Nacpan, Marimegmeg and the Inland Beaches of El Nido

the Twin Beaches of Nacpan and Calitang, El Nido

El Nido has long been associated with the islands at Bacuit Bay including hidden lagoons, white sand beaches and magnificent karst landscape. The town itself, located on the main island of Palawan, used to serve only as a launching pad for tours to these islands as well as overnight accommodations for visitors. However, in recent years, previously hard-to-access beaches further inland or near El Nido proper have now been getting a share of the spotlight.

The Twin Beaches of Nacpan and Calitang

the waters off Nacpan Beach
Nacpan Beach's crystal-clear waters

Situated in Sitio Calitang about 20 kilometers north of El Nido town proper, the Twin Beaches of Nacpan and Calitang have remained relatively unknown until just about 4 years ago. It is now on the itinerary of tourists visiting El Nido. Nacpan Beach, the longer among the two, is a 4-kilometer curving stretch of fine, creamy white sand still relatively pristine. At its southern tip it practically merges with the smaller Calitang Beach. A low-rise hill situated at this point provides an excellent panoramic view of both beaches.

Nacpan and Caalitang Beaches viewed from a hill
View of the Twin Beaches from a low rise hill

We rented a van that took us straight to the central 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 grills serving fresh sea food and other dishes and a few basic accommodations. The beach is unspoiled and the turquoise waters are clean, shallow and perfect for swimming.

southern section of Nacpan Beach
The southern section of Nacpan Beach

To escape the crowd at the central section of the beach we trekked to the southern portion of Nacpan which was even more pristine. This is where the hill that offers fantastic vantage views of Nacpan and Calitang is located. From this hill we also got to view Calitang Beach, another curving stretch of white sand located in a tiny cove. The beach is home to a fishing village as well as a few basic accommodations for visitors. We should have explored Calitang on foot but the sun's rays were just too unbearable by the time we got there. Fortunately the many coconut palms at Nacpan Beach provided a good shade. We got back to the central section of the beach, rested for a while, then explored the quiet northern section.

northern section of Nacpan Beach
The quiet northern section of Nacpan Beach

A visit to the Twin Beaches is part of Tour E or the El Nido Inland Tour. The latter may be done using a rented trike at P1,500 for 3-4 persons or a van for P2,500 (good for 10 - 12 persons). Visitors may also rent bikes at El Nido proper to get there. Vans can make the trip in 45 minutes or so, trikes a bit longer. The roads from town are paved up to a certain point; road construction was on-going when we made the trip but a good portion of the roads are still unpaved. Be prepared for a dusty ride during summer or dry season and a muddy trip during the rainy months.

fishing boat at south Nacpan Beach
Fishing boat at Nacpan Beach

Tour E includes a visit to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls and Marimegmeg Beach. In our case we opted out of the trip to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls; we thought that during summer and with El Nino in full swing the falls would probably have been reduced to a trickle by now. We had also spent time in Marimegmeg Beach (more on this beach below) so we decided to skip that as well and opted to just max out our time at the Twin Beaches.

Marimegmeg Beach

Another inland beach that has been garnering its share of attention lately is Marimegmeg Beach located about 5 kilometers south of El Nido town proper. Marimegmeg is another creamy white sand beach fringed by coconut palms. Compared to Nacpan Beach it is well-developed with a line of resorts located right along the beach including the famous Las Cabanas Resort. The beach however remains clean and offers fantastic sunset views.

Las Cabanas Resort at Marimegmeg Beach
Marimegmeg Beach and Las Cabanas Resort

We were rather surprised when we arrived at Marimegmeg on the late afternoon of our first day at El Nido. There were plenty of foreign tourists on the beach, enjoying cocktails, fruit shakes and other refreshments served from some nearby bars. We also noted, sadly, that based on older photos of this beach, some coconut palms seemed to have been cut down to make way for more "development." They have even installed a zipline to Depeldet Islet, a rocky outcrop easily accessible on foot during low tide.

the land bridge to Depeldet Island with Marimegmeg Beach and Pinagbuyutan Island in the background
View of Marimegmeg Beach and Pinagbuyutan Island from the land bridge to Depeldet Island

Despite these mildly disappointing developments the scenery at Marimegmeg is still pretty impressive, particularly the views at Las Cabanas Resort located on the southern end of the beach. There the imposing mass of Pinagbuyutan Island and more islands beyond offer a gorgeous backdrop. We probably should have stayed around for sunset, but decided to head back to town for dinner. Trikes are the most common form of transport going to Marimegmeg Beach and back but be prepared to shell out P150 for the trike to take you to the jump-off point for the short trek to the beach.

Corong-Corong Beach

sunset at Corong Corong Beach
Sunset at Corong Corong Beach

El Nido town proper is where most of the resorts are located. Since we wanted a quieter location relatively close to town, we chose a small hotel (Desert Rose) at Corong Corong Beach, just south of the town proper. We soon discovered that the area was starting to bristle with new accommodations. But as we settled down it turned out that Corong Corong is still relatively quiet.

low tide scene at Corong Corong Beach
Low tide at Corong Corong Beach with the karst landscape at El Nido town in the background

Corong Coromg Beach stretches for more than 3 kilometers, starting at a point just below the town market before turning towards Marimegmeg Beach. The early morning low tide at Corong Corong exposes a long stretch of the sea, turning that area into something like a mud flat. The imposing karst outcrop near town is visible to our right with the huge masses of Helicopter or Dilumacad Island and Matinloc Island in the distance.

sunset colors at Corong Corong Beach with Miniloc Island in the background
Stunning sunset colors at Corong Corong Beach

But what really endeared us to Corong Corong are its unobstructed sunsets. There were no dull sunsets during our 4 nights of stay here. The calm waves, the anchored boats offshore and the island masses of the Bacuit archipelago in the background, all awash in various hues of red, orange and yellow, combined to produce some of the most memorable sunset scenes we have experienced in the Philippines to date.

Caalan Beach

This beach is perhaps the least known among the beaches close to El Nido proper. There are a few accommodations here ranging from mid-range to high end and it is just a 10-15 minute walk from the town proper. Add the quiet but scenic atmosphere of the place, the unmatched views of Cadlao Island (the biggest in the Bacuit archipelago) and stunning sunsets, and you wonder why this beach has yet to capture the imagination of more visitors to El Nido.

the white sand of Nacpan Beach
Nacpan is just one of the many white sand beaches inland north of El Nido

And Many More…

One look at a Google Earth map and you realize that there are more white sand beaches north of Nacpan Beach. These include the beautiful white sand cove at Diapila close to the northernmost tip of Palawan island and the adjacent beaches of Duli, Mariposa and Verde Safari (25 km. north of El Nido town proper). All the roads to these beaches are probably unpaved just like the final stretches of the road to Nacpan, making them hard to access for now. With more infrastructure development in this region, however, it won't be long before you see more pictures of these beaches begin to proliferate online.

And then there are the islands of Linapacan that top billed a list of the 35 Clearest Waters In The World To Swim In Before You Die. The islands of Linapacan lie between El Nido and the Calamian Islands including Coron. It is possible now to go to the southernmost islands of Magransing and Mausonoan via a boat from El Nido. If you're coming from Coron, tours to Linapacan can likewise be arranged with operators in town. More to add to our bucket list!

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