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travelling to & island hopping in El Nido with a 5-year-old

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Bellevue, Washington
posts: 191
reviews: 10
travelling to & island hopping in El Nido with a 5-year-old

Hi everyone, happy 2011! :-)

Leaving for Puerto Princesa in a couple of days and finalizing plans last-minute! We just have a few concerns about our trip up to El Nido with our 5-year-old:

First, will our 5-year-old son have to pay the same rate for the van from Puerto Princesa to El Nido? Is it P500 or P600? Any chance anyone can send me the contact details for the van and schedule for the van to El Nido?

Also, since we're spending 3-4 days in El Nido, we're definitely planning to do some of the island hopping tours. After reading about the tours though, we're a little hesitant to bring our 5-year-old to some of the islands/lagoons if they're too far out at sea (meaning rough waves and bad boat ride) and if he'll be able to enjoy it since he doesn't really know how to swim yet. We're especially worried about taking him to places which will require him to swim through hidden entries, through rock walls, etc. He's a real trooper and loves travelling as much as we do and is always up for new adventures but we want to keep our travels safe, too! We would really appreciate it if anyone can give us tips on the best tours to take with a small child and how we can go about booking tailormade island hopping tours! :)

Thanks so much, everyone! Looking forward to hearing from you guys! :D

ireland
posts: 268
reviews: 71
1. Re: travelling to & island hopping in El Nido with a 5-year-old

Hi

Most of the places you will be staying can organise a boat trip for you,p300 per person,or 1000 per boat for a whole day tour including packed lunch,

loads of islands around to relax or do some snorkling,your kid can wear a life jacket and get into water with you.

Big Lagoon for limestone cliffs or Tres Marias(near miniloc) for turtles & manta rays are pretty cool & im sure he will love it..

Noel

ireland
posts: 268
reviews: 71
2. Re: travelling to & island hopping in El Nido with a 5-year-old

Just one thing i forgot to mention,check out the malaria situation there,

We were there a couple of years ago and some of the kids had picked up maleria.

Noel

Bolton, UK
posts: 915
reviews: 20
3. Re: travelling to & island hopping in El Nido with a 5-year-old

Hi,

I would assume if your son occupies a seat on the van, then he will have to pay the same fare as you. Which should be 500 pesos, however they will first try for 600 pesos. So barter

As regards timings, I think Fort Wally have vans leaving Puerto Princesa at 7.00 am and 11.00 am. You could always email Evelyn at Fort Wally and ask them departure times and prices. She is very good at replying.

fortwallytransport@yahoo.com

As mentioned, you all have the opportunity of wearing life vests on your boat tours. If they aren't offered then don't go. We went on 3 private tours and on some days the sea was quite rough. My wife gets extremely sea sick, but the boat captains are very experienced and navigate the waves with superb skills. So much so she never got sick. Ginger and travel bands also helped her.

There are only a few places that you have to swim to on the tours. Small Lagoon on tour A and Secret Beach on Tour C, come to mind. However if you are doing a private tour, then you van simply miss these out and go wherever you wish. The tour operator will be happy to advise you.

We booked all our private tours via Ricsons who operate a restaurant and also do tours. They were excellent and being a restaurant the food was superb. They were extremely attentive and when we had lunch we felt like Lord and Lady Muck!!

We took (and are still taking) malaria tablets, but I think we were one of the few people doing so. We work on the basis of better safe than sorry.

Regarding pricing - I'm not sure if the above prices are current. We paid a lot more than 1,000 for the cheapest trip and there are only 2 of us. Also the cheapest organised trip seemed to be about 500 pesos each

Edited: 5:15 am, January 02, 2011
Bellevue, Washington
posts: 191
reviews: 10
4. Re: travelling to & island hopping in El Nido with a 5-year-old

Thank you, nbjewellerboy and infoaddict! :-)

nbjewellerboy: do you mean we can see the turtles and manta rays without diving? if so, our little boy will absoultely love that! thanks for the tip! :D

infoaddict: do you mind if we ask how much you had to pay exactly for the private tours? just need to know how much we should budget for trips. :) given the restrictions, i think going on a private boat tour would be our only option.

Btw, i also read a lot about jellyfishes and areas where swimming is discouraged because of dangerous corals? any tips on which places to avoid?

Lastly, is the beach on El Nido good for swimming? or for sunbathing & sandcastles atleast? :p

Much thanks, you guys!!!

Bolton, UK
posts: 915
reviews: 20
5. Re: travelling to & island hopping in El Nido with a 5-year-old

Hi,

I wouldn't count on seeing turtles and manta. It really is pot luck and most probably depends on the season you are there. We went diving for one day and also snorkeled on each of the three boat tours and didn't see either. However some people on other days did spot turtles. (as an aside the best places we have been for almost guaranteed turtle snorkeling is from Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives for turtles and manta).

If you want to snorkel, then it is still amazing and there are some great spots to go for the variety of corals and fish. I would rate El Nido in my top 3 places we have been snorkeling. As you intend to do your own private tours, I will give you the spots and you can ask your tour operator to take you there, if you wish. Shimizu Island which is part of Tour A, Star Beach which is on Tour C and finally Pangulasian Island which is part of Tour B (this reef will be closed to tours in the future when the resort on the island is finally restored).

As your son isn't a great swimmer, then he can go snorkeling wearing the life vest provided. However it may be best if you ask the tour operator what the weather and sea condtions will be like before going to the snorkeling spots, as when we were there it did get quite windy and there were some biggish swells, especially around Shimizu Island

We paid 1,800 for Tour A, 2,200 for Tour C and 2,000 for Tour B. The first 2 prices were obtained by our hosts at Makulay Lodge (where we stayed to begin with) and were a lot less than we had managed to get on our own (and I love to haggle). The last one we managed to get get from Ricsons ourselves (got them down from 3,000)

We never had any problems with jellyfish, but did get the occasional stinging sensations which we think are associated with Sea Lice (they aren't dangerous, but can be a bit uncomfortable whilst swimming). They weren't everywhere though - a bit like sand flies on the beaches - some have them and some don't and nobody can tell you which have and which don't. It's just pot luck. But for your information, my wife did get some bites whilst sitting on 7 Commando beach.

We didn't see many people swimming from the El Nido beach, possibly because there are so many boats. However it does seem quite good for sunbathing and sandcastles. There is another beach further around the headland which can be reached by trike (20 pesos), called Corong Corong. There are also some places to stay there. We never made it but heard it was a lovely beach

6. Re: travelling to & island hopping in El Nido with a 5-year-old

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