Top 5 Mainland Beaches

Nacpan Beach This incredible, golden-hued, 3km beach somehow remains undeveloped save for a few snack shacks and some basic lodging. Change seems imminent – a Mad Monkey hostel was going up when we were there – so enjoy the mellow atmosphere while it lasts. Nacpan already gets quite crowded during the high season; walk north to find solitude. Nacpan is 20km north of El Nido proper, the last 4km over a rugged access road. A shuttle van does the journey (round-trip P600, eight daily).

Duli Beach This incredibly beautiful, jungle-backed stretch of golden sand toward the north tip of mainland Palawan is the centre of El Nido's surfing community. The season is November to March and board rental is available (P500 per hour) through a couple of places, including idyllic Duli Beach Resort. To get here, turn off the National Hwy around the Km 294 marker and continue 3.5km on a very rough road that ends in a slippery single track to the beach proper.

Maremegmeg Beach Often called Las Cabanas Beach after a local resort, this is the closest nice beach to El Nido town proper and has a rockin' sunset bar scene. A zipline (one way/return P500/900) flies over the water between the mainland and an offshore island. Every tricycle driver in town wants to take you here. The 6km trip from the town proper should cost P150 one way.

Dagmay Beach Another 2km north of Duli Beach the way the crow flies (4km on a rough road if you're not a crow), this lonely beach is the site of Villa Verde Safari & Pagi Dive Center, with comfortable fan cottages, kayaks and a dive centre.

Lio Beach The wealthy Ayala conglomerate, in conjunction with Ten Knots Travel, are developing this wide white-sand beach 7km north of El Nido proper into a swanky world-class resort area. For now it remains almost empty save for a few early-adopting restaurants and half-built hotels, so finding your own private patch of sand shouldn't be a problem.