El Nido, Palawan

Travel Blog by Jen
May 2008

El Nido is, thus far, my most favorite destination in the Philippines. I have been to this part of Palawan twice- the first in Sept 2007, staying in Lagen Island Resort and the second in May 2008, staying in Miniloc Island Resort.

The best time to go here is, of course, during the summer months. When we first went here in September, it was overcast for most of the time.  We were still able to do all of the activities but the pictures of the trip were all grey.  So if you don't want gloomy pictures, go when the weather is sunny and perfect!  I went back with a couple of friends this summer and we lucky to have had the best weather!

Guests of the El Nido Resorts can be booked on ITI, the Resort's official airline partner.  The journey to El Nido is just an hour and 15 minutes from Manila. It is just a 19-seater plane so it pays to book well in advance to get the best schedule. 

Upon arrival at El Nido Airport, we were warmly welcomed with songs by the local women. We would later see the same group again when we leave the islands.

There's a carabao on the left, in case you didn't notice it.

Refreshments were offered at the small airport terminal. By this time, we were asked to select from a checklist the activities that we wanted to do.  Since we got in early, there was plenty of time to spare before the rooms were ready for check-in.  A Guest Activity Coordinator approached each of us and mapped out our itinerary for the duration of our stay based on our preferred activities.  How efficient!  We liked the fact that they understood how we wanted to make the most of our time. So naturally, our days were packed but no one was complaining!

An outrigger boat then ferried us to the resorts. The boat ride just provided a glimpse of what's to come...

islands... more islands!

beautiful limestone rock formations

Miniloc Island Resort, being closer to the airport, was what we saw first. Their water cottages built on stilts are iconic already of Miniloc.  Miniloc has a rustic charm and a tropical, laid-back feel to the place. Although native materials design dominate the facade of the cottages, the rooms do not lack the basic modernity like air-conditioning, crisp white bed sheets, hot and cold shower and a complete set of toiletries

water cottages of Miniloc

The interior of our sea view room. 
This unit has a veranda and  a loft with two single beds.

the view from our veranda

Miniloc's Pier

Lagen Island Resort, on the other hand, offers more luxurious accommodations and facilities. Lagen has an infinity pool and a much larger restaurant. We stayed in a spacious Water Cottage during our first visit. It has a veranda with a spectacular view of the sea.

view from the veranda of a Water Cottage (Lagen)

Water Cottages in Lagen with limestone cliffs in the background

Lagen's infinity pool

We spent three days here and I would have loved to stay longer.  I don't think 3 days is enough to visit this breathtaking place where nature is seen at its best. In this part of northwestern Palawan, limestone cliffs and secluded islands dot clear blue waters, emerald lagoons await to be discovered, and the diverse marine life excites even the experienced diver.

Here are some of the activities we enjoyed doing:

Snorkeling in Miniloc's House Reef where several 4-ft long jack fish live by the pier. Miniloc's house reef is teeming with different kinds of fish and corals.

Kayaking in Lagen Resort

Kayaking in the Small Lagoon. The water is calm here and is and perfect for kayaking.
This place is picture perfect. I can go back here again and again and still be amazed.

We woke up so early on our 2nd day to hike up Pangalusian to see the sunrise.  We woke up at 5:00 am and started the short climb.  The view up there was definitely worth the hours of sleep we gave up:  a 360-degree view of Bacuit Bay.

early morning trek

Bacuit Bay

Another view of Bacuit Bay; Snake Island can be seen from here

Exploring the Big Lagoon.  The Big Lagoon is accessible by boat.  It then leads to the Small Lagoon, which can be reached by swimming or kayaking.

Get the perfect spot for sunbathing:  Entalula Island!   The resort set up a lunch buffet here.  After lunch, we had time to swim and lie on the hammocks under the coconut trees :)
Entalula Island

There's also Hobie cat sailing in Entalula or Paangalusian Island. The guide taught us how and when to switch sides when he's maneuvering the sail.  It was such a relaxing ride with the gentle breeze.

Hobie Cat sailing

Our package also included an introductory dive.  There was a short orientation before the dive masters took us one by one into the deep.  Thank God they were all so patient and helpful to non-divers!  I had difficult with the breathing apparatus at first but got the hang of it soon enough.

This is me and my dive master!

Travel by boat to Snake Island, so named because of the shape of the sand bar that resembles the reptile.  This is especially beautiful during low tide when the sandbar is clearly defined from end to end.

Snake Island

There were a couple of caves that we explored.  The first one is called Cudungon Cave.  It has a very narrow opening, which could be passed through by crawling and twisting your body at an angle. 

There's another one called the Cathedral Cave, so named because the stalactites resemble pillars like that of a cathedral's.  The inside can only be reached by boats.

They said the sunset in Pangulasian Island is beautiful.  So we waited for it with cocktails or beer in hand!

with some of the friends we met here

sunset at Pangalusian Island

The El Nido Resorts really have their guests' enjoyment in mind.   So even while waiting for our transfer back to the airport, the staff taught us how to make a hat from coconut leaves.  We got to keep the hats as souvenirs :)

And before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to this little piece of paradise on earth.  We shall see you again, El Nido. We will be back!
The El Nido staff seeing us off when we left for the airport

The El Nido jeepney

*All pictures here are Skycab's own.