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I was disappointed with El Nido Town; it doesn’t live up to its ‘hype’:
- The accommodation is over-priced and poor value for money; it is almost impossible to find anything decent on the beachfront for less than PHP2500 / night
- The island hopping is over-priced and poor value for money; it is twice the price of the better Island Hopping Trips that you can get in Port Barton
- The restaurants are over-priced and poor value for money; it is almost impossible to find anything decent to eat for less than PHP200 – if you do, expect small portions
- The beach is average and so is the swimming
- Carong Carong Beach isn’t any better
I was going to discard El Nido completely until I rented a scooter and took a day trip to Nacpan Beach.
Nacpan Beach is about 17kms North of El Nido Town.
A Tribike will cost PHP300 each way (but, they may ask for as much as PHP800 to start with); if you want the Tribike to stay at the beach and wait for you to return to El Nido, they want PHP1500 – but you can negotiate this down to PHP1000.
The first 10-12kms is good going with a decent paved road and beautiful views.
The last 2kms of the main road becomes mettle.
The last 3kms down the side road to the beach is dirt track. On a scooter, you will need to take this carefully.
WHAT YOU FIND:
At the Tourist Information Centre you take the right fork to get to the main beach.
Here you will find a small group of restaurants… and a fantastic beach that stretches for 2-3 kms.
WHERE TO STAY:
ON THE BEACHFRONT:
From the restaurants, continue along the sand path to the east and you will pass small clusters of beachfront accommodation.
You can rent beachfront Double Fan rooms and small chalets with verandah and cold water ensuite for PHP1200; this is their asking price. You should be able to negotiate them down to PHP1000… less if you are staying a few days.
Look for a little group of cottages flying the Swiss flag.
On the way, we met a coconut seller.
However, from the Tourist Information Centre, you can take the left fork in the road. This takes you down to another little bay that is quieter and more secluded than the main beach.
One place has one building with 6 Double Fan rooms and three shared bathrooms. There is a nice front seating area. The price starts at PHP800 / night.
When I enquired, only 2 of the 6 rooms were taken; 4 were still free.
On one side of this accommodation, you will find a small family-run restaurant; on the other side, you will find a small bar.
Electricity in Nacpan Beach is not 24 hours per day. When you choose your accommodation, check their electricity times. It should be 6pm to 6am.
Please Note: Some of these places allow you to pitch your tent (and use their facilities) for PHP100 / night.
NEAR THE TOWNSHIP:
There are more accommodation options inland in and around the township.
No doubt, they will be cheaper than on the beachfront but why come to paradise and NOT stay on the beachfront?
There is, also, a campsite – but I don’t know the costs. If you are going to camp, why not do a deal with one of the accommodation options on the beach?
Food prices at the main beach restaurants is comparable to prices in El Nido.
A typical meal costs PHP150-220. As you would expect, there is a lot of seafood. The portions are small.
There are some simple dishes for PHP100 (like fried noodles). You can also buy fruit juices and shakes for PHP90-120.
I did not see any local restaurants back in the village (a 200m walk away); but there may be one if you have a look.
Your accommodation may have its own restaurant but don’t expect much difference in the prices.
Drinks are pricey. A small 500ml cold water is PHP30. A 1L bottle of warm water is PHP60.
I didn’t buy any soft drinks or beers but I suspect that a can of coke would be about PHP50; expect PHP60-70 for a San Miguel.
To keep prices down, buy some rum (750ml PHP90) and Coke (2.25L PHP60) in El Nido and bring it with you.
If you plan to stay, a couple of 6.6L bottles of water (PHP100 each in El Nido) would be a good idea.
I still had my Globe SIM card that I purchased at Manila Airport when I flew in from Hanoi to Puerto Princesa.
I could get a signal in Nacpan Beach.
The beach was clean.
The water was clean and a beautiful contrast of turquoise and blue.
Keep an eye out for Jellyfish though; on one part of the beach we found a few big ones – but you can see them in the water.
There are sandflies here – especially if you get back from the beach amongst the flora (where they hide).
If you plan on spending a lot of time on or near the beach, be prepared to treat a few bites every day. Come with a suitable remedy.
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
There is no ATM. Cash rules. Bring enough money with you.
You are a captured market; the shops are pricey. Bring some provisions with you.
El Nido is not a GRANDPAcking destination.
But Nacpan Beach is – as a ‘LIVING Idea’, anyway.
I would recommend that GRANDPAckers coming to El Nido bypass El Nido Town and Carong Carong Beach completely:
- Arrive in El Nido as early in the day as possible
- Get to an El Nido Supermarket and stock up with some provisions
- Take a chance…
- Grab a PHP300 Tribike one-way to Nacpan Beach
- Have one of you guard your luggage whilst the other looks for accommodation
- The worst case scenario is that you can’t find accommodation – in this event, you still have time to get back to El Nido Town that same day; the return trip should still only be PHP300 – and, you can always ask around to share a Tribike home with a day-tripper if you have trouble
A week in Nacpan Beach should be enough – negotiate your accommodation price accordingly – there are, usually, spare rooms around so you should be able to get at least a 25% discount off of their starting price.
I believe that the daily budget for a GRANDPAcking couple staying for 1 week would be:
- Accommodation: PHP800-900 for a beachfront Double Fan cottage with an ensuite, cold water shower, and verandah
- Food: PHP800 for both of you – to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a beachfront restaurant – all of which will be selected from the cheapest quartile of the menu
- This should leave you about PHP700-800 for drinks, incidentals, and LIVING expenses; this is enough to upgrade your Dinner to something really nice (like fresh crab) and have a few beers
- Bring some provisions with you and you can save a bit on food and drink costs
Nacpan Beach beats El Nido hands down. It is the type of place that I came to Philippines hoping to find…
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