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TRAVEL | PHILIPPINES | PALAWAN

5 stunning beaches in Palawan

I consider myself pretty spoiled when it comes to the beach. Even though I grew up in Sweden, I was so used to having beaches with sand that was as white as flour and equally fine, sprinkled with dried black seaweed (none the edible kind…). It almost came as a shock when I realised that this was not the norm for beaches elsewhere. I have always held reservations for ‘famous’ beaches because they tend to be overrated. Palawan is hailed to have some of the best beaches in the world and has high expectations to live up to! I was eager to be blown away.

Bali and Phuket are usually my best examples for beaches that are overhyped, in my opinion. Kuta, Seminyak and Nusa Dua all fell short to me. Patong and Karon beach are likewise nothing extraordinary, with an exception of Koh Phi Phi, and the small islands around there. They are all located either conveniently or in a picturesque environment while being overloaded with tourists – which is my biggest issue with most beaches, to be honest.

What makes the beach that I grew up with so amazing, you might ask? Well, it offers that powdery white sand that everyone is dreaming of experiencing. It also offers treasures such as amber that can be found on the beach if you are lucky and have sharp eyes. The 18C average water temperature on a good day in the summer, might leave more to be desired though. As usual, the truckload of tourists in the summer is a common nuisance as well.

All that being said, I would like to introduce to you our top 5 Palawan beaches that we believe are very well worth a visit if you happen to be nearby! We’d recommend at least an hour or five, on the beach to fully soak in and enjoy the experience.

Pristine Beach

Puerto Princesa

Pristine Beach is located very conveniently near the airport. We had rented a scooter and was driving around Puerto Princesa to take in the views, and practically stumbled on this beach. As it was our first day in Puerto Princesa, we thought we should get a good first glimpse into what Palawan’s beaches had to offer! 

The beach itself is located down a gravel road, making the beach feel secluded and hidden. There is a guard where you have to buy entrance tickets (P20 / person) and right outside the beach, you have to show the ticket to the guard there that will allow you to go in. Immediately inside, we see beach huts built on stilts, a bar selling refreshments and a number of tables and huts available for rent. Beyond the huts, lies the beach, though it can be argued about how clean it really is. The low tide also doesn’t help the look and feel. But once you walk out and go past the shallows, you will find clear, warm water to splash around in. 

Even though it was our first encounter with a beach in Palawan, we were not too impressed. But considering its location, and the other beaches we saw in Puerto Princesa, this beach is still worth checking out.

Nagtabon Beach

Puerto Princesa

Located some 33km outside of Puerto Princesa, with a large bay facing north-west, this stunner of a beach really hit the spot for us. The beach has fine, light yellow sand with almost no seaweed nor seashells. The beach itself is guarded by mostly palm trees as a first line of defense and supported by high mountains behind, keeping the sea at bay. The water itself is clear with decent visibility in spite of the sandy bottom. The water does have the stinging plankton, so it can be good to bring a rash guard along.

The highlight for us at the beach turned out to be the fresh seafood lunch that we had. Freshly grilled grouper and squid, together with rice and local soy sauce mix, was absolutely amazing! It was so good we ordered a second round after only a few bites. 

We also really appreciated the lack of people on the beach. When we were there (on a Monday), there were not more than maybe 15 people in total on the whole beach, excluding locals. When we asked around later, we were told that on the weekend there would normally be thousands of people on the beach. So we felt lucky we had had the beach almost all to ourselves. 

Nacpan Beach

El Nido

We arrived after a 6-hour ride to El Nido and were really excited to finally be here after having talked about it for so long! Our plans were to go on Tour C among the islands the next day, but as we had been caught in the rain Just a few days earlier, we thought it would be wise to check the forecast before booking. Our hearts dropped. The next 3-4 days, the weather was predicted to be heavy rains. Of course. 

Because of our bad luck, we decided to visit the Nacpan Beach instead as it is still somewhere we want to go and is more friendly towards bad weather than touring among the islands. In spite of the rain, heavy clouds, and occasional downpour, we ended up enjoying our time there. Nacpan is 20km from El Nido centre and it takes roughly 40min with a scooter to reach it. 

The beach itself is massive. It is located in a bay that is crescent formed, and on our day there, had very calm water with barely any waves to speak of. Due to the gloomy weather, there weren’t many visitors, though there were still more than we expected. Along the beach, you can find several bars and restaurants serving both food and drinks of all kinds. The beach is also the residence for a number of stray dogs that freely walk around on the beach, alternating begging from food, sleeping and playing with each other. 

The water was warm and clear and nice to just lie and soak in. We did feel some of the telltale signs of the stinging plankton and recommend that you bring a rash guard if you plan on being in the water for a longer time. 

Las Cabanas Beach

El Nido

Anyone that has read anything about El Nido, will know something about Las Cabanas. Hailed as the #1 spot to go for sunsets, not only in Palawan but also as one of the best spots in the world, this was a beach we could scarcely miss out on. 

The beach itself is a bit troublesome to get to. If you come from El Nido, it’s about 20 minute long ride with trishaw. Then the driver will drop you by the roadside, and you will have to walk down a long, steep stairwell. Once you are down by the beach, you find yourself standing on the wrong side of the bay, and will have to walk to the very end of the beach in order to reach Las Cabanas. Patience and energy is required to go to Las Cabanas, though if you want, there are watering holes to stop by with friendly staff that will help you with a beer or drink of your choice. 

The beach itself is gorgeous. The water is shallow, the sand very fine and closer to white than yellow. The waves were non-existent when we were there. There are also plenty of huts available if you stay at the hotel, as well as hammocks. For the adventurous type, there is a zipline that you can ride from the small island to Las Cabanas which looked like fun, but something we will try the next time we get there. 

Las Cabanas Beach

Corong Corong Beach

El Nido

Corong-Corong beach can be seen from Las Cabanas as it is pretty much on the opposite side on the larger bay area. While you can’t walk in-between these two beaches, you can easily look at it and wonder what it will be like walking on the sandy shore. If you have these thoughts in your head, then we can recommend to go and enjoy the restaurants and bars located along the beach. It’s not so good for sunbathing, but it’s great for chilling and relaxing. 

The beach itself is fairly narrow, especially during high tide. It has shallow waters that stretch for a good couple of hundred meters out. You can judge the distance by where the boats are anchoring for the night. During low tide, it can be quite fun to walk around in the shallows and look at all the crabs and sea life that are living in the sand. 

When we caught the sunset, the tide was low. It allowed us to walk out quite a bit to better frame the pictures and get fewer boats in the picture. Seeing the sun slowly set over the islands, with a few cotton clouds moving across the blue sky, made me a happy camper. 

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