Words can not give this experience justice. I did the 5 day 4 night boat trip from el Nido to... read more
Words can not give this experience justice. I did the 5 day 4 night boat trip from el Nido to... read more
I've been to The Philippines once before and that was to Boracay, which while stunning itself I was... read more
Had heard rave reviews of this from people in the UK and Ireland. Decided it was one for us but still had high expectations. Not for one single minute did the Tao experience disappoint, it was truly mind blowing. We've seen amazing and unspoilt beaches and sunsets but Tao trumped them all.
Food, staff, locations, huts - all faultless. Not for everyone, especially those who like pure luxurious comfort, but you won't get such exclusive access to places as beautiful as we saw anywhere else and for such a reasonable price.
Would recommend it to any travelers or adventure seekers!
Keep up the good work Tao!!
Tao experience was recommended to me by a friend and I will be forever in debt to my pal for this!!!
Tao is not just a boat trip, it's a once in a life time adventure that opens your eyes to what life is really all about.....amazing friends, fresh and healthy food, eco positive and fantastic attitudes!
The crew are the most hard working bunch of lads I've ever met! Nothing is too much for them!
A true representation of the Filipino way.....singing (ridiculous love of Karoke☺️), caring, sharing, helping, hospitable and always always smiling or laughing!
One may think 5 days and 4 nights at sea is their worst nightmare but trust me it is an unbelievable experience that I was very sad to see end!
We stopped at the most beautiful island, so remote and untouched they physically took your breath away!
Opportunities to kayak, snorkel, swim, chill out on the boat or what we favoured was water gymnastics and aerobics from any angle of the boat we could find!
Everything we did was with the crew, they were our pals for the 5 days and we as a group all mucked in together to gain the most from our trip!
Pictures and descriptions can't describe what we did and saw but one things for sure.....Tao have an amazing influence on the heart of the Philippines- the opportunities they create, the love they show the islanders and sheer amount of work they do to promote this fabulous country!
We played peak and pit at the end of our trip and needless to say.....the only pit was leaving the boat! Peaks were endless!
One thing I will say....go with an open mind, embrace the basics of life, cherish the naturalness and easiness of living so remote, get over using a pot to flush the toilet or not being able to get wifi!!!
It's the fresh water showers, bamboo hut base camps, freshly caught fish everyday, learning new skills, making new friends, singing endless karaoke and forgetting everyday living that matters!!!!
The crew asked us what we would say in a review.....mine is simply....DO IT!!!!!!!!
Thanks Tao, thanks Jef, thanks Juan Juan and thanks Berghain!!!!!!
Much love xx
This is hands-down one of the best things you can ever do as a vacation. We were lucky enough to get the large (and only) Tao Paraw which can accommodate around 20 people + the 9 crew. The boat is made in the traditional style which, like a large outrigger, makes it stable and relaxing. Not that it's really necessary since Palawan waters are calm, aquamarine bliss. The boat itself has plenty of seating area, but it might be a good idea to bring a cushion/travel seat of some kind because the bamboo can get a little uncomfortable after a few hours.
The crew (which includes "Amo" the wonder dog!) was incredibly nice - all young guys who seem genuinely happy with their lives and are incredibly competent sailors and guides. You will spend 5 days, four nights with them and visit a variety of the islands in the archipelago. Each night there's "glamping" on the islands and dinner. There are very few huts that house just two people so get friendly and sleep in the communal huts - ambien helps if you can't sleep through the snoring :). There can be a little competition to get the two person huts - after competing and successfully getting one on the first night, we quickly realized that it's not worth and we just took whatever was available for the remaining nights.
The food made is incredible - mostly seafood straight out of the ocean. I'm not much of a seafood fan, so I was worried before going, but I ate everything they put in front of me. For the final night, they slaughtered a pig and the roasted it over a spit. This may understandably be a problem for some people. If you want to brave it, you can watch. If you can't deal with it, they send you off to an island to snorkel and hang out while they do it on the boat.
The vibe on the boat is incredibly relaxed and friendly. I was there with my girlfriend and three other friends, but by the end of the five days we had made lifelong new friendships with our fellow travelers. You will have to slum it a bit with hygiene - bucket showers on the island are the only real way to wash so plan to get yourself to a nice hotel with hot water (and internet!) for after the trip either in El Nido or Coron depending on which way you sail.
If you enjoy a drink while you do your calm Pacific sailing, you need to call them in advance and order your booze. It's very cheap. For the five of us we decided to play it safe and "over" order - 7 cases of beer, 2 bottles of gin and some rum. It's very cheap. On the boat, it works via the honor system -- the crew will fill coolers from the stock below each morning and you can just drink what you want. If we over-ordered, then others may have under-ordered because we did run out at the end of the trip and unfortunately we were aware of at least one individual who did not pre-buy any but was quite generous to himself from the stocks :(. This individual was unfortunately a bit of a shame to have on the boat and created drama unnecessarily (over the huts to sleep at night).
The crew also take pride in an eveningly "Jungle Juice" session - a philippino moonshine with a heavy lacing of rum and tropical juices. This is complementary and they usually have a gallon of it on the island in the evening too.
So what do you do each day? Well, a lot of swimming, snorkeling and a lot of gasping at the sheer beauty of the islands. The whole region is calm and shallow with some great reef and an incredible diversity of marine life. The boat provides snorkels and flippers if you want to travel light. Definitely bring a rash guard and a lot of people brought rash-guarding leggings too. This is a good idea - some of the plankton in the area can actually sting, so it's best to cover up. And, of course, there are jelly fish in this part of the world - thankfully we didn't see too many.
Finally a shout out to the organization itself. This is true eco-tourism. The Tao group is built to enrich the environment and the community. All of the work - from sailing to sewing - is done by natives of the islands. The community learns new skills, gets a better education and earns more money than would normally be possible because of this effort. It's pretty inspiring stuff.
Plan the trip carefully to avoid the tail end of the rainy season. February was pretty spectacular there. Oh, and adults only - the boat is not a suitable environment and Tao will not accept applicants who want to bring children.
We were recommended by two people whilst travelling Asia to take part in the Tao expedition as they stated this was the best thing they had done in their lives. Well Tao, you lived up to this expectation! A fantastic way to meet interesting new people whilst experiencing the culture and lifestyle of Filipinos. We sailed without a care in the world from island to island, starting from Coron finishing in el nido, and the views just got better and better along the way.
We spotted turtles, dolphins. The snorkelling is unreal. The lagoons and beaches were the best I've ever seen. We slept authentically like castaways, camping in huts on the beaches. We had beautiful foods cooked for us. King the chef was just the best, the fish was caught fresh and tasted marvellous. Bebo was also cooking up some good treats. The whole crew were so brilliant, dedicated and hardworking. A special mention to jhun jhun the tour guide who even brushed my hair for me after a swim. It is so nice that this company actually funds projects and business for Filipino people. The cost may be a little pricey but just remember this is a once in a lifetime experience and by doing this trip you are giving back to the community.
All in all we made a family here at Tao and these are memories I will cherish for a lifetime. I would like to go back to the Philippines mainly to relive this experience. A great way to forget the stresses of day to day life, be rid of technology for 5 days straight. A must for any age group. You will not regret it!
My husband and I loved our trip with Tao and it was one of the highlights of our Philippine trip. The reason I have given a rating of 4 is because we did think it was too expensive for the level of accomodation given and the fact that staff are not so expensive in this part of the world. I know there are new companies starting up a little more affordable and also offer less nights away. I don't think you need 4 nights. Another issue was you travel for hours an hours on the boat during the day and there is not one place comfortable to be. Tao please put down down some cushions or mats. The hard surfaces on the boat gave you nowhere to truly relax. Other than this we loved it. The adventure and getting away from the crowds was heaven.
Tao has 10 boats; 5 that go from El Nido to Coron, and 5 that go from Coron to El Nido. We were on one that went from Coron to El Nido, departing June 4. Over-all it's pretty well organized and well run, in a typical slow Pilipino way. The information provide on their website covers what you need to know, but where it does not, getting a clear answer is sometimes difficult. But it's an adventure...right? See attached photos for some additional info they provide when you get there. Also, anything you need for this trip is available in El Nido and in Coron for less $ than in the USA (i.e. dry bag, sandals, hats, lotion, snorkel gear, sarong). I recommend getting 2 dry bags. A 20l to put what you need for the night stay on the island (clothes, bath stuff), and a 10l-15l for what you need access to while hanging out on the boat (cameras, lotion, sunglasses). Or if you are a couple, then a 30l for what you both need in the evening and 15l for on the boat.
Unfortunately, our adventure included 9 of 18 people getting sick. The first person got sick the morning of Day 3, had bloody diarrhea, vomit, and fever. The second person later on Day 3 had diarrhea, vomit, and severe fever all night. By the evening and next morning there were more sick, some just had mild diarrhea and stomach cramps. So on Day 4, four people did not continue the trip, the other 5 toughed it out, using the bucket flush toilet on the moving boat. The crew were not helpful to sick people at all. One time the lead crew member came up to a sick person, asked "are you ok", she replied "no, I am not", and he just walked away. In general, except for the the lead crew member, the crew don't talk to anyone. And the lead crew member would just comment that sometimes weather makes people sick. Sorry, but this was something either in the food or water that got this many people this severely sick.
A typical day, is hanging out on the boat talking to other travelers, between stops where you snorkel and eat. Then you stop at an island to stay the night. They have many places to stop, so apparently every trip is a little different. There were folks on the trip that had done it 2-4 times already.
Our group of travelers was great. Nice, interesting people. Talking with others was the best part of the trip.
Our captain/leader was rather dull. He pretty much just told us where we were and what we were doing. There was no karaoke on this trip. We did play basketball at several stops.
The weather was not in our favor. Two days were really rough, such that everyone was held up together on the top deck, just silently hanging on. The first of those was so rough we didn't make it to our planned destination and had to stop someplace else.
From time to time there was cell phone access. In particular there was good access at their main camp on the same land mass as El Nido.
The snorkeling was just okay. One place had some colorful reefs. Otherwise I didn't think it was that great.
The really awesome looking limestone cliffs are all near El Nido. So if that's your main attraction to coming here, then just go to El Nido and do the A and C tour, or consider El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island.
If you can fly through Cebu instead of Manila, do it. Manila is a terribly designed airport, which you will have to plan a minimum of 3 hours to transfer between the international and domestic terminal. Philippine Air flights are often late as well. Flights to El Nido on Swift are good from Cebu and Manila.