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top things to do in el nido

Secret beaches and a raucous underwater world, the Philippines’ El Nido is as idyllic as they come.
  Made up of 49 limestone isles, El Nido lies 238 kilometres (148 miles) north of Palawan’s tropical capital. The gateway to the Bacuit Archipelago, one of Asia’s most beloved natural treasures, El Nido’s unspoilt beauty and rich biodiversity has been fiercely protected since 1991. Beyond the untouched beaches, prehistoric geologic formations give way to blue lagoons, and exotic marine life takes centre stage. 
  For sun worshippers, tropical paradise awaits on El Nido’s many palm-fringed shores, where sea turtles nest on cotton-white sand, and butterflies fill the warm, salty air, resting on frangipani and bright bougainvillea. The only way to explore the archipelago’s deepest nooks and crannies is to island-hop aboard traditional banca fishing boats.  
  North of the patchwork town of El Nido, Nacpan Beach stretches over three long, gorgeous kilometres (1.8 miles), embracing its twin, Calitang Beach, on the southwest tip. Watched over by a natural viewpoint, the turmeric-tinged sand is caressed by the warm ocean currents. Here, the only sounds are lapping waves and clicking geckos.
  Another pristine patch where the sand is icing-sugar soft, the ocean aquamarine, and eagles swoop overhead Secret Beach is hugged by imposing limestone cliffs. Meanwhile, the laid-back Marimegmeg is best suited for colourful cocktails and tangy crab curry under the shade of coconut palms. As the wavering sun projects a rainbow, the beach transforms into an alfresco disco. Further north, curtained by verdant jungle, the remote Duli Beach offers up phenomenal surf breaks and deserted sands the beating heart of El Nido’s vibrant surfing community.
  The adventure continues beneath the water’s surface. Teeming with more than 100 species of coral and 800 tropical fish species, El Nido’s biodiverse marine sanctuaries attract scuba divers in search of spectacular reefs and unusual underwater life. The shallow crystalline water of South Miniloc, El Nido’s most famous dive site, is home to scorpion fish, seahorses and chevron barracuda. Another popular site, North Rock boasts kaleidoscopic coral tables, passing blacktip reef sharks, sea cows and dolphins. Night-dive utopia Nat Nat crawls with critterhunting hermit crabs and Spanish dancers.
  For landlubbers keen to challenge their limits, El Nido’s crisscrossed hiking trails follow a tapestry of karst formations, marble cliffs and waterfalls. Fortress-like, the limestone Taraw Peak, towering 230 metres (755 feet) heavenward, presents El Nido’s toughest challenge. The near-vertical trail is not for the faint of heart, requiring some scrambling skills to negotiate the steep drop offs. Summiteers are rewarded with a bird’s-eye view of the Bacuit Archipelago, its azure ocean dotted with anchored boats.
  For inexperienced climbers, the canopy walk, El Nido Taraw Via Ferrata, offers a safer, more relaxed alternative. With stairs, scaffolding and suspension bridges, the trail makes scaling the geological monolith more a walk in the park than a dance with death.
  Those in search of history trace the region’s deep roots to Ille Cave. Believed to be over 14,000 years old, the chamber was used as a Stone Age burial site, and in 1998, 20,000 artefacts, such as stone tools and shell beads, were excavated from its limestone belly, as were tiger bones the first evidence of these majestic creatures in the Philippines.