With all the unbelievably beautiful islands sprinkled off the coast of El Nido, the idea of spending each waking day out on island hopping tours is nearly irresistible. It was true for me during my first time visit. I didn’t tire spending two full days seeing amazing islands one after the other, and, even then it wasn’t enough. I always craved to go back.
I also wanted to know if there were places worth visiting in the mainland part of El Nido. Stumbled upon FlipNomad’s post about the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines. I had to see the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang for myself! On my return to El Nido, I did just that and it was well worth the visit.
Bird Saliva Soup for Breakfast, anyone?
Another thing I missed to do last time was getting a taste of “Nido Soup,” the Filipino version of the Chinese Bird’s Nest Soup. Before the day tour to Nacpan and Calitang, we dropped by El Nido Skyline Grill, which serves the dish and is open for breakfast. A bowl of Nido Soup costs P200. It tastes almost like your plain-old egg drop soup, so don’t expect gustatory nirvana.
Nido soup is an expensive delicacy because it is concocted from cave swiftlet nests harvested from dangerously steep monolithic limestone cliffs in El Nido. Formed from the saliva of rare cave swiftlets (known locally as balinsasayaw), the nests are highly nutritious and are believed to offer special health benefits. A serving of Bird’s Nest soup in Hong Kong restaurants could cost from $20 to $ 100 USD. A kilogram of white nest can cost up to $2,000 USD.
Arrival at Calitang Beach
Our van parked at the middle part of Calitang Beach. The lengthy sandy stretch was almost deserted save for local kids playing at the beach and a handful other tourists. It was blazing hot, which was why many in our group spent most of the day under the generous shade of towering coconut trees … typical Asians :D … while the few foreigners were out getting a good tan.
Northern end of Calitang Beach
This part of El Nido had rough waters unlike the calm sea surrounding most of the Bacuit Bay islands. The roaring waves curling perfectly on shallow laguna blue waters was insanely mesmerizing. I wondered if the waves here are good enough to surf. It could be another huge crowd-drawer for El Nido.
Excited to start exploring the area, we braved the mid-day sun and walked towards the southern end where Calitang merged with Nacpan Beach.
Nacpan Beach and Southern Rock Point
We passed by a small fishing village along the way. We didn’t notice any resorts in the area. Nacpan Beach was noticeably shorter compared to Calitang and had very coarse sand.
I tried to measure the beach length in Google Earth. Calitang Beach is approximately 3.5 kilometers long while Nacpan is only 0.8 kilometers.
At the southern tip is an interesting rocky outcrop. It was exhilarating to witness strong waves crash into the rocks then exit gracefully into the sea.
A short grass covered hill provided an excellent view of the whole landscape.
Lunch was already prepared when we got back. Steamed crabs, pork adobo, grilled fish, watermelons, coconuts, set upon a mat of coconut leaves. Perfect!
Our travel mates who stayed behind invited a group of Aussie travelers to join us for lunch. Friendly locals (Filipinos in general) truly makes traveling More Fun in the Philippines ^_^
Coincidentally, one of them also has a travel blog: http://www.aussie-traveller.com/.
Afternoon walk at Calitang Beach
Spent the rest of the day venturing to the northern part of Calitang Beach. I don’t think I can justly describe how beautiful the scenery was basked under the perfect afternoon light so I’m just gonna show them through these photos.
El Nido to Nacpan/Calitang Beach
Getting to Nacpan and Calitang Beaches took around 45 minutes to 1 hour from El Nido town proper by van. Our (full) day trip to Nacpan/Calitang was included in the 4-day packaged tour that our group booked (details posted at El Nido and Puerto Princesa Underground River Itinerary). Land transfers and picnic lunch at the beach was already arranged by the travel agency.
The twin beaches were located north of El Nido town proper. We sped past the Lio-El Nido Airport along the paved highway, and after 20 minutes, turned left to a bumpy dirt road.
For those doing the trip on their own, there’s the option of renting a single motorcycle or tricycle. FlipNomad outlined the rates (P500-P1,200 round trip) you would expect on his post. The locals told us it’s possible to go there by jeepney commute but you have to spend the night at Nacpan/Calitang because there’s only one (mid-day) jeepney trip leaving the terminal (in El Nido town) daily and the jeepney returns morning the next day. If you go by commute, you also have to walk (at least 30 minutes) from the highway all the way to the beach.
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