Papaya Beach El Nido is a stunning little cove on the mainland of Palawan, totally tucked away from the rest of the world. The absolute isolation gives it a very Survivor-esque feel, which is one of the reasons why we love it here so much.
Its sparkling white sand and vibrant blue water surrounded by coconut trees and towering limestone cliffs make Papaya Beach El Nido one of the most popular destinations for kayakers. We spent the day kayaking around Bacuit Bay, from Corong Corong to Papaya and its neighbouring Seven Commandos Beach, and it was one of the best things we did in El Nido.
WHERE IS PAPAYA BEACH EL NIDO & HOW TO GET THERE
Papaya Beach is on the mainland of Palawan, not far from El Nido town proper. However, just because it’s on the mainland, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to take a scooter there. Papaya Beach is completely remote. It’s also not even on the El Nido island hopping tour itineraries, so kayaking really is your best bet! The neighbouring Seven Commandos Beach is on the History Island tour, so you could probably duck across from there if you have time. But, if you want to make the most of it you’re better off renting a kayak for the day.
WHAT TO BRING TO PAPAYA BEACH
Prepare for your trip to Papaya 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)
READ: WHAT’S IN MY CAMERA BAG
DIY KAYAKING TO PAPAYA BEACH EL NIDO
We started our kayaking adventure from Corong Corong Beach, which is the closest jump off point if you’re heading to Papaya Beach. We rented our kayak from Jem Brex Kayak Rental, right there on the beachfront of Corong Corong. It was super convenient and the kayaks were really well maintained, the owners were also very accommodating with our last minute decision to go kayaking. It’s usually ₱600/$12 for a full 8 hour day but they have a great COVID special for ₱350/$7 at the moment! You can also rent a half day for ₱200/$4.
Initially, we were going to rent one kayak each so we could get better photos, but the wind wasn’t having it. Or, more accurately, Zowie’s minute muscles were no match for the Amihan winds. We made it about 15 metres before we turned around and rode the wind back to shore, hopping into one kayak and setting off again.
Paddling past, sometimes even through the dramatic backdrop of El Nido’s famous limestone cliffs was quite surreal. Our favourite part of the journey was definitely passing through this narrow crack in the limestone.
Depending on the conditions, it’s around 20 – 30 minutes, but if you want to break it up there are a few little beaches along the way. We decided to go full steam ahead and relax once we made it to Papaya Beach. You might be wondering how you’re supposed to know which beach Papaya even is, but there’s plenty of cell service to look your location up on Google Maps if you’re not sure.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT PAPAYA BEACH EL NIDO
With tired arms, we made it to Papaya Beach El Nido and pulled our kayak up onto the powdery sand. There was no sign of any other human life, but a pandemic tends to have that effect on Palawan tourism sites. We were stoked to have this little paradise all to ourselves.
Papaya Beach El Nido is somewhat separated into two. The first patch of sand where you would park your kayak is just a small section of Papaya, but if you walk through the trees you’ll come out onto the main beach.
This stretch of beach is a lot longer, with a handful of amenities marked by colourful flags. When Palawan tourism is pumping, Papaya Beach gets a lot of visitors so they’ve developed it just enough to keep people happy and comfortable.
We actually didn’t bring the drone kayaking as we were a little scared of getting it wet, but we weren’t about to miss out on the opportunity to drone Papaya Beach altogether. A few days later we returned to the same area on an El Nido island hopping tour to Seven Commandos Beach with Ape Tours. They parked the boat close enough to get a few drone snaps of Papaya Beach.
CONTINUE TO SEVEN COMMANDOS BEACH
After a solid time spent at Papaya Beach, we hopped back into the kayak and paddled a short distance around the big rock and over to Seven Commandos Beach. You’ll definitely want to do this and tick another beautiful beach off your bucket list! Check out our guide to Seven Commandos Beach here.
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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.