El Nido Palawan boat tour A
El Nido boat tour A is the most popular among the tours as it includes the Big Lagoon, the highlight of the whole of Bacuit archipelago. When we say popular means “get ready to be surrounded by hundreds of tourists”. All the tourists that spend only a very few days in El Nido choose the tour A. Sometimes the travel agencies offer the visit of the Big Lagoon or the Small Lagoon, therefore, be sure that your tour A includes the Big Lagoon. The Small Lagoon can be visited with the tour D, or at least, we found some operators that offer it in the tour D and even in the tour C. We visited the Small Lagoon twice, in the tour C and D too. During the dry season, December to March, the wind blows strong, and some spots of your trip could be changed. In the worst case, the tour could be even cancelled. Every day all the boats must wait for the permit of the Coast Guard to depart. For example, our Tour A included Shimizu Island, but because of the wind, we weren’t able to visit it, and we stopped in a different place for snorkelling.
How to arrange El Nido tour A
Every street if El Nido is dotted by tour agencies offering all the activities in the area. The accommodations themselves offer the tours as well. Alternatively, if you want to book in advance the boat trip, the tour agencies advertise the boat tours on the web platforms like Klook.com (the one we used to book our tours).
The price for the shared tour A is 1200 pesos and usually includes these 5 spots: Seven commandos beach, Payong Payong beach, Secret lagoon, Shimizu Island, and the Big Lagoon. The price also includes a lunch buffet and the snorkel gear. The environmental fee (200 pesos and lasts 10 days – keep your receipt if you plan to do more tours) and the kayak to go inside the Big Lagoon are not included (400 pesos for a double kayak, 500 for a 3 seater kayak). The boat usually loads about 15/20 people.
Tips: It’s essential to bring the dry bag where to put your valuables to avoid getting them wet for the sprinkles of the waves and wear water shoes since you have to walk into the shallow to reach the beaches and your boat. Anyway don’t worry, all the shops in El Nido sell dry bags, and you can rent the water shoes in the tour agency that offer your tour.
Private boat tour
If you are a group of friends, you can book a private tour A; indeed the best option, if you want to enjoy with more calm this stunning bay. The price for the private tour A is 9000 pesos and includes the lunch buffet and the snorkelling gear. So as in the shared tour, you need to pay the environmental fee of 200 pesos and the kayak for the Big Lagoon.
Our shared Tour A
Our first stop was Seven Commandos beach, a white sand beach fringed by palm trees. The beach is on the mainland, but it’s only reachable by boat. There is a resort on its northern tip.
The second stop was Payong Payong beach, on Miniloc Island. The beach is small but scenic since high limestone peaks surround it. Here we had a tasty lunch.
The third stop was the suggestive Secret Lagoon, a tiny lagoon with green water mounted among sharp limestone peaks. To enter the lagoon, you need to pass through a small hole in the rock. Close to the lagoon, there is also a lovely beach. Indeed it’s scenic but no longer secret since it was plenty of tourists.
The fourth stop was supposed to be Shimizu island, but the captain changed the spot because of the strong wind. We stopped not that far from the Secret Lagoon, always on Miniloc Island, in a sheltered place to snorkel in the coral reef.
The last spot was the Big Lagoon, indeed the highlight of the whole of Bacuit Archipelago. The boat is not allowed to enter the lagoon, and you must rent a kayak. The entrance to the lagoon is a gorge with a shallow crystal clear water where you can jump off the kayak and have a swim. The lagoon is wide, surrounded by high limestone hills in contrast with the deep denim blue water. The tour was amazing. Indeed every spot quite crowded, but it was worth it! In the end, if you plan to stay in El Nido only a very few days, don’t miss the tour A!