Spent a week in El Nido, in the province of Palawan. We did almost all the tours during this trip, Tour A, Tour B, ans Tour C. But if we have to choose one from all the Tours in El Nido, Nativ Exploration is our top choice. Having the opportunity to stay 3 days unplugged from internet, and electricity, gave us such an authentic island experience. Something you wouldn’t even attempt to try, if you have more time to think about it. You will say to yourself, I can’t afford to be offline that long. There’s just so many things that can happen every day – social media, our real life, that feeling of being left out. Trust us. 3 days is not even long enough when you start feeling the goodness of being unplugged.
So why are we leaving you hanging for long? Read our experience with one of the best tours in El Nido, Nativ’ Exploration. But why do we have to convince you it’s the best? We’ll just leave the judgement to you.
The Nativ Exploration Experience
The adventure was great, to say the least. Sailing around the islands of El Nido during 3 days, is definitely something memorable. One you’d be thinking about for years after you’ve done it. Snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and of course relaxing and eating. You can do it all here. Nativ Exploration Tour is a must try with all the tours in El Nido. The 3 days and 2 nights tour is programmed to keep you out of the daily regular tourist crowd. Plus, you’ll get this real vibe of the local life in El Nido, despite it being a very touristic place. You get to sleep in houses especially made for the trip, settled in a fisherman village. There will be 2 nights of no electricity, so you begin and end the day following the sun. You’ll learn how the local fisherman fish in the sea to get their food and business, and see how they’ve built their life in the village, with nipa houses, and a very simple lifestyle. For this trip, I actually had to go alone. Rachel had to stay behind in Puerto Princesa for a few more days. These became 3 days where I learned deeply about the Filipino culture, and the province lifestyle.
The 3 itinerary is explained below by day.
First Day of The Tour
We left mainland El Nido around 9 am, but it took time to reach the boat with your belongings, since the staff needs to do a few trips, back and fort, with their kayak to accommodate everybody. Here are the day’s itinerary:
- Cadlao Lagoon
- Helicopter Island
- Pasandigan Island
- Snake Island
We definitely have ample time to spend and enjoy all these places. We snorkeled, kayaked, ate lunch, relaxed and stayed in beach. It’s really good, especially when you compare it to the regular tours where you get only around 30 minutes for each stop. Here, we were able to enjoy to our heart’s content, and we actually start the day way earlier than everyone else, so we get to see all the spots alone, meaning everyone in the trip (we are a set of 16 people in trip plus 7 crew members. The owner actually tours with your, every single day! It was just a nice experience, to be able to choose what activity you want to do in every stop. You are free to choose what you feel like doing.
Sleeping in Vigan
How well do you think you can sleep in these traditional Filipino nipa huts? 🙂 Vigan is actually a really nice place to stay in at night. Don’t expect luxury villa comfort. That’s not the point of the whole tour anyway. This is how fisherman sleep everyday, and you get the chance to experience it every night. I believe ours is even improved, since we have comfortable foams and mattresses for sleeping, with blankets and mosquito nets. It’s very close to Snake Island. A part of the village is even still in construction, so you feel like staying in the place in this “beginning of time” vibe. After the sunset, we always have a huge dinner. And with an amazing cook for that. We definitely had some of the best Filipino grilled seafood and some vegetarian choices. Fresh fruits and really good dishes. And when you wake up in the morning, you will have the opportunity to enjoy one of the most amazing sunrises ever!
The second day of the tour, we had the chance to explore one of the most touristic places in El Nido: the Big and Small Lagoon. Luckily for us, we avoided the tourist crowd and we spent a lot of time exploring by kayak, snorkeling and swimming. These places were very beautiful and after that we visited more quiet beaches and more amazing snorkeling spots!
Itinerary for Day 2:
- Small Lagoon
- Big Lagoon
- Adbens (Coral Garden)
- Intalula Island
Inaluma was our second camp for sleeping during our tour. Just the moment of getting there, and you can see the Elephant Island, with a really nice sunset. We made ourselves comfortable, showered, and had a huge dinner again. Fish, meat, vegetables and fruits, and very tasty local food. Next morning, the staff gave us cooking classes, how to cook the banana heart, and of course eating what you cooked for breakfast!
We enjoyed this day, visiting nice snorkeling areas and kayaking a lot. The day was very quiet around the beaches and we enjoyed amazing food before going back to the reality in El Nido. haha! People, bars, noise were waiting for us on the way back.
Day 3 Itinerary:
- Pinagbuyutan Island
- Cathedral Cave
- Lagen Island
- A few Beaches on the way back El Nido
Why you should choose Nativ Exploration among all tours in El Nido?
Nativ Exploration was great and the fact that you can experience a real solid exotic island life, unplugged from everything is just a rare and memorable thing to do. They organize the trip in a really good way ( and we can attest to this, since we’ve tried all the island day tours in El Nido). We managed to stay alone in some islands, since we start the trips daily, of if there are other tourists, they are very few, compared to the busiest parts of the day, where there are many boats from various tours. You get to enjoy the beauty of El Nido! Tours in El Nido tend to be very touristic and sometimes it is impossible to avoid many boats in places like the Small and Big Lagoon.
The staff was great, always taking care of all of us. Doing multiple trips by kayak to the islands, to the caves, preparing food, helping all of us to leave the boat, and accompanying us coming back to the boat. They were working really hard and the most important thing always keeping the smile and making sure that you are enjoying the islands and activities in El Nido.
I was extremely surprised with the food. Since they mentioned that the trip was simple, with local food and sleeping with just the basics. Somehow they managed to gave us amazing and luxury food everyday. You can even fill your plate more than once, if you wanted to eat more. And they managed to serve a large variety of Filipino dishes from breakfast to dinner. Fruits like mango, papaya, watermelon to local dishes like Pancit, Puto, Adobo. And a lot of the fishes they cooked were actually bought from t work! Such an amazing sight to see.
If you like snorkeling, you will enjoy various snorkeling areas, and most importantly, with plenty of time! They will provide you masks to do it. If it’s necessary to use a kayak, or if you prefer to use a kayak than swimming completely to the snorkeling areas, you have the choice to use one, since the boat is bringing some kayaks with us.
If you like kayaking, there are 3 kayaks that you can borrow any time to explore caves, or to go to the beach. Every kayak is for 3 people. A perfect way to make new friends, if you are traveling alone, like my experience traveling El Nido with Nativ Exploration. It’s also great to keep your things dry and to transport huge things like the staff bringing water, dinner or other different things.
Sleeping Tours in El Nido
You will sleep in the Fisherman Villages, a very simple place. But they will provide you everything that you need. Like a simple mattress, sheets, mosquito net – enough for living like a local. The places for sleeping were magical. You can enjoy amazing sunsets and sunrises there. Perfect spot! Plus they were very quiet and the staff are very organized, preparing huge dinners and breakfasts. This opportunity is something totally different from the rest of the tours in El Nido.
They manage to teach us how to cook Banana Flower and they brought the kitchen from the boat to the island to have an amazing breakfast all together. It was a great way to spend time together while learning many things about coconuts and local life in the island.
Taking Care of Environment
I really loved that with Nativ Exploration, that deeply cared about the trash. Always making sure that they separate plastics and things that decay properly, no matter where we are staying. Whether in the boat, or sleeping in the fisher village.
If you want to enjoy this amazing tour while your staying in El Nido, check their website. There are different tours! Not just El Nido. And if you want to read more of our experiences in the Philippines, click here to read our full backpacking guide.
Loved what you just read? Tell us what you think in the comments because we love to hear from you!