Having been blessed with one of the most captivating, jaw-dropping sceneries in the country, Palawan offers no less than an incomparable experience and picture perfect images of lush greenery, pristine white sand beaches, virgin forests, and a number of Unesco-declared heritage sites that will surely capture the hearts of anyone who is able to pay a visit in this famed province.
From the towering marble cliffs and enchanting lagoons to its white sandy beaches and lush jungle, El Nido is one of the top tourist destinations in Palawan, which is often referred to as the Philippines’ Last Frontier. National Geographic Traveler’s magazine, has chosen El Nido as one of the best travel destinations in the world. It is likewise known for its coral reefs and serves as the gateway to the Bacuit archipelago, a group of islands with steep cliffs.
To explore these islands, tourists must book with tour operators for private or joiner tours. With hundreds of tour operators scattered around town, choosing the best tour operator can be very overwhelming. After a careful evaluation of reviews on Trip Advisor and blogs, I decided to go with Binibini Travels. They were undoubtedly a reputable company as they had been known for being environmentally conscious and they played an essential role in sustainable tourism in El Nido. You would be pleased to know that they donate majority of their profit to provide school supplies to kids in Elementary schools.
I absolutely had no regrets taking their tours. The guide on the tours was approachable, fun, easy-going, professional, informative and—most importantly—communicative. They would write down details of upcoming stops during both tours. I was very impressed. I was also satisfied on how Binibini Travels handled the trip.
Getting two days filled with Island Hopping tours with Binibini Travels was awesome! We had Tour A and C. The best thing about them was that their boats would take off just a little after other groups had left, which meant we would have the space of each stop to ourselves. It was really nice to get that kind of “just us alone” atmosphere for short when others had left.
The following are the inclusions for all of the tours:
- Licensed big boat
- Licensed tour guide
- Hotel pick-up
- Buffet lunch with drinks
- Mask & snorkel
- Life vest & water safety equipment
Please visit their Facebook page if you want to learn more about other island hopping tours that isn’t included here. Besides, they also offer many other activities that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Tour A (Lagoons & Snorkeling)
Unfortunately, my husband has been under the weather so, I went with his friend, Francois. My husband and I had both taken this tour on our first visit to El Nido so, it would be nice for Francois to see it for the first time. I was looking forward to see how the islands and the tours had been since my first visit in 2013.
The El Nido Tour A Lagoons and Beaches tour will take you to the most awe inspiring rock formations and lagoons which can only be found in Bacuit Bay. The tour will take you to the following lagoons and beaches:
7 Commando Beach
Normally, this would be the last stop of Tour A but the tour operator decided to do the tour in reverse to avoid the crowd. Seven Commandos is named after the 7 remaining Japanese commandos who lived in the island as straglers after World War II.
The island has a long white sandy beach lined with palms trees. This is a laid back beach just a couple minutes off the coast of El Nido town. There are plenty of beach huts to lounge by and bars to get that island drink.
As you enter a small swim through hole on board a kayak or swimming through, you will see the tranquil turquoise-green waters of Small Lagoon of its orchid-lined limestone walls, a showcase a kaleidoscope of marine life.
You might want to hold your jaw as you enter the Big Lagoon because the rock formations and crystal clear waters are certainly jaw-dropping. Its beauty is beyond words. It is one of the clearest waters I’ve seen in my life. This area is the most ideal place to go snorkeling or simply to stay put and mesmerize on the beauty of this wonder.
This is where we’re supposed to have our buffet lunch on a small, shaded beach. Unfortunately, the beach was full but, the boat crew managed to transform our boat into a ‘floating restaurant’. We dined while floating in the sea with the gorgeous views of surrounding island.
There were fish, mussels, squid, seaweed, chicken, pork, rice, fruit, and tomato and egg salad served. You’ll have a breeze having your lunch here.
Secret Lagoon is located in a small island reminiscent of the movie “the Beach” surrounded by limestone karst cliffs. As you enter into a small hole, you will see a massive caldera that was once a cave which collapsed and now is surrounded by karst cliffs. In the middle is a lagoon.
Tour C (Beaches & Shrines)
Luckily, my husband got better so he was able to join me on the next tour. We were looking forward to discover the amazing rock formations and hidden beaches, which provided inspiration to Alex Garland, on writing his novel “The Beach”, whilst the author was living in El Nido. Recently, the film “Bourne Legacy” was shot and filmed in the islands of Dilumacad and Matinloc.
The name says it all. I’m telling you that the is shaped like a helicopter if you look at it from a distance. You would want to see how blue the waters were in this area, but it’s not blue when you’re in the water. It’s more than clear like a pool. Feel free to snorkel or just lie on the beach.
Behind a curtain of jagged limestone lies a shallow bay that opens up into a cathedral of black stone walls filled with crystal clear water. This beach cannot be seen from open sea. You’ll have to swim for five minutes ten it gets to be waist to knee deep as you walk to the beach tucked in on the left hand side. Better to try to float as the corals and rocks can scratch you.
Matinloc Snorkeling Spot
On my last visit, admission to Matinloc Shrine was still free. Came last year, the owner imposed a 100-peso entrance fee to the island. It was a bummer since the view on the top of the cliff was to die for! Anyways, our boat crew served a sumptuous lunch on our ‘floating restaurant’ so, in a way, all was good. After a short siesta, it was worth it to take a dip and follow the reef to see a rich life underwater.
Separated from the ocean through a small keyhole-like opening, Secret Beach is only accessible by swimming through this door size opening through a narrow crevice in a rock wall. The Tour Guide awaits you on the side of the opening, waits for the water to gush out then he grabs you and throws you in… Here you’ll see a beach surrounded by limestone cliffs which cannot be seen from open sea.
With the overcrowding in Secret Beach, our boat crew decided to take us to snorkeling area to cap the day off. Everyone gloriously commended their initiative to offer an alternative so tourists can experience the best of the tour. I followed along the reef and saw a rich marine life almost like in Raja Ampat. I am so pleased to see that there is still so much marine life in this side of the world.
Las Cabañas Beach Sunset Tour
Our tour finished early so Franco from Binibini Travels suggested to head over to Las Cabañas Beach to witness the golden sunset. My husband and I had no prior plans after the tour and we were leaving the next day so… why not?!
Las Cabañas Beach holds its name from Las Cabanas Resort, one of the oldest resort in El Nido. It is a very good place to relax, sun bathe and swim. Unlike the beach in El Nido, the waters here are clean and pristine with so much marine life. There are several restaurants and bars along the beach which offers beach beds and umbrellas. The beach is facing west so, it is one of the best spots to witness the sunset.
Overall, both island hopping tours left us both exhilarated and pleasantly exhausted. I highly encourage you to do as many island hopping tours as you like and don’t miss A or C—these ones are the most popular! My tip for you is to book the day or night before because tours are so popular they’d often fill up fast.
“We are a travel group that rides the waves of El Nido, exploring one majestic island after another. We aim to satisfy your island hopping & beach cravings.”
Address: Rizal St., El Nido Palawan, Philippines
Facebook: Binibini Travels
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Viber & mobile: +639219820263
For direct booking inquiry, kindly fill-out this form: http://goo.gl/forms/1Fcxh6CwfpoNRQbD2
*We were invited to tour with Binibini Travels in return for our honest and open review. The views and opinions expressed on this post are purely ours and not influenced by the hotel and its affiliates in any way.