Taraw Cliff Sunrise Climb


The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb is an activity in the tourist hotspot town of El Nido, on the island of Palawan, which is in The Philippines.

This is a good activity to do for those looking to escape or break up the El Nido Island Hopping Tours and is a more adventurous expedition than something like the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

This climb is not an official activity and is technically not allowed, however many people do this every year. When I did the climb I was in a group of 5, with another 3 people making it to the summit before sunrise with other guides.

Use the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb table of contents to skip ahead to any parts that you feel are the most relevant, or read on through the whole post for all the details about the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb.

I will try to keep this relevant and short.

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Taraw Cliff Sunrise Climb Video



Shot on the Sony A1 using the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 (Amazon/eBay link)

Taraw Cliff sunrise climb Details


Let’s cover some of the nitty gritty details of the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb. If I have forgotten to mention anything about the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb then leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I will get back to you with an answer.

Are you allowed to climb Taraw Cliff?



The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb is an off-the-books type of activity which is not a sanctioned tour and you’re not technically allowed to do it. However, due to popular demand the tour still runs every day (weather permitting).

How do you book the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb?


I asked around, I contacted a FB page called The Couch El Nido and they sent me through a Whatsapp number, then the guided tour was organised through Whatsapp.

If you want it you will find it basically, you won’t see it advertised on the street and if you ask at the tour organisers on the street they will tell you that you’re not allowed to do it, which is true.

Can you climb Taraw Cliff without a guide?


Technically yes (it’s not allowed mind you either way) but realistically, not really.

I know people have tried, I’ve seen reviews on AllTrails, some do it during the day so they can find the trail, but honestly, why bother?

The whole appeal is the sunrise, you won’t see the trail in the dark, there will be other tourists and guides on the climb every morning. If locals see you doing it by yourself they will not be helpful to you or show you where to go.

Doing this during the day, walking through people’s backyards to try find the trail, suffering through the hottest conditions and then not getting the sunrise at the summit, would that be worth it?

Don’t be cheap, just get a guide.

How much does it cost to do the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb?


The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb, as of April 2024, will cost you 1000 pesos.

This might sound like a lot to some people but realistically it’s about $27 AUD for an activity that takes you roughly 3 hours and can’t be done without a guide. It’s not expensive at all.

Considering this was the highlight of my time in El Nido, 1000 pesos is a decent price.

Shot on the DJI Mini 4 Pro (Amazon)

What time do you start the Taraw Cliff Sunrise Climb?


I was told to meet at a certain location for 04:00.

However when we got to the starting point (a house) I had to sit around for another 30 minutes before we started the climb. I am not sure if the others were told to come at 04:30, or if they were meant to be there at 04:00 and were running late.

The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb starts early enough that you will comfortably make it to the summit for sunrise.

Sunrise in El Nido is approximately 06:00 in April but this can fluctuate by 20 minutes either way depending on the time of the year that you go.

Shot on the Sony A1 using the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 (Amazon/eBay link)

How long does it take to do the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb?


The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb changes depending on your fitness level, climbing ability and the size of your group.

A fast time would be about 40 minutes, usually it is about 50 minutes up and an hour to come back down. The larger the group the slower due to bottlenecks on different climbing sections where only one person can climb at a time.

For me, I went up in 50 minutes carrying a lot of camera gear, with a group that started as 5 and finished with 3 (the others came up later at a slower pace).

We started at 04:30, reached the summit at 05:20, departed the summit at 06:20 and got back to base at 07:15.

This is a pretty standard time although you can stay at the peak longer if you need to, but a lot of the guides will like to get down before it gets too hot. Some also work other jobs throughout the day so need to be back preferably before 08:00.

Is the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb difficult?


The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb is  physically difficult due to the humidity of the jungle, but outside of that I don’t consider it too tough.

There is no technical climbing ability required, but a basic level of fitness and coordination is preferable. You can go at a slower pace and rest often, plenty of time is allowed to reach the summit before sunrise. However don’t go into it expecting it to be easy, it’s hot and sweaty and you’ll expend a lot of energy.

Going down is usually considered more difficult than going up just because you can’t see where to put your feet for example, but the guides will help you down.

I am 183cm (6-foot in old money) so I never had issues reaching footholds even if it wasn’t the one the guides had suggested. For shorter people you may find this more difficult, but the guides themselves are short and can guide your feet and hands to the best spots.

The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb is basically always either up or down, so you’re always changing elevation and this can get tiring on your legs, especially as it’s the early morning and most people haven’t warmed up or stretched.

Is the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb dangerous?



Nor is it completely safe though.

What I don’t want to say is that it’s dangerous because I don’t think it is, I think other blogs online try to make themselves seam hardcore and adventurous for having done some crazy thing, but it’s really not that out there.

Having said that, I don’t want to fall in the trap of underselling it, because maybe my tolerance for what’s considered dangerous is different to other peoples and I am a little desensitised to it.

So with all of that being said.

Do I think the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb is dangerous? No.

Can you get hurt on the Taraw cliff sunrise climb? Absolutely!

The rocks are sharp, if you fall you will be hurt. If you are afraid of heights or prone to panic then maybe don’t try this.

The only way I see people getting hurt is if they rush, or if they are too timid to ask for a break when they’re fatigued. I could foresee someone with heat stroke making a poor decision, so drink a lot of water before hand and get a good sleep the night before doing it and you’ll be fine.

For the large majority though, this is a pretty normal climb with good grip, lots of hold points, no rush to climb fast and with guides who can point you in the right direction and that is why I don’t consider it dangerous.

It’s all about balance.

Shot on the DJI Mini 4 Pro (Amazon)

What is the weather like on the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb?


The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb takes place amongst the jungle, there isn’t really any breeze until you get up to the top because you aren’t climbing the steep cliff face, you’re making your way up the safest climbing path.

Because there’s no wind, it is humid. You will be saturated in your own sweat within about 5 minutes of starting the climb.

The climb will not go ahead if conditions are too dangerous, for example storms and rain.

What are the trail conditions of the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb?


Taraw Cliff is karst limestone, the same stuff that makes the beautiful islands of El Nido so striking, the same formations you see on the Ha Giang loop and the same stuff you get in Railay beach throughout Krabi in Thailand.

Imagine like coral, a former reef system.

It is quite vertical, it is very abrasive, at times downright sharp to the touch.

However, there are so many imperfections, holes, gaps or crevices that it makes it really easy to climb from a technical standpoint. There is a large amount of grip, plenty of places to put your hands and feet and no steep climbs above about 4 metres.

You definitely wouldn’t want to fall during the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb due to the sharp pointy edges of karst formations, luckily it’s super unlikely due to the amount of grip on offer.

There are no flat surfaces on this walk, or if there are they’re about 2 metres and then it’s back onto the rocks. The floor is not smooth so watch your step and wear good shoes.

It is not a massively steep climb, nor is it super high but there is a lot of elevation change because the track goes up and down a few times.

Shot on the Sony A1 using the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 (Amazon/eBay link)

What do I need to take on the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb?


The Taraw Cliff sunrise climb requires shoes, that is non-negotiable.

The ground is uneven, nearly every step is across the rocks so you want something you can tighten that has a good fit.

The guides provided us with gloves, hard hats and headlamps. Not many people do, but if you have your own gloves you could wear them, the ones that we wore were good but also a little thin.

You would be more than welcome to take your own headlamp as well.

Water is not provided, take what you need. It is important that you have enough as you will sweat a lot throughout the climb and on the way back down. I personally took 2 litres, drinking about 1.5L.

Any camera gear that you want you carry yourself, the guides are not porters. I did it with a heavy bag, it was hard on the knees by the time we reached the bottom, most people will only take a phone or a small camera.

I wore a long-sleeved shirt but most wore singlets and shorts, I did this for insect protection, then I put repellent on my legs but I don’t think the insects were bad at all for anyone else during the climb.

Will I get the Taraw Cliff summit to myself?


Chances of getting the Taraw Cliff summit to yourself are extremely low.

When we went our group was 5 people, with another 3 people arriving at the summit after us on a different guided climb.

The guides of the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb told me they have multiple people every day of the week, but I didn’t ask in detail about the off-season.

There is usually no more than 10 people at the top and there’s enough room for everyone to manouevre around for photos from different locations. Getting there first does give you the best seat for sunrise (there aren’t many spots to sit at all).

Shot on the Sony A1 using the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 (Amazon/eBay link)

Closing thoughts on Taraw Cliff sunrise climb


The best thing I did in El Nido.

It’s not technically allowed and this keeps just enough people away to still make it worthwhile, if it was jam packed with tourists it wouldn’t be as fun, it would take longer to climb and there would not be room at the summit.

Get in while it’s on offer and enjoy it, hard work that pays off!

Tips on preparing for the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb


This comes as easy to me as I work in hot environments but some people are unaware of how important hydration is.

You need to get off on the right foot, so you want to have had at least a litre of water when you wake up for this one or you can crash quickly if you over exhert yourself and are not very fit.

There’s no carrying you down this mountain so hydrate before starting and a lot during.

Buy a high energy snack to eat in the morning if you think you will need some food as nowhere will be open for breakfast.

I actually got up early and did some stretching before starting as well so that I didn’t shock my legs too much with the climb but most people don’t bother with this.

Anyway, enjoy the Taraw Cliff sunrise climb!!

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