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The Beaches of El Nido, Palawan

The Philippines is home to over 7000 islands, but ask anyone who has been (or is planning to go) about their trip and they’ll probably mention El Nido, on the stunning and sparsely populated island of Palawan.  Most people come for the island hopping tours, but spend a bit of time in and around El Nido town and you’ll fall for the laid back, local flavour that fills the air. The beaches of El Nido each have their own style and charm, so it’s a good idea to stay a few days and explore them all.

El Nido Town

The beach in El Nido town is surrounded by karst mountains, restaurants and a bay full of boats. The scenery is amazing, and the beach and water are much cleaner than you’d expect from such a built-up beach. It comes alive at night, when the various beachfront restaurants serve up BBQ seafood while diners are entertained by Filipino cover bands. I travelled to El Nido in the off-season, so things might be different in peak times, but it seems to be a tourist town that has kept its local roots. I saw far more locals than tourists on the streets and beaches; it just seemed like a normal Filipino town that just happens to attract tourists.

El Nido Town beach, one of the beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The PhilippinesThe clear water of the beach in El Nido town, one of the beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The Philippines

Nacpan Beach

This could be the best beach in the Philippines, but I need to see more of the country before I can make that kind of statement! It’s a bumpy 45 minute tricycle (Filipino version of a tuk-tuk) ride from El Nido town, but don’t let that put you off, it’s a must do if you’re in the area. The beach was almost completely free of both people and buildings – I’m sure it won’t stay that way for long though. There is only one private house and a small restaurant serving basic BBQ seafood and meat. The water was clear and the beach was almost perfect. It looked like someone had meticulously cleaned it, but since there are pretty much no businesses there it must just always be like that. There is a small local village further down the beach, which also leads to Calitang Beach, but it’s nowhere near as nice as Nacpan. You can rent a tricycle for about 1000 pesos, or pay a little extra and check out one of the waterfalls on the way. (The first photo in this post is also from Nacpan beach, in case you were wondering!)

Nacpan Beach, one of the best beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The PhilippinesBoats on Nacpan Beach, one of the beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The Philippines

Marimegmeg Beach

Just a few minutes from El Nido town lies Marimegmeg Beach. It may look pretty average in the photo, but it was raining while we were there; I’m sure it looks a lot better when the sun is out. Despite its close proximity to town, you’ll have to pay 150 pesos for the tricycle trip, compared to around 10 pesos per person to get to Corong Corong beach.

Marimegmeg Beach, one of the beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The Philippines

Corong Corong Beach

Even closer to El Nido town, Corong Corong Beach is where you’ll end up if you want a beachfront bungalow but don’t want to pay the high prices you’ll find in town. The beach itself isn’t that great – the water is too shallow for swimming and the sand is covered in bits and pieces washed up from the ocean, but the views and the atmosphere are perfect. There are some great accommodation options and some decent restaurants on Corong Corong Beach, and it’s an excellent place to catch the sunset. We stayed there for 4 nights and it’s definitely worth it for the views and the peace and quiet.

FURTHER READING: Check out this two week itinerary for the Philippines

Sunset on Corong Corong beach, one of the beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The PhilippinesA rainbow at Corong Corong beach, one of the beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The PhilippinesCorong Corong beach on a sunny day, one of the beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The Philippines

Island hopping is definitely the biggest draw, but the beaches of El Nido, particularly Nacpan, are some of the best you’ll find in the Philippines, and are more than worthy of a few lazy days.

FURTHER READING: Island hopping in El Nido, Palawan, The Philippines

Have you been to El Nido? What was your favourite beach?

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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32 Comments

  1. July 3, 2014 at 12:58 am — Reply

    Love this post. I have been to the Phils a fair few times, as I have Filipino family, but I have yet to go to Palawan. Looking at this really makes me miss it!

    – Keyta

    http://www.TheWayfarer.co

    • July 3, 2014 at 10:18 pm — Reply

      Try and get there, it’s really nice – wish we had more time there!

  2. July 3, 2014 at 5:06 am — Reply

    Jon, I have been to the Philippines twice already, but I have to admit that I haven’t made it to El Nido yet. It looks great though and especially the deserted Nacpan Beach would be right up my alley. Thanks for sharing, I will definitely keep it in mind for the next Philippines visit… 🙂

    • July 3, 2014 at 10:25 pm — Reply

      You’ll love it Dennis, most places in the Philippines are great though!

  3. July 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm — Reply

    Nacpan does look really nice. Not that the rest don’t. 🙂 A year from now I’m planning to take off an live somewhere else for a year. Philippines have recently moved up into the top-5 possibilities. 🙂

    • July 3, 2014 at 10:56 pm — Reply

      Nice! It’d be a great choice, the internet there is pretty slow though…

    • James Santos
      June 11, 2015 at 7:34 pm — Reply

      Oh you’re gonna love here. From one Catholic country in Europe to another Catholic country in the Asia, you will readily feel at home. We’re one of the friendliest people in the world. Everybody can speak English and everyone can sing!

  4. July 4, 2014 at 4:09 am — Reply

    Oh my goodness this place is so beautiful its sickening. I would probably find it really hard to leave. I have been wanting to visit the Philippines for years now and I think this place would be a very good starting point.

    • July 5, 2014 at 1:19 am — Reply

      Do it! There are some great places in the Philippines, I’m sure I’ll be back to check more of them out.

  5. July 4, 2014 at 4:24 am — Reply

    I’ve never been to the Phillies…El Nido sure looks like a nice spot! Thanks for sharing your story.

    • July 5, 2014 at 1:19 am — Reply

      Cheers Jempi, hopefully you make it there one day.

  6. July 4, 2014 at 10:37 am — Reply

    Isn’t it wonderful to come across pristine beaches in developing countries? (It’s awful to come across garbage on the beach.) Nacpan Beach looks like a winner.

    • July 5, 2014 at 1:22 am — Reply

      Yeah, I haven’t seen too many dirty beaches in Asia so far though.

  7. Daniel
    July 4, 2014 at 3:46 pm — Reply

    i like nacpan beach this is a the best destination of palawan

  8. Marine
    July 4, 2014 at 6:25 pm — Reply

    I was in the Philippines for 1 month between mid-November and mid-December 2013! I liked many of the beaches around Bacuit, (sure Nacpan is so beautiful) Panglao, Boracay, Coron Island, Sipalay, Apo island etc. .. some that I keep to myself, because virgin;) and congratulations for your website !!

    • July 5, 2014 at 1:27 am — Reply

      You’ve been to some great places! Sugar beach on Negros is one of the best beaches I’ve seen, pretty even with Nacpan I think!

      • Marine
        July 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm — Reply

        Yes Jon !! Sugar beach is beautiful;) Ilove too Punta Ballo..
        sure, I’m going back next year to discover new places and share with Filipinos !! Have a nice sunday …

  9. Wojtek
    July 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm — Reply

    I have spent about a week last year over there. And to make the best out of it is to go on island hopping tour. That is where the best beaches are comparing to those you can find in the photos. Once you find a right one then you can pay for a transfer to one of those you liked and spend a whole day sometimes without single soul which is fantastic. Me and my wife both loved this place. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for quite and peaceful vacation. Will definitely go back.

    • July 5, 2014 at 1:30 am — Reply

      I also went island hopping and it was great – it’d be a shame if people visited El Nido and didn’t check out beaches like Nacpan though!

  10. July 9, 2014 at 3:23 am — Reply

    El Nido has been on my list of places to go for a long time. We’ll get there soon. Some great photos!
    Frank (bbqboy)

  11. July 14, 2014 at 4:03 pm — Reply

    Been to El Nido last 2012. I love Nacpan beach among all the beaches there.

    • July 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm — Reply

      It was my favourite too, definitely worth the ride out there.

  12. Marine
    July 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm — Reply

    Hello !! loving your blog 🙂
    I was in the Philippines between 12 November and 11 December 2013 .. A real pleasure to meet its people and its beauty .. I rented a bike from El Nido (very sporty) to reach Nacpan! I could not feel my arm, but what happiness arriving and discovering this beautiful beach, I spent time with the villagers and it was a great day for the exchange of laughter and music! forever the best beach..
    it is on in the rest of the Philippines I saw beautiful beaches other .. I wish Nacpan, can keep his “freedom” and her wild side for a long time and not end up with buildings built !

    • July 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm — Reply

      Thanks Marine! The countryside around the beach looked great, seems like riding a motorbike out there is a good way to see it.

  13. July 29, 2014 at 5:10 am — Reply

    The beaches look so gorgeous. With so many islands to choose from, I wouldn’t even know where to begin for a first trip to the Philippines.

    • July 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm — Reply

      It’s a tough choice, there are still so many places I want to see there.

  14. ida p. baron
    June 12, 2015 at 3:48 pm — Reply

    i and my family spent our summer vacation in palawan just a few weeks ago and we really enjoyed and amazed of the beauty of nature. nacpan beach is such a beautiful beach, clean and very clear water.

    • June 14, 2015 at 10:25 am — Reply

      Great vacation choice, we really loved Nacpan beach!

  15. Matt
    June 13, 2015 at 6:18 am — Reply

    You have not seen the beaches going further up north from Nacpan beach? Then you have seen nothing 😉

    • June 14, 2015 at 10:25 am — Reply

      Yeah I’ve heard good things, I’ll be back!

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