El Nido, Palawan: The Inspiration for the Movie “The Beach”
Like any unbelievably beautiful place in the world, El Nido’s fame spread across the globe by word of mouth.
Scuba divers first came here in the 1980s and was struck by these surreal limestone islands like they were newly born from the womb of the earth.
It was that pristine.
You know what happened next: They raved about it. And they raved about it non-stop.
This later attracted the backpacker-novelist Alex Garland in the 1990s.
Over dusty rough roads that went on for hours (roads weren’t paved back then), Mr. Garland the writer had to endure this path as some kind of rite of passage, the hell before the dawn, before he reached El Nido.
Surrounded by towering cliffs and palm trees, Garland finished his novel The Beach while he was living in El Nido for six months.
By the year 2000, the shirtless heartthrob Leonardo diCaprio sent shots of awe across the world with the release of a film based on Garland’s novel.
After the screening, millions of people started pouring into where the film was set, in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand.
So in that brief turn of events, Thailand all of a sudden became a backpacker’s paradise.
And you know what else? Koh Phi Phi today is one of the most polluted and damaged travel destinations in Asia.
Little did people know that the real inspiration for the film and its novel was not Thailand.
It was no other than El Nido, Palawan.
And while it may be unfair that Garland didn’t do justice to El Nido’s rise to fame, that little twist in Destiny’s hands protected this place from the public’s prying eyes. And the flood of millions of people.
El Nido is still as pretty and protected as it should be.
Despite this missed opportunity, El Nido has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s most impressive tropical escapes.