The main reason most people travel to El Nido is to visit the surrounding islands. One way to do this is hire a kayak but that will only take you to the closest places. Most people choose to explore on one of the predetermined tour routes. We deliberated over which tour looked the best , although all looked pretty cool, and finally decided upon Tour C.
We met on the beach front of El Nido for a wet boarding of the boat (we had to wade out through the sea to get to our vessel). We then set off towards our first stop which was Helicopter Island, so named because from a distance the outline of the island looks like a chopper. Here we alighted onto the island where we were able to snorkel just off the coast. Unfortunately the coral here doesn’t appear to be in the best condition which was sad to see.
Hidden Beach was our next stop. Here we had to swim between 2 islands into a sheltered area that housed a beach with the limestone cliffs climbing up on all sides of you. The beach was lovely white sand and the water shallow making the whole places rather beautiful. Just be aware of the waves to get into the cove type area are pretty strong and the rocks beneath the surface are jagged and sharp so much so that Fraser got buffeted into one and it gouged a huge chunk out of his shin.
Next was Secret Beach. The entrance to here was even more difficult to get through than at Hidden Beach. It is accessed by swimming through a tunnel that has a current trying to pull you back out again, also there was the added difficulty of large rocks that made the depth suddenly shallow and threatened to skin your shins a second time. Once through the beach is small but stunning. It was particularly lovely when we first arrived as there was barely anyone there. Unfortunately after a little while the other boats started to arrive and the little cove began to fill up with all the other tour groups.
Our last stop of the day was Matinloc Shrine. We had to pay a little extra to get off the boat here and the shrine itself probably wasn’t worth it however there was a short climb up some steps in the limestone to an outlook point that had an impressive view over the coastline. I did have to wait out the photoshoot that was taking place at the top to finish and move out of the way to see it but once it had gone I was blown away by the beauty of the whole area.
We then went back to the town of El Nido for dinner Trattoria Altrove where it was worth standing in the queue to get in because the pizza it amazing.
Overall the tour was worth the hype. The islands around El Nido are truly gorgeous however this means that they attract tourists in their droves so you are certainly not alone in the idyllic paradise beaches, at times I had people swimming over the top of me to try and beat me to a site. We were given lunch on the boat which was plentiful. I believe that some of the rules about visiting the area are coming into force currently to try and reduce the amount of the damage tourism is causing the environment here because it is somewhere that certainly warrants protecting but as long as you treat it with respect I would highly recommend visiting here if you can, and tour C was awesome just make sure your have a decent waterproof camera.
Have you done any of the tours in El Nido? Can you recommend any of the other tours?