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El Nido, Philippines Is Overtouristed, Here Are 8 Amazing Alternatives


by Linda Akin



The stunning beauty of the Philippines has captured the hearts of travelers from around the world. With its pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life, it’s no wonder that the country has become a top tourist destination. However, the popularity of certain tourist spots, such as El Nido, has led to issues of overcrowding and environmental degradation, prompting travelers to seek alternatives that offer similar natural beauty but with a more peaceful and sustainable experience.


If you’re looking for breathtaking destinations that are off the beaten path, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll introduce you to eight amazing alternatives to El Nido, Philippines. These hidden gems offer awe-inspiring landscapes, tranquil surroundings, and a chance to experience the true Filipino culture without the crowds.


From the unspoiled Coron to the surfing paradise of Siargao, each of these destinations has its own unique charm and attractions. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or simply looking for a place to unwind and reconnect with yourself, these alternatives will not disappoint.


So let’s dive into the wonders of these lesser-known destinations and discover the hidden gems that the Philippines has to offer. Get ready to explore these off-the-beaten-path places and create memories that will last a lifetime.



Situated in the northern part of Palawan, Coron is a hidden paradise that rivals the beauty of El Nido. With its jagged limestone cliffs, crystal-clear lakes, and world-class dive sites, Coron is a diver’s dream come true.


One of the main attractions in Coron is the Coron Bay, which is dotted with numerous shipwrecks from World War II. These wrecks have become artificial reefs and provide a unique opportunity for divers to explore and discover an underwater museum. The Barracuda Lake and Kayangan Lake are also popular spots, offering stunning views and an exhilarating swimming experience.


Coron is also home to a vibrant marine ecosystem, making it an ideal destination for snorkeling and diving. The colorful coral gardens and diverse marine life will leave you in awe. You can also indulge in island hopping tours to visit the secluded beaches and lagoons around Coron.


Aside from its natural wonders, Coron also offers a glimpse into the local way of life. Take the time to immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the Calamian Tagbanua indigenous community, where you can learn about their traditions and crafts.


When it comes to accommodations, Coron offers a range of options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious resorts. You can enjoy a peaceful and relaxing stay amidst nature, away from the hustle and bustle of crowded tourist areas.


With its untouched beauty and tranquil atmosphere, Coron is the perfect alternative to El Nido for those seeking a more secluded and sustainable travel experience. Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Coron and create memories that will last a lifetime.



If you’re a lover of surfing and laid-back island vibes, then Siargao is the perfect alternative to El Nido. Known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines,” Siargao attracts professional wave riders and beginners alike with its legendary Cloud 9 surf break.


Aside from its world-class surf spots, Siargao offers a peaceful and idyllic setting with its palm-fringed beaches, turquoise lagoons, and lush mangrove forests. One of the must-visit attractions on the island is the Sugba Lagoon, where you can kayak, swim in emerald waters, and jump off bamboo diving platforms.


Siargao is not just about surfing and natural beauty; it also has a vibrant and tight-knit community with a vibrant night market, lively bars, and local festivals. Get a taste of the local cuisine by trying the famous seafood dishes and sampling the local delicacies.


For those seeking a more tranquil experience, you can explore the surrounding islands on island-hopping tours. These tours will take you to pristine white sand beaches, hidden caves, and mesmerizing rock pools.


When it comes to accommodations, Siargao offers a wide range of options, from budget-friendly surf hostels to luxurious beachfront resorts. Find your perfect spot to unwind and soak in the island’s laid-back atmosphere.


Siargao is a destination that beautifully combines adventure and relaxation, offering a slice of paradise away from the crowds. Whether you’re an avid surfer or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Siargao is the perfect alternative to El Nido.


Bantayan Island

If you’re looking for a serene and unspoiled island getaway, Bantayan Island is a hidden gem that should be on your radar. Located in the northern part of Cebu province, Bantayan Island offers pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and a laid-back atmosphere.


One of the main attractions of Bantayan Island is its stunning beaches, such as the Paradise Beach and Sugar Beach. Here, you can relax on powdery sands, swim in the refreshing waters, and soak up the tropical sunshine. The island is also known for its breathtaking sunrise and sunset views.


Besides its natural beauty, Bantayan Island is rich in history and culture. Visit the Bantayan Church, also known as Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church, a Spanish-era church that dates back to 1580. Explore the bustling Fish Market and try the local delicacy, danggit (dried fish).


For the adventurous, you can go island hopping to nearby Virgin Island and Hilantagaan Island, where you can snorkel, dive, and glimpse colorful marine life. Don’t miss swimming in the natural pool of Ogtong Cave, a unique underground pool with crystal-clear waters.


When it comes to accommodations, Bantayan Island offers a range of options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to beachfront resorts. Experience the warmth and hospitality of the locals as you enjoy a peaceful and relaxing stay on the island.


Bantayan Island is the perfect alternative to El Nido for those seeking a tranquil and authentic island experience. Escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and local charm of Bantayan Island.



If you’re in search of a unique and enchanting destination, look no further than Camiguin. Known as the “Island Born of Fire,” Camiguin is a volcanic island in the southern part of the Philippines, offering a blend of natural wonders and cultural heritage.


Camiguin is home to several volcanoes, making it a haven for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. One of the must-visit attractions on the island is Mount Hibok-Hibok, a dormant volcano that offers a challenging yet rewarding trek to its summit. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the island and the surrounding seas.


Aside from its volcanic peaks, Camiguin also boasts stunning waterfalls, such as Katibawasan Falls and Tuasan Falls, where you can take a refreshing dip in the cool cascading waters. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the enchanting Sunken Cemetery, a unique underwater site where a cemetery lies submerged due to a volcanic eruption.


Camiguin is also known for its hot and cold springs, such as Ardent Hot Spring and Sto. Niño Cold Spring, where you can indulge in a relaxing soak in natural pools surrounded by lush vegetation.


Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the ancestral houses and ancient Spanish-era churches scattered across the island. Be sure to taste the famous Lanzones fruit, as Camiguin is the Lanzones Capital of the Philippines.


When it comes to accommodations, Camiguin offers a variety of options, including beachfront resorts, boutique hotels, and family-run guesthouses. Experience the warm hospitality of the locals and enjoy a peaceful and authentic island experience.


Camiguin is a hidden gem that offers a mix of adventure, natural beauty, and cultural heritage. Escape the crowds and discover the unique charm of Camiguin as an alternative to El Nido.



Siquijor is an enchanting island located in the Central Visayas region, known for its mystical charm and natural beauty. This island paradise is often referred to as the “Island of Fire” due to the eerie glow of the natural phenomena known as “enchanted fires” that locals believe are manifestations of supernatural beings.


Besides its intriguing folklore, Siquijor boasts pristine beaches, spectacular waterfalls, and lush forests. Salagdoong Beach and Paliton Beach are among the top coastal attractions where you can relax on white sands, swim in turquoise waters, and enjoy breathtaking sunsets.


When it comes to natural wonders, don’t miss the chance to visit the mesmerizing Cambugahay Falls. Here, you can take a refreshing dip in its cascading emerald pools or swing from Tarzan-like vines into the clear waters below.


Siquijor is also home to a variety of healing traditions and mystical practices. Visit a traditional healer, known as an “albularyo,” to learn about the island’s traditional medicine and spiritual beliefs. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing fire dances and folklore performances that showcase the rich culture of the island.


For diving enthusiasts, Siquijor offers vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. Explore the underwater wonderland and discover colorful tropical fish and fascinating sea creatures.


Accommodations on the island range from charming beachfront resorts to cozy guesthouses, where you can enjoy a comfortable and relaxing stay surrounded by nature.


Escape the crowds and experience the mystical allure of Siquijor. Immerse yourself in its natural beauty, rich culture, and intriguing folklore as you explore this hidden gem as an alternative to El Nido.


Apo Island

Nestled off the coast of Negros Oriental, Apo Island is a small volcanic island known for its pristine marine sanctuary and vibrant coral reefs. This island paradise offers an unforgettable snorkeling and diving experience that rivals the wonders of El Nido.


Apo Island is famous for its stunning coral gardens, home to over 650 species of fish and a wide array of other marine life. Snorkel or dive in the crystal-clear waters and witness the vibrant colors and incredible biodiversity that make Apo Island a diver’s paradise. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, as Apo Island is known for its resident turtle population.


Aside from its underwater wonders, Apo Island boasts a serene and unspoiled environment. Explore the island’s lush forests, where you can go hiking and birdwatching. For a breathtaking view, hike up to the Apo Island Lighthouse and take in the panoramic vistas of the surrounding seas.


One unique aspect of Apo Island is its conservation efforts. The local community has established marine protected areas to preserve and sustain the island’s rich biodiversity. Visitors can learn about these conservation efforts and even participate in activities such as coral planting and beach clean-ups.


Accommodations on the island are limited but offer a range of options, from cozy guesthouses to eco-friendly resorts. Get ready to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility of Apo Island.


Apo Island is a hidden gem that offers an unforgettable marine adventure and a chance to be part of conservation efforts. Discover a world under the sea and experience the untouched beauty of Apo Island as an alternative to El Nido.


Calaguas Islands

If you’re seeking an unspoiled tropical paradise, look no further than the Calaguas Islands. Located in the province of Camarines Norte, these remote islands offer pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a peaceful escape from the crowds.


The highlight of the Calaguas Islands is undoubtedly the Mahabang Buhangin Beach, also known as the “Long Beach.” With its powdery white sands and turquoise waters, it is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines. Relax under the swaying palm trees, take a dip in the clear waters, and bask in the serenity of the surroundings.


One of the best ways to explore the Calaguas Islands is through island hopping tours. These tours will take you to neighboring islands and hidden coves, where you can snorkel, swim, and marvel at the vibrant marine life and pristine coral reefs. You may even spot dolphins or turtles during your adventure.


Calaguas Islands offer a back-to-nature experience, with limited infrastructure and accommodation options. Camping on the beach is a popular choice, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of the islands. Just imagine falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves and waking up to a stunning sunrise over the ocean.


Escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and let the tranquil beauty of the Calaguas Islands wash over you. Discover a hidden gem that offers a true paradise experience as an alternative to El Nido.


Panglao Island

Situated in the province of Bohol, Panglao Island is a tropical paradise that offers pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere. With its stunning natural beauty and diverse marine life, it is a perfect alternative to El Nido.


Panglao Island is renowned for its breathtaking Alona Beach, known for its powdery white sands and vibrant underwater world. Snorkel or dive in the stunning coral reefs and swim alongside colorful fish and fascinating sea creatures. You can also enjoy water activities like paddleboarding or kayaking, or simply lounge on the beach and soak up the sun.


Exploring beyond the beach, you’ll discover the enchanting Hinagdanan Cave. With its impressive rock formations and sparkling underground pool, it offers a unique glimpse into the island’s natural wonders. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the mesmerizing beauty of the cave.


Panglao Island is also home to the iconic Chocolate Hills, a geological formation consisting of over 1,200 symmetrical hills. Witness the breathtaking panoramic views from one of the viewing points and marvel at the unusual brown color of the hills, particularly during the dry season when they resemble chocolate kisses.


For those interested in wildlife, a visit to the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary is a must. Spot the world’s smallest primate, the adorable tarsier, and learn about their conservation efforts to protect this endangered species.


Accommodations on Panglao Island range from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious resorts, catering to every traveler’s needs and preferences. Enjoy a comfortable and relaxing stay as you immerse yourself in the island’s laid-back vibe.


Escape to Panglao Island for a beach paradise experience that rivals El Nido. Discover the natural wonders, indulge in water activities, and embrace the island’s tropical charm.



While El Nido may be a popular tourist destination, there are plenty of amazing alternatives in the Philippines that offer breathtaking beauty, serene surroundings, and a more sustainable travel experience. From the captivating Coron with its shipwrecks and vibrant marine life, to the surfing paradise of Siargao, there is something for every traveler’s taste.


For those seeking tranquility and untouched beauty, Bantayan Island and Camiguin are perfect choices. Explore the pristine beaches, immerse yourself in the local culture, and indulge in the natural wonders these islands have to offer.


Siquijor and Apo Island provide a unique mix of natural beauty, mystical charm, and adventurous activities. Dive into the vibrant underwater world, explore enchanting waterfalls, and delve into the intriguing folklore and healing traditions of these hidden gems.


If you’re in search of remote and unspoiled island escapes, Calaguas Islands and Panglao Island are perfect alternatives. Relax on pristine white-sand beaches, embark on island-hopping adventures, and find peace in the untouched beauty of nature.


As you consider these alternatives, remember that sustainable and responsible tourism is key to preserving the natural beauty and cultural heritage of these destinations. Respect the environment, support local communities, and leave a positive impact wherever you travel.


The Philippines is a diverse and enchanting country, offering an array of captivating destinations beyond El Nido. By exploring these alternatives, you can create extraordinary experiences, connect with nature, and make lasting memories while enjoying a more off-the-beaten-path adventure. So pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and discover the hidden gems that await you in the beautiful Philippines.