El Nido Retreats
From high-end to budget, Ferdz Decena lists the island’s therapeutic escapes
Photos by Ferdz Decena
April-May 2013 Issue
FIRST IMPRESSION: A secluded beach far south of Corong Corong, El Nido. Dolarog Beach is a palm-fringed resort, with big native cottages, a scenic wharf, and gorgeous sunsets, and sits just across the towering Pinagbuyutan Island and the southern islands of Bacuit Bay.
WHY GO? It’s the perfect place to get away from it all. Dolarog Beach Resort is a rustic hideaway for couples and families and a superb location for watching the sunset.
ACCOMODATION: Cottages are spacious, furnished with king-size beds, and have their own patios withhammock. The deluxe cottages fronting the beach have airconditioning and hot water. Amenities include a saltwater pool. Electricity is only from 6pm to 12 midnight.
DON’T MISS: Island hopping tours of the nearby Pinagbuyutan Island, Big and Small Lagoons at Miniloc and Snake Islands. Tours are included in the room rate, except for Matinloc tours, which carry a fuel charge. There is also good snorkeling in front of the beach if you’re not in the mood to explore far.
FOOD: The resort restaurant has a lovely view of the sea and sunset. Full board meals are part of the room rate. Dishes are simple, but tasty.
RATES: Rates, which may vary during peak season, are from P4,200 per person for a garden cottage to P5,750 for a big deluxe cottage.
CONTACT INFO: +63919/ 867 4360, firstname.lastname@example.org
FIRST IMPRESSION: Pangulasian Island opens out to Bacuit Bay’s turquoise waters with its 750-meter long white sand beach. Beach-side villas have replaced the previous seaside cottages on stilts. The contemporary Filipino design, with the heavy use of white and bare wood, looks elegant. The use of anitos (statues of spirits of pre-Hispanic origins) in the design infuses a touch of Filipino culture. From afar, the main building that houses the common areas is the only thing you can see. The villas blend naturally with the lush forest backdrop.
WHY GO? Pangulasian Island Resort boasts of the best snorkeling in Bacuit Bay along with its fine white sand and pristine low-lying forest.
ACCOMMODATION: Rooms have big, comfortable beds, a private balcony, butler, and in some cases, a private pool. The Canopy Villas stand on stilts near the forest, offering a commanding view of Bacuit Bay. The Kalaw Villas found on the cove at the west end of the beach are a cluster of four villas with common dining area and pool, ideal for groups. Other choices include beach villas and pool villas.
DON’T MISS: The 30-minute hike through the forest trail leading to the island summit viewdeck for majestic sunrise and sunset views of Bacuit Bay; and the snorkeling tour to watch baby black tip sharks and sea turtles just a few meters from the shore.
FOOD: A wide range of dining options available in its a la carte menu and buffet offerings served at the balcony, or on hot days, in an enclosed dining area with air conditioning.
RATES: The Canopy Villa rates start at P30,500 (about US $709), the Beach Villa at P34,500, the Pool Villa at P 37,000, and the Kalaw Villa at P120,000. All are inclusive of breakfast, boat transfers, and use of snorkeling and kayak equipment at the resort.
FIRST IMPRESSION: A lovely tropical resort set amidst the quiet side of El Nido at Sitio Caalan. At the entrance, guests are greeted by the scent of citronella and warmly welcomed by staff. Inside, there’s a well-manicured garden, lounge chairs and hammocks. A pathway leads to an infinity pool with a view of Cadlao Island and Bacuit Bay.
WHY GO? If you want to stay near the town but prefer the quiet, then Cadlao Resort is the perfect place. Its facilities are among the best in the Caalan area. Solar power and generators ensure energy self sufficiency 24 hours a day.
ACCOMODATION: The rooms are immaculate and elegant with queen size beds, large toilet and bath, and closets made from native materials. Each room has a porch.
DON’T MISS: The spa by the poolside and the souvenir shop at the reception. Food: The resort restaurant is set on a terrace and serves local and international dishes. The bar has a large collection of wines, cocktails and healthy fruit shakes.
MUST-TRY: The talk-of-the-town pork ribs.
RATES: The aircon Executive Rooms are P6,500 while the Eco Friendly Rooms are P5,500. Breakfast is included. Prices may vary during the off-season.
CONTACT INFO: +63917/ 589 7069
FIRST IMPRESSION: The setting is a beautiful cove on one of the larger islands in Bacuit Bay with a stunning limestone karst hugging the cottages on stilts. Lagen Island Resort is showing a bit of its age with some of the cottages and boardwalks needing refurbishing and that is what the management seems to be doing. Guests have new facilities to enjoy — gym, kids center, library and a spa area. The cove remains a tranquil place.
WHY GO? Lagen Island is the biggest among the El Nido resorts and its surrounding waters has the most biodiversity among the islands in Bacuit Bay.
ACCOMMODATION: The cottages make use of recycled timber, have large beds, spacious bath, private porch, and now, cable LCD TV. Forest Rooms are close to the lush island vegetation; Beach Cottages offer a panoramic view of the cove and rock formations; and Water Cottages on stilts offer magnificent sunset views.
DON’T MISS: Early morning forest walks to a secluded beach and a private dinner at the island sandbar.
FOOD: The menu, which changes depending on the supply, serves ala carte and buffet meals at the Clubhouse Restaurant.
RATES: Starts at P22,000 for the Forest Room; P25,000 for the Water Cottage and Beachfront Cottage; and P29,000 for the Forest Suite.
FIRST IMPRESSION: An intimate hillside resort with a few cottages at Corong Corong offering a wonderful vista of Bacuit Bay. Beautiful landscaped hill fringed with numerous cashew trees. It’s relatively quiet with some din filtering from the street below. There’s an inviting bean-shaped infinity pool.
WHY GO? Ultimate privacy. An air of perfect peace and tranquility close to town. Good value for the type of accommodation offered.
ACCOMMODATION: Three hillside cottages facing Bacuit Bay, each has a 90sqm area divided into an open air living area, porch with sun bed, a private garden, the bedroom with a king size bed and jacuzzi. The cottage has hot shower, a kitchenette, and a large screen LCD TV.
DON’T MISS: The resort offers a slew of activities from partner establishments like Pitstop for motorbike hires and inland tours and Palawan Divers for diving. Island hopping activities can also be arranged.
FOOD: Only breakfast is currently offered by the resort. Drinks are also available. Rates: The cottages are priced at P3,500 per night.
CONTACT INFO: +63916/ 631 7078, email@example.com.