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. The Tour D, whose itinerary is mainly around Cadlao Island, offer snorkelers great underwater sightings on the local coral reefs.

Reef and needlefish
A bluespotted cornetfish over a nice cover of hard corals, around Cadlao Island.

Practical information about El Nido Tour D

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 D 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.

El Nido Tour D snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling during El Nido Tour D

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

El Nido Tour D snorkeling tips

The Tour D itinerary includes different stopovers around Cadlao Island, northwest of El Nido. Snorkeling stops of this tour are usually Pasandigan Cove (south of Cadlao) and around Bukal Island, an island located 200m from the east coast of Cadlao (see map).

Sometimes, guides prefer alternative spots, like Paradise Beach, Kalayaan Beach, or on the reef bordering the entrance of Cadlao Lagoon.

Pair of eightband butterflyfish
The eightband butterflyfish, generally seen in pairs, is one of the most common reef fish around Cadlao Island.

The reefs that fringe Cadlao Island are a little less spectacular than those at Tour A and Tour C, but still beautiful. The reef is made of a wide variety of coral, where there are giant clams, sea lilies and several species of starfish live. Huge barrel sponges are found in some areas.

The ocellaris clownfish, a star of the Philippine reefs, is common around Cadlao. To find them, look for the large sea anemone, in which they live in small colonies.

Blue sea star
The blue sea star, which may grow up to 30cm in diameter, is pretty common on the flats.

The eightband butterflyfish, the Moorish Idol, and the scissortail sergeant are some of the most common fish here, but hundreds of other species can be occasionally seen.  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. 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.