Hop on a boat tour when you visit El Nido, Palawan
Hello travelers in and to the Philippines! If you are planning to visit El Nido, Palawan, you’ll definitely need to find a boat tour operator during your stay.
There are other activities in El Nido, Palawan but boat tours is one of the most popular reasons why travelers visit this paradise.
Boat tours are El Nido, Palawan’s bread and butter when it comes to its local economy. This is since the lovely white sandy shores and snorkeling spots in El Nido is made up of separate islands within the area of Bacuit Bay.
What to expect from an El Nido boat tour?
If it’s your first time in El Nido, availing a boat tour service is the way to go. It’s the top activity in Bacuit Bay, El Nido. It’s also the only way for guests to visit the islands around the area.
Usually, a boat is shared depending on the boat’s passenger capacity. Local operators will fill their boats with tourists before starting the tour.
Boat tour inclusions differ. It depends widely on the operators prerogative. Although not all, there’s a few operators who include buffet lunch, towels, drinking water, and snorkeling gears.
With other tourists during your trip, it’s a perfect way to meet new friends while visiting El Nido.
How much is an El Nido boat tour?
El Nido boat tours may seem quite expensive due to the international tourist demand visiting El Nido, Palawan. But you can ask for a discount if you tell them Clueless Commuter referred you to our partner boat tour operator in El Nido.
El Nido has created standardized boat tour packages. Their tour packages are determined as follows:
Tour A – ₱1200 (Around 23 USD)
Tour B – ₱1300 (Around 25 USD)
Tour C – ₱1400 (Around 27 USD)
Tour D – ₱1200 (Around 23 USD)
Exchange rate at time of writing: (1 USD = ₱52).
Possible additional fees during boat tours
Environmental Fee ₱200 – The local government collects a separate environmental fee from guests. This is valid for 10 days and can be shown every time you are asked to pay environmental fees.
Kayak Rentals (Tour A) ₱200 – There are also fees such as kayak rentals especially for Tour A. The Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon offers kayak rentals for an additional ₱200 for 2 (two) people per site destination. You can choose not to rent a kayak and swim your way inside the lagoons. This option may be tiring as the lagoons are quite big to swim on your own.
What is the difference between El Nido packaged tours?
These tour packages are determined by the proximity of the islands included in the tour.
Tour A is the most popular packaged tour and, at times crowded. Its proximity area is near to the town’s jump off point. This tour also includes El Nido’s iconic Small Lagoon experience.
Tour B is the next proximity of islands visited around Bacuit Bay. This tour is made memorable by its caves and snorkeling sites.
Tour C is the furthest group of islands toured in El Nido, Palawan. Its pristine white sandy shores, quiet beaches and rock formations make it a favorite among the guests.
Tour D isn’t a popular boat trip in El Nido, Palawan, except maybe for Privately rented boat tours. One of the reasons for this is it’s a tour easily reachable by renting a Kayak from the main town. It goes around Cadlao island. It’s the huge mountain island just in front of the town.
I was able to compile Tour A, Tour B, and Tour C videos here.
What about Private Boat Tours?
A more expensive option is available by hiring boats on a Private set-up. With this set-up you have privacy during the tour. You pay a premium to avail this. This works well when you visit as a group especially when you want to maximize your time on tours.
Through Private Boat Tours, you also have the option to only include the best destinations in your itinerary. This works well if you have tried all the boat tours in the past.
Kayak your way through Tour D
Kayak rentals available by the shore cost around ₱500/day for a whole day.
By paddling a kayak, you may already reach some spots in the Tour D itinerary. This is since, the shores of Cadlao Island in front of the main town is reachable by two people through a kayak. This is also the reason why boat tour services for Tour D are offered less.
The main attraction in Tour D is the Ubugnon Cove. It’s a view of limestone cliffs with white sandy beaches surrounding a rock formation.
Be wary though, paddle back to town early because you don’t want to be battered by the strong current going back to the main town.
Cadlao Island is the iconic mountain just in front of El Nido’s main town. Tourists can reach this by renting a kayak.
What are Combination Tours
A few boat operators have opened an option where tourists get to visit the most popular destinations under Tour A and Tour C.
Some tourists are only visiting for the weekend, so, to maximize their stay, boat operators have started offering this combination tour.
Whatever tour you decide to pick, your first time to visit El Nido will not be the last time.
My boat tour experience in El Nido
I have been to El Nido twice. My first visit lasted for a week in September 2017. My next visit was last January 2018, which lasted for almost a month.
This post is being updated from time to time. Our Facebook Page is regularly updated so check out Clueless Commuter’s Facebook as well.
Just this September 2017, I came back to Palawan, where I spent my elementary days in the hot sun. Back then, I was engrossed in going to school, playing by the beach, and getting taller every single day.
During my childhood, Palawan was already a paradise to be discovered.
Now that tourism has boomed in the Philippines, Palawan has become a sought after destination. It has also experienced tremendous economic growth– even claiming that it’s the No. 1 island in the world.
Palawan is a dear familiar place to me. It’s city, I walked when I was still in elementary. So after 13 long years, I was able to go back to my hometown and visit places I did not know existed. Here’s my humble list I hope you will enjoy.
1. El Nido, Palawan
Since this post is more on the places to go to when you visit Palawan, El Nido has to be on the list. It’s one of the top tourist destinations worldwide. I say, it should definitely be.
With El Nido, Palawan, no amount of photos can equate to experiencing it firsthand.
The tour provider I hopped into was gracious enough to extend their discounts to those who I will refer (:
Please feel free to use the promo discount below if you’ll ever visit El Nido.
Tours A B C D Promo code discount in El Nido. DIY promos as low as 800.
2. Underground River
A rock formation depicting a banana blossom (puso ng saging) inside Underground Subtarranean River in Palawan.
The Underground Subtarranean River in Palawan has made it to UNESCO’s Top 7 Natural Wonders of Nature.
This has become one of the primary reasons why foreign tourists have started flocking to Palawan even before Filipinos have visited it themselves.
The trip inside is an adventure.You get to traverse the dark with surprising rock formations along the tourist’s 2km safe zone. The remaining Your tour guides only have a lone LED lamp that they point at featured rock formations. Other than this, there was
The bats were hospital. They simply let the guests visit them, although flash photography has to be discouraged as a guest courtesy.
Tourists gaze at rock formations while inside The Underground River in Palawan.
3. Iwahig Stargazing and Firefly Watching
It came as a surprise, but my elementary classmate’s mom brought us to Iwahig where we were able to stargaze and watch fireflies. If you are interested in visiting the place, I suggest you ask help from your travel provider since it’s a few miles from from the city, of which you can only enjoy at night.
Aim for a romantic Iwahig Firefly getaway when you visit Palawan.
For a Manileño like me, I seldom get to see the night sky so bright and glimmering.
I even got to see the milky way! I thought they were clouds clouding the starry view, to my dismay, they weren’t moving. Sadly, my skills for capturing milky ways aren’t just there yet.
4. Baker’s Hill
What more can I say, Baker’s Hill is a local lover’s park within Puerto Princesa City. It’s a tricycle away from the city center. Locals would once in a while drop a visit. As my local friend mentioned, “There’s always something new being added here.”
Still, if you’re a tourist, you’ll definitely go there for their food, some photos, and a way to snag some pastries and goodies before your trip home.
5. Robinson’s Palawan
Due to Puerto Princesa being just a small city, Robinson’s strategic location will make you drop by before going to El Nido, Underground River, or San Vicente. Here’s where you can drop by when you forgot bringing your sunscreen, or a flipflop, or just some snacks along the way.
By this time, there’s now two mega shopping centers competing for the local market in Puerto Princesa. The other one, which is SM Puerto Princesa, has opened more recently.
6. Port Barton
Port Barton has become one of the buzz words in Palawan lately. I haven’t personally visited it, yet. But I heard it houses majestic views, island hopping tours (just like El Nido) and a laid back island life.
Its tourist population isn’t as renowned yet, so, it’s perfect for visitors who are still on the look out for an unpopulated Palawan destination.
7. San Vicente Long Beach
Like Port Barton, San Vicente long beach has become a recent buzzword in Palawan. Local developers have also started eyeing on this 8-mile long white sandy shore. At the moment, there’s almost no establishments here, only a deserted pristine shore of aquamarine shore.
8. Honda Bay Island Hopping
If you’re on a quick visit to Puerto Princesa City, add Honda Bay to your itinerary list. It’s the best choice you have if you’re short on time during your stay.
It’s a 15 minute tricycle ride from the airport. You get to spend the day on an island hopping trip on the islands in Puerto Princesa. White sandy beaches and marine life are in store. They have available packages that include lunch.
Tien Ma’s serves the usual Chinese oriental cuisine we love and know with quality more than what you pay for. It’s good, and the Xiao Long Bao experience was something that made us come back.
The restaurant is located across Union Bank, beside Angel’s Pizza. Just around Next Door North Park’s vicinity.
Tien Ma’s opens its branch along Makati Avenue.
We gambled on trying Tien Ma’s for the first time. We were usually North Park and Next Door North Park regulars but their quality and service have dropped through our visits. And Tien Ma’s: It did not disappoint. It’s a place worth going back to again.
More than dimsum and dumplings, they offer a fair variety of savoury oriental choices. So far we haven’t tried any rice meals yet.
So what’s our favourite at Tien Ma’s?
Tien Ma’s Xiao Long Bao explodes inside your mouth.
Tien Ma’s Xiao Long Bao
Order their Xiao Long Bao. This dumpling is infused with pork broth soup inside. You have to eat it while it’s hot, otherwise you’re missing out the experience of the soup exploding inside your mouth. Also, don’t let it sit long, otherwise the soup gets absorbed by the flour.
It’s hot, be careful, but the infusing bite is worth the experience.
Tien Ma’s Xiao Long Bao comes in three flavors:
With the Mixed variant, you can try all of Tien Ma’s Xiao Long Bao variants.
Original – 8 pcs.; Php200; The most value for your buck.
Cheese – 8 pcs; Php240; We haven’t tried it personally, but our friends loved it and said it tasted great. So, we’re definitely going back for the cheese Xiao Long Bao.
Black Mushroom – 8 pcs; Php240; We didn’t taste much difference between the original and this variant. The mushroom bits were too tiny to infuse as strongly as the broth.
Mixed – 3pcs Cheese; 3pcs Black Mushroom; 2pcs Original; Php240
More than dumplings, their Taiwanese offerings also include rice bowls, rice toppings, and savoury oriental recipes.
Their Three Cup Chicken caught my attention, but we haven’t tried it yet. That’s next on my to try list.
We have to go back to try them all.
No service charge
Since their fairly new on the Makati Avenue strip, I’m not sure if their price and no service charge policy will stay for long. As we have mentioned, their current quality is really good. We hope that it retains since right now, their really fairly new.
They have other branches across Manila, but bringing it near our Makati vicinity opens a new pool of regular customers. Not to mention, Makati Avenue is a nightlife strip where foreigners frequent.
Tien Ma’s Makati Avenue branch.
Makati Avenue Branch is open from 8AM-2AM. They seem like they’re picking up popularity as the place usually gets 70% full.
Their choices are very decent and a bang for the buck.
If you’re craving for some Japanese food around Makati Avenue, check out Izakaya Hideyoshi just across A-Venue Mall. It’s a good go-to place and I’d highly recommend around the Makati Avenue.
I’d say that Izakaya Hideyoshi is at a middle price range. There’s very few of them that rings a bell along the strip. More so, there’s fewer that offers quality Japanese for their price range around the vicinity.
8 pcs Gyoza at P180
For example, their gyoza set costs P180 as of my writing. They use flour on their mix. It’s not as juicy and scrumptious as Mendokoro‘s gyozas, still tasty. But maaaan? 8 pieces at P180? You have got to be kidding me.