El Nido is paradise on earth. This cluster of islands is said to be the inspiration for many movies including “The Beach”. In my book, El Nido beats Fiji for having 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!
Related Article: El Nido Palawan Guide
El Nido Tour A
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 for only $32 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
After a short ride throughout the bay, our first stop on El Nido Tour A 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.
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 surround by dark, jagged, limestone cliffs.
The lagoon is extremely shallow and the deckhand (the boy in the red shirt) 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.
I love the photos with this boy, his redshirt stands out in such contrast to the crystal clear, blue water.
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 the 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.
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.
Though, these days it’s more special than it is 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.
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 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.
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 group’s 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 you 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 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.