El Nido is without a doubt one of our favourite places on the planet, so much so that we’ve been back 3 times since 2016, but can you really blame us? There’s nothing we love more than soft sand, rows of coconut trees and turquoise water, and there’s definitely no shortage of beaches in El Nido.
We spent our last trip in 2021 exploring more of the beaches in El Nido since there were very few tourists and even the most popular beaches were private paradises. After 2 weeks in El Nido, we feel like we have a pretty good knowledge of the best beaches in El Nido that you can access on the mainland without booking an El Nido island hopping tour!
WHAT TO BRING TO THE BEACHES IN EL NIDO
Prepare for your trip to the best beaches in El Nido with our must-have travel essentials.
Waterproof backpack & phone case: Earth Pak 35L or 55L Heavy Duty Backpack, IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case Included (click for price)
Quick-dry microfiber travel towel: Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Travel Towel (click for price)
Insulated water bottle: Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle (click for price)
Snorkel, mask & fins: Cressi Adjustable Mask, Fin & Snorkel Set with Carry Bag (click for price)
If you’re interested in photography and/or videography this is the gear we can’t live without:
READ: WHAT’S IN MY CAMERA BAG
BEST WAY TO GET TO THE BEACHES IN EL NIDO
The best way to get to any of the beaches in El Nido is to rent a scooter. There are tricycles on the island but they charge tourists extortionate prices, and having your own scooter takes the hustle (and hassle) out of the situation. We rented our scooter from Lakwatsero Motorcycles, which you can rent from for ₱500/$10 USD for 24 hours.
9 BEST BEACHES IN EL NIDO
1. NACPAN BEACH
We’re kicking off our guide to the best beaches in El Nido with one of our favourite beaches in the whole world, Nacpan Beach. This incredible beach stretches along 4km of golden sand, coconut trees, villages and vibrant turquoise water. Nacpan Beach is the very definition of paradise.
WHERE IS NACPAN BEACH
Nacpan Beach is approximately 30 minutes north of the main town in El Nido. The drive is paved all the way along the highway until you reach the Nacpan Beach turn off. From there it’s mostly slow going over dirt and potholes.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT NACPAN BEACH
Before the pandemic hit, Nacpan Beach was the most popular mainland beach in El Nido, with tourists flocking to the entrance to lounge on sunbeds, sip on coconuts and cool off in the pristine water. If you can get to Nacpan Beach before the throngs of tourists return, we absolutely recommend it, but if not there’s still plenty of beach to go around if you wander beyond the main entrance.
FULL BLOG POST: NACPAN BEACH EL NIDO GUIDE
Las Cabanas Beach is known as the spot to watch the sunset and is one of the best beaches in El Nido for this reason! We’ve spent many a magical afternoon set up along the sand at Las Cabanas Beach, waiting for the sun to dip below the horizon.
WHERE IS LAS CABANAS BEACH
Las Cabanas Beach is only around 15 minutes from town, heading south back towards Puerto Princesa. Park at the McDonald’s and walk through the Vanilla Beach shopping strip until you reach the beach. Don’t just stop at the first sign of sand though, Las Cabanas Beach is all the way at the far point.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT LAS CABANAS BEACH
You’ll want to get there a little bit before sunset to grab a good spot on the sand, and we recommend rounding the corner so you can get the best view of Pinagbuyutan Island, that big, tall rock jutting out of the sea. At the point is Las Cabanas Beach Resort where you can enjoy a sunset drink or two, but if you just want to watch the sunset in privacy then keep going a little way and set up under the trees.
FULL BLOG POST: LAS CABANAS BEACH EL NIDO GUIDE
3. DOLAROG BEACH
Dolarog Beach is a lesser-known beach in El Nido just beyond Las Cabanas Beach. Not many people venture this far out as it’s not the easiest beach to access, but if you can get there it’s well worth the effort.
WHERE IS DOLAROG BEACH
The only way to get to Dolarog Beach is either on foot during low tide or by kayak on high tide. Once you’ve made it to Las Cabanas Beach, keep going along the coast until you reach the jetty, that’s how you’ll know you’ve made it to Dolarog Beach.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT DOLAROG BEACH
If you thought the view of Pinagbuyutan Island was good from Las Cabanas Beach, you’re in for a treat at Dolarog Beach. Most of the beachfront is owned by Dolarog Beach Resort, but the owners are lovely and let us take photos from their jetty since they didn’t have any guests. Given that it’s right next to Las Cabanas Beach, it’s also no surprise that it has a banging sunset view so make sure you stay to catch it.
4. DULI BEACH
Not many people are aware that there’s a surf beach in El Nido. If you visit Duli Beach at the right time of year, you’ll likely be blessed with swell perfect for beginners as well as experienced surfers who want some fun, easy waves.
WHERE IS DULI BEACH
Duli Beach is around 40 minutes north of town. Unless you’re particularly adventurous, Duli Beach is likely as far north as you’ll go on your scooter. The road to Duli Beach once you leave the highway is dusty, dirty and bumpy, especially if you go in the dry season. Drive slow and don’t forget sunglasses. The dust is a killer.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT DULI BEACH
You can rent boards at Duli Beach for ₱500/$10 USD an hour, and there are also local instructors if you need a helping hand. If you’re not so into surfing or it’s not surf season, Duli Beach is still well worth the visit. There’s 2km of golden sand to explore, as well as rock pools and even a secret cave. At one end is Duli Beach Resort where you can rent surfboards but also stop for a bite to eat or drink.
Maremegmeg Beach and Vanilla Beach are two beaches for the price of one! Well, actually, it’s free entry but you know what we mean. These two beaches are found at the entrance before you get to Las Cabanas Beach, and in fact, for a long while we thought the whole thing was Las Cabanas Beach.
WHERE IS MAREMEGMEG BEACH & VANILLA BEACH
Getting to Maremegmeg and Vanilla Beach is exactly the same as how you’d get to Las Cabanas Beach. Park at the McDonald’s and walk through the shopping strip to the very end. That retail precinct is Vanilla Beach out to the water and then to the left of it is Maremegmeg Beach. There’s no line in the sand to distinguish between Vanilla Beach and Maremegmeg Beach, but no matter where you choose to lay your towel down you’ll be guaranteed a little slice of paradise.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT MAREMEGMEG BEACH & VANILLA BEACH
Whilst the sunset view at Las Cabanas Beach is unbeatable, the water is nicer to swim in at Maremegmeg Beach and Vanilla Beach. There are very few rocks, mostly just sand and crystal clear water. There are also a number of beach bars and boutique resorts along this stretch where tourists will head to for sunset drinks each afternoon. During peak season pre-pandemic days Maremegmeg Beach and Vanilla Beach would be packed at sunset, so we recommend getting there early.
FULL BLOG POST: MAREMEGMEG BEACH & VANILLA BEACH EL NIDO GUIDE
6. LIO BEACH
Lio Beach is more than just another beach in El Nido, it’s a tourism estate made up of resorts, restaurants and retailers. If you’re looking for a day out at the beach with all the facilities and amenities at your fingertips, Lio Beach is where you need to go.
WHERE IS LIO BEACH
Lio Beach is 15 minutes north of town just off the main highway. There’s a guarded entrance and you’ll probably feel like you’re in the wrong place to start with, but trust us, that’s the entrance to the beach. If you arrive by plane to El Nido, then you’ve already been to the Lio Beach estate since the airport is part of it.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT LIO BEACH
Lio Beach itself is a massive 4km stretch of golden sand overlooking Cadlao Island and El Nido Bay. One of the main attractions is the pier which is a perfect spot to watch the sunset behind Cadlao and marvel at the planes landing insanely close to the beach. Aside from swimming and chilling, you can check out the bars and restaurants just behind the treeline and you might even get lucky and witness a turtle hatchling release.
FULL BLOG POST: LIO BEACH EL NIDO GUIDE
Seven Commandos Beach is yet another one of our favourite beaches in El Nido, still on the mainland but only accessible by sea. The short strip of glistening white sand is separated into a local area and a small resort tucked into the trees and rocks at the other end.
WHERE IS SEVEN COMMANDOS BEACH
It’s a little more difficult to get to Seven Commandos Beach than the other beaches in El Nido that we’ve mentioned so far. Seven Commandos Beach is a stop on the History Island tour, but we promised you don’t need to book an island hopping tour to reach any of the beaches in this guide. You can DIY it to Seven Commandos Beach by renting a kayak from Corong Corong Beach, which was one of the best El Nido activities.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT SEVEN COMMANDOS BEACH
The welcoming party at Seven Commandos Beach made our trip all the more memorable. These two dog brothers welcome tourists to their beach, even going so far as to swim with them in the shallows. We spent most of our time in the public part of the beach with our dogs, but we did wander up to the resort to get a closer look. Aside from the resort owners, we were the only people on the entire beach but this isn’t usually the case pre-covid. Since it is a stop on island hopping tours, you should expect a lot of tourists here.
FULL BLOG POST: SEVEN COMMANDOS BEACH EL NIDO GUIDE
8. PAPAYA BEACH
You can’t go all the way to Seven Commandos Beach without making a detour to Papaya Beach right around the corner. A limestone cliff separates these two beaches, and where Seven Commandos Beach is developed, Papaya Beach is raw and rugged.
WHERE IS PAPAYA BEACH
Papaya Beach and Seven Commandos Beach are so close, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were the same beach. Papaya Beach isn’t on any island hopping tours, and the cliff between the two beaches can’t be climbed so you’ll need to kayak between the two.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT PAPAYA BEACH
Papaya Beach might be small, but it’s a tucked-away little paradise of sparkling white sand, tropical jungle and crystal clear water. With very little in the way of facilities, Papaya Beach is the perfect spot to kick back, relax and just take in the beauty of where you are – one of the most stunning beaches in El Nido.
FULL BLOG POST: PAPAYA BEACH EL NIDO GUIDE
9. EL NIDO BEACH
It might not be the most picturesque beach in El Nido, but the main beach in town is definitely a place you should visit at least once. You’ll likely go here to board your boat for island hopping, but spend a little time walking along the shore and talking to the locals.
WHERE IS EL NIDO BEACH
El Nido Beach is smack bang in the middle of town, where all the boats are anchored, ready to pick up tourists to go out island hopping.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT EL NIDO BEACH
Walking out onto the pontoon and looking back at the shore will give you a unique perspective of the town and Taraw Cliff looming behind the colourful buildings. You’ll see kids swimming and splashing in the water, and although it’s a lot cleaner now than it used to be, we still wouldn’t recommend it. What we do recommend is grabbing a bite to eat at Art Cafe or Cafe Athena on the waterfront.
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WHERE TO STAY IN EL NIDO
There’s no shortage of accommodation in El Nido, but having all those options can be a little overwhelming when it comes to choosing the best place to stay. We’ve chosen our top four picks for budget, midscale, boutique and luxury hotels in El Nido to make things easier for you.
BUDGET: DEN’GI INN
If you’re planning on being in El Nido for a while and you’re not looking to break the bank, Den’Gi Inn is our top recommendation. We stayed for two weeks and found it was the best value for money. It’s one of the cheapest properties in El Nido, but offers clean rooms, good amenities and is in a prime location in town.
MIDSCALE: FRENDZ HOSTEL
Frendz Hostel has a million dollar view without the million dollar price tag. It’s right in the centre of town but its height offers unbeatable views of the bay. From private to share rooms, it boasts having a bed for every budget, and its social environment makes it a great place to make new friends.
BOUTIQUE: THE BIRDHOUSE
If you’re looking for something a little different, The Birdhouse is that something. It’s a small five tent glamping hotel with unbeatable sunset views. Their tents are decked out with all the finer things in life, including private bathrooms, and their yoga platform is a destination in its own right.
LUXURY: SEDA LIO
For those with a little more cash to throw around we recommend Seda Lio, one of the biggest luxury beach resorts on the mainland. Housed within the Lio Tourism Estate, Seda Lio offers a haven to escape to after a long day of activities and island hopping.
MORE EL NIDO TRAVEL GUIDES
Nacpan Beach, El Nido
Duli Beach, El Nido
Las Cabañas Beach, El Nido
Papaya Beach, El Nido
Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido
Big Lagoon, El Nido
Small Lagoon, El Nido
Entalula Island, El Nido
Shimizu Island, El Nido
Nacpan Beach, El Nido