If you're heading to El Nido, you'll probably join in on boat tours to the many beautiful islands in Bacuit Archipelago. No doubt there are plenty of boat operators that are willing to provide their services, but my recent experience with Ilde Dalumpines and his Midnight Sun Tours was terrific.
My wife and I met Ilde (ill-dee) as we walked into town from the Golden Monkey Hotel. He offered us a private tour for a price that was no more than what we expected to pay to join a group of strangers. As he and his family prepared the boat, he was very happy to talk about his life in the Philippines. He is a pastor who has lived in El Nido for 26 years, and although he’s also offered tours for many years, only within the past year was he able to afford a replacement boat after a typhoon ruined his other boats several years back.
Having a private tour was very nice (we snorkeled near Matinloc Island). As other tour groups clustered around popular beaches and sites, we were able to mostly avoid them by just moving along without having to run it by other tour members. But really, it was Ilde’s kindness and helpfulness following this tour that impressed me.
My wife and I were entertaining the thought of sleeping on a deserted beach, away from everyone. When we mentioned this, Ilde told us he could offer us a tent and everything we would need to camp. He arranged for a kayak, and he even offered to purchase any groceries we requested.
When the day of our departure arrived, and I was worried that our plans were in jeopardy because my wife had a cut on her foot that was getting infected. Without hesitation, Ilde loaned me his quirky old motorbike so I could ride her to the clinic in town. I was able to buzz back and forth around town as we scrambled to keep our plans. And I’m very fortunate we did, as our night on the deserted beach was unforgettable.
Ilde took us to a small but spectacular beach and was helped by his wife, his son Clark, and his nephew Mark. They all took care of setting up camp and they even prepared us a meal before they departed (they seemed concerned that we planned on living off peanut butter and banana sandwiches for a day). Ilde even loaned us a cell phone so we could still keep contact!
I highly recommend you seek Ilde out if you would like to meet a kind man who provides custom trips, excellent service, and speaks terrific English for an affordable price. He runs his service out of his home, which is a short and pleasant walk out of El Nido town. He said not many tourists stumble across his business by accident, so here’s a map and a picture of his home.
Ilde says he checks his emails a couple of times a week. You can reach him here: firstname.lastname@example.org
And here are a couple of other favorable reviews:
If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line.