For many who have been lucky enough to travel to El Nido, there’s one word that can sum up the entire experience: paradise.
El Nido’s fabled pristine white sand beaches, mystical lagoons, and the majestic beauty of its limestone formations make it one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, but that’s only scratching the surface. The region is dotted with several islands to explore, but if you want to get under the skin of this tropical destination, here are ten off-the-beaten path attractions in El Nido:
Also known as the Bulalacao Falls, named after the barangay it’s located in, Nagkalit-kalit falls provides the idyllic backdrop for a refreshing waterfall swim and an afternoon picnic. To get there, you’ll need to hire a guide and a tricycle headed to Pasadeña Town. After around 15km you’ll arrive at Sitio Bulalacao, which is where the adventure begins.
There are 2 falls in Bulalacao, but you’ll want to get to the larger 70-foot high falls which will require a 1.5 hour hike through a virgin forest paved by tall trees, many of which are endemic to the area. If you prefer an easier hike, the small falls takes just 30 minutes to get to and is just as invigorating and serene.
San Fernando Beach is situated northeast of El Nido’s town proper, 55 minutes away. With only one development built in a breathtaking tropical environment nestled right between an unpopulated beach and a virgin forest, this beach is one of the best off-the-beaten-path beaches if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.
Qi Palawan is the only property you’ll find in San Fernando Beach, which specializes in kiteboarding and watersports but they also offer yoga and spa treatments for those seeking some R&R.
Duli Beach is located just 25 kilometers north of El Nido’s town proper. You’ll be greeted by a 2 kilometer stretch of beach that you can have all to yourself. The only visitors who travel to Duli Beach are surfers and guests of the small resort, as the coastline here is a little more rugged – making it ideal for board-based sports.
You don’t have to surf to enjoy Duli Beach though; at any given time there will only be a handful of people around. Take a book along, get on one of the hammocks, and enjoy the solitude.
A bumpy tricycle ride from El Nido town will take you to a beach few travelers still know about today: Nacpan beach, the perfect day trip from the densely populated Bacuit bay. It resembles what El Nido may have been decades ago, before tourists began arriving. Raw, pristine, and breathtaking are just some of the adjectives you can describe this charming coastal side of town; but it’s best you experience it yourself.
What sets Nacpan beach apart from other remote beaches is that it’s the closest one to town, which makes it perfect for a day trip away from the crowds. You’ll have the beach all to yourself, spare for the local sea side dogs, a few local residents, and fishermen. There are no accommodations on Nacpan beach, but there are hammocks and a few nipa huts some of which serve food and refreshments.
Some of the best views of El Nido aren’t just on the beach – they’re far up, and this is why rock climbing is popular in this part of Palawan too. However, the Canopy Walk is an easier and safer alternative to Taraw Cliff, which attracts adrenaline junkies who are already skilled with navigating tough and rough terrains. A short hike takes you up to the Canopy Walk, where visitors can safely traverse the metal pathway built high above the trees.
You will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of Bacuit Bay as well as El Nido town. There are metal railways installed throughout so even if you’ve never climbed before, there is nothing to worry about. Just like with any trip that involves a trek or hike, be prepared to have the right gear when visiting the Canopy Walk.
If you’ve done all the island hopping tours and explored the beaches, but are still thirsty for more nature, head over to the Mangrove Eco Park. Located nearby Marimegmeg Beach, the Mangrove Eco Park is around 500km away from Las Cabanas. Mangroves are an important aspect of any environment because they help maintain a healthy ecosystem no matter where they are located, and in El Nido this underrated eco park is a must-visit.
Exploring the Mangrove Eco Park is a short and relaxing walk, with wood and bamboo pathways to guide you above the emerald lakes and through the protected area.
Taraw Cliff is a famous limestone formation in El Nido that has captivated the hearts of mountaineers and climbers. Limestone karsts are one of the most prominent features of El Nido, and successfully climbing to the peak of this one will reward you with breathtaking views of Bacuit Bay.
However, this isn’t for the faint of heart; climbing Taraw Cliff is but you will need to be in good physical shape to complete it safely. Along the trail you’ll encounter lush tropical woodlands and tree canopies, but will also require you to use gloves to safely take yourself to the top of the karst formation.
Think that a tropical paradise like El Nido is void of culture and tradition? Think again. Visit the Sibaltan Heritage Area, which is still home to one of the region’s oldest ethnic groups. Come to learn about archaic traditions and the locals’ primitive way of life, much of which has been overshadowed by tourism.
At the Sibaltan Heritage Area, culture and nature blend harmoniously in an educational, informative, and beautiful setting. Some of the attractions here include the Pangko Maritime Museum and the Balay Cuyonon Museum. After immersing yourself in history, end your day by watching the golden sunset right at Sibaltan beach.
History buffs will enjoy a trip to Ille Cave, situated in the barangay of New Ibajay. Since the discovery of Ille Cave just a few years ago, it’s a new but extremely valuable archaeological site that has garnered the attention of archaeologists worldwide. Potteries, burial sites, and animal bones found in Ille Cave are testament to the fact that ancient tribes lived in El Nido over 12,000 years ago.
From El Nido Town, Ille Cave is just a 45-minute motorbike ride away. The entrance of Ille Cave has small posters with useful information about the cave’s history, artifacts, and tribal rituals. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also climb the cave exterior and explore inside, but be sure to bring along the right hiking shoes, flashlight, and gear.
Corong-Corong beach is just 10 minutes away from town, and because it’s so secluded this makes the ultimate romantic spot for a sunset picnic. The beach is framed by tall coconut trees, splendid rock formations, and front-row seats to the sunset. There are only a few small local establishments nearby, so pack your own wine, a book, and a mat to make the most out of this tranquil getaway near El Nido’s town proper.
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