10 March 2018

When In El Nido, Palawan - Island Hopping (Tour C) with Northern Hope Tours

I am intensely OC when it comes to anything and that includes traveling. I'd love to be the adventurous happy-go-lucky type, but there will always be a part of me that just wanted a fixed itinerary even before going. Of course, that went well and my heart was at ease with having pre-booked tours with Northern Hope Tours, a travel company based in El Nido that offers island hopping tours and van transfers both in Puerto Princesa City and El Nido.

Matinloc Shrine - a part of Tour C

Our Palawan trip was dedicated entirely on El Nido and you can't say that you've been to El Nido for sure if you haven't tried out any of their island hopping tours. Sure, the municipality is a destination in itself as it offers tons of food establishments to visit, inland tours to try out, and white sand beaches to enjoy, but the beauty of El Nido definitely lies within its numerous islands.

During our first day, we were able to experience Tour C. To break it down to you, almost all of the tour companies in El Nido basically offer four tours. Tour A includes Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Secret Lagoon and Seven Commandos Beach. Tour B includes Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave. Tour C includes Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Star Beach. Lastly, Tour D includes Bukal Island, Ipil Beach, Nat-Nat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon and Paradise Beach. What differs is the price and of course the service that each one offers. Let me share more about how Northern Hope Tours exceeded my expectations later.

We were expected to start the tour by 9 in the morning. Our tour guide, Ryan, picked us up at our hotel a little before 9 in the morning. By 9, we were already gathered at the port together with the other members of our tour. There were 17 of us in total but it was still very spacious in the boat. Before leaving, we were reminded of basic rules to be observed in the boat such as keeping the life vest on at all times while on the boat and even outside the boat especially for those who do not know how to swim. We were accompanied during the rest of the day by our tour guide, his assistant, our boat driver, and two other assistants who helped in maneuvering the boat.

Leaving the port

Helicopter Island

For the first part of our tour, we were introduced to Helicopter Island. It was called as such because it looks like a helicopter from the top. Obviously, we weren't able to see that for ourselves. But for sure, we were able to see and experience the white sand beach that it offers. We stayed here for at least 30 minutes. Some went swimming and snorkeling, while I spent the entire time climbing trees, enjoying the view, taking photos and having my photo taken by my blogger friends and our tour guide.

Ryan makes sure to introduce every destination before alighting the boat. He also tells us what we can do and how many minutes are we going to spend on each destination.
Helicopter Island
The view's amazing anywhere you look
Helicopter Island from afar

Hidden Beach 

The next part of Tour C was a visit to the Hidden Beach. From the boat, everyone has to swim to see the beach. I suggest you bring an waterproof action camera with you or at least a water proof case for your phone if you wanted to take photos because you would really need to swim in the ocean to get to the beach. Otherwise, you could rent a GoPro at Northern Hope Tours for P1000 per day. During those times, I do not bring with my SLR with me anymore, but use my phone instead. We didn't spend much time at the Hidden Beach. Probably just 30 minutes and that includes the swim to and from the boat. It is more of a sightseeing visit than lounging in the beach kind of thing. 

Vendors in kayak sell buko juice and ice cold beer at the Hidden Beach 
While everyone is out swimming, lunch is being prepared
Boats docked at the Hidden Beach

Talisay Beach

The third place that we visited is the Talisay Beach. I tell you that this place is heavenly!! The part where we stayed at was quite small because the rest of the beach was filled with other tourists and boats, but I noticed that the sand was extremely fine and the water was absolutely clear. I could even see fishes roaming around from the boat. We stayed here for at least 1 hour because we had our lunch here. They gave us 30 minutes free time to roam around the beach and to snorkel and swim and another 30 to have our meal. I am still amazed at how they prepare the food. They cook everything at the other end of the boat. We had freshly grilled seafood and meat, meticulously decorated veggies and fruits by lunch time. 

Snorkeling and swimming at Talisay Beach
The boat used for our tour
Freshly cooked dishes being carried out of our boat
Lunch is comprised of grilled fish, meat, and squid, fresh vegetables, shrimp, and fresh fruits
Group photo with the Tour C squad

Secret Beach

After lunch at Talisay beach, we headed out to the Secret Beach. Just like in Hidden Beach, everyone has to swim out again to reach the beach. This time, we had to go through a small passage way to witness the beach. If you are wondering if lack of swimming skills would prevent you from enjoying this tour, it would absolutely not. One, they provide you a reliable life vest for you to use. Also, our tour guides actually would offer to pull you back to the boat if swimming is quite a problem for you (especially when you're going against the current). Our tour guides suggest not taking photos of the Secret Beach to maintain its mystery. I like that idea. :) 

Empty boat at the Secret Beach
Boats docked at the Secret Beach
People being pulled back to their respective boats (Also in this photo: #kapitlangbes)

Matinloc Shrine

On the last leg of our tour, we headed to Matinloc Shrine. It is a nice stop where you could get a breathtaking view of the beautiful scenery.  We were asked to pay P100 as entrance fee and I believe that is used for the maintenance of the place. Here, we had to take a few steps up the peak of a small cliff. We had to take turns in taking photos and it is nice that everyone in our group was patient in waiting for his or her turn. There's nothing much to see here but the view from up the cliff is worth seeing.

Matinloc Shrine
Quick hike up the viewing point

Tours usually end by 4 PM but our tour ended at around 4:30 in the afternoon and we were able to get back to the port by 5:30. We ended quite late because our tour guides did not want to rush us in each of the destinations that we went on that day. They gave us ample time to enjoy and to take photos. It was quite an adventurous tour since we spent most of the time swimming and snorkeling. If you don't have much time in El Nido, I suggest taking this tour together with Tour A (which I will be writing about in another post) because they cover the must-see places in El Nido.

Tour C with Northern Hope Tours costs P1400 per head. I think it's 200 pesos more than the rest of the other tours but it is all worth it. The places to be visited are quite farther than the ones offered in other tours. Also, this covers the entire tour for the day including lunch, use of life vest, mask, and snorkel. I suggest you pre-book your tours with Northern Hope Tours for that hassle-free vacation.

Visit Northern Hope Tours at Calle Real, Brgy. Masagana, El Nido, Palawan. Don't forget to check them out online:

You may also contact them here:
E-mail - northernhopetours@gmail.com
Mobile Numbers - (+63) 939-902-2216 (Smart)
(+63) 927-735-3221 (Globe)
(+63) 942-375-2441 (Sun)

XO, Mish


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