelling! We also researched that one can see manta rays, whale sharks and turtles in this area, but unfortunately we didn’t have the privilege. We have snorkelled quite a bit in Mozambique, Thailand and Mauritius, but Palawan was by far the best !!
The Secret Spots:
The Hidden Beach is completely surrounded by steep cliff walls and it had the clearest water!
On one of the small islands, we found a small hole in the stone walls and climbed through it!
Oh Hello Secret Cave!
Secret Lagoon is another stunning spot that offers great snorkelling, white sand beaches, tall shading palm trees and of course, a secret lagoon (see pics of the lagoon in Tip 1 below)!
Our top tips for El Nido tour A, B, C and D:
1. Timing! Philippines is definitely one of the least crowded destinations in Asia, but with this level of paradise there will always be crowds! We found that all the tour companies did the same 4 tours in roughly the same order! So our top tip would be to ask your guide to take you in the opposite order or slightly later or earlier than the usual tour times! This really helped us to enjoy the secluded beauty of the Bacuit Bay!
We went to the Secret Lagoon on two different days at two different times – see the difference!!
2. Boat shoes! This archipelago is filled with poisonous black sea urchins and very sharp coral. The tours instruct you to wear water shoes, but we had only packed slops and Nike sneakers! Mrs Wanderer really paid for this when some freak waves came in the bay while we were trying to get from the boat to the shore. We always try to avoid disturbing the coral by swimming with our feet up, but this section was quite shallow. The result: Jen rolling around on some pretty sharp stuff. Just incase you’re wondering, we are actually pretty confident swimmers and Jen almost always pushes the limits when it comes to the ocean, but this must have been pretty hilarious to watch !!
3. Waterproof gear! You will definitely want to take some good snaps so we could not recommend a GoPro enough for this trip! A dry bag is also very handy to put your phones and any other valuables in. Asia loves its rain pours and the banca boats don’t offer much protection.
All in all – the most amazing couples of days !!!
Watch our Gopro movie of our highlights from El Nido on our YouTube Channel.
Go see are other Philippines blog posts:
The BEST things to do and see on El Nido mainland when you are not on island hopping!
How to plan a trip to the Philippines
Or visit our Philippines page to see everything we have to say about this piece of paradise!