Choosing the right accommodation is crucial in planning a vacation. When I was researching for my family’s March 2016 trip to El Nido, Palawan, Philippines, the only accommodation that I could find that could satisfy my family’s needs and personality was El Nido Resorts. It has three sustainable island resorts in El Nido and one in Taytay, Palawan. Miniloc Island, Lagen Island and Pangulasian Island. My family of thirty four always want our annual Holy Week vacations to be fun-filled with many activities. We love excitement. Miniloc Island was perfect for us.
As its website states, El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island is for the young and young at heart in search of a fun and vibrant holiday. This is so true. Our five days stay at the resort was full of well paced activities. Despite the wide range of exciting activities, we also had ample time to relax and enjoy the beautiful sceneries of El Nido.
Miniloc Island is located in Bacuit Bay and is the gateway to explore and discover many of the popular attractions of El Nido like the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon and Hidden/Secret Lagoon among others. It is the eco-discovery island resort of El Nido Resorts. Upon arrival at the resort, the activities coordinator would discuss with the guests the activities that they wanted to do throughout their stay. If you are a big group like ours, I suggest that you do this before the trip.
El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island has a Filipino coastal village atmosphere with rustic or native design. All the fifty rooms have thatched roofs and furnished with indigenous Filipino materials. Each room has its own private veranda. Despite the rustic feel, the rooms have the amenities that guests usually require of a hotel. There is a complimentary native bag that you can use when you go island hopping. The resort have the following rooms or cottages: Garden Cottage, Cliff Cottage, Beachside Cottage, Water Cottage, Seaview Room and Deluxe Seaview Room. Every night, as the resort staff prepare the bed, they always leave something on the bed wishing the guests of a good sleep. These are little art works made from indigenous materials like leaves. They also leave reading materials about the flora and fauna of El Nido.
Garden Cottage, Cliff Cottage, Beachside Cottage, Water Cottage, Seaview Room and Deluxe Seaview Room. Photos by El Nido Resorts .
The restaurant is spacious to accommodate all the guests and serves different international cuisines as well as Filipino dishes. For an island resort very far from the mainland and with supplies mostly air shipped from Manila, the food served buffet style is surprisingly good. Most of the vegetables used are organically grown in the resort’s property in the mainland. My family loved the fresh seafood. Beside the restaurant is the bar with a billiard table. On the beachfront, there are many sunbeds. Nearby is the Aqua Center where the guests could borrow aqua sports equipment. Guests could also play basketball, volleyball, table tennis, badminton, soccer, darts and frisbee. There is a Kids Activity Center for the little ones. Kayaks and paddle boards are plenty. All these are complimentary. Massage services is also available. Reservation is recommended for this. Electricity is not a problem. The resort has big generators. It has also a water treatment facility.
Guests could request for private dinners within the resort or at nearby islands and coves to make their vacation more memorable. This requires extra charge. My family had ours at the beach on our last night. Maybe because of our very big group, we were given a few bottles of complimentary wine courtesy of the resort manager. Sometimes the resort has some special events. Since it was Holy Week when we were there, the kids had an Easter egg hunt. One night, dinner was at the garden area and there was a live band. On another night, there was a cultural show while we were having dinner.
The resort is lush with vegetation. Flowers and trees abound. There are also many kinds of birds, and butterflies. Monkeys and squirrels occasionally appear near the cottages especially in the Garden and Cliff Cottages giving delight to both the young and old.
The house reef of the resort is full of marine life and the water is so clear. During low tide, you could clearly see some of them. In the mornings, you could swim with the jack fish. Some as big as 1.5 meter. Snorkeling is a must do activity while at the resort. It was so surreal swimming with the school of fishes and the jacks.
Many of us usually spent our late afternoons leisurely kayaking in the house reef watching the various marine species as the sun sets. It was so relaxing.
Very near the resort are some coves waiting to be discovered by the guests. These can be reached by kayaks or paddle boards. It is like having your own private beach.
Waking up early and watch the sunrise is an awesome experience. I did this one morning with my two nephews. There is also a sunrise cruise but if only a few guests sign up, they just do a guided sunrise walking within the resort.
The Big Lagoon is fifteen to twenty minutes by kayak depending on one’s speed from El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island. One needs to be relatively good in kayaking because the sea going to the lagoon from the resort tend to be rough at some point. On our last morning, together with a guide, we went there before sunrise. It was an awesome and surreal experience. So peaceful. We had the whole lagoon to ourselves. We had fun kayaking and racing.
El Nido Resorts has two beach clubs in El Nido for the exclusive use of their guests. Entalula Beach Club is nice for relaxation, swimming and snorkeling. It has a very scenic view of the nearby islands. We had lunch here and some siesta after at the sunbeds and hammocks at the beachfront. Just like at the resort, the food was very good and the service superb.
The Dibuluan Beach Club is nice for aqua sports like kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing. Unfortunately, because the wind was not strong enough, we were not able to do the hobie cat.
We did some island hopping for two days. There are so many nice islands to go to but we only went to the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Hidden/Secret Lagoon, Matinloc Island for the Taraw Cliff, Cathedral Cave, Cabugnon Cave and Snake Island. We also did some snorkeling in two scuba diving sites in Bacuit Bay. You can read more about this in my other blog.
The resort invited my family to witness the release of 154 hawksbill sea turtles five hours after hatching at Helicopter Island. El Nido Resorts takes charge of protecting the environment in El Nido. Each of its island resort has an environment officer who works together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In every 100 baby sea turtles released only about 1% survive. It would be very lucky if one of them reaches maturity.
We were able to visit Lagen Island, the eco-sanctuary island, one of the two other island resorts of El Nido Resorts in the area. We had a very nice lunch here and spent the afternoon either napping or enjoying the swimming pool. Hiking is one activity that can be done in Lagen but none of my family did this. The resort has a cute chapel where wedding ceremonies could be held.
The third island resort is Pangulasian Island, the eco-luxury island, which we did not visit.
One factor that made our five days stay at El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island wonderful and memorable was the superb service of the staff from reservations and sales in their Manila office down to the resort staff. They were all very friendly and accommodating. Always ready to serve our needs and make us comfortable. The resort staff offer songs upon the arrival of the guests and before they leave the resort. Guests are secured. Every time we ventured outside the resort, there was always a guard in civilian clothes accompanying us.
Bookings for El Nido Resorts can be made either through their website, travel agencies or booking sites like Agoda and Booking.com. Sometimes they have discounted packages during the off-season, usually around June to November. The best time to go there is during summer in the Philippines in the months of March to May because of the generally good weather.
The most convenient way to go to El Nido is by airplane from Manila, Cebu, Caticlan or Clark. Currently, only Airswift flies there. In Manila, Airswift is located at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4. Flight time is approximately 55 minutes. Approximate flying time from Cebu is 1 hour and 45 minutes. From Lio Airport in El Nido, there would be a 5 minutes jeepney ride to the jetty for the boat ride to either of the three El Nido Resorts. The boat ride takes about 30 to 45 minutes. If the sea is rough, the guests take the motor boats at the town proper which is just about fifteen minutes away. At the pre-departure area in Manila, snacks and drinks are provided. The same is again provided upon arrival at Lio Airport as guests wait for their jeepney and boat rides. The next time the guests see their luggages after checking in at the airport in Manila will be in their rooms at the resort.
For those going to El Nido, Palawan, I would highly recommend staying at El Nido Resorts. It is value for money considering the quality of accommodation, food, activities, security and service that the guests receive. Furthermore, it is hassle-free.
If one is not keen on staying in an island resort, the Lio – Eco- Tourism Estate in mainland Lio will be opening its doors to the public this year. It is a hub of hotels, resorts, tourism and commercial establishments and residential communities with world class amenities. The estate also has the Lio Beach Village which will have bed and breakfasts, resorts, shops and restaurants. The developers are Ayala Land and Ten Knots Philippines, Inc. The later is the group behind El Nido Resorts.