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Last updated on January 10, 2021
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 C, which stops around Matinloc Island and Tipiutan Island, is often considered the best for snorkeling in El Nido.
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 C costs 1400 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.
Water entrance is from a beach or directly from your boat, depending on which snorkeling spot you visit.
Tour C itinerary is mainly around the islands of Matinloc and Tapuitan, in the west of the archipelago. The itinerary is completed with a visit to Dilumacad Island, aka Helicopter Island.
Tour C is one of the best in the Bacuit Archipelago for snorkeling. Snorkeling stops for tour C usually take place around Star Beach (on Tapiutan), Secret Beach, and Hidden Beach (on Matinloc).
Coral reefs in the area are preserved and host a rich and colorful underwater life. They are covered in soft corals, hard corals, barrel sponges, sea fans, sea anemones and sea lilies.
In sea anemones, you will spot the ocellaris clownfish and the spinecheek clownfish, the two most common anemonefish species in the area. As you roam the reef, you may also find blue sea stars, red pencil urchins and the three colored phyllidia, a colorful nudibranch.
Sergeant majors, butterflyfish, pufferfish and tangs are some of the most common fish around the islands. Schools of sweepers hide in the shade of the caves at the foot of the cliffs. With a little luck, you might come across an angelfish sheltering between the corals, or a flasher scorpionfish perfectly camouflaged on the reef.
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.
You’ll find in El Nido village and around Caalan Beach and Corong Beach a wide choice of accommodation and restaurants. Tours A, B, C and D include lunch on the beach.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Vibrant coral reef with colorful fish
Vibrant coral reef and seagrass meadows with sea turtles
Coral reef with a nice diversity of corals
House reef with colorful coral and tropical fish
Reef drop off with sea turtles, reef fish and barracudas