Want to see one of the most beautiful beaches in the world?
Head to El Nido in the Philippines.
On top of the island itself being gorgeous, you can also take four different island hopping tours in El Nido! These take you to even more beautiful places for snorkeling, kayaking, sunbathing, and sometimes even history learning.
Everyone recommends tours A and C in El Nido for optimal fun and island exploration. Tour A is recommended for its kayaking and Tour C is recommended for having the most beautiful beaches.
But what are these tour packages really like? What should you know before you go? Should you even go on one?!
This post exists to answer those questions and more, starting with Tour A! Here’s my review of the Tour A package in El Nido, and some things you should know before you go.
Tour A Package Review
Okay, instead of a traditional review, I broke this down into questions so it’s easier to scroll through the parts you actually care about.
And if you want the nitty gritty information like price, fees, and departure point, it’s always best to check out official Tour A websites for the most up to date information- not random blogs!
I hate tours! Do I really need one to explore the islands?
I know sometimes the word tour can be offputting, but in this case, it’s the only way to see these islands. They’re actually great because going with a guide controls unfettered tourism. This will keep the islands less damaged so future people can enjoy them too. You can go with different companies, but they’ll all stop in the same places.
Why should I go on tour A?
If you don’t like being around people, I wouldn’t recommend tour A. You’re in a boat with maybe 10 others, and there are other boats all going to the same places. If you’re wealthy and anti-social, or want to customize the stops, you can book your own private tour.
And if what you want out of your trip to the Philippines is snorkeling along the most colorful corals and fish, I recommend checking out other places in the Philippines like Cebu instead. For me personally, other parts of the Philippines have better snorkeling than the places we went to as part of El Nido’s Tour A.
But if you want beautiful limestone rock formations, white sand beaches, and perfect warm, clear turquoise water, El Nido is where you should be (I didn’t really edit these pictures! This is really what the tour A stops are like!). And these tours are a great opportunity to get you up close to more than what just the main island offers.
I personally loved tour A. There was so much beauty above the water to appreciate, and I love being in beautiful places I’ve never seen before!
How long is Tour A?
It’s about 8 hours. Don’t show up late because the boat will wait for you, which is nice for the late people, but totally selfish and sucks for the people who are on time. We had to wait for an hour for a hungover hostel person. No one was happy. Don’t be the hungover hostel person.
8 hours?! Is there food?
Yes! You’re in the Philippines- they’re going to feed you a huge and delicious meal. When we went, it was grilled chicken, shrimp, and fish, rice, smoked eggplant salad, vinegar and cucumbers, and the freshest fruit ever.
If you have dietary restrictions, I’d double check with your tour company if they can accommodate them before the tour. There are also drinks for sale at most of the islands.
What was the best part about tour A in El Nido?
I absolutely loved kayaking through the Big Lagoon. It was so beautiful and peaceful, and it’s a nice way to experience the formations. Sure it’s a bit crowded, but there are some parts where you can get away from everyone if you look.
If you don’t know how or aren’t able to kayak, you can hire someone while on the island to kayak for you. My mom and aunts did this, and it was their favorite part of the tour too!
What was the worst part of Tour A?
Honestly, for me because I’m old, 8 hours was too long. The beauty, while stunning, is pretty similar between the islands. Plus I don’t like being cold, wet, or attacked by wind sand. If you’re a less grumpy person, the length will be fine. But if there were a half priced, half day option that included the kayaking, I probably would have done that.
Why tour A?
Things to know about Tour A
Book your tour in advance. Especially if you’re interested in Tours A or C, it’s safest to just book in advance to secure your spot because they’re the most popular. We were lucky and were able to book the day before with the hotel, but most people did tell us we wouldn’t be able to book that close.
Dont bring a plastic water bottle on the tour. This is not allowed on the tour. They weren’t super strict about regulating it for tourists, but following this guidance is just better for the environment. El Nido used to be super trashed and especially with single use plastics. It wasn’t the tourist destination it is today until it got cleaned up. So please help maintain it by following their signs.
Take out your trash. Related to the first, don’t leave the beautiful beaches of El Nido (and, really, anywhere) trashed. Take your non biodegradable trash out with you if you can’t throw it away, including cigarette butts (which don’t biodegrade).
Bring waterproof bags/cases for your stuff. You can buy the waterproof bags and phone cases right before the tour if you forget. But if you already have these, don’t forget to pack them! The bags/cases sold right before aren’t always the best quality. Even if you plan to just sunbathe on the islands, you have to swim a bit to get there from the boat, so you’ll want any electronics to stay dry.
Maybe bring wet shoes for the rocks. Or bring money to rent them. If you didn’t pack wet shoes, you can rent them right before the tour, which totally works and is pretty inexpensive. They ask that you have something like this to protect your feet before you get on the boat.
You don’t need to know how to swim well to go on these tours. Okay, I know the above mentions swimming, but I really don’t know how to do it. Thanks to my life jacket and ability to kind of paddle forward, I was able to make it and still had a ton of fun! Don’t let not knowing how to swim stop you (but also don’t take off your life jacket, because the water can be deep. And let you guide know so they can keep an eye out).
Technically, the tour guides get in trouble if you take off your life jacket during kayaking. Even if you do know how to swim, you’re technically supposed to leave yours on during the kayaking part of the tour. Sure, lifejackets don’t look as good on Instagram, but our guide said that they can get fined if people take them off. Unless the rules change, I will let you decide if you care more about pictures or other people.
Bring money for drinks and kayaking. During the tour, some of the islands sell drinks. The tour gives you water at lunch, but in case you want something more (like… buko rhum…). Also kayaking costs money, so bring money for that as well. Snorkeling gear was included in our tour A package though.
Leave a tip. If you liked your tour guide, leave a tip! My mom is that person in the US who doesn’t tip at restaurants, but she tipped on this tour. If her cold, non-tipping soul tipped on this tour, then you can too.
And that’s my review of the island hopping tour A in El Nido! Would you go on tour A? What other questions do you have? Let me know in the comments!