The best, and the only, way to see El Nido is on two wheels. As most of the roads are still unpaved and unsuitable for cars and coaches, hop on a moped and go see the island yourself!
Moped hire is from as low as 600 php and make sure they chuck the helmets in for that price too! 150php (under £2) will fill up your tank which should see you through the day.
In the Philippines however, the roads are generally a lot clearer and nowhere near as manic as their equivalent in Thailand or Greece. Also, vendors in El Nido aren’t there to scam you or try to sell you a dodgy bike. They’re just there to make a living and hope you get a good day out of it.Obviously you have to be wary of the odd bad apple, but generally they are an alright bunch.
I still would never hire a bike in any other South-East Asian country but in El Nido it was a safe and cheap way to explore.
Probably my favorite beach of my Philippine’s trip. Powder white sands, hammocks, coconuts on demand and a perfectly clear, warm sea. If the midday crowds get too much then head further up the beach and climb the rocky outcrop for some killer views.
We inadvertently picked up two of the cutest kids who showed us the best paths up the hill then skipped off expecting nothing in return. Just don’t attempt to climb this final path unless you have some pretty decent climbing attire. I tried and ended up sliding my way down on my bum. And that soot doesn’t wanna come out of denim shorts…
Makinit Hot Springs
By far the weirdest stop. Keep your eyes peeled for the limited signage directing you to the springs. Once there, trudge for 15 minutes over the rice fields and let the few and far between locals direct you the rest of the way.
These hot springs are probably the least visited stop on the list and I would be very surprised if you bumped into anyone there. Be transported back to Jurassic times at the eerie springs, where bright green waters bubble and steam. Cross the logs precariously balanced across the boiling water and follow the smell of sulphur to the spring’s source.
This 90 minute round-hike to the waterfalls is well worth the moderate effort. Easily attempted in flip-flops and without a guide (despite the local’s insistence) this easy amble takes you through some beautiful palm-studded farm land and thick jungle. You wade through rivers, clamber up rocks and get interrupted by passing caribou but the effort pays off when you reach the (usually deserted) falls.
About an hour north of El Nido lies Duli Beach. This long stretch of perfect sand is usually deserted but would be crammed if it were more accessible. Take the time to sunbathe and swim in your own empty paradise and try not to think of what developers will do to it in the future…
Be prepared to pay 50php for admission.
Safari Verde Beach
Home to only a small exclusive eponymous guest house, this is your private slice of Robinson Crusoe wilderness. Paddle in the shallows or relax in the shade whilst making the most of this peaceful oasis.
Be warned! The moped ride here is not for the faint-hearted! This beach is situated in the very north of the island where the dirt tracks become vertical and almost impassable by moped. I had to get off and walk down many of the hills otherwise the moped would lose traction on the sand and chuck us off. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride of my life…