he island hopping tours in El Nido are probably the most popular activities people do when they visit. And even if you‘ve already been around in the Philippines a bit and you’ve done your fair share of boat tours, we highly recommend going on another one here in El Nido. The islands you will visit are absolutely stunning!
If you’re looking for tips what else to do in El Nido, read our Best of El Nido Travel Guide.
Hi! Nice to meet you, we are Marina and Ben. We live in Berlin and travel the world full-time 🚀
There are plenty of tour offices throughout El Nido town and they all offer the same routes. The four main tours are creatively named tour A, B, C and D, and they all go to different destinations. So if you have enough time, it might even be fun to go on different tours and see more of this beautiful area.
All the tours start in the morning and will keep you busy pretty much the whole day. When we talked to the local tour guides, they mentioned tour A and C are the most popular routes. Here‘s an overview:
Our guide‘s favorite route was actually tour B. He seemed like a trustworth guy, so we chose that option. As you can see, the tours don't differ too much in terms of price: per person, you'll pay around 1.500 PHP (25€).
Important: If you're intending to book tour B like us, ask the guides what time the low tide will be. The particular stop „Snake Island“ is much nicer during low tide. You'll arrive there around noon so make sure to ask if the tides will be right during that time.
It seems most tour offices have understood that nobody likes overcrowded beach experiences, so they all claim they leave early in the morning to avoid the other boats. Well, we‘re not sure how effective that is since we did take one of the first rides and still were among quite a few other boats. See below as an example where six boats arrived at a tiny beach and unloaded their 20-ish passengers each.
In addition, we even thought we were lucky as our tour office had only 5 people on the list for tour B. But next morning, they simply merged us with another group so they could fill up the whole boat. Hurray!
So, if you really want to get a calmer and individual experience, we think the only option is to charter a speed boat, which you‘ll only share with a few people. You‘ll then be able to decide more freely where to go and when. The catch: it‘s pretty expensive. We were quoted around 100 Euros per person for the speed boat tour.
Compared to the boats on Siargao, the long tail boats in El Nido are bigger and less noisy. They fit around 20 people and you can sit quite comfortably. Any tour that features snorkeling will supply you with goggles, but you might be more comfortable with you own gear. During the tour you‘ll be provided with drinking water and food, but you shouldn’t forget a few essential things:
Like every other tour, you'll be leaving in the morning between 8am - 10am. There are five stops and in total, though our tour only passed by one cave while the advertised route included two. Not sure why though.
You’ll land on a tiny yet super beautiful beach featuring a giant rock standing at the shore. You can snorkel around a bit or take your time to get a nice picture of the scenery.
Depending on how many other boats are around, this might be a tough task. When we were there, we had a very short moment right before we left because everyone else was pretty much back in their boats again, waiting for us to join them ;)
We stopped right next to a gigantic rock island (which probably would have looked amazing from the sky) and while the boat was hovering around, the guides let us jump in to snorkel around. Depending on the conditions, there might be jelly fish around, some of which even sting. We actually saw one of the biggest ones ever and were cautioned not to get too close.
As mentioned before, this is a pretty cool spot - if you come during the right time. We didn’t know we had to pay attention to the tides when booking this tour and of course, we had high tides when we arrived. During low tides, you’ll be able to walk on a scenic patch of sand that connects two islands in a wavy form - hence the name “Snake Island”. During high tides, you can still walk on the sand bank but will be submerged in water.
While we were exploring, the guides prepared lunch, which was pretty good considering there was no kitchen close by.
Lastly, there is a view point which may not seem like much from the beach, but it’s actually quite worth the short hike. You’ll get a nice view over the bay and can see the sand bank from the top even without a drone.
This island features another nice beach with beautiful palm trees. The main attraction here is a cave, but we didn’t even get a good look as there were too many visitors. We didn't bother squeezing through the tight entry hole and instead enjoyed the beach.
A few other visitors from our boat even joined the locals to play a quick round of basketball. This is definitely the favorite sport of the Filipinos and you'll probably find a court on even the most remote islands.
Okay, by the time you get here you might think you’ve seen a good amount of amazing islands and beaches. Well, this island completely blew us away and chances are, it will have the same effect on you.
From afar you’ll already notice this giant rock emerging from the ocean. But wait until you set foot on this insane island. It features super tall palm trees, stunningly high grass fields, dark black rocks, strangely curved old woods, and a great beach. Do explore the area a bit and walk around, we couldn’t shake off this amazing feeling of having stepped on a prehistoric island that may still host a few dinosaurs. That’s why we called it the Jurassic Park Island - and let's be honest, its real name is just a bit too complicated ;)
Depending on how cool your boat captain is, you'll have around an hour on this fantastic island, perhaps even a bit more. We really enjoyed this last stop the most and wished we could have stayed longer. But we did see a nearby beach on the main land from here and decided that we will try to get there. It seemed that you could get a canoe from there and actually paddle here by your own! Read about that in our Best Of El Nido Travel Guide.
We loved this island hopping tour and we wish we'd have had more time in El Nido to even explore another route. While there are quite a lot of other tourists around at some spots, especially during the lunch break, we did get used to the crowd. In fact, you will most often have the opportunity to steal yourself away from the main group and enjoy some less busy areas of any island.
Let us know if you're planning to go to El Nido or the Philippines, we'd love to share more impressions with you directly and hopefully give you some tips that will make your trip even more amazing.