The Beach by Alex Garland

Before we leave El Nido, I thought I should mention one little relatively unknown tidbit on the region. It is believed that Alex Garland based his novel “The Beach” on tiny Secret Beach hidden on the west coast of Matinloc Island. Many assume his perfect beach was a reference to the beach backing Maya Bay on Phi Phi Le in Thailand, especially since his famous novel was set in Thailand. Moreover, a computer-enhanced version of Maya Bay was used in the film version of his novel.

But many people do not realize that Alex Garland spent an extended period of time in the Philippines before he wrote the famous book. And it’s rumored that Alex himself has admitted the beach he was describing was indeed in the Philippines. If that’s true, Secret Beach must be the legendary backpacker hideout.

As you can see in the video, to access Secret Beach, visitors must dive off their boat into the deep waters of the Tapiutan Strait and swim towards a seemingly impenetrable karst wall. During calm tides, gutsy swimmers can make their way through a keyhole crack in the wall to access a tiny lagoon backed by a white-sand beach within. Although Secret Beach is much smaller than the beach described in Alex Garland’s novel, the adventurous approach is exactly the same. The fantastic location and evocative atmosphere would certainly inspire many an author.

3 responses to “The Beach by Alex Garland”

  1. avatar KIkay says:

    Hi Tony,

    Thank you for this bit of info. I’m from the Philippines and I’ve heard about this so-called “rumor.” It’s heartwarming to know that El Nido played a significant inspiration in the novel. Fact is, your blog is supported by this site:

    I also heard that the film crew was supposed to shoot in Palawan but found the place too remote. Imagine what good could have come out if the shoot pushed through there! But then again, I’d prefer the laidback El Nido. Cheers to you and happy travels!

  2. avatar Fecity.C says:

    Hi Tony!
    I was very curious as to where The Beach was based from. I had my own little theory that it was based on the beach where it was created by a bomb during target practice in the 1900’s.
    Thank you!

  3. avatar Eva says:

    The Beach according to the book was in Real Quezon, where he stayed for six months. I feel so guilty when I read the comments where many confused the exact location was.. I know him personally during his teenage and He was only 18 I guess. So saddened that the readers knew that it was in Palawan but it wasn’t. He stayed in Baluti Island in a remote area of Quezon Province.

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