Buhay Isla boat tour in Palawan: Island hopping in the Philippines!

Would a multi-day sailing trip along the most beautiful islands in the Philippines be something for you? Island Hopping  from El Nido to Coron in the Philippines with Buhay Isla is an amazing adventure! In this blog, you can read more about our boat tour with Buhay Isla in Palawan!Filipijnen: sunset view

Click here to read all about our favorite hotels in The Philippines!

Island Hopping in the Philippines: Buhay Isla!

Picture yourself: relaxing on the sea during the day and occasionally snorkelling with turtles or in search of beautiful coral. In the evening you eat the “catch of the day” at the campfire! While sipping a beer, you share beautiful stories with your fellow travellers. When you are tired, you fall asleep in a simple tent while listening to the sound of the waves crashing ashore. You wake up early in the morning by the first rays of light from the sun! That doesn’t sound bad right? And that’s exactly what our time sailing in Palawan looked like!

Our experience: A multi-day boat trip with Buhay Isla

At 06.15 we leave our hotel a bit sleepy. A tricycle is ready to take us to the harbour because today we leave with Buhay Isla for a three-day boat trip. After thinking of both companies Tao en Buhay Isla, we finally decided to go for Buhay Isla just because it had a bit better fit in terms of dates. We have heard good stories about both. 

Nowadays there is a new kid in town: Big Dream Boatman is supposed to be amazing to take a multiple day boat trip with! 

We briefly met the crew and a few other travelers the night before, and that was very promising. When we arrive in the harbour we meet everyone. We are with six Dutchies, three Portuguese, a couple from Canada and another couple from the UK. And of course our seven crew members.

Cruise around Palawan in a traditional Bangka boat

We canoe to our boat, a beautiful traditional Bangka boat, typical for the region in the Philippines we are right now. The luggage that we do not need is stored in large plastic bags at the bottom of the boat. We have already put the rest of our luggage in two drybags ourselves. When everyone is ready, we sail out.

Tip: Looking for drybags? Buy them for a few euro’s in El Nido.

The Big Lagoon in Palawan!

The first stop is the Big Lagoon. We saw this one the day before, but now, at 7 am, it feels like we are in a completely different place. You feel the world awakening around you and there is even a little bit of fog in some places. Magnificent! We canoe alongside the mangrove and through caves, we didn’t even see the day before.

Back on the ship, a delicious breakfast is served. The best American pancakes ever, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, toast and sausages. Well, the standard has been set: we definitly can get used to good food like this!The Philippines Boahy Isla boat tour

Snorkelling and islands on Palawan.

We sail on and notice that the sea is sometimes quite rough. Fortunately, we have taken motion-sickness pills and these work well. We snorkel in some places, chat with the group and get to know each other. Time flies by and before we know it we are ready to have lunch at sea near Nacpan beach. Fresh fish, pork, chicken, vegetable salads. Delicious food for everyone.

In the afternoon we sometimes dock at islands where which are completely deserted. Enjoying the sun, or snorkelling and swimming in the crystal clear waters. The snorkelling here is the best we have ever done: there is no one else, the water has amazing visibility and coral is very healthy.

Below us, we see huge coral plateaus that resemble underwater picnic tables. In between, there are coloured blue spines and yellow wispy forms of coral. Sometimes we spot an anemonefish (Nemo fish). Snorkelling has never been so great.

Camping on uninhabited islands in the Philippines!

Around four o’clock, we arrive at the ‘Basecamp’ where we will spend the night. Ries and I are prepared for very basic, no shower and tents on the beach, but we are positively surprised. There appears to be a large barrel of freshwater which is the shower, and we sleep in bamboo huts under the shade of large palm trees.

The only thing we don’t have is a cellphone connection. However, when asking around the crew directs me to a big rock in the sea. So go there I go. Two phones in one hand, swimming with the other. All to let my parents know we are doing very well. But in the end, it works fine!

Freshly caught crab on our boat trip in the Philippines!

In the evening the food is delicious again. Our dinner includes freshly caught crab, fish and lots of vegetables. In addition, we drink rum colas and are sitting around the fire place for hours!

Filipijnen: overnachting boottocht plek 1

Island Hopping in the Philippines day 2: Snorkeling and tanning!

We wake up early, by the first rays of sun. The mats which are our matres are thin but function perfect. During the night the jungle surrounding us is completely quiet, we only wake up a few times from a gecko in our tent.  After another good breakfast, we swim to the boat. Yes, you read that correctly, while our bags are being transported by boat, we jump into the water and swim! This really is one big adventure!

Today is again filled with swimming, snorkelling and visiting the most beautiful beaches! However, the coral we witness today is even more pretty than the ones we saw yesterday: more colours, more fish and bigger! We even see a tiger fish.

With the group we spend a lot of time on top of the ship’s roof, where we can lie comfortably and tan a bit. And to cool off we jump from the roof into the sea.

In the evening we drink rum cola by the campfire. The only thing missing are marshmallows ;-).

Looking for an itinerary for Palawan? Read here our two-week Palawan itinerary!

Sailing trip Palawan day 3: fresh freshwater lakes!

Our last day of the boat trip has arrived. At 6 o’clock we swim to the boat and sail for an hour or two. The sea is really rough today, an occasional wave hits us while we are sitting near the open sides. We have breakfast near large rocks, where the water is a bit calmer. But this is also the perfect place for an “after-breakfast-jump” off those rocks. Some rocks are more than 8 meters high!

The last thing we visit today is a large lake where the water consists of 70% freshwater and 30% saltwater. It is very bright, and the turquoise water almost screams our names to jump in. The water is perfect to float around and enjoy the last moments of this beautiful trip. And then it is time to sail to Coron, where we say goodbye to the crew and finally take a real shower!

Our next stop? Coron! Read all about Coron in Palawan!

The Philippines: Coron Lakes Palawan

Is a multi-day boat trip through the Philippines worth the money?

Yes, in our opinion this multi-day island hopping tour in the Philippines was the best! Looking back on the past three days, the most fun was the crew. They were there for you day and night, always making sure you were fed well, entertained and just having the time of your life. The team was sweet, caring, and they were in for a laugh. Another highlight of this trip: the food. Wow, it was honestly the best food we had in whole the Philippines!

If you are unsure about Buhay Isla, just do it, it is really fun! What might be good to know is that, especially when the boat is sailing, you have little privacy. Are you not a group person or does a group trip cost you a lot of energy? Then it might be wise not to join a multi-day boat trip. If you have any questions, let us know in a comment, we try to respond as soon as possible.

Packing list for island hopping tour in Palawan, the Philippines:

Wondering what should not be missing in your backpack when you go on a multi-day boat trip in the Philippines? Here you will find a handy packing list for a sailing trip in the Philippines!


thin sweater
thin cloth
long thing pants
1 sleeping liner


dry shampoo
mosquito stick
motion-sickness pills


quick-drying towel
water-resistant bag
water-resistant phone case
board game
power bank
flip flops
inflatable pillow

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