Editor’s Pick: El Nido, Palawan

With gin-clear waters and staggeringly tall limestone rock formations that lord over the ceramic sand beaches of the northern tip of Palawan Island, El Nido is the Philippines’ glittering jewel of the South China Sea. Rivaling its western neighbors Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, and the Phi Phi Islands of Thailand for majestic karst landscapes, El Nido is situated a mere 80-minute flight from the chaos and choking traffic of Manila. It seems difficult to imagine that this town of 40,000 can look and feel as secluded and remote as any in the region. Passing any eyeball test for sublime tropical destinations, El Nido enjoys a comfortable blend of popularity and renown; yet most visitors will find it laid back, uncrowded, and sufficiently removed from all else.

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