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.
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!)
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.
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
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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