El Nido Tour A Review – Palawan Philippines

El Nido is a 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! It’s one of the best Palawan attractions.

Related Article: El Nido Palawan Guide

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

Recommended Hotel in El Nido – Cuna Hotel

El Nido Tour A

El Nido Day Trip Tour A Map

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 $28 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

Woman splahing in the Small Lagoon in el Nido Palawan Philippines - Day Trip A

Small Lagoon

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.

Related Post: Visiting El Nido’s Snake Island

Big Lagoon

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.

El Nido Tour A Philippines - Day Trip A-25

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 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.

Related Post: Visiting Nacpan Beach

rock wall with hole in it known as Secret Beach in El Nido Palawan - Top Attractions

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.

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.

view from the 7 commandos beach in El Nido Palawan - places to visit - Day Trip A

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 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 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 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.

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More on El Nido:

El Nido Tour C - Complete Travel guide Thumb El Nido Day Trip Tour A Thumb

filipino phood feature 1  boracay on a budget feature

Philippines in photos feature

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28 thoughts on “El Nido Tour A Review – Palawan Philippines”

  1. it was very informative and helpful thank you. we will be going in May 13- 14 so definitely will use your tips.

  2. FYI, as of December 1, 2018 Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon have been removed from the regular Tour A and will now require a premium tour. Each lagoon will also include an extra P200 environmental fee and you won’t be able to visit both in one day. The number of visitors will be strictly limited.

  3. My bf and I are planning on going in july 2018. I was wondering if this tour was just one day? We are planning to stay 5 days and are wondering if you have enough time at every spot if you do it all in one day? I love reading all your tips about traveling it made it easier since we were so lost in the beginning!

    • This is a day trip, you don’t have a ton of time at each spot, but for most people, it is enough. Also, consider doing day trip c also it’s pretty amazing too. Have an amazing trip in El Nido!

  4. Hello! Where can I rent a motorbike? Would like to rent it our for a week, do your the the price ? We are also looking for quiet place to stay, on the beach or on the hill, prefer clean bungalow, any suggestion? We also want to try a night or two in a nice resort has bungalow on the water that won’t break our wallet, any suggestion on that too?

    We’re arriving on May 18 at 4pm, cos’ our flt is a bit late to go up the El Nido, ll probably spent a night at PP then catch an early van up to El Nido.

    Is Taytay a good stop? or a a day trip? Thank you

  5. El Nido is a magnificent place to visit. However the food and water in the tour makes all us sick having diarrhea for a week. Dept. of Health should look into these issue because El Nido depends on tourism which a big a part of there economy.

    • Different operators offer different food and quality of food. We always suggest bringing a snack too. What a bummer you all got sick after the tour. Hope you still had a great time in El Nido. What other El Nido tour did you go on?

  6. Thanks so much for your informative posts about El Nido. You have made my planning so much easier. Keep up the great work helping fellow travelers!

  7. This is so informative! Absolutely love your blog. My BF and I are going for 3 days with another couple. Can’t decide if we should spend all 3 in El Nido or spend a day in Puerto Princesa. Anywho, we will definitely be doing this and possibly Tour C. Already have my water shoes!

    • Glad we could help plan your trip to the Palawan and El Nido. We just spent the night in Puerto Princessa, it was dark when we go there. So we didn’t do much so we can’t be much help there. I think 3 nights in El Nido is best, that way you can go on several El Nido ours.

  8. Thank you for such an informative post 🙂 just wondering, did you have to book in advance? Or do you just rock up on the day/day before and book? Would you recommend booking your day tours/hotels in advance in general?

    • Glad we could help. We booked our tours in person when we were in El Nido, we did book them a day or two in advance. Are you traveling during high season? If so, you might want to book at least your first night accomodation.

  9. Love your tips! What do you think about doing the tour A but with the kayaks I heard that option is better than the normal tour A. Is it worth it to be in kayaks or is better just snorkle? I heard wothbthe kayaks you can go farther places that the boats can’t take you. Thank u

    • We saw the kayakers when we were there and honestly it depends if you like snorkeling or kayaking better. We personally like snorkeling better. You also have to watch how much free time you have with the kayaks. No matter what you will have an amazing time in El Nido! Safe travels.

    • When we visited it was 1400 PHP but prices could have changed since our visit. We hope to visit again this year and we’ll update the article.


  10. Hey Hannah,
    Thanks for sharing the love about this amazing destination in the Philippines. Camille and I just got back from there a couple weeks ago but unfortunately we went during rainy season. We ended up doing tour A which like you mentioned was incredible but weren’t able to do tour C.

    The tips you provided were excellent and I wish we we knew about doing the tours in reverse. The operators are pretty laid back and would have likely let us do it in reverse. Snorkeling is a must but again with the timing there were more currents and the weather wasn’t the best.. We’ll surely be back though as we’re looking at investing there but I can see the town changing very quickly.

    Thanks again for the post. Will be tweeting this out soon.

    Love from Manila,
    Mark and Camille

  11. This sounds absolutely awesome. Why did I not go there last time I was in the Philippines?! Next time definitely after seeing those beautiful pictures 🙂

  12. This sounds amazing. My only thought is was it touristy? Fromt he tours I took around South East Asia I normally found them to be touristy and disappointing. However, I certainly take your word for it if you didn’t find that.

    • It wasn’t touristy when we were there in February 2014, but I would go sooner than later. It is very hard to get to therefore many people skip it and go to Boracay.


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