El Nido is synonymous with the many tours of its crown jewel, Bacuit Bay. But with just about every man with a boat offering a tour, (and believe me there are A LOT of boats!) how do you choose the right one? We recommend El Nido Boutique Art Café. An established and reputed tour company which also offers excellent food right on the beachfront, it runs high quality tours at an affordable price. We chose to do Kayak Tour A with them, which includes the price of kayak rental for the lagoons. Many tour companies don’t give you this option, instead charging tourists when they arrive for use of the kayaks at an inflated price!
So what does Tour A include?
With El Nido Boutique Art Café we visited Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Hidden Lagoon, Simizu Island and Seven Commando Beach. A perk of doing the tour with the El Nido Boutique Art Café is that you get to eat your lunch at the most stunning beach next to the Hidden Lagoon. Most tours were all crowded onto the same stretch of sand for lunch, so we felt very smug with our secluded paradise! You get given 45-50 minutes at each stop and then an hour or so to enjoy the delicious spread at lunch.
First stop, the Small Lagoon
After speeding across the iridescent blue waters for 25 minutes we arrived at our first destination: the small lagoon. Our tour guide explained to us that we would be kayaking from the boat into the lagoon as the boat was too big to go inside! Safe to say, Kieron and I aren’t the most experienced kayakers, so the task ahead seemed a little daunting! We had gorgeous weather but for some reason the sea was really choppy, so the kayaking was more like white water rafting! After having navigated our way round the other boats, kayakers, and swimmers, we finally got to the entrance of the lagoon.
It was as jaw droppingly beautiful as we’d imagined. A cathedral of karst cliffs encircling crystal clear water. It was easy to see why this was one of the most photographed spots in the Philippines. Our guide saw our amazement and told us, just you wait until you see the Big Lagoon. He wasn’t wrong!!
The Big Lagoon: ticking off our bucketlist with El Nido Boutique Art Café
After nearly capsizing the kayak trying to get back on the boat, we were off to the Big Lagoon! Kieron and I were so excited as we’d been wanting to visit this natural wonder for years. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to get THAT coveted photo, due to the popularity of the stop but we were so wrong!
Luckily the Big Lagoon’s size means that you can still get your own private spot! After following our guide, we found an idyllic part of the lagoon. It was better than we could’ve possibly imagined. The clarity and vividness of the water was like nothing we’d ever seen before. Combined with the stunning backdrop of towering cliffs, it was truly paradise.
Even pictures don’t do this gorgeous place justice.
It’s the kind of place where the tranquillity of the surroundings is so breathtaking, you forget you’re even on a tour!
Props to El Nido Boutique Art Café for timing it perfectly so we could see the lagoon lit up by the sun but without the scores of peak time tourists!
It’s worth coming to Palawan for the Big Lagoon alone, so if you do anything, make sure its Kayak Tour A!
Next stop Hidden Lagoon and an El Nido Boutique Art Café lunchtime special
Once again our tour guide’s timing was everything and we arrived at the hidden lagoon, just as the previous tours had departed meaning we had it to ourselves!
However, the real highlight here was the incredible beach adjacent to the hidden lagoon. Kieron and I were shocked that we had this slice of paradise as our lunch spot!
I mean, could you ask for a better view than this?!
If the views weren’t good enough, the spread they put on for lunch was even better!
Delicious BBQed fish, tasty skewers and the juiciest mango you ever did see! We were in foodie heaven, and it was exactly what needed after our morning kayak.
After lunch, we lazed in the sun and took photos of what was now one of our favourite ever beaches!
We were even joined by a furry companion…
It was so hard saying goodbye to this spot, but it was time for some snorkelling!
Simizu Island: a snorkelling haven
The next destination was a beach and snorkelling spot. Our guide showed us the best places to snorkel, and we spent the next 45 minutes exploring the coral reefs!
There was an abundance of different types of fish and the water was beautifully clear. Audrey even managed to get a few minutes of tanning time on the island’s white sand beach.
Soon we were jetting off to our final destination – Seven Commando Beach.
The last stop on the El Nido Boutique Art Café Tour: Seven Commando Beach
As we drew closer to the beach, we could already see how unreal the colour of the water was here!
It was so nice to relax and unwind on the picture perfect sand, and dip a toe in the warm water.
There was even time for a coconut stop!
The late afternoon sun made for the perfect lighting. This was definitely one of our favourite beaches in SE Asia.
We were very sad when the tour was over, if only every day could be spent revelling in such exquisite scenery! Thanks to El Nido Boutique Art Café for the impeccable service and professionalism of their staff.
The price of Kayak Tour A is 1900PHP, which includes kayak and snorkel gear rental, and a slap-up lunch on the beach.
We recommend bringing a dry bag as your things will get wet otherwise! It’s better to have peace of mind, especially if you’re a novice kayaker like us… We purchased one in El Nido Town for 150PHP (after some serious haggling).
Another useful investment are some water shoes, some of the coral can be very sharp and there are also many sea urchins in the area!
Free water is included in the price of your ticket, and you can also purchase beer/soft drinks onboard the boat.