Skip to main content

El Nido Experience with Northern Hope Tours

Being in the water is so enlivening that I just had to start my weeklong birthday trip in Palawan. As one of the  Philippines' most popular island destination, it's where one can enjoy beautiful beaches and a clear, vast underwater world teeming with colorful fishes and corals. 
island hopping in El Nido, Palawan
Even if I was traveling alone, the steady influx of travelers in this island paradise made it easy and budget-friendly for me to go island hopping. Unless you want a customized itinerary, there's no need to hire your own boat. You can either ask the receptionist at your lodging or look for a reliable operator in town and they'll find you a group to join.  
road to El Nido town proper
Northern Hope Tours,  a tour operator in El Nido took good care of me on this trip. From Manila, I took a flight to Puerto Princesa International Airport. Located in the provincial capital, it's about 5-6 hours away. You can commute by public transpo which can be a hassle.  Making it more convenient, Northern Hope had arranged for an aircon van to pick me up at the airport, along with other clients. (NOTE : Air Swift offer direct flights from Manila to Lio Airport in El Nido  but schedules are limited and fares can be expensive. Given the time and budget, I'd like to try this option in the future.)

With two nights in El Nido, I was able to join one island hopping tour and a private trip to Nacpan beach. I could have done more but this relaxed itinerary gave me plenty of free time. I was able to walk around town and try different restaurants and cafes (being a foodie and coffee addict, how could I not?!). 
Helicopter island, first island stop in Tour C. 
In El Nido, there are 4 types of island hopping tours called A, B, C & D. Tours A & C are the popular ones - which also mean, more people. B & D according to our very funny and knowledgeable guide Kuya Lito are just as beautiful and less crowded.

Being a water baby, I went with tour C, recommended  for those who love snorkeling and dipping in the water. We had to do a little trekking and some diving underwater in two of the islands which is really fun though a bit strenuous (depending on sea conditions). I remember, my feet barely touched the sea floor in most of the islands we visited. They do provide you with life vests but I never liked wearing one when in the water because I want to be able to move freely. 
Lunch :)
Rate for Tour C is 1,400 Pesos/head inclusive of a filling lunch and 5 island stops - Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Star Beach (NOTE: If going to Matinloc Shrine, you need to pay an entrance fee of 100 Pesos). 

Rates for other island hopping packages offered by Northern Hope Tours are here.  
With the new friends I met on this tour. Most of them are from the Northern Hope basketball team who
are in town for a tournament. As a former athlete myself, I find it so cool to be able to travel and play your fave game!
The next day, I was picked up by a tricycle driven by Kuya Nelson. He took me to Nacpan beach,  another popular beach destination an hour away by tricycle/motorbike from El Nido town. What a ride it was. The first part was scenic, passing on a road carved  on a mountainside and some plantation fields. The latter part of the ride was on a super bumpy, dirt road which Kuya expertly navigated. Though most parts were dry, we still struggled on some sections as the road was so uneven, like surfing on hardened marshmallows! 

The tasking ride rewarded us with a beautiful beach. No wonder it's very popular. I wasted no time getting in the water. It was quite wavy so I stayed close to shore. The sand felt soft and powdery. Scooping it with my hands, it felt like holding whipped cream. :)
Nacpan beach
After swimming, I sat at one of the rental beach chairs (it's 200 Pesos for two beach chairs). Set up near the water, you can lay down while enjoying the breeze and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. 

While Nacpan beach still has a raw appeal, there are already some development around the area. I do have mixed feelings about this but if it will help more people earn a decent living, why not? I just hope they keep the resorts as far from the shoreline as possible.  During my visit, I saw at least one hostel and some rental cottages (thankfully, both were within reasonable distance from the shore) and a couple of stores where I ordered lunch - buttered shrimp with rice (220 Pesos) and buko juice (80 Pesos) (Suggestion : get two sets if you have a big appetite, hihi). 

After the short trip to Nacpan beach, Kuya Nelson took me back to my lodge. There are  plenty of other things to do around El Nido like the Canopy walk, sunset viewing and more (See Lakas ng Trip's post here) but like I said earlier, I wanted a very relaxed pace on this trip. I just took it easy before I returned to Puerto Princesa the next day. 

DIY (Do It Yourself) trips are fun and give you the freedom to move at your own pace but when traveling to a destination like El Nido, it's really much more convenient  to avail the services of a tour operator,  especially if you're going solo on island hopping trips. 

***Blog post to be continued***

This hike is part of my week long birthday trip. Hope you can also take the time to read my other posts on this. :) 
Leg 1 : El Nido Experience with Northern Hope Tours (You're here!:))| Walking Around El Nido Town (to follow)

I stayed at Overcomer Lodge which is just a short tricycle ride from the town proper (it's easy to get a trike here). There are cafes, stores and restaurants nearby so it's not isolated. Rooms are very basic but comfortable. No icky vibe. Rates at 1,300++ to 1700++. All rooms have aircon and a private t&b. You can see the room photos and book discounted rates on Agoda here.

Reliable tour operator in Palawan : 
Norther Hope Tours
Mobile Numbers :
(+63) 939-902-2216 (Smart) | (+63) 927-735-3221 (Globe) | (+63) 942-375-2441 (Sun)

Facebook Page :
Services : El Nido island hopping & land tours, accommodation, Van transfers from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and back (600 Pesos/person, one way), private van (6,000 Pesos/van, one way), Puerto Princesa Tours

Helpful Blogs : 
Lakas ng Trip | Top Things to do in El Nido  
Travel in Boots | El Nido Travel Guide

NOTE : While most of the expenses on this trip are from my own pocket, Northern Hope hosted my tour and accommodation in El Nido & Puerto Princesa. Thank you! :)

Popular posts from this blog

Part 2 : Bataan Adventures | Where to Eat in Bataan (Updated 2017)

Being an avid hiker and foodie, I've grown very fond of visiting  Bataan.  This province offers several hiking trails (check my post here) passing verdant forests and nicely decorated cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a proper cup of coffee and affordable comfort food. It is also highly accessible from Manila via land travel, making it a good option for a short but rewarding out of town adventure. 

Here's a list of restaurants in Bataan where you can enjoy satisfying meals. 

The restaurant's name which means little angels (male) was inspired by the owner's 3 young boys, Miguel (after St. Michael), Rafael and Gabriel.This 2 year old family owned restaurant has a homey ambiance and serves any type of food that the family enjoys.

Dishes are flavorful and priced affordably -100 Pesos above for the main dishes and 20 Pesos above for the desserts.Specialty includes, pork binagoongan and creamy tofu (my fave!). The restroom which has a mini garden is als…

Hiking in La Trinidad : Mt. Yangbew

To kickoff 2017, I  returned to the Cordillera region with one of my closest friends, Jules. We wanted to take it easy  so we decided to try a couple of short but very scenic trails in Benguet I found online (References posted below). 

Barangay Tawang in La Trinidad,the capital of the province of Benguet  is less than an hour from Baguio city and features several accessible, scenic mountain trails - Mt. Yangbew (also known as Mt. Jambo), Tayawan view deck and Mt. Kalugong. These are all beginner-friendly or as the younger Pinoy millenials would say, pabebe-friendly. :P
Since we were taking a super early bus ride,  (1:30 AM early! :P), we made sure  we got nice, comfy seats. Fortunately, with 3 days prior to the trip, we were able to book online via iWantSeats.

In five hours, we arrived in the City of Pines and walked towards Session Road to hunt for a hotel. Fortunately, a vacant room was immediately available at Benguet Prime Hotel so we were able to leave our bags.  We took our sweet t…

12 Useful things to Bring on your First Mountain Hike

Hiking has become very popular in the Philippines that it's now easier to find a mountain and come up with your own itinerary  or join an organized group. (Read 10 Tips on How to be a Good Climb Participant
If you're heading out to your first mountain hike and thinking of what to bring, here are a couple of tips. Note that this list was created as a guide and not a mandatory checklist. The items featured are based on what I observed to be  useful when hiking in tropical weather.

7 Hiking Tips for Beginners | 8 Essentials for Rainy Day Hikes by Basekamp PH

1.  Footwear
Footwear should enhance your experience outdoors and protect you from injury. There are shoes designed specifically for hiking but I encourage you to research the mountain  first before purchasing hiking shoes. Will there be sections where you need to cross rivers? How long will you be hiking?If the mountain has a clear and established trail that normally won't take more than 4 hours to complete, you can very w…