For those who are planning to visit El Nido, we request you to book as early as possible due to limited slots of daily tours.

 “Summary from General Meeting regarding Tours, there were some final decisions made.

With immediate effect today November 20, 2018 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has banned all the Combination tours (Combo A&C A&B etc.) and Party Boats in El Nido. This new policy has been implemented to help minimize the negative impact of tourism in El Nido.

El Nido cannot afford any environmental blows, in fact is home to unique bird species and is frequented by large marine wildlife like the sea or marine turtles, sea cow or dugong, dolphins and sharks. Local authorities don’t want El Nido to face the same problem of Boracay.

New rules are imposed to limit the number of tourists and activities in three of the most-visited places in El Nido:

Big Lagoon

Small Lagoon

Secret Beach

Moreover, activities such as fishing, cliff jumping, grilling of food, and playing of loud music have been prohibited in El Nido Bacuit Bay.

Due to the new regulations, it’s now compulsory to book your slot to Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon and Secret Beach in advance (Tour A, Tour C and Tour D).

 See below the official message that we have received from the Ministry of Tourism about the new ordinance.

For more information about the new El Nido Tours, please contact our customer service at support@travel-palawan.com


El Nido is embracing sustainable tourism, and that means that changes are coming to our four island-hopping tours:

Tour A: Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, and 7 Commando Beach 

Tour B: Cudognon Cave, Cathedral Cave, Snake Island, Entalula Island, and Popolkan Island (the substitute for Pangulasian, now that it’s a private island)

Tour C: Secret Beach, Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Tapiutan Island, and Helicopter Island

Tour D: Small Lagoon, Cadlao Lagoon, Nat Nat Beach, Pasandigan Cove, Paradise Beach, and Bukal Island

I’ve attached made a map so you can see these stops visually.

So, what’s changing? Well, as of late November 2018, the Protected Area Office has designated Small Lagoon (Tour D) and Big Lagoon (Tour A) stops as Premium stops, subject to limits on the number of people who can go there. We also expect that Secret Beach (on Tour C) will soon be designated as a Premium stop as well.

As a result, there are seven changes that have already happened (or that we expect to happen soon):

You can’t do both Big and Small Lagoon on the same day

You can only visit one “premium stop” per day.

As of late November, this means that you can either visit Small Lagoon OR you can visit Big Lagoon, but you can’t visit both on the same day.

No Combinations

Before these proposed changes, you could choose to do a “combination tour” that combined whichever stops you wanted from two tours. As a result, many tourists did a “Combination Tour A/C” and visited the Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and Secret Beach all on the same day.

However, going forward, all three of these locations will be Premium stops, and since you can only visit one premium stop per day, you will no longer be able to do that.

Going forward, we actually don’t know for sure whether combination tours will be completely banned. But no matter what, you will probably not be allowed to combine tours A and C together.

Pre-Registration now required for Big and Small Lagoon (and eventually Secret Beach)

You must now pre-register if you’d like to visit a Premium stop like Big and Small Lagoon.

As of late November, this means your tour operator must pre-register your name with the Protected Area Office if you want to go on Tour A. (We expect this to expand to Tour C shortly, if you want to visit Secret Beach.) To pre-register, you must contact your tour operator and tell us the Name, Age and Country of Residence for each passenger. We will then go into town and register you with the relevant authority. Only a certain number of pre-registered people on a pre-registered boat can go inside each lagoon on a given day, and it’s first-come-first-served to get access.

If a given premium tour has hit its limit, you will have to select a non-premium tour that doesn’t have a premium stop.

Extra fee beyond ETDF

The Protected Area Office is charging a ₱200 per-person fee for pre-registration to visit a Premium stop. As I understand it, this money will go towards the resources necessary to protect the lagoons and the protected area.

This fee will be in addition to the ₱200 charge for your ETDF (Eco-Tourism Development Fee).

Premium stops now have time slots

Your tour operator has to register you for a specific time slot at a premium stop. These slots start at 7 AM and the last entry is at 4 PM. For Small Lagoon, the slots are an hour and for Big Lagoon, the slots are an hour-and-a-half. Currently, island hopping boats leave at 9 AM and return at 4 PM, so if you have a 7 AM slot, you’ll have to be prepared to wake up several hours earlier as the boat will need to leave earlier in order to get to a specific premium stop by 7 AM.

Boats can’t go in Big and Small Lagoon

To protect their fragile marine ecosystems, when you’re at either Small Lagoon or Big Lagoon, island hopping boats will no longer be going inside the lagoon. Instead, you can rent a kayak from an approved vendor for ₱300 to go inside the lagoon.

Prices for Tours are going up 

The local municipality is reviewing a proposed law governing tours. If it passes, then the prices of tours will go up. However, as of late November, this law has not passed, and tour prices remain what they have been for many years.

At this point in late November, El Nido has done two different dry runs to figure out how exactly to implement these rules.

* Read also Palawan News’article about El Nido Sets Dry Run of Tourist Control 
* Read also Palawan’s News’s article about El Nido Lagoons 

After the dry runs, the pre-registration for premium tours was made permanent. We expect these rules to quickly evolve. In the meantime, we ask for your patience as the government moves to address the issues that come up!

The goal of these rules is to encourage sustainable tourism that allows tourists to enjoy the beauty of El Nido without destroying the environment. Sustainable tourism is an important issue, and one that we fully support.

Many thanks to the local government and the Protected Area Office for helping protect our lagoons


10 things you should know when going to El Nido

1 – El Nido is a Marine Protected Area. There are over 45 islands with over a hundred of white sand beaches, many lagoons, limestone cliffs, caves and forest and waterfalls.

2 – There is a ban on plastic and all single use plastics are not allowed in this place. Bring your own bag with you for your shopping. It is not allowed to bring plastic bottles on tours. Most tour operators provide free purified drinking water. You should carry your own tumbler with you and refill it at your hotel or in one of the many establishments providing refills. Avoid take away food causing too much garbage, we don’t want to spoil this beautiful island with excessive garbage that end up in landfills.

 3 – The reefs are very fragile and it is important not to touch, step on it and no throwing of anchors. Underwater photographers need to be extra careful, not to damage the corals.

4 – Some areas are difficult to get in and the conditions can be challenging. Sometimes rough seas can make it more difficult. Make sure you are able to cope with this challenges. Do not step on corals and do not touch anything or pick up living things for photos and selfies.

5 – Leave no trash behind. Don’t leave lunch leftovers on the beach. Bring everything back to your hotel to dispose and avoid causing too much trash.

6 – There is no drinkable tap water coming out of faucets anywhere in El Nido. Water is not safe to drink. Stick to purified water available in restaurants, resorts and other etsblishments.

7 – El Nido streets are narrow. Everything is in walking distance, so do not use Motorbikes or transports within the town when not really necessary as there are no parking spaces and you may get fined. You can easily get a tricycle for further distances any time a day.

8 – There is only one bank and the very few ATM’s often run out of money, especially on weekends and during holidays. Bring enough cash. Credit cards are accepted in some establishments as well.

9 – Avoid getting sick by eating in proper, clean establishments and drinking safe water. Do not buy ice from small stores, unless they can proof it is certified.

10 – Stay hydrated all day long and avoid excessive sun, especially those who rent motor bikes. Heat strokes and dehydration are common. Drink lots of water. Have a wonderful holiday in El Nido.


Sealand Venture Travel and Tours