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With its stunning limestone formations rising majestically above the turquoise water, El Nido is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. To visit and snorkel the area, you’ll have 4 standardized boat tours (A, B, C and D) to choose from, with different destinations. Tour A, leading to the world-famous Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon, is El Nido’s most popular excursion. The included snorkeling stops, around Shimizu Island and Paglugaban Island, are some of the best of the archipelago.

School of rabbitfish
A school of spinefoot and surgeonfish of different species.

Practical information about El Nido Tour A

El Nido is a village in the north of the island of Palawan. This is the starting point for tours to visit the Bacuit archipelago, made up of 45 paradisiacal islands bordered by coral reefs. Tours in the Bacuit archipelago (“island hopping”) are standardized: all local agencies offer tours called Tour A, Tour B, Tour C and Tour D, with the same itinerary.

These day tours combine visits to different sites, as well as one or more snorkeling stops. Tour A costs 1200 pesos pp., + a 200 pesos environmental fee. Boats usually depart from El Nido Beach or Corong Beach. If you want to avoid the crowds in the most visited sites, it is possible to organize a private tour (around 7,500 pesos pp.) with a custom itinerary.

Al Nido snorkeling tour A map

Water entrance for snorkeling during El Nido Tour A

Water entrance is from a beach or directly from your boat, depending on which snorkeling spot you visit.

El Nido Tour A snorkeling tips

Tour A mainly takes place around the island of Miniloc. It is the most popular of the four tours offered in El Nido. Its route goes through the Big Lagoon and/or the Small Lagoon, two iconic sites of the archipelago, as well as the Secret Lagoon.

If these “lagoons”, surrounded by jungle and cliffs, are heavenly, they are not really suitable for snorkeling (the Big Lagoon is mainly explored by kayak).

Nudibranch at El Nido
The three colored phyllidia is pretty common at El Nido’s reefs.

The coral reef that borders Shimizu Island and Paglugaban Island is the main snorkeling stop on Tour A. It is home to a wide variety of corals, such as tabular coral, massive coral, branching coral, and several species of soft coral.

Clams, blue sea stars and nudis (the most common being the three colored phyllidia) are found here and there on the seabed. In the shallow areas, large schools of spinefoot and surgeons can be seen.

Butterflyfish (the Eastern triangular butterflyfish, the eightband butterflyfish) are common on the reef. During your snorkeling, you may also find sea anemones inhabited by pairs of spinecheek anemonefish.

Coral at El Nido
Some beautiful specimen of Dendronephthya can be observed in some areas.

Tour A’s last stop is usually 7 Commando Beach, near the village of El Nido. You can snorkel there from the beach, but the reef is less healthy than around the islands.

Standard itineraries may vary depending on the weather, local authorities’ regulations, and the site’s frequentation. You can get the confirmation of the itinerary when booking.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

You’ll find in El Nido village and around Caalan Beach and Corong Beach a wide choice of accommodation and restaurants. On Miniloc Island, it is possible to stay at El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island. Tours A, B, C and D include lunch on the beach.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Protected areaEl Nido Marine Reserve Park
  • Maximum depth20ft/6m
  • Water entranceFrom sandy beaches or a boat
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsBoat tour (1200 pesos pp., +200 pesos environmental fee)

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.