El Nido Palawan Itinerary

El Nido Island Hopping | Palawan tour with family

You have not truly traveled the Philippines if you’ve never been to Palawan. It is the country’s last frontier where you can immerse yourself in earth’s natural beauty.

I always thought of Palawan as touristy and expensive, but to my surprise it wasn’t that expensive. There are many B&B and cheap tours nowadays.

But indeed it’s tourist-packed, especially in December and during the summer months of March to May. Tourists from all over the world flock to this tropical paradise where spectacular seascapes/landscapes with rich wildlife and marine life can be found. That’s more than enough reason to travel here as turista sa sariling bayan.

Honda Bay

The first tour we did was at Honda Bay. We waited long for a boat ride because it was crowded with tourists. Most of them shifted to Honda Bay tour because their Underground River tour was cancelled due to the heavy rain and rough waves at Sabang that morning.  I heard some complaining, but we were patient enough to enjoy the nice beaches.

We went to Cowrie Island, where we had a buffet lunch, Pandan Island, Starfish Island, Snake Island and Luli Island, where you can have a wooden springboard dive.

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Underground River

The Underground River aka Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park was well worth visiting even though we waited long for our turn because of the number of visitors in line and the unfriendly waves at Sabang that was slowing the tour. It’s better to arrange the subterranean underground river tour with a local operator; if you don’t, it’s going to be more expensive and much of a hassle.

After the boat ride from Sabang, we were greeted with a beautiful limestone mountain landscape on the lovely shore with fine light beige sand.

While waiting for our turn, we enjoyed watching the adorable long-tailed macaques or Old World monkeys and monitor lizards crawling and climbing the trees.

Inside the dark underground cave, you’ll get to see some amazing rock formations such as the nativity scene. It stinks with bat urine and droppings which is normal for a large cave. I had my own headlamp which I use for multi-day camping but the banca guide, of course, was equipped with ultra-wide beam headlamp designed for caving. He kept talking about underground river facts, blurted out scripted jokes, but still funny nevertheless, and led us with what direction to look at for different types and shapes of stalagmites on the floor and stalactites at the ceiling.

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El Nido

The trip to El Nido was long and tiring, especially for my parents, but we did enjoy the lush green scenery and the beautiful sunset along the way.

It took us five hours to reach El Nido by van from Puerto Princesa. We then had a simple dinner in a local restaurant and walked around the town in the evening.

The night was lively. There were folk dances performed in their sports complex, yummy street foods and peryahan because it was their fiesta week. It was also nice to walk along the beach with the night’s cool breeze. I got myself a bottle of beer as beachfront bars were still open late night. Some were doing fire dances to freely entertain us.

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Island Hopping Tour

Part of our tour package was Island Hopping Tour C that includes a sumptuous seafood lunch by the beach on one of those islands we hopped on.

We went to Helicopter Island where we spent time snorkeling. Sadly, there were parts where I saw dead corals, especially on another island where we had our lunch. I saw a tv documentary though that they are rebuilding the coral reefs using artificial corals that reminded me of childhood jackstones.

Next, we sailed to Matinloc Shrine which has a nice overlooking view and the amazing Hidden Beach, where I got some scratches because you have to swim through the waters with sharp black coral stones underneath.

We weren’t able to see the Secret Beach because it was high tide with strong waves, making it dangerous to pass a small hole passage to get there.

Instead, they took us to the Big Lagoon, which I think is equally amazing with such clear bluish green waters.

While returning, I envied a couple kayaking their way back to El Nido Proper.

El Nido Palawan.
Early morning view from our El Nido hostel.
Matinloc Island view. El Nido. Saturated Brain.
Don’t forget to climb the stairs to the top of Matinloc Island for a breathtaking panoramic view.
Saturated Brain. El Nido, Palawan.
Entering the Big Lagoon.
El Nido, Palawan.
Relaxing at Hidden Beach.

The only thing that’s worrying is the huge waves in December which can hamper your island tours in El Nido and your visit to the Underground River. Palawan is facing South China Sea so that is expected here especially during monsoon season. During our boat tour, we experienced light rain.

And seriously, I had never encountered such big swells while riding a motorized boat for island hopping. The waves seemed monstrous while we’re on a regular-sized banca, it looked like we can be swallowed by the waves. Our boatmen deserve a salute – they were cool, collected and confident that nothing serious will happen and they maneuvered the boat very well. Mom and dad were holding hands together, scared during our island hopping ride. They kept saying it’s the most unforgettable and scariest experience of their lives. For someone with an adventurous spirit like me, it wasn’t that scary.

City Tour

Other places in Palawan we visited were the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, Baker’s Hill, Mitra’s Ranch, Souvenir Shops and Plaza Cuartel,  Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral and in the evening at Baywalk for a sumptuous seafood dinner.


It’s going to be definitely worth coming back to Palawan because there are plenty of other great places to visit like Port Barton, Tabon Caves, Mt. Mantalingahan and why not Tubbataha Reef. I’m such a dreamer!

Palawan Tour Proposed Itinerary & Quotation
iGo Travel and Tours

We however did the Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour first prior to enjoying El Nido because you might not appreciate Honda Bay that much after you spent time in the lovelier El Nido beaches. We also did the Puerto Princesa Tour last because our flight was delayed and there wasn’t enough time to do it all during the first day of our trip.

Contact: jracuya@yahoo.com (Jonel Racuya) / Rheyel – 09061074551

Package:  5D/4N Rickson’s Place- El Nido, Jlais Balai Turista- Puerto Princesa for 5 persons

Price/person: Php 9,500 (Twin/ Triple Sharing)  


12Noon – Arrival Check-in @ Jlais Balai Turista
1:00pm- Pick up for City Tour
Destinations: (Crocodile Farm, Baker’s Hill, Mitra’s Ranch, Souvenir Shop, Plaza Cuartel, Baywalk, Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral)
6:30pm- Back to Jlais Balai Turista
Free time


6:00am- Breakfast
6:45am Check-out @ Jlais Balai Turista,
7:00am Pick up time for Honda Bay tour with lunch (cowrie & pandan island)
2:00 pm Back to wharf
2:30 pm Bound To El Nido. May have stopover to eat. Travel time going to El Nido takes 5 ½- 6 hrs. (via tourist transport service)
Check-in @ Rickson’s Place Bed & Breakfast
Free time


7:00 am – Breakfast 8:30 am – Pick up time Island Tour C with lunch (Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Hidden Beach)
5:30-6:00 pm – Going back to accommodation.
Rest of the evening is free.

DAY 4    

6:00am- Breakfast/ Bound to Puerto Princesa Underground River
1:30pm- Tour Proper
4:30pm- Back to City proper
Check-in @ Jlais Balai Turista
End of the tour Back to accommodation

DAY 5                   

7:30-8:00am- Breakfast
10:00am Airport transfer / Departure**


  • 2 nights @ Rickson’s Place Bed & Breakfast El Nido (Twin/Triple/Quintuple Sharing )
  • 2 nights at Jlais Balai Turista Puerto Princesa (Twin/Triple/Quintuple Sharing)
  • 4 breakfasts & 3 lunch
  • Underground River Tour w/ lunch
  • Honda bay Island Hopping Tour w/ lunch
  • El Nido Island tour C w/ lunch
  • Services of an air-conditioned tourist van (Puerto Princesa – El Nido – Puerto Princesa)
  • Services of a licensed tourguide
  • Round trip airport transfers
  • Applicable boat fare, eco-tourism devt. fees, entrance fee, permits
  • Travel Safe Insurance

Does not include:

  • Airfare
  • Expenses of personal nature e.g. telephone calls, room service, laundry, and additional food or drinks
  • Extra hour room charges after the 12:00 noon standard hotel check-out time
  • Gratuities and tips to the tour guide and driver
  • Snorkeling and other swimming gears

Deposits & Billing Procedure – Upon confirmation, they require a deposit equivalent to 50% of the total estimated charges and the balance to be settled ten (10) days prior to your arrival. Payments should be made through bank deposit.

Exclusivity – Rates quoted and arrangements made shall apply to a minimum guaranteed number of persons indicated above.

4arrowDownload PDF version of Palawan Itinerary

(Puerto Princesa City Tour with Underground River and El Nido Island Hopping Tour)

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