Friday, September 05, 2008

Enticing El Nido

After years of dreaming of going to Palawan, it finally came true...

...And it went beyond my expectations.

Simply put, it was an amazing experience, worth every penny, and has left me wanting to go back.

I was spoiled for 3 days (August 23-25)...

A Guest Activities Coordinator (GAC) always there at my beck and call...

Food in the Buffet Table, fresh and in se
ason, tasty and bottomless.

Ok, so let's get down to the details. It was a last minute trip decision, thanks to the help of Ms. Camille of El Nido Resorts. She gave us a great deal! Php 27,500 per person. Inclusions are as follows:
  • Accommodations for 3-days/2-nights at a Forest Room in Lagen Island
  • Round trip boat and land transfers to and from the airport of El Nido and the resort
  • All meals for the 3 days
  • Most activities offered
  • Use of Life Jacket, Snorkel, and Fins
  • Welcome Drinks
  • Hand made Buri bag per room and slippers per person
  • Roundtrip airfare
Our flight was at 7:00am and we rode a chartered flight c/o Island Transvoyager Inc. When we got to the airport, we stayed at the cozy waiting lounge where we were served some refreshments and sandwiches. At 7:00am on the dot, we were on board the aircraft and have taken off for Palawan.
Upon arrival at the El Nido Airport, we were welcomed by a lively group of singers in their native costumes with very big smiles in their faces. We were served with native Filipino delicacies like puto, suman, kuchinta, and kalamay, as we waited for the jeepney that will drive us to the beach. While waiting, our GAC came by to give us a glimpse of the activities that we could choose from and enjoy during our stay at El Nido. She gave us a sample plan and a blank time table that we could fill in as we browsed through the booklet. The Jeepney ride was actually just a mere 3-minute drive to the beach where we walked down a wooden bridge to the speed boat that brought us to the bigger boat.
Then we were at sea, heading towards Lagen Island. The sight of the small islands leading to Lagen was amazing. They were green and full and alive and each one that we saw seemed to be more beautiful than the one we just passed by.
Soon enough, Lagen was in sight and as we slowed down, a speed boat came by to give us a ride closer to the arrival dock of the island.

We then headed off to the Clubhouse where once again, live music could be heard. Practically all the staff of the resort was gathered there to welcome us with music and dancing. We had some juice and nuts as one of the managers talked about the importance of conservation and what El Nido Resorts take part in ensuring that the wildlife is saved and the environment well taken cared of. I must say that throughout our stay, we really felt how strongly the staff felt about keeping their surroundings clean and making sure that nature is left to develop itself.
After that short talk, we were escorted to our rooms and it was beautiful. Our room had a small balcony where one could lounge in the afternoon to soak up on nature and rest. It can clearly be seen from the bedroom as it looks out through glass doors into the garden outside. There are no TVs in the resort but each room has a CD player that can either play your favorite CDs or those that you've borrowed from their CD library or you may also plug in your iPod if you brought one. Of course, drinking water is always available in the room and there are some snacks too that you could buy. We went around the resort and explored the place.

We took pictures of the Sala where massages were done but soon enough it was time for lunch. We were so excited to try everything in the buffet table that we forgot all about taking pictures! There were so many foodstuff to choose from
  • make-your-own salad
  • japanese sushi rolls
  • soup
  • breads
  • an assortment of cheese
  • all sorts of viands (every night has a different theme)
  • make-your-own shabu-shabu
  • make-your-own stirfry
  • make-your-own pasta
  • make-your-own omelet
  • fresh burgers
  • fresh hotdog/sausage sandwiches
  • roast
  • grilled seafood/meat
  • desserts and fruits
the choices were endless and it took us forever to try it all... and then we found our favorites and came back for more everytime.

After lunch, we met up at 2:00pm at the arrival area where we suited up on our life jackets as we set off to go see 2 famous spots: Cathedral Cave and Snake Island. In Cathedral Cave, we had to transfer to a smaller speed boat in order for us to go inside the cave and see the rock formations inside. It was cold and smelly inside but definitely beautiful.

Our next stop was Snake Island. Snake Island is actually a long and winding stretch of a sand bar and of course it got it's name from the way it is shaped. Some of the foreigners we were with were quite worried that it might have been named as such because there are a lot of snakes there! At the end of the sand bar is a small hill that took us around 5 minutes to climb and on the way up, we saw some pitcher plants. At the peak, we saw the whole length of the sand bar and it was breathtaking! Although the sun was high and it was quite warm, we still enjoyed the climb up as it was definitely a sight to behold.
Our guides gave us a few minutes to look around and to swim in the area if we wanted to but before that, they gave us pointers regarding fishes or other sea animals that we have to look out for as they may be dangerous.

After Snake Island, we headed back to Lagen and got ready to snorkel with our guide. Just around Lagen, there are already beautiful corals and fishes to see so our guide helped us in our fins and we held on to his buoy as we went around the island. It felt like we were so close to the corals and the fishes were so used to people swimming with them that they did not show any signs of fear as we got close. We went around for probably 30 minutes and soon we were back at the arrival area.

Before heading back to the room, we decided to take a dip at the fresh water pool near the club house. It's such a pretty pool as it overlooks the sea and while we relaxed, we watched some of the beautiful birds of El Nido fly above us and weave through the trees that abound in the area.

At sun-down, we went back to our room and prepared for dinner where we had another feast.

Day 2 started by an 8:00am breakfast at the Lagen Clubhouse. By 9:00am, we were once again in a boat that led us to the famous Small Lagoon. We were with other guests and the kayaks are limited, so we decided to stay put and snorkel in the area instead. In this part of the islands, there are more colorful fishes and there are more variety as well. We didn't notice we've been down there for awhile and soon enough, the kayak group was back and it was our turn. Going through the tiny openings in the lagoon was quite a feat but it was really exciting too. The sights to see were amazing and the waters inside were so calm that it was quite so easy to maneuver the kayaks. The water was so clean and was quite shallow that you could see the rocks underwater while you're paddling through.
We then left for our picnic lunch at Entalula Island. This was probably the best meal I had! We initially took a dip in the cool waters of the beach but soon enough we got hungry so we headed back. The setup was wonderful. There were mats or banig on the sand and a table was set for each group and we sat on cushions as we waited for our food to be brought to our table. First we had some green salad and we had a choice of three dressings, some bread and cheese and coldcuts, and pasta salad. Then we were ready for our main course: rice and charcoal-grilled chicken and pork, squid and shrimps. yum! But oops! the weather made a turn-about. As sunny as it was on our first day, it suddenly turned gloomy and the winds brought in some dark clouds. We then moved to a semi-covered pavillion where we finished off our picnic with some fresh fruits and baked banana bread and cookies.

We waited for the rain to die down a bit and soon, we were told by our guide that our dive masters were ready to bring us to the open water. When we thought we couldn't dive anymore because of the weather, they told us that since it's raining, the waters are much warmer and that the current is actually not very strong. A Japanese couple joined us for the dive and we went just a few meters from the shore of Entalula and got a 101 from our dive masters. Even in diving, here in El Nido, you are still spoiled. All we had to worry about was breathing and making sure that we constantly pop our ears. The masters will take care of adjusting our buoyancy vest and of pointing us to the right direction. When it was our turn, I had a bit of trouble with my mask but I was in constant communication with my master and after some hand signals, we were back up the surface. I fixed my mask and went down once again. After going around a bit, we saw Chie and her master a little above us and after the dive, I found out that she had a difficult time sinking again but was successful after awhile. We both saw beautiful fishes : clownfish, angelfish, parrotfish, and even a sting ray and so many other kinds! I wish I knew more about fishes. My master made me touch something that looked like an anemone... so cute! And it felt really weird. hahaha! The 15-minute dive was not enough! I wanted to go back down and explore it some more... ho hum... but anyhoo, we had a blast!
When we got to the surface, the weather didn't really get any better as the rain still continued on. We headed back to Lagen as it was almost sundown anyway.

On our 3rd and last day, we had a very early start. We were at the arrival area by 7:00am and caught the boat that was going to Miniloc Island that morning. By 7:30am we were docked at Miniloc and were ready for breakfast! Miniloc is the more rustic and native of the two islands of the resort. It also features water cottages much like in Lagen but Lagen has a more modern or contemporary design. Although the breakfast was just as good, I still prefer Lagen. It just seems more comforting and more relaxing. Anyway, we stayed only for awhile after breakfast to watch some fish being fed. The fishes in the area of Miniloc were huge! Of course we could snorkel in the area but we didn't have much time. The people who were snorkeling were being teased by the fishes and they kept on bumping them on their behind or sneakily swimming around them to confuse them! It was really quite a sight to see. We had a boat waiting for us by 9:00am and we were then brought to Pangalusian Island.
Pangalusian was once a resort island of El Nido Resorts. Unfortunately, a fire brought it down. Luckily, a year after it burned, Lagen was ready for operation. So now, Pangalusian is just another one of the islands where you can do some activities. When we got there, we were the only ones in the island (aside of course for the El Nido personnel assigned in the island). We rested in our cabana then snorkeled for a bit. The shore and the sand of the beach was clean and white and the water was very clear. As the sun shone its peak, we headed back to the cabana to wait for our 10:45am boat back to Lagen. Our GAC (Dhally) arrived with a group of people who will have their lunch in Pangalusian that day. She came over and told us that she requested for a late check out time for us and that we should try out the hobie cat before we leave for Manila. So she had one of the guides setup the hobie cat and after a while, we were off at sea once again under the wind's command. We went around Pangalusian and took in the sights as the wind took control. We had quite a difficult time making it bring us back to the beach but we made it.
And then we were on our way back to Lagen. We freshened up, packed our bags. Checked-out and went to lunch.

After which we went to the Sala for a foot spa. The best way to end a trip!

We were on the boat again for the airport by 3:00pm and was on the flight back to Manila by 5:30pm.

It was a beautiful experience. A 4-day/3-night stay would have been the best but I can't complain. It was amazing. Once in your life, you should be treated like a princess. El Nido resorts does a wonderful job in making you believe you are one, when you spend your weekend with them.
Contact Ms. Camille through:
632.894.5644 local 145

or email her through

you could visit their website to watch out for their promos:


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iris said...

wow beautiful lids! and all for P27k? ang sulit nun ha. i used to think it'll take more than that to enjoy palawan. apparently not. this is great, i can share this with friends and family. might visit sometime soon.

pero promo lang ba to, or talagang ganyan ang rates nila throughout the year?

lidsÜ said...

@iris :: thanks iris! hehe! oo, promo lang yan e kasi mga twice the price ang regular rate nila... but i'm sure they can make adjustments for you and your friends unless it's during peak season :) get in touch with camille and you can probably mention that you heard about it from me :)
thanks for popping by!