Changes in El Nido’s Island Hopping Tours – Updated January 2019
When the Philippine President ordered Boracay’s shutdown last year, shock rippled across the nation.
The bone-shaped, tiny island is the country’s most popular travel destination, attracting around half a million travelers a month.
After this move, the President threatened to shut down other major destinations for rehabilitation as well, including the mesmerizing El Nido and Coron in Palawan.
Quick to move on their feet, El Nido’s local community and government officials resolved to shape things up for the better, before any shutdown takes place.
No, El Nido will never be the next Boracay.
The absence of plastic bags in shops and the presence of paper or bamboo straws in restaurants are but mere little details of what’s brewing beneath the surface.
Why the new grouping of island tours?
On a large scale, the local tourism government, with the help of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is implementing a series of rules and regulations to protect and preserve this amazing paradise.
Other than banning plastic (see Dos and Don’ts in El Nido), one of these rules is the new grouping of island tours in the globally renowned Bacuit Bay.
In this bay, numerous skyscraper limestones stand on beds of virgin white sand and thick forests.
These limestone walls form secret passages, enchanting lagoons, and cathedral-sized caves, all surrounded by lovely coves, long white beaches, and colorful diving sites.
It’s one of those places that exist in dreams, except that you can step inside it.
What has changed?
El Nido’s most loved island hopping tour, Tour A, features Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon.
These are known to be the most dramatic area among the four tours in Bacuit Bay.
Due to the overcrowing in these lagoons, Big Lagoon was retained in Tour A, Small Lagoon was transfered to Tour D, while Secret Lagoon, another top-rated site, was removed from Tour C.
Here’s a sneak peek of Tour A’s old island hopping sites:
In the new grouping of islands, Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon have been turned into “premium” destinations with 1.5-hour time slots and limited capacities.
Small Lagoon has a maximum capacity of 30 people per time slot, while Big Lagoon has 60.
In addition, travelers would have to pay an additional P200 Environmental Fee per person per premium lagoon.
However, the lagoons cannot be visited on the same day.
If you want to see the other one, you’d have to sign up for the other island tour on a different day.
The new grouping of islands
Tour B, one of the island hopping tours in El Nido:
After much deliberation, here is the new grouping of island hopping destinations in El Nido:
There’s another cool tour that most visitors don’t know about: island hopping on a yacht.
If you’re spending time in this incredibly beautiful place, why not cruise the islands in style?!
El Nido’s Yacht Tour includes Cadlao Island, Star Beach, Seven Commandos Beach, and Small or Big Lagoon.
The yacht tour used to include both the two premium lagoons on the same day. Now it’s just either one, depending on the schedule.
Learn more about El Nido’s Yacht Tour | Book this tour at a local price
Island tours in El Nido are pretty standardized across the town. Wherever you go, you’ll see the same rates and the same routes.
This is crucial because the environmental impact is contained, or restricted to a small area, this way.
Even if you’re on a private boat tour and see a pretty empty island, you can’t just go there on a whim.
The coast guard won’t let you. It’s not allowed if it’s not included in your approved itinerary.
At elnido.ph, rest assured we’ve partnered with the leading tour operators that offer great hospitality service in El Nido–all for the same local price.
So what else have changed?
1. Combining tours in the same day is no longer allowed. Before the implementation of new island groupings, you can see the best islands of two tours in one day. This is no longer possible.
2. Pre-registration is required for either Small or Big Lagoon. This will be arranged by your tour operator.
3. The additional P200 Environmental Fee will be arranged by your tour operator, and added to the old P1,200 island hopping tour fee.
4. Boats can no longer enter Small and Big Lagoons. Because of these lagoons’ fragile ecosystem, boats will have to park outside, while travelers enter via kayaks. Two-seater kayaks are for rent at P300.
5. The local government plans to expand this grouping with seven (7) different island hopping tours and at a higher price in the next one or two years. Stay tuned!