Ever since we returned to the Philippines eight years ago, our preference has gravitated towards off-the-beaten-track, relatively undeveloped travel destinations. Not only are those places devoid of the usual huge tourist crowds, they also tended to be much more pristine. (It’s one reason why we never even considered revisiting Boracay.) Our recent trip to El Nido gave us a chance to visit a destination we’ve only read about in the last 2 or 3 years – the Twin Beaches of Nacpan and Calitang.
As we were planning our El Nido trip, however, it became obvious that the secret of the Twin Beaches was now out of the bag. Tour operators are now offering Tour E or the El Nido Inland Tour, the latest addition to the packages that are Tours A-D, and it included the Twin Beaches. Surely Nacpan and Calitang Beach would be on the itinerary of most visitors to El Nido by now. And so it was with a little trepidation that we set out on our foray to the Twin Beaches, situated about 20 kilometers north of the town proper of El Nido.
Sure enough there was a good number of tourists when we arrived at the central section of Nacpan Beach, the first half of the Twin Beaches. This section of the beach is where most of the native-style huts and dining places are located so that visitors tended to congregate here. There are no posh resorts or fancy restaurants at Nacpan – but rather just a few basic accommodations, huts for day guests and simple grills serving fresh sea food and other dishes. The lack of electricity here has impeded development but it has also kept the beach relatively pristine.
We stopped at the central section of Nacpan Beach for lunch and a little rest but were soon off to visit the other sections of the beach. The longer of the Twin Beaches, Nacpan is a 4-kilometer curving swath of fine, creamy white sand that is both long and wide. The crystal-clear turquoise waters are shallow out to several meters from shore, making Nacpan an ideal beach for swimming.
Wanting to escape the crowd at the central section, we trekked to the southern portion of Nacpan which was practically deserted except for one or two visitors and some fishing boats owned by locals. The serenity of this portion of Nacpan was relaxing despite the heat of the afternoon sun. It was encouraging to note that, despite its increasing popularity, Nacpan Beach has maintained its pristine condition.
The southern section of Nacpan is also the point where it merges with the shorter Calitang Beach. A low-rise hill at this juncture offers an excellent panoramic view of both beaches, especially Calitang Beach. The juncture is a wide tract of fine, creamy white sand beach that we traversed on our way up the hill.
Calitang Beach is a curving stretch of white sand, almost like a cove. Since the waters here are protected the waves are much calmer than in Nacpan Beach. It is also home to a fishing village with boats anchored along its length. There are a few tourist lodging places here that offer basic accommodations. We did not tour Calitang Beach – the sun’s heat was becoming too unbearable by this time – but in retrospect we probably should have taken the time as it surely provides a good insight into the lives of local fishing families in the area.
Our final foray before heading back to our resort at El Nido town was into the northern segment of Nacpan Beach. Just like the southern portion, this beach is practically deserted. The long line of coconut palms swaying in the afternoon breeze along the powdery white sand continues here, ending at a point about 2 kilometers from the line of huts and dining places at central Nacpan Beach.
Normally, a trip to the Twin Beaches is included as part of Tour E. This may be done using a rented trike at P1,500 for 3-4 persons or a van for P2,500 (good for 10 – 12 persons). It is also possible to rent motorbikes to get to the Twin Beaches. Vans can make the trip in 45 minutes or so, trikes a bit longer. The roads from El Nido town proper are paved up to a certain point but a good portion of the roads – especially the last leg of the way to the beaches – are still unpaved. Be prepared for a dusty ride during summer or dry season and a muddy trip during the rainy months.
Tour E includes a visit to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls and Marimegmeg Beach. In our case we opted out of the trip to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls. With the summer heat and the El Niño phenomenon in full swing the falls would have been reduced to a trickle by now. We also spent our first afternoon at El Nido in Marimegmeg Beach so we decided to skip that as well and opted to just max out our time at the Twin Beaches.