The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands and among all of them, 48 is situated in Bacuit Bay, El Nido making island hopping one of its major tourist activities. As we may all know, there is no better way to discover paradise than to immerse yourself with it’s wonder and allow yourself to get lost within it’s mystical world. Island hopping might eat up too much of your time and drain you all that energy but at the end of the day, the experience is something you wouldn’t trade for anything as it is more valuable than any wealth in this world.
48 Islands could be too many that even a week might be too short of a time to visit them all. Also not everyone has a week to spare for an adventure-filled vacation. Choosing which among the islands should you visit given a limited time could be a bit of a dilemma since each one is equally stunning as the other. Surely, nobody wants that uncomfortable feeling and displeasure of missing something interesting. Hence, the locals of El Nido has narrowed the islands into 20 0r so of the most stunning, budget-friendly and time-efficient ones and incorporated them into 4 tours. Not to worry. They did it in fashion that not one tour is better than the other as each tour will take you into a wonderful journey that would forever remind you how breathtakingly beautiful El Nido is.
Allow me to take you to each tour. Towards the end of this article, I bet you’re already itching to fly to El Nido.
TOUR A “The Full of Charming Lagoons Tour”
What you will see: Big & Small Lagoons (located in 2 separate islands), Hidden Lagoon, Shimizu Island & 7 Commando Island
Tour A is cheaper (only for a couple of bucks) than the other tours but don’t be quick to judge as this tour will facinante you with 3 lagoons, an island with an underwater cave perfect for diving enthusiast and a beach where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the vast ocean dotted with several other islands. Here they are. Prepare to get smitten.
- Big Lagoon – Who could resist diving into the cool azure water of this lagoon that stretch into a big circle like a huge swimming pool perfectly surrounded by a fortress of solid rock formations.?
- Small Lagoon – This took the excitement to the next level. Why? Cause while big lagoon is wide open for those thirsty souls who want to witness her beauty, small lagoon only provided a small opening limiting access to kayaking and swimming your way through her mouth-like entrance from your rented boat.
- Secret Lagoon – Its name says it all. While Small and Big Lagoons are easy to find, this lagoon chose to hide from the rest of the world and has provided a very small opening that only one person at a time can enter through it. And be careful not hit your head though.
- Shimizu Island – It got its name from the Japanese diver who died in the island after diving its underwater cave.
- 7 Commando Island – This island offers a very relaxing view of the ocean and the other islands surrounding it. Here you can rest after a tiring day seeing island after an island, drink some cocktail or beer, grab a snack and even play beach basketball.
TOUR B “The Cave-full and Diver’s Heaven Tour”
What you will see: Entatula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Cadugnon Point & Cave, Pinasil Island & Cathedral Cave and Snake Island Bonus: Stop to a beautiful snorkeling/diving spot.
Tour B promises to take you to an underwater heaven and amaze you with magnificent caves. Bank for some air as they might leave you breathless.
- Entatula Island – Part of this island is a long stretch of fine powdery white sand lined with coconut trees which is just the right place to savor the beauty of the surrounding blue water. The sad fact is that beach is now privately owned. Nevertheless, the surrounding water of the island is just enough to compensate for that with its underwater world still colorful and oozing with life.
- Cadugnon Point and Cave – is said to be an important anthropological site where pottery and jewelry were yielded dating back in the Sung Dynasty. As for me this cave offered my eyes one of the most spectacular rock formations and if you are even brave enough, inside is a way up the top of a limestone hill which you can climb for a much awe-inspiring experience.
- Pinasil Island & Cathedral – This is where you have the opportunity to go kayaking inside a cathedral-like cave and be dazzled by its intricate rock formations which nature molded for thousands of years.
- Snake Island – Best known for a spit of white powdery sands that snakes out from one of the nearby islands to form a long S-shaped sandbar. There is a shallow swimming area in both sides of the sandbar perfect to kill time while the boat crew prepare you a sumptuous meal.
- Pinagbuyutan Island – Has a long stretch of powdery white sand beach but that’s just one of the many things this island is good for. Few meters away from its shores is a snorkeling area I call heaven as it is teeming with fishes of different sizes, colors and species.
TOUR C “The Full Of Secrets Tour”
What you will see: Matinloc Island, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Tapiutan Island and Helicopter Island.
While Tour C may seem to be full of secrets, don’t let it stop you from seeing it. Only when you unravel its secrets will you realize it secrets is all that made it special.
- Helicopter Island – Best known for its limestone cliffs formed like a helicopter when viewed from afar which is why the island was named such. One end of the island has an underground tunnel which is also a good spot to snorkel and dive.
- Secret Beach – Is surrounded by limestone cliffs and only accessible to divers during high tide through a small opening located at the side of the island. Not to worry. Non swimmer also has the chance to witness this beautiful beach when the water receded during low tide.
- Hidden Beach – Is hidden by a large boulder of limestone that fronted the island where its located. One have to swim to get to it as big boats are not permitted entrance. Here you’ll be dazzled by a 100 meter of powdery white sand beach which is best for picnic and getting some sun. At the far end of the beach is a tunnel that leads out to where the boats are.
- Tapiutan Island – The waters and sands of this island were not the reason why I found this island spectacular but the magnificence and form of its limestone cliffs.
- Matinloc Island – Home to the abandoned Matinloc Shrine and the Secret Beach, this island offers a breathtaking view of its surrounding.
Tour D “A Taste of Cadlao Island Tour”
What you will see: Cadlao Lagoon, Pasandigan Beach, Nat Nat Beach, Bucal Beach and Paradise Beach.
Tour D revolves mainly around the beauty of Cadlao Island, one of the nearest islands in mainland El Nido. When people say 2 heads are better than one, Cadlao Island is the exception. Alone it boast of a spectacular lagoon, white sand beaches, amazing limestone rock formation and marine sanctuary.
- Cadlao Lagoon – is as beautiful as any other lagoons in Bacuit Bay. Its blue green water surrounded by spectacular limestone rock formation is the perfect example of the enchanting beauty of nature.
- Pasandigan Beach – This is the lunch area of the tour. Here you can savor the diverse world underwater while waiting for your meal to get served.
- NatNat Beach & Bucal Beach – These two beaches both boast of a long stretch of white powdery white sands where you can lay to get a perfect tan and their turquoise water is where you can spend hours cooling yourself during a summery weather.
- Paradise Beach – Just like many tropical islands, Paradise Beach is a stretch of powdery white sand lined with coconut trees. Its waters is greenish blue inviting you for a swim you can never resist.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Remember to pay the one-time Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF) which is only P200 valid for 14 days and always have the receipt handy.
Bring extra clothes, towel and water during your tour.
Remember to apply sunblock 20 minutes before your tour to shield your skin from harmful rays.
Protect your gadgets by putting them in ziplock or waterproof bags.
Bring snorkel gears if you own one.
It is best to avail island hopping tours through agencies in El Nido as this gives you the chance to haggle for lower prices.
Tour includes a buffet lunch so no need to bring packed food. Chips and bread might come handy though if you feel like munching before the clock hits 12 noon.
8. Enjoy the tour. Savor the beauty of God’s creation. Be safe.
That’s it! We’ve reached the end of our tour. If you are still stuck in your seat thinking about it, think no further and just go! Get that plane ticket and fly!
Disclaimer: Island destinations may vary. This was still the list in May 2015. I will definitely have this article updated if changes occur.