Entalula beach has 250 meters of fine white sand lined by coconut trees, and waters the color of turquoise and emerald. The beach is great for swimming, and is a favorite place for picnic lunches and sports like volleyball, badminton and introductory rock-climbing. Dive sites are located in the west south side of the island.
Entalula is 15 minutes away from Miniloc Island and an hour away from El Nido town. It is uninhabited, except for a few guards who watch over the place.
Pangulasian Island is El Nido Resorts' private "eco-luxury island" in Bacuit Bay, El Nido. It has a 750-meter stretch of pristine white-sand beach, crystal clear Philippine tropical waters, a marine sanctuary at its doorstep, and enviable views of the sunrise and sunset. A trail located in the middle of the island is a good place for birdwatching, especially during early mornings and late afternoons. The trail ends at the peak of the island and provides a magnificent 360-degree view of Bacuit Bay and nearby islands. On the eastern part of the island, there's a 50-meter white-sand beach, a perfect spot to spend the day, away from other resort guests. Take your mat, beach bag, and a picnic and enjoy.
Pangulasian resort has 42 deluxe contemporary Filipino cottages and villas, all built to take advantage of the stunning beach views. Rooms and villas from P25,000. You have to be a guest at the resort to gain access to the island.
Also read Editor's picks: 13 Favorite hotels and resorts in the Philippines
The Sandbar, a 25-meter-long private beach at the back of Lagen Island Resort in El Nido and 45 minutes away from El Nido town, is a great place for a romantic dinner under the stars. It's also a favorite for island weddings and has been witness to many marriage proposals. Lagen Island Resort usually arranges lunch and dinner picnics on this private beach for its guests. But you don't have to be a resort guest to enjoy the Sandbar. Just make sure you give the resort advance notice if you intend to visit.
Found on Matinloc Island, Secret Beach is a sinkhole which you enter by snorkeling into a small opening through a limestone wall. At the corner of the sinkhole is a 10-meter white sand beach, the island’s secret beach. At noon, the sun streams in through the opening, allowing a play of light and shadow against the beautiful rock formations.The beach floor drops abruptly. There are four dive sites around the island with the one at the south tip of Matinloc being the deepest at 39 meters (124 feet). Best to visit when the sea is calm. Secret Beach is a famous tour destination in El Nido so expect to see a number of tourists stopping by.Matinloc Island is less than an hour by boat from El Nido Resorts' Miniloc Island. Book a tour of Secret Beach and nearby islands of Matinloc, Tapuitan, and Helicopter Island with El Nido Boutique & Artcafe for about P1,400.
Also read 10 of the Philippines' best beaches
The 120-meter beach on Dilumacad island or Helicopter island is a favorite stopover area for tourists on island hopping trips. Some small private tours stop here for snorkeling, swimming and picnic lunches. But on some days, you might just be lucky and find you have the island all to yourself. For divers, there is an underwater tunnel at the northern side of the island and a fringing reef on the southern side. If you’re with small children, make sure to keep an eye on them as the sea floor drops abruptly. Both ends of the beach have snorkeling spots. The island is uninhabited except for a few guards who secure the area.
El Nido Boutique & Artcafe organizes tours to Helicopter Island as part of an island hopping package, from P1,400.
7 Commandos beach
This is a rather huge beach, stretching to about 200-300 meters with fine white sand, crystal clear water, gradually sloping sandy seabed, safe for small children to wade in. About five meters on the left hand side of the beach is a snorkeling area where you can spot corals and schools of small fish. The island is uninhabited and there are no amenities available so bring your beach mat, umbrella, hat, food and drink if you plan to stay all day.
Located on Matinloc island, Kulasa is a beautiful 75-meter beach strip fringed by fine white sand, good for swimming and snorkeling. The sea floor slopes gradually and the water deepens only after about 10 meters. Its best during the summer months (March to May), when the water is calm. The island has no amenities and is uninhabited except for some guards who keep watch.
Located near Pangulasian island, Vigan island is referred to as ‘’Snake Island’’ because of its fine natural sandspit sandbar the shape of a snake. The 130-meter long sandspit is clearly visible only when the tide is low. Enjoy swimming around the island as there are shallow swimming areas on both sides. It's a favorite destination in El Nido so expect to see tourists around.
Also read Take me to... El Nido's Snake Island
Cadlao island, abaout a 25-minute boat ride from El Nido town, is known locally as a ‘‘mini-Tahiti’’. It has six beaches—Sandigan, Paradise, Sunset, Natnat, Subang, and Kalarangan—all fine, creamy white sand beaches with a gradually sloping sea floor and crystal clear waters, perfect for snorkeling and swimming. It is also home to Cadlao Lagoon which has the highest limestone peak in El Nido at 609 meters above sea level. Before entering the lagoon you'll find a coral garden teeming with schools of colorful fish. Cadlao island is uninhabited with no available amenities, but there are guards tasked by island owners to watch over the place.
Nacpan-Calitang twin beach
Located on the northwestern side of El Nido, about an hour’s boat ride from El Nido main town, the Twin Beach of Nacpan and Calitang, two white-sand beaches separated by a hill, are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Nacpan is a 5-kilometer stretch of white-sand beach with an undercurrent to be mindful of, while Calitang is smaller, like a little cove, with gentler waves. Lots of boats dock on Calitang's side because it's close to a fishing village. Most people who visit are day trippers, who arrive by habal-habal or bike or van from the main town.
Also read Take me to El Nido's secret places.
Located on the eastern side of El Nido, about one-and-a-half hour’s ride from Sibaltan village, Tapik beach stretches for about 300 meters and is a good spot for swimming. Some portion of the beach has lots of seagrass. The area is barely developed and serves as a good jump off point for island hopping and snorkeling around the eastern part of El Nido. There are three resorts on the island, one of them is Tapik Beach Park.
Imorigue island and Bacuit beach
The star of Imorigue island is what's underwater rather than on shore, but we thought for this alone, Imorigue has to be on our list. About an hour away from Tapik beach, Imorigue is the only karst island on the eastern side of El Nido, surrounded by spectacular diving and snorkeling sites. If you don't want to snorkel or dive, there's a 20-meter stretch of beach on the island called Bacuit beach where you can laze about and swim.
Located in Sibaltan village, Maosonon is a small uninhabited island with 500 meters of pristine white-sand beach. There are three empty huts on the beach where you can take shelter from the sun, but other than that there is nothing else on the island and no one around. The island was advertised for sale in 2012 for a cool P200 million. For that you get 112 acres of land, the beach, and a second smaller triangular island just offshore.
Also read Take me to... El Nido's secret places
Pinagbuyutan island has a small strip of white-sand beach with shallow meters extending to a few meters from the shore. Surrounding the island are colorful reefs, offering amazing diving and snorkeling. Bring your own snorkeling or diving gear as there are no gear rental on the island.
Located in Corong-corong, about 30 minutes away from El Nido main town center, Marimegmeg is quite a developed beach, with three resorts and two restaurants on the island. It has a nice long stretch of sandy beach, about 900m long, with a seabed that slopes gradually. Locals and tourists, however, come here not just for the beach, but the best sunset view in El Nido. The main beach has an unobstructed view of Bacuit Bay, and if this is not enough, there is a zipline set up from the top of the island, ending on Depeldet island.
Tapiutan Island is also called "Star beach" because of its home to hundreds and perhaps thousands of starfishes. Tapiutan (pronounced tap-wee-tan), about 10 to 20 minutes away from Matinloc Island, and about 50 minutes away from the main town center of El Nido, has two beaches, both offering icing sugar sand beaches, with gently sloping seabeds and gin clear water, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Talisay beach is about 50m long, while Palimango beach is just a couple of meters longer but is more famous of the two because this is where the starfish are.
El Nido: An overview
The small coastal town of El Nido in the far northwest of Palawan is the departure point for trips to the many islands of the Bacuit Archipelago. This is limestone island country, with spectacular rock formations rising from the iridescent sea everywhere you look. These iconic karst cliffs with their fearsomely jagged rocky outcrops are believed to have been formed 60 million years ago, emerging from the sea as a result of India colliding with mainland Asia.
The archipelago is a marine reserve, striving to provide a safe haven for turtles which nest on its many beaches and many species of fish. The area’s striking beauty has not gone unnoticed by developers, who have established a number of exclusive resorts on some of the islands.
Where to stay
El Nido Resorts has four luxury resorts in El Nido, offering private beaches and superb diving.
El Nido's Miniloc Island Resort is set in a peaceful cove with a dramatic backdrop of sheer limestone cliffs. The gin- clear waters at the resort are rich in marine life, and from the end of the pier it’s possible to snorkel alongside meter-long groupers and perhaps even a passing turtle.
El Nido's Lagen Island Resort is equally as beautiful, constructed around a cove with rainforest and cliffs at its rear. It has 51 rooms including water cottages built on stilts on both sides of its cove, beachfront cottages with a view of the cove and of the sunset, and forest rooms built on the fringes of a dense tropical forest.
Rates are from P30,500 a night, good for two people. The resort is 45 minutes away from Lio Airport by boat. It's a bit pricey, but ideal for exploring islands in west El Nido. For more information, call +632 902 5951.?
For some place budget friendly and yet equally ideal as main base for exploring western El Nido, book at MaryGold Beachfront Inn located in El Nido town proper, 20 minutes away from Lio Airport and 10 minutes away from El Nido Terminal. The resort has airconditioned rooms for P2,750 a night, good for two persons with breakfast. Cottages are without airconditioning, only fans, and cost P1,350 a night for two. For more information, call +63917 624 7722.
Tapik Beach Park is located on the eastern part of El Nido, about an hour away from Imorigue and an hour and a half away from Maosonon Island. The resort has cottages from P900 a night to P1,900 a night, both rates good for two people. For more information, call +63916 660 8084.
El Nido Overlooking is located along the national highway in Corong-corong. It has four villas, all with panoramic views of Bacuit Bay. Rates are from P5,250 to P12,500. The resort is five to seven minutes away from El Nido town proper by tricycle, P50 per person. For more information, call +63916 631 7078.
How to get there
Airswift has daily direct flights from Manila to El Nido, for about P13,000 (US$279), round trip. Another option is to book a Cebu Pacific flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, roundtrip airfare from Manila is about P3,000, and take a five-hour El Nido bound shuttle van (P700 per person). Lexxus Shuttle Services’ vans can pick you up at Puerto Princesa Airport, or you can ride a tricycle from the airport and go to San Jose Bus Terminal to take the Cherry Bus to El Nido. To get to Nacpan-Calitang, take a jeep (P50) from the El Nido town terminal. Jeeps ply once daily at about 10am. To get to the eastern side of El Nido, hop on a bus from the terminal in the main town of El Nido at around 11am and get off in Sibaltan. Travel time is about one-and-a-half to two hours, but can take up to four hours depending on the frequency and length of stops. It’s best to rent a bike in El Nido town for P800 for a whole day’s use. There are also a lot of boats that can be rented in the area. Boat rentals range from P3,500 to P6,000, depending on the number of people, for a whole day of island-hopping around El Nido. The best time to go is from March to June when the waters are calmer. For more information, contact the El Nido tourism office at +63999 978 7257.
El Nido Tours
Palawan Explorers offers island hopping tours in El Nido, exploring stops with breathtaking views of Bacuit Bay and the surrounding islands of El Nido. Tours range from P1,200 to P1,400 per person, which includes packed lunch, drinking water and use of snorkeling gear. Bespoke tours can be arranged for P6,000 per person. For more information, call +63949 390 3224.
El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe, near the pier in the El Nido town proper, is one of the oldest island hopping, kayaking, and snorkeling tour operators in El Nido. It is also a souvenir shop with a cafe on the second floor and serve as an information and contact center for services, including lodging, tours, rentals, money changing, airline ticketing and booking, and flight reconfirmation. Tour rates range from P1,200 to 1,900 per person. Snorkel gear hire is available. For more information, call +63920 902 6317.
Marte Abueg is Inflight Traveller's contributing writer, who covered the El Nido area for the magazine's beach issue.
Ferdz Decena is the travel blogger behind Ironwulf.net. He lived in El Nido for a few months while on commission work for a resort.
Arvin Acosta is El Nido's tourism officer.
- Did we miss your favorite beach? Use the comments page to let us know.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller February to March 2007 and December 2015 to February 2016. Updated June 2016