The towering gray karst cliffs surrounding me went ignored as I stood in the middle of a pocket of white beach on one edge of Matinloc Island. I was at the so called “Secret Beach,” the place that, according to legend, inspired author Alex Garland to write his novel The Beach when he stayed in El Nido.
The Secret Beach is a piece of paradise concealed by the cliffs and is only accessible through a narrow crevice. One has to swim through this opening to reach this place, shining even under the shade created when the sun kisses the cliffs. I wanted to take it all in when I was there. It was beyond beautiful indeed but all I could think about was: “I should have brought a water-proof camera.”
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Finding the Secret
Fifteen minutes earlier, the Poor Traveler and his six poor friends were feeling a little bit sleepy after our big, satisfying lunch at Talisay beach. Our boat was smoothly breaking the waves towards another white beach and the sound of the engine roaring and the waves slapping the side of the boat were creating a melody that was relaxing, hypnotic, almost sedating.
As if the previous islands and beaches we saw were not enough, the boat ride introduced us to more examples of beauty and wonder as the cliffs displayed all sorts of gray and the water danced, playing with all the colors in the blue to green spectrum. I was content. Fighting the drowsiness with all my might, I picked up my camera and took photos of the welcoming rocks.
Our boat stopped right where other boats seemed to have been lingering the past hour. Our boatman announced, “Secret Beach!”
“Where?” asked the curious friend. “Where’s the beach? It’s all water and cliffs here.”
“That’s why it’s called Secret Beach! It’s concealed,” answered the sarcastic friend.
“Well, if we’re going there. It won’t be secret anymore,” joked another sarcastic friend.
“So where do we go?” asked the impatient friend.
“There,” the boatman pointed in a hole in one of the cliffs.
“You have got to be kidding me!” exclaimed my cowardly friend. “So we will have to swim down and through that hole? I’m dead!”
“Will I even sink?” wondered my not-so-skinny friend.
While my friends were talking excitedly about the piece of heaven behind the cliff in front of us, I was just there thinking regretfully, “I should have brought a water-proof camera.” Poor me.
Into the Secret
Armed with goggles, flippers, a snorkel, and a life vest, we jumped off of the boat, swam to that karst cliff, and made it through the hole. The first to go was my friend Ces. I was second. It was a breeze for me, which was a surprise. I just swam straight through it. You have to be careful when you do it, though, because I could imagine how painful it would be if I stopped swimming right under the arc or if my back hit the “ceiling.” That could scrape a swimmer’s back pretty badly.
The difficult part for me was AFTER I got through the opening. While I was swimming, it suddenly got shallow. A big, big rock awaits right after the opening and the waves are so strong at this point that they could push the swimmer right onto that rock. It was really difficult trying to fight the waves.
Once I regained my composure, I made my way across the shallow water to the white shore. All the while, my face was buried in the water as I get blown away by what was underneath. It was a great snorkeling place. There were all sorts of colorful fishes and other marine life forms, enjoying the water and the spaces in between rocks and corals.
The Secret Beach
When I hit the beach, I immediately stood up and saw my friend Ces, the first to leave the boat, standing with a worried look on her face and a bloody wound on her right leg. Apparently, she hit the rock near the opening (the one I mentioned before) and it scraped her knee pretty badly. Regardless, she continued to explore the place with us. What a warrior!
The Secret Beach is not just a white strip of sand. There are rocks beautifully dotting the area, as if intentionally. Behind these giant rocks is more space. The place was like a round room surrounded by naturally hard walls and green ornaments. One of the first things that entered my head was: How nice it would be to have a private beach party here! And then I thought about Survivor and how it would provide a fantastic place for the Tribal Council.
For a moment, I sat on the beach and allowed myself to get drowned in fantasy and inspiration. I started thinking about stories and concepts for movies and short fiction. I started wondering how it would feel like to spend a few days here — just here. I would gladly do that as long as I have sufficient food and water. I wondered how this place was discovered, or who. So many things ran through my head as I looked up and stared at the cliffs blocking the light. And then it dawned on me again —- I should have brought a water-proof camera.
Top Budget Hotels and Resorts in El Nido
As scored by Agoda customers.
- Duli Beach Resort. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- Spin Designer Hostel – El Nido. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- The Cavern Pod Hotel & Specialty Cafe. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- AngelNido Resort. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- Cuna Hotel. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
Posted: 2012 • 2 • 26
Thanks for telling how you missed bringing a waterproof camera. Now I have to think of something to wrap my camera so that I could take pictures of what is beyond that crevice. ^_^
Dreaming of my wedding there ;)
I was just in El Nido last Thursday and Secret Beach was our first stop. I had knee bruises from that big rock haha And yeah, one must really have a waterproof camera to capture the beauty of this place. Good thing my friend brought his iPhone with waterproof casing. LOL
aww, this entry is so “bitin”… i was looking forward to seeing the pics of the secret beach.. i also heard that alex garland wrote his novel while in el nido, so he must’ve stumbled upon this piece of paradise.. makes me want to explore it myself!
geesh, you should’ve brought an underwater camera, they say it’s a MUST in every Palawan trip. =)
I got more curious with this Secret Beach. Hope to visit this one of these days. =)
Been to the secret beach! You have to swim through a crevice to get there. Awesome
Ask ko lang po, may travel agency ba kaung hinire? Or kau lng ung naggayos ng el nido getaway niyo? Naghahanap kasi ako ng budget friendly na tour to el nido this may for my birthday :) pero 2 lng kme eh. May marerecommend k bng travel agent or contact? Thanks!
I have special memories of this magical place and hope to return someday.
Sorry po ha. Pero do you mind me asking how much ung nagastos niyo for this trip per person? And did you hire the van to el nido na like a private van?or may kasabay kaung ibang guests?
people should let go of the idea that this place is darn expensive.
i hope its not that expensive i wish to be there someday its our dream come true.sana di siya masyadong mahal.
When man ka balik kay mura nindot ni e. explore .Adventure ni nga one has to swim in order to reach the place…Seems interesting one for me …Unsa man iapil ta ni sa atong schedule ? hehehhe!
I hope to go there next visit. We only had time for the underground river last visit.
I would want to see that secret place too. Maybe one day my neurosurgeon would permit me to travel again. Back in 2010, I went to PPP Underground River. There, I met two travelers who told me about their adventure in El Nido and they mentioned about this secret beach. I actually booked a flight going to El Nido but unfortunately I had ruptured brain aneurysm a month before the actual flight. The ruptured brain aneurysm left me partially blind and bedridden for four months. So always count your blessings, the simple siting down and standing up was so difficult for me before and I had to consult a rehabilitation doctor and underwent physical theraphy in the hospital but I am very thankful because God has allowed me to travel some parts of the world and the Philippines before. God bless and more power!
Beautiful pics…but I don’t see the beach…just the rocks. But as I said, it’s all maganda!!
magingat sa dikya
Thanks for the word of caution. (Although I didn’t see any during my stay there).
The lack of pictorial documentation adds to the mystique of the Secret Beach. :)