I did not really enjoy the El Nido island hopping. Despite the beautiful scenery, I was frustrated by being stuck on a tour. I had to go do something on my own.

Motorbikes are available to rent in El Nido, which give you the freedom to go anywhere. I was a little nervous, because my last time on a motorbike was ten years ago. And that was only my second time!

My first time was during my first backpacking trip through South East Asia in 2002. I rented a bike on the island of Koh Pangang. The hilly, twisty roads proved to be a bad place to learn. As I went around a blind turn, a truck was coming towards me. I panicked, and wiped out.

It wasn’t a major accident and I wasn’t too hurt. My hand just got cut up. A quick trip to a local clinic where a nurse cleaned and bandaged my hand was sufficient.

But that kept me off motorbikes for my remaining time in Thailand, which ended up being several years. Before leaving I tried again, and rented a bike in northern Thailand. That trip went well. But then I left Thailand. Motorbikes are not a way to get around in the USA, land of gigantic SUV’s, so that was the end of motorbiking for me.

On the way to the beach.
On the way to the beach.

The lady I rented from only had semi-automatic bikes. There’s no clutch, but there is a foot gear shift. She had to show me how to shift gears, open the seat to get to the gas tank, use the brakes, honk the horn, and all the other features of the bike. I was a novice!

The traffic in El Nido isn’t too bad, so it’s a good place to start. I rode out of town in second gear. My goal was Nacpan Beach.

On My Bike

It was great to be on my own, to be able to go at my own pace (very slowly, in second gear), and to be able to stop anywhere. There was a sign for a waterfall, so I stopped there. Some locals offered to guide me.

As is normally the case, the walk was better than the waterfall. We passed green fields and carabao. My guide climbed up a tree to get me a coconut, and hacked it open. I swam in the cool water.

The walk to the waterfall was a nice way to start my trip. I continued on to Nacpan beach, which was down a dirt road. I went slowly over the bumpy terrain.

People live on this beach.
People live on this beach.

My Favorite Beach In The Philippines

The beach was really nice. In fact, it was my favorite beach in the Philippines. There was very little development. Just a couple shacks serving food, and a few bungalows. I had lunch at one of the shacks, which served delicious fresh fish.

I liked this beach so much, I rented a bike again, and came back the next day. I walked through the little fishing village, and found there is another beach on the other side! That one is used by the locals to store their fishing boats. There’s a path up a hill that gives views into a rocky cove, and of the amazing double beach. What a beautiful place!

I continued on to Duli beach, which was quite far down an unpaved road. This beach was totally undeveloped. It was also really hot, so I didn’t stay too long.

On the way back I finally got up to fourth gear, once I hit paved road. It was a long ride back.

Double beach and rocky cove.
Double beach and rocky cove.

A Long Drive

The next day I wanted to try to ride all the way around the big loop. This was a long ride on bad roads, mostly unpaved. It was also remote, with long stretched of no people or gas. I was worried I would run out. I finally came across a lone shack in the forest selling bottles.

Driving the loop took a long time, about four hours. There were some views of the ocean from the top of the hills. On the east coast there were some deserted beaches. And lots of children saying “hello” every time I drove through a village.

Driving a motorbike in El Nido was good. I had the most fun in the Philippines yet. I had so much fun on a motorbike, it would change my plans in Indonesia. Now that I’ve discovered motorbikes, taking buses would be hard.

A boat in the bay.
A boat in the bay.
A boat on the beach.
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.


  1. Awesome scenery. And great sounding adventure. The Philippines looks fantastic. Never thought to visit before, but now I would love to.

  2. Glad to hear I’ve convinced you to visit, Mike. The Philippines is one of South East Asia’s undiscovered gems!

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