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.