Nacpan Beach in El Nido is arguably the most stunning beach in Palawan and one of the most popular beaches in all of the Philippines. This beautiful shoreline of golden sand stretches for 4 kilometres, lined with rows of coconut trees and flanked by turquoise blue water. If you’re looking for the definition of paradise, this is it.
In its heyday (pre-pandemic era) the main entrance of Nacpan Beach was bustling with tourists looking to experience a little paradise for themselves. However, even on a crowded day it’s not hard to take a stroll down the beach to find your own secluded spot. We’ve experienced both versions of Nacpan Beach, the tourist hot spot and the ghost town of COVID times, and have loved it both times.
WHERE IS NACPAN BEACH
Nacpan Beach is just over 30 minutes north of the main El Nido town, still on the mainland. That’s one of the best things about Nacpan Beach, you don’t need to island hop to get there! The easiest way to get around El Nido is to rent a scooter or motorcycle if you know how to drive one. You’ll definitely want to avoid renting tricycles as two tricycle trips add up to what you’d pay for an entire day of scooter rental. The most reputable scooter rental in town is Lakwatsero Motorcycles, which you can rent from for ₱500/$10 USD for 24 hours.
The drive to Nacpan Beach is scenic and paved up until you turn off the highway and cut through to the coast. The signpost on the highway sneaks up on you so make sure you keep an eye out! Once you turn down the side road it’s mostly dirt and dust until you get to the beach, so take it easy.
NACPAN BEACH ENTRANCE FEE
The first time we visited Nacpan Beach was a couple years ago in 2019, so the memories are a little hazy about the entrance fee. Our second time visiting in 2021 there was no “entrance fee”, however we were asked to pay an El Nido environmental tax of ₱200/$4 each. If you’ve already paid this when you went island hopping, you don’t need to pay it again. Just make sure you bring it with you or at least take a photo on your phone.
WHAT TO BRING TO NACPAN BEACH
Prepare for your trip to Nacpan Beach 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)
Action camera: GoPro HERO9 Black (click for price)
GoPro dome: TELESIN Dome Port Lens for GoPro Hero 9 (click for price)
Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro (click for price)
Snorkel, mask & fins: Cressi Adjustable Mask,Fin & Snorkel Set with Carry Bag (click for price)
WHAT TO EXPECT AT NACPAN BEACH
Nacpan Beach curves around from point to point, with 4 kilometres of sand in between. Where you enter from the parking area, there are a few wooden picnic cottages, and back in the day there were rows of sun beds full of tanning tourists. Now there are no sun beds and no tourists, and you might even get the entire beach to yourself. If you have the opportunity to visit Nacpan Beach before the tourists come flocking back, take it. You’ll probably never have the chance again.
Save for a few little resorts and a small fishing village, the area surrounding Nacpan Beach is almost entirely undeveloped. The crescent-shaped beach and vibrant blue water take centre stage, so you’ll want to bring your drone if you have one. The view is phenomenal from above.
At the southern end of Nacpan Beach is a grassy point dotted with coconut trees. There’s a cut across to the adjacent beach aptly named Twin Beach. Not so popular amongst tourists, Twin Beach is home to local fishing families and isn’t as pristine as Nacpan Beach, but is still a beautiful spot to visit if you have the time.
One thing we absolutely love about Nacpan Beach is that the soft sand goes a long, long way out into the water. This is pretty hard to come by in the Philippines, as even some of the most beautiful beaches give way to limestone rocks, seaweed gardens and coral within a few metres of the shoreline. But not Nacpan! You can swim out well beyond standing height and not worry about stubbing your toe on a sea urchin.
As if Nacpan Beach wasn’t beautiful enough, add a bent palm tree to the mix and its insta-worthiness multiplies tenfold. It’s unreal the lengths people go to get a photo with a tree, ourselves included. We walked up and down the beach searching for this bloody tree for a good thirty minutes. To save you some time, you’ll want to head north aka the right side of Nacpan Beach to find this bent palm tree. She doesn’t look like much from the ground, but trust the process… and the drone.
Nacpan Beach will forever be one of our favourite spots in the Philippines and is the kind of place we could keep coming back to, over and over again. It’s a photographer’s dream come true and a beach bum’s haven. It would be an absolute crime to visit El Nido without spending a day at Nacpan!
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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.