Despite there being over 100 beaches within easy reach of El Nido, surf culture here is understated. There’s a simple rule to follow if you want to hit some waves: the further north you head, the better (and stronger) the surf. Nella recommends Duli Beach, a jungle-backed, secluded stretch around 30 minutes by scooter from El Nido. The undulating waters offer a consistent swell between November and April, while a sandy-sloped beach break makes this surf spot popular with beginners as well as veteran surfers looking for a gentle start to their day. Head down, pay the 75p for beach access, ask around for Mike and rent a board.
Go caving in Ille Cave
It’s not all about the bleached sands: Palwan’s boscage interior hides dramatic rock formations, an abundance of indigenous wildlife and a criss-crossing web of weathered hiking trails that trace the karst cliffs above El Nido. If you’re feeling brave, book a guided tour of Ille Cave, an archaeological site that sits under a hulking rock surrounded by vast rice fields. Discoveries in the cave – including tiger bones and evidence of human occupation – have been dated back to 2680 BC. A tour educates on the cave’s history, before an ascent to the summit for breathtaking views across the Sula Sea and eastern El Nido.
Experience diving at Sibaltan
Want to say hello to Nemo? Clownfish are one of 910 species of fish, 447 species of coral and five species of sea turtles that call the turquoise waters around El Nido home. Explore the vivid marine life at close range in Sibaltan, a low-key coastal village that’s become synonymous with superb diving. Dive Sibaltan is Nella’s go-to underwater adventurer provider. The eco-conscious school puts the ocean before people, emphasising conservation and rehabilitation. Locally born-and-raised dive instructor Jhong will soon have you swimming with turtles, dugongs, manta rays and whale sharks in the little-known hotspots he’s found over a lifetime of into-the-deep exploration.