The Philippines is generating a buzz as a less-discovered alternative to Southeast Asian beach hotspots like Bali and southern Thailand. It's not hard to see why. The country has more than 7000 islands, most boasting at least an idyllic beach or two. With such a wealth of coastal pleasures on offer, it can be tricky to pick your spot. Here are a few areas to home in on.
The dramatic limestone formations of the Bacuit Archipelago keep the postcard vendors in business, but unless you're a serious rock climber you'll spend more time on the beaches around this laid-back northern Palawan town. The islands of the archipelago are blessed with dozens of beaches, the best of which are visited on island-hopping excursions out of El Nido. Alas, these do get crowded and cost a bit of money to get to.
Nacpan Beach, El Nido. Image by Allan Ascaño / CC BY 2.0
Not to worry, DIY explorers have several options at their disposal within an hour of town. A 20-minute tricycle ride south, the best sunsets in the area are at Marimegmeg Beach, also known as Las Cabanas Beach, where you can kick your feet into the sand and order suitably fruity cocktails at cool-kid happy-hour hangout Beach Shack. Forty-five minutes north of town by motorbike, Nacpan Beach is a divine 3km slice of beige sand that's perfect for swimming. Development is limited to a few rickety huts specialising in yummy seafood and shakes, and there is rustic accommodation here too. Another fine option is 7 Commandos Beach, which is on the mainland southwest of El Nido but is accessible only by boat. The standard El Nido island-hopping tours come here, but a better way to arrive is on your own by sea kayak from El Nido or Corong Corong Beach, 5km south of El Nido. 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