THE TOUR RATES
There are five different tours you can choose from in El Nido – four island hopping and one inland. Each usually starts at 9AM and ends at 4-5PM. As to the rate, a municipality ordinance has been issued, which standardizes the rates, as follows:
TOUR A – Php700.00
TOUR B – Php800.00
TOUR C – Php900.00
TOUR D – Php700.00
TOUR E (inland) – Php800.00
The rates are inclusive of buffet lunch already. However, due to the growing number of agencies, which offer island hopping tours (read: competition), some agencies offer discounts up to Php200.00 per tour. Some even offer free use of snorkelling gears and fins on top of the huge discount.
Based on my research, the best tour is Tour A, followed by C, B, and D. Since I would be staying there for only 2.5 days, I decided to get Tours A and C. For my first day, I asked Ate Neriza to book Tour C for me. And even before I asked, she already gave me a discount and offered free use of snorkelling gears. Spell A-W-E-S-O-M-E! Ate Neriza also advised me to take a combination tour, instead. (Yes! This is actually possible.) She offered me Tours A and C combination for only Php800.00, and Tour B at Php600.00 for the next day. She assured me that I won’t miss any of the destinations of each tour in the combination since it normally starts as early as 8AM and ends at around 5-6PM. That sounded great, so I agreed.
While chatting with Ate Neriza and Ate Eva, one of Ate Neriza’s staffs, I learned that Northern Hope Inn actually has its own travel agency, the Northern Hope Tours. They offer the normal tour packages (i.e. Tours A to E), as well as the combination tours – Combination Tour A & B (@Php1,200/pax) and Combination Tour A & C (@Php1,500/pax). For reservations and/or inquiries, you may contact Ate Neriza at 0939-902-2216 (Smart) or 0927-735-3221 (Globe).
If you have a limited time, I think availing of the combination tours would be better and cheaper, since you would be able to experience a 2-day tour in just one day and save Php100-Php300 or even more, depending on your haggling skills. The only downside is that your stay in each island will definitely be shorter.
MY COMBINATION TOUR…OR NOT
Since I don’t know how to swim, I thought that shorter time in each island of the combination tour would do no harm. I was even feeling ecstatic that I would be able to experience 3 tours and 15 islands, instead of just 2 tours and 10 islands, during my short stay in El Nido.
However, when we arrived at the beachfront, we were informed that my supposed Combination Tour A & C could not push through since “the others” (my supposed tour-mates) backed out and opt to go with the Tour B group, instead.
Then they advised me to get Tour B, as well. I asked them if they could guarantee the Combination Tour A & C for me the following day. The dispatcher answered that the same backing out incident might happen again. That was a clear “no.” So, I declined Tour B since I really wanted to try Tours C and A. The dispatcher insisted on my getting the Tour B, and she even told me that I have to wait for 7pax more before I could get Tour C, otherwise, I will have to pay for a private tour.
There’s no way in hell I would pay for a private tour! So I agreed to wait; besides, Tour C is also popular among tourists. So I was certain that I could get the Tour that day.
While waiting for my group to be completed (read: they said that the minimum is 8pax, but if I’m not mistaken, the municipality ordinance declared that the minimum number is just 4pax), I paid for the environmental fee at Php200.00, good for ten days, and then I observed the people at the booking area. It appeared to me that most tourists wanted to try Tours A or C, but the dispatchers were still trying to convince “willing-victims” to go with Tour B, instead. I wondered. Maybe my supposed group mates were just persuaded to back out from the combination tour. Haha
After almost 30 minutes, we’re finally good to go.