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El Nido Tour A Review – Is it the Best Island Hopping Tour?

El Nido Tour A Review – Is it the Best Island Hopping Tour?

El Nido is a paradise on earth, and Tour A holds some of the best sights in the Palawan. In my book, El Nido has some of the prettiest water and beaches. It’s definitely one of the best places in the Philippines.

The best parts of the area can only be reached via a booked day trip, and El Nido Tour A takes you to some of the most famous and beautiful parts of the archipelago. When looking for things to do in El Nido, be sure to include the El Nido tour A! It’s one of the best Palawan attractions.

El Nido Tour A Itinerary

  • Small Lagoon
  • Big Lagoon
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Simizu Island
  • 7 Commandos Beach or Entulala Island (depending on the company)

El Nido Tour A cost: $32 + 200 PHP Eco-Tour Fee (Govt’) Good for 10 days and multiple trips

Best tour operator for El Nido Tour A: You can book Tour A in person in town or during high season. We highly suggest booking online in advance to secure your dates. Book online here with Viator.

We traveled with The Alternative Cafe for El Nido Tour A (Better Food), and we went with The Art Cafe for the El Nido Tour C (Bigger/Better Boat).

Duration: Full Day (Usually 9 am – 4 pm)

Related Article: El Nido Tour C

Yellow Kayak in Small Lagoon in El Nido's Miniloc Island on Day Tour A

Small Lagoon El Nido

After a short ride throughout the bay, our first El Nido Tour A stop dropped us at Small Lagoon. It’s on the northern end of Miniloc Island and is an open-top cathedral of limestone.

Vertical walls of stone form a lagoon of shallow water in the shape of a nearly perfect circle. Staring up at the imposing walls from the inside, it starts to look like a very alien landscape.

Note: You can only visit either Small Lagoon or Big Lagoon on Day Trip A. This is done to keep both sites from getting overcrowded. 

Related Post: Visiting El Nido’s Snake Island

Yellow Kayak paddling through Big Lagoon on Miniloc Island in El Nido with Aqua colored water and tall limestone rock cliffs surrounding

Big Lagoon El Nido

The Big Lagoon portion of the El Nido Tour A is all about cruising. For me, this was the best part of the day. The whole tour was great, but the water in the lagoon…just look at it. When I die, sprinkle my ashes here.

There were a few spots to jump off the boat and swim, but there wasn’t a ton of sea life besides the giant sea urchins. This part of the El Nido Tour A experience was more about being in the turquoise water surrounded by dark, jagged limestone cliffs.

The lagoon is extremely shallow, and the deckhand sat off the bow of the boat, helping the captain miss rocks our entire trip in the lagoon. Some of my favorite pictures from El Nido Tour A and the Philippines, in general, are from here.

Related Article: Best Restaurants in El Nido

White Filipino boat anchored at Secret Lagoon Beach

Simizu Island

The lunch stop was yet another ridiculously beautiful island. I almost got tired of looking at such amazing scenery. It made my eyes hurt and made me never want to leave.

Lunch on El Nido Tour A had several options. It included the Philippino version of paella, grilled fish, chicken, salads, fresh fruit, and more. We took this trip with the Alternative Cafe, and their food, both onshore and on tour, was great.

The most striking feature of the island was an outcropping of rocks a short walk from where we docked the boat. A razor-thin blade of black limestone found all over El Nido stuck straight out of the sand. This piece reminded me of the top fin of a fish, and I wondered how it just stood straight up in the bright white sand. This place is just amazing.

Related Post: Visiting Nacpan Beach

Drone photo of Secret Lagoon with tall limestone rock walls surrounding a small lagoon - El Nido Day Trip A

Secret Lagoon

This picture is what sold me on making the trip to El Nido and is a good part of the reason we came to the Philippines. You will find a mess of boats jockeying for position while their passengers jump out to swim through the hole in the rocks that leads to the secret lagoon.

However, these days, it’s more special than it is a secret. El Nido Tour A seems to be the most popular tour, and for good reason. The scenery they show is stunning; it’s one of the shortest rides, and, of course, it has the secret lagoon as an ace up its sleeve. The view ties as to as epic as Kayangan Lake in Coron.

View of the sand at 7 Commandos Beach on tour A in El Nido

7 Commandos Beach

Seven Commandos Beach would be a great beach in any other part of the world but is just okay by Palawan standards. Most tours finish here because it’s close to El Nido and it’s an easy place to stop.

The story behind the beach is arguably more interesting than the beach itself. As the legend goes, Seven Japanese commandos took refuge here during WWII and ended up living here for a time (actual information is a little cloudy, but this is what the guides told us).

Other companies like the ArtCafe stop at a different beach off the mainland for their last activity. By the looks of it, it’s a prettier beach, and there are fewer people who stop there. It might be something to check out and consider when booking (ask first; things change) if you want to do a tour other than El Nido Tour A.

Related Article: El Nido to Coron Ferry

Tips for a good Tour A in El Nido:

  • Book online in advance here
  • See if the operator would be willing to run the tour in reverse order. This will get you to most groups’ last stop first and miss the crowds at every stop on EL Nido tour A.
  • Find a boat that is leaving earlier than the rest, another great way to have the stops to yourself.
  • Book with an established place to ensure your tour leaves as scheduled.
  • Rent the snorkel gear; it’s a little extra, but you’ll be disappointed if you don’t.
  • Rent or bring a water bag for the camera and other gear (50 PHP rental).
  • Bring water shoes – El Nido Tour A is manageable without, but it would still be nice to have them. El Nido Tour C, you really should have them.

Related Article: El Nido Palawan Guide

*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in El Nido check prices on, we’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*

Recommended Hotel in El Nido – Cuna Hotel

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