Palawan: Exploring the Last Frontier Bummin’ in El Nido’s Off-Beaten Tracks

On the third day of the adventure, we were supposed to take Tour B.  After Tour C, my body is aching all over, my voice is hoarse….and Tour E seems enticing….

MD and I pondered over our options a bit. We decided that it would do our aching bodies some good if we just engage in some serious beach bumming. While El Nido is famous for tours to the islands dotting the Bacuit Bay and its hidden lagoons, white sand beaches and magnificent karst landscape, I’ve read about previously hard-to-access inland beaches that are getting their fair share of the spotlight lately.

It was raining in the town proper that morning.  I think we made a wise decision. I am crossing my fingers that it is not raining where we are going. We bought some blueberry muffins and breads for breakfast and snacks.

We waited for our ride at the travel office of Joaquin BnB.  Soon, our trike will arrive and we will get going…..

Tour E, the El Nido Inland Tour

Although not part of the four island hopping tours of El Nido, a visit to the Twin Beaches Nacpan and Calitang is part of Tour E or the El Nido Inland Tour of some travel agencies. When island tours are cancelled due to inclement weather, this tour is a good alternative.

Tour E includes a trek to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls and Marimegmeg Beach.  A visit to Makinit Hotsprings may also be included but we were told we cannot dip in it which dampen our interest. We also opted out of the trip to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls after our trike driver told us that there is a 30-minute hike to reach the place. With the rains, it’s gonna be a muddy trek.  We’d rain check on that for now.  We want something effortless.  We would also be spending time in Marimegmeg Beach later for its vaunted stunning sunset (more on this below) .

Angel of Joaquin BnB arranged everything the previous night after our last minute switch from Tour B to Tour E. We paid P900 per pax for a stripped-down Tour E which includes lunch and a RT trike ride.

Here’s a guide to get to the Twin Beaches of Naktan and Calitang.  These are several options:

  1. Inland tour (Tour E) – While travel agencies offer the standard tours A, B, C and D, some are offering the so-called Tour E. A tour around the inland beaches and waterfalls. Cost is around P700-P1,200 (excluding lunch depending on the agreement).
  2. Van – There are transport services that offer a ride to the Twin beaches for P2,000-P2,500 (good for 10 – 12 persons).
  3. Motorbike – There are some shops where you can rent a scooter and drive on your own to the Twin Beaches. The prices for a scooter is quite high in El Nido. You have to pay around P700 per day.
  4. Tricycle – You can just stop a tricycle driver along the road. Normally, they will pass by every couple minutes. Ask him for a trip to Nacpan and Calitang Beach. Most drivers are offering the tour for P1500, but with a little bit of bargaining you can get the trip for around P1000. For instance, if you are a group of three people, then it will only cost you around 330 Peso for each person. This is perhaps the cheapest way to visit the Twin Beaches.
  5. Public jeepney from El Nido town – Taking this mode of transport will require an overnight stay in the beach since there is only one trip daily, leaving El Nido town at noon and returning in the morning of the next day. An overnight stay is a promise of a blissful experience with the serenity of the place and the amazing view of sunset that the place offers.

The roads from town are paved up to a certain point.  A good portion would be  rough roads. Be prepared for a dusty ride during summer or dry season and a muddy trip during the rainy months. Vans can make the trip in 45 minutes or so, trikes a bit longer.

After paying the entrance fee of ₱25.00 (Filipinos) / ₱50.00 (Foreigners), you can park your vehicles under the palm trees near the shore.

The trike took us in the mid part of Nacpan Beach where most of the huts and dining places are located. There are no posh resorts or fancy restaurants at Nacpan; just simple restos serving grilled fresh sea food and other dishes and a few basic accommodations.

Nakpan Beach

Situated in Sitio Calitang 17 kilometers north of El Nido town proper are the Twin Beaches of Nacpan and Calitang.  For years, its a secret hideaway for the very few who have discovered its unparalleled beauty ahead of everybody.   Slowly, the secret is being unraveled. The once deserted paradise is getting its fair share of attention. Today, the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang are included in the itinerary of tourists wanting to take a break from the punishing island tours.

Nacpan Beach, the longer among the two, is a 4-kilometer curving stretch of fine, creamy white sand is still relatively pristine.  At its southern tip, it merges with the smaller beach that locals also refer to the beach as Calitang Beach due to this unique characteristic, before the entire stretch is famously called Nacpan Beach.

Once you set your gaze in the endless Nakpan shoreline, you become captive to the beauty around you.

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For an urban jungle dweller, it is not everyday that my eyes can feast on the beauty of God’s creation ….

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Nacpan Beach is generally bare, unspoiled and unexploited, and thank goodness without the usual crowd in the other islands of El Nido.

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It was around 9:30 am when we arrived.  It wasn’t raining luckily.  There was just enough sunshine….. The sky is blue and clouds drift in the sky…. The whole beach scene is bleary… It was a bit cool, the perfect weather for one good beach bumming.

As we settled, we requested for hot water since we brought our own coffee/milo sachets to have breakfast. James, one of the staff, served two mugs of water with a smile. We ate some of the pastries. He got our order for lunch since it would take time to prepare our meal.

MD and I were the only guests at that time.  Really my kind of beach 🙂

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Soon, a Russian guy and a young white guy who spent the night there would emerged. How did I know he’s Russian… James told me ;D  A handful of foreign tourists would come and go. In the afternoon, some locals would also be enjoying this paradise. No one minded each other… another plus….

Nacpan Beach is popular among foreign tourists because of the unperturbed solace offered by this beautiful destination. Its long stretch of creamy sand is perfect for sunbathing, playing beach volleyball, and building sandcastles on a lazy morn…..

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These hammocks are icons. James told us these have made it to some travel magazines ….

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So with this chair….. Ahhh….la dolce vita …..

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Time to get a taste of paradise …….

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Where the sky meets the sea……..

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And frolicking is fun …..

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No hail nor storm can stop us now …..

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Savoring every moment ….

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Mom and daughter ….

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Islets dotting the vast horizon……

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The coconut-draped shoreline ……

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After dipping in pristine waters, it was time for lunch …

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Our seafood lunch ;D

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After our hearty lunch, we rested a bit…

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Enjoying the scene …….

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As we relaxed, some would toil …..

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Nakpan Meets its Twin, Calitang

It was time to explore …….

The coconut lined beach faces a small cove next to Base Bay.  The stretch runs southward to meet its twin — Calitang Beach. Together, they form a cape that sticks out to the sea that can get rough without warning.

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We decided to follow the woman following the dog …..

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On the way to the hill….

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A small, palm crowned, grass-covered low-rise hill marks the spot where the two ivory beaches meet. This spot guarantees a picturesque scene, the one we usually see in photos. Small islands dotting the bay can also be seen clearly from the beach.

The hill is where the beaches of Nacpan and Calitang meet. While Nacpan appeared to be almost endless, Calitang is much shorter. One end cradles a fishing village, and the other a row of multi-colored boats.  The local term “Nagpalitan” from where Nakpan was derived means “to switch, trade, or change” which makes sense because from the hill, one could see that one side of the beach has fine white sand while the other side is dominated by craggy rocks.  The two beaches merge in a narrow powdery sandbar that snakes into a verdant hill that lies adjacent to it.  The rocky side of the hill is more dangerous, as it faces the open sea.  The small privately owned Buri Island which can be reached by simply swimming can be seen from this hill.

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Photo credit:  Internet grab

The view atop the hill on a sunny day

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Photo credit:  Internet grab

At another time of day ……

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Photo credit:  Internet grab

Unfortunately for us, this is not our lucky day.  We won’t be able to see that spectacular view.  That hill which offers a panoramic view of the twin beaches is currently closed to the public due to an ongoing court case until further notice.

Reluctantly, we had to turn back….

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We walked the long stretch to the other side ……

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Stopping at this place which rocks 🙂

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Romance in the beach ;D

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An outpost serves as a viewing point ….

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More of the stunning views ….

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Even with the lack of amenities, Nacpan still holds a unique charm, making it the one of El Nido’s best kept secrets.  I just hope that development doesn’t spoil its natural beauty.

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Enjoying our last moments …..

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Not only for us but for this pooch…..

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How’s that for a view …….

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The human and dog bums ;D

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While the mum takes it to the next level …..

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And the pooch enjoys the shade …….

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I can have this all day long …..

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Snacking on coffee and blueberry muffins before leaving this beautiful place …

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After beach bumming to our satisfaction, we headed to Marimegmeg Beach.  It rained just about the time we left …..

Marimegmeg Beach and Las Cabanas

We were hoping to reach Marimegmeg Beach before the sun sets.  We reached it around 4:00 pm, just about the right time.  Although it wasn’t raining, the sun wasn’t in its full glory.  We were still hopeful we’d catch a glimpse of its famous sunset.

Two sandbar beaches connected to each other, with Las Cabanas on the left and Marimegmeg on the right, are located just 4 kilometers south of El Nido town, the quieter side of town.  It can be reached ahead of the town proper of El Nido coming from Puerto Princesa.  There are significantly more tourists here than in Nacpan Beach, possibly because it’s nearer Corong-Corong and the town proper.

Visitors can either rent a motorcycle that’s good for two, or a trike that could fit 3-4 passengers. Trikes are the most common form of transport going to Marimegmeg Beach which cost around P150 one-way from the town proper.

Maremegmeg Beach is another creamy white sand beach fringed by coconut palms.  It is also known as the Las Cabanas primarily because of the resort along the beach bearing the same name. Compared to Nacpan Beach, it is well-developed with a line of resorts located along the shore including its famous namesake.   A Las Cabanas Resort signage would be greeting guests by the roadside.  This beach is private and guests have to bring their own food or drinks.

Love this signage ;D

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The beach remains clean and offers fantastic sunset views for which it is known, the main reason we are here…

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There were quite a number tourists on the beach enjoying cocktails, beer, fruit shakes and other refreshments served from some nearby bars.  This beach appears headed for more “development” and it is not a surprise considering its proximity to the more popular El Nido town proper.

A 750 meter-long zipline that connects Las Cabanas Resort to Depeldet Islet, a rocky outcrop, has been installed.  It costs ₱500.00 ($10.69) going there and another ₱400.00 ($8.55) going back.  One can opt to walk back (during low tide) or swim.

Despite these mildly disappointing developments, the scenery is still pretty impressive, particularly the views at Las Cabanas Resort located on the southern end of the beach. The imposing mass of Pinagbuyutan Island and more islands beyond offer a magnificent backdrop.

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The Helicopter Island from this view point…..

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Trying to catch it ….. but twas’ an epic fail …….

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Bummin’ with the rest of the crowd ….

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A court magistrate at sea …..

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His highness is wearing the latest in seaweed hairpieces ;D…. I couldn’t contain my laughter 😀

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Back to serious bummin ;D

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Postcard shot 🙂

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Apparently there’s more to beach bummin …….

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Time to go back to our viewing deck ……

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With threat of rain ever present, the sun seems shy as we egged it to come with our cams ever ready to capture a proper setting of the sun. It would peep briefly but would not want to make a grand setting….

Today, the sun decided to be shy and showed only this much to us …..

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Still gorgeous if you ask me…..

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I have a lot of reasons coming back to El Nido.  Watching a nice sunset while drinking coffee is one of them….  To borrow a quote, “Sunset proves that no matter what happens, everyday can end beautifully.”

We left as dusk sets in……

Back in town, the rains roared ….. We are so gonna have a good night sleep …. Goodnight …zzzzzzz

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You might also want to read:

  1. Nakpan, Marimegmeg and the Inland Beaches of El Nido
  2. Marimegmeg Beach, El Nido, Palawan…. on a GENER-ous Day
  3. Enchanting El Nido Inland Tour
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