Islands and pristine beaches are the images that come to mind when I think of El Nido. It has been on my bucket list for sometime but the opportunity to go there didn’t present itself until the summer of 2018.

Pinagbuyutan Island

Pinagbuyutan Island

Along with blogger friends, I travelled to Palawan to spend four 4 days in El Nido and three 3 days in Puerto Princesa for a much needed respite after completing a hectic capability project that brought us to key cities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Too tired to plan the trip, we booked Northern Hope Tours to arrange the vacation. And I’m glad we did that because the moment we landed in Puerto Princesa, Northern Hope tours took care of everything.

We flew to Puerto Princesa via Airasia and arrived late afternoon. From the airport, a van from Northern Hope Tours was already waiting for us. Six hours later we arrived in El Nido and checked  in at the Northern Hope Inn Extension. The place is located at the livelier part of the  town and within walking distance to the port.

We settled  for the night looking forward to the exciting trips that were prepared for us the following day. Nacpan beach and at least two (2) island hopping tours were part of the package .

Beach front of the El Nido town proper.



The long stretch of light golden brown sand, four (4) kilometers to be exact, is a beach lover’s dream come true – plenty of sun, clean shoreline peppered with a few beach loungers, a tempting azure sea and the absence of a maddening crowd. These are the perfect ingredients of an idyllic day at the beach.

Please read my post NACPAN BEACH | AN IDYLLIC HIDEAWAY IN EL NIDO for a more detailed narrative of my experience.



The four island hopping tours are the core activities of the El Nido experience. These day tours will take you to a specific set of islands, sandbars, lagoons, beaches and caves.

Tour Tip : For groups of 10, you can request for a private tour, so you won’t be mixed with other tourists.


Tour A: Lagoon Tour – Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Simizu Island, Secret Lagoon and 7 Commandos Beach. Rate is Php 1,200/person inclusive of lunch.

Tour B: Cave Tour – Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave. Rate is Php 1,300/person inclusive of lunch.

Tour C: Shrine Tour – Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Star Beach. Rate is Php 1,400/person inclusive of lunch.

Tour D: Beach Tour – Bukal Island, Ipil Beach, Nat-Nat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon and Paradise Beach. Rate is Php 1,200/person inclusive of lunch.

I was surprised at the number of islands waiting to be explored. There are so many and so little time. Fortunately, Northern Hope Tours arranged two combination tours for us highlighting popular destinations in tour C&D and A&B .


Combination Tour C & D

1. Helicopter Island

Activities : Swim, Snorkel
Entrance Fee : None


2. Cadlao Lagoon

Activities : Swim, Snorkel, Paddle boating Entrance Fee : None


3. Secret Beach

Secret Beach

The beach is only accessible through a small crevice. And to get to the crevice you have to swim for a few meters. If you don’t know how to swim or afraid of depths, then this is going to be difficult for you. But you can request the boat man to pull you while you are in a floating position. Activities : Swim, Snorkel Fee : None


4. Matinloc Shrine

The abandoned structures of Matinloc Shrine gives it a creepy feeling. It’s a good thing we went there in mid afternoon. Activities : Swimming, Snorkel and Rock Climbing Entrance Fee : 100 pesos


To see this view, you have to climb up a rather steep cliff and stand on a very small space that can accommodate one person only. You  have 1 minute or two to capture this or have your picture taken because there’s probably a long line of people waiting for their turn.


The Matinloc Shrine may look creepy but it has a charm of its own. The ruins raises a lot of questions that add mystery to the place.


5. Hidden Beach

The Secret Beach may not as difficult to reach but you have to wade for several meters to reach it. The bancas are not allowed to enter because they might destroy the corals. Be sure to wear your aqua shoes since the way to the beach is rocky. Activities : Swimming and Snorkel Entrance: Free


6. Bukal Island

The island features a small beach and the usual crystal clear waters. This is the final stop of the tour and every one had their fill of swimming so we just relaxed and had some quiet moment to ourselves.