El Nido: Beyond the Boat Tours

Any trip to the beautiful El Nido in the north of Palawan island in the Philippines would not be complete without at least one, if not many, island hopping boat tours. We spent a wonderful day touring route A with Greenviews Resort’s boat which goes from Corong-Corong beach, and the best bit? There were only 7 of us on the boat so it felt like a private tour! But that’s another story.

El Nido is so much more than just the ridiculously turquoise waters and white sand beaches on the islands surrounding it (although this is probably what you came for), if you’re staying for a while a trip to Nagkalit-kalit waterfall and Nacpan beach is highly recommended.

We decided to rent a scooter for the day, because the tricycle trips offered for this day trip are approximately 1,500 PHP per person, and we could get a scooter for 400 PHP total for the day, from a guy in town recommended by our B&B; El Gordo’s Adventures.

The roads on Palawan are pretty well kept compared to some of the countries in Asia I have visited, and far less busy than anywhere else I have ridden, so it’s pretty safe if you’re a first-time rider.

We set out at about 9am and cruised the 30 minutes or so north of El Nido before we came across a few hand-painted signs on the side of the road indicating that the waterfall was nearby. The falls can only be got to using a guide, because there is no set path to take you there. Local families have set-up parking areas and small shops at the side of the road and will charge you to take you to the falls. We stopped at the first place we saw; run by Ray, who charged us 200PHP each. I think if we’d shopped around a bit we could have got it cheaper, but we saw it as a community donation; it’s nice to know the money is going straight to the local families who live at the falls.

Ray took us as soon as we had paid our money, marching at an almost jogging pace in his flip flops. Even with our considerably longer legs and trainers we struggled to keep up in the heat and were thankful for the 9 cool rivers you need to wade through to get to the falls. We visited in May and the big falls were dry, so our only option was the short 30-minute hike to the small falls. They’re really small, but the hike there is nice and there are lots of small bathing pools when you get there which you can swim in.

We were unsure whether to do the hike in flip flops because we knew we were going to get wet, but decided to just get our trainers wet, as the rest of the hike would have been pretty challenging in flip flops! Our shoes dried in no time once they were placed in a sunny spot on the beach later in the day.

After a nice cool off it was back down the trail (with Ray up front travelling at break-neck speed) and back on the bike to Nacpan Beach. Just another 20 minutes or so and we came across the red Tanduay Rum-sponsored sign for the beach which led us down a very bumpy dirt track and across some wobbly wooden bridges down to the sea.

The beach is huge and wide and beautiful and until recently untouched. There are a couple of beach-bar restaurants to get local fresh-cooked food and cold beers, and you can also rent a sunbed and umbrella from them too. We plumped for the shade of a palm tree a little away from the main crowds and after a delicious and reasonably priced (about 200PHP per dish) lunch whiled away the afternoon snoozing and swimming.

As we had the bike for the whole day we decided to head back to Corong-Corong beach for sunset. The sunsets in El Nido never stop giving; providing a beautiful photo op night after night and Corong-Corong is the best place to watch it, with the numerous beach bars and hostels which line the sand.