A can’t miss destination in El Nido.
Philippines / Palawan / El Nido
About a 45 minute tricycle ride away from El Nido Town, located northeast along the coastline, is a place that’s not so secret anymore. Nacpan and Calitang form the twin beaches, but have more recently been referred to collectively as Nacpan Beach.
Just about every tricycle driver, on any given day in El Nido Town is willing to take you to Nacpan beach; and for the standard rate, they will even hang out there all day until you are ready to return to El Nido. The typical fare during the high season (Jan- April) is 1-1.5K pesos for a round trip, and you can fit 2-3 people on a trike.
Just like anything else in the Philippines, your negotiation skills determine how much you actually end up shelling out.
I was easily able to get a round trip for 800 during the slow season that begins in June, but considering that I traveled solo, its not even that much of a discount. 800 for a round trip is a MUCH better deal when divided by three. So much for the advantages of traveling solo!
The more adventurous folks can rent a motorbike or scooter in El Nido, and the per day charges are typically less than one round trip to Nacpan on a tricycle, but be forewarned that the last 3 kilometers are very rough road, and it is specially difficult to travel along after a recent rainfall because of the amount of mud and water that pools up in the lower laying areas. You can expect to pay about 600 pesos per 24 hour period for a motorbike/ scooter rental in town.
What to bring along
Regardless of how you choose to get there, it would be advisable to make a stop at one of the local stores in town and load up on snacks and water for your beach trip. This will save you some time and money for sure. There are snacks for sale along the entrance to Nacpan beach at a premium, and with far less of a selection than what’s available in town.
There are a limited number of places to buy a hot meal as well if you prefer to sit down to a more formal lunch, but again, menus and options are typically limited.
Lastly, don’t forget the bug spray as the whiteflies (or nikniks as they are locally referred to) can be pretty relentless on those hot, humid, summer days. These are biting insects, but a little bit of repellant goes a long way in avoiding them. While you wont be pained by the bites, the itchiness and skin irritation can definitely put a damper on a day at the beach.
Views No More
One of the previous highlights of the twin beach area was the mountainous area on the peninsula. This short trek on (then) public land was a popular hike for scenic views of the twin beach for years, but recently has been purchased by a private development company, who has chosen to close off the area and place a guard station on the property. It is now off limits and is patrolled by an armed guard at all times.
Thankfully, I was able to fly my drone above the mountain to capture a similar view of the famous twin beaches. While it is certainly not the same as hiking, it offers some sort of consolation to be able to experience the view, even if only from a distance.
Like any good beach, Nacpan offers a number of different opportunities for activities both in and out of the water, but they are subject to availability.
You can rent a mask, fins and snorkel on the beach if you wish to explore the crystal clear waters. The soft white sand of the slow sloping shore continue well into the water, even at high tide, so you may need to be a distance away from the shore before you find some coral.
Sea kayaks are also available from vendors, but like the mask and snorkel, they are in limited quantities.
For those wishing to stay high and dry while doing a little bit of sunbathing, there are multiple chairs, hammocks and chaise lounges available for rent on Nacpan as well. First come first served, so make sure you plan to arrive early in the day!