El Nido, Palawan is probably best known for their island tours. There are four tours – A, B, C, and D. Each tour takes you to different nearby islands and beaches. I’ve been dreaming of Tour A for months now, waiting to finally see the islands and lagoons in person.
Josh, Alvin, and I were up and ready to go by 8:15AM, eager to be on time for when the tour guide picked us up. By 8:45 we were still waiting, and worried that they forgot about us. Turns out they couldn’t find our Airbnb location. A little late, we made it to the port where everyone gathered to begin the tour. By the time we all got on our banka, the sun was out and beaming. I picked a spot right in the front of the boat, with open air and the best view. It was about a 40-minute ride to our first destination and we got to talk to our tour guide, Arnel, who was funny and really nice.
Big Lagoon was the one location that popped into my dreams the most these past few months. I would dream about being up close and personal in between two limestone formations. Passing through it, everyone on our boat took turns taking pictures in the front. Getting that epic photo at this location was a must. Alvin, Josh, and I found some comfy spots to sit on the outside of the boat near the bamboo sticks. We slowly passed through Big Lagoon, taking in every second of it.
Our tour guide kept joking that our next location was going to be a secret. By the time we got there he joked, “It’s not a secret anymore!” After our boat set anchor, we had a short swim to a small opening in the mountain. This crevasse took us to a misty little lagoon, maybe enough to comfortably fit about 30 people at a time. There was the most breathtaking view as we looked up, where we were encompassed by more limestone in every direction.
Entalula is actually not a part of Tour A, but Tour B. Our original destination was full of boats so we improvised, and I was still just as satisfied. We stopped here and snorkeled while waiting for our tour guides to cook up our lunch (which was included in the 1200 we paid for the tour). The coral isn’t as pretty as it is in other locations, but it was still neat getting to see some of the beautiful fish on the island. Lunch was well worth the wait – it was delicious! An array of squid, pork, shrimp, fruit, and more. It was probably one of my favorite meals that I’ve had on our trip so far. You can never go wrong with authentic Filipino BBQ.
How do I even begin to describe this location. Josh and I joke that it’s “majestical” because there’s no other word that can describe both what we saw and how we felt being there. At this location, you can either snorkel or rent a kayak or paddle board. Most people kayak but we wanted to dabble in some stand-up yoga paddleboarding while we were there. To get to the lagoon, you have to fit yourself through a small crevasse, which is only accessible if the tide is low. I can remember how I felt as I entered Small Lagoon. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and couldn’t believe that a place like this was real. We paddled through the lagoon (which was a little difficult since I somehow ended up with kayak paddles instead), and found a comfy spot to try doing some headstands in the water… All of us fell trying to do so. When our stay was coming to an end, I couldn’t help but be disappointed we only stayed for around 40-minutes. There was so much more I wanted to do and see in that little sanctuary of a lagoon. I’ll definitely be back there again one day.
Our last stop was Seven Commando Beach. We spent our entire stay here drinking coconuts and playing volleyball with our tour guide and more locals. Me and Alvin’s team lost (every time) and Josh and Arnel’s team won all the games. Sweaty and covered in sand from diving for balls, we all got a pretty good workout from the few games we played. Playing the local’s way means that almost anything goes. The boys and I agreed it was the best game of volleyball we’ve ever played.
As our tour came to an end, I couldn’t believe that what I waited for for months was now going to be part of my own memory. No more watching other people’s videos of the tour, but reliving my own memories myself. If I could do it all over again I would! I’d love to take my mom and family out here one day so they can experience it too. If you’re in El Nido, experiencing this is a must. There are tours offered at almost every corner of the town, so it’s fairly easy to find and book.