A Gem of the Phillippines

Palawan

Story By Angelica Slater

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Cebu and Boracay are two of the 7,000 islands in the Philippines that the rest of the world rave about as iconic holiday destinations. However, an emerging destination characterized by exclusivity, pristine clear waters, and white sandy beaches is the islands of Palawan. Palawan is a hidden yet evolving travel destination suitable for anyone, and here are the reasons why. 

The province of Palawan is an archipelago consisting of various islands that each have their own identity. With that being said, although there is a variety of choices to pick from when it comes to deciding on the perfect resort for your relaxing vacation, El Nido Resorts have a selection of four islands to satisfy your needs: Pangulasian Island, Lagen Island, Miniloc Island, and Apulit Island. With the types of accommodation and activities differing on all islands, El Nido Resorts stay loyal to the theme of sustainability and being an eco-friendly environment. Depending on what suits you the best when it comes to your ideal holiday on the islands of Palawan, one of El Nido’s islands will for sure be able to give you the holiday you’ve been searching for. 

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Fortunately for me, I was able to experience first-hand Eco-Luxury on Pangulasian Island and the Eco-Sanctuary on Lagen Island. Flying to Palawan is no hassle when choosing El Nido due to their chartered flights operated by Airswift that are available six times a day. Once you land at Palawan, you are met with a warm welcome from the El Nido staff and tour guides as you continue on to your chosen island. As you sit tight at the port and enjoy some snacks in the city of Lio, it’s only a matter of moments until you are off on a boat setting across the ocean to reach your final destination. The tide at the time of your arrival determines what route you take. Just be sure to hold onto your hat and sunglasses to ensure they don’t fall off! As you slowly make your way to the coast of your island, you’re distracted by the beauty of your surroundings. Upon disembarking, you are welcomed by the friendly staff of the El Nido Resort, who offer ice-cold drinks to quench your thirst after the relatively hot journey. 

After the warm welcome, you are directed to the front desk to check-in, after which a member of the El Nido staff will brief you on the resort’s eco-friendly environment. They ensure that they provide you with items (a bag) to contain all plastics and trash that may be harmful to the island. They emphasize the necessity of keeping your trash to yourself and leaving it in the ocean or surroundings, especially when out during leisure activities. Alongside these instructions, they hand you an A3 piece of paper with drawings of wildlife that can be found all over the island. You are instructed to take note of whether you come across the animals during your visit to add to their research and stay up to date.

After your briefing is over, it’s all under your control. Depending on what time you arrive on your island, you can decide what activity you want to begin with. However, may I suggest enjoying and relaxing in your own room/villa, exploring the resort, and trying out the incredible food that El Nido has to offer, especially their fruit shakes. As you stroll around the resort, don’t forget to be on the lookout for nature and wildlife and to be sure to mark it down on your data sheet!

With several activities available right off the coast of your resort, I suggest the iconic island-hopping adventure, which allows you to discover the lagoon and island attractions of Palawan. It also allows you to meet fellow adventurers and further explore the sister islands of Palawan. With a set departure in the morning, remember to wear a swimsuit, pack your sunglasses, and lather on the sunblock to protect yourself from the Philippine sun. Enjoy the boat ride to the lagoons and cliffs of the Palawan islands. Then prepare to grab a partner and kayak your way to the cliffs to discover the true beauty within. Don’t forget to watch your head! Pay attention to the sky-high cliffs and the colorful fish visible in the clear water with different shades of blue. Be sure to take those Instagram worthy images that most likely need no editing required. Just don’t drop your phone in the water. After you’ve discovered the secret holes and entryways of the cliffs, make your way back to your boat and enjoy a dip in the beautiful water next to where your boat is docked. Take a moment to absorb nature’s true beautiful creations.

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Finally, as you make your way back, your captain will make a detour where you will get a panoramic view of the famous lagoons of Palawan, giving you the opportunity to capture more Insta-worthy moments. By now, after all the photos and the “gasping in awe” moments, you have safely reached the resort, where I recommend taking a quick siesta before you decide what activity you want to complete next. 

Even with just a few hours to spare, a variety of activities are available to you off the island. If you’re intrigued about the other islands of El Nido Resorts, then book a morning trip to one of the sister islands and enjoy the different activities they have to offer there. Also, enjoy lunch with different scenery. At Miniloc, do you fancy snorkeling with jackfish? Or, going for a dive with stingrays at Lagen? Even take a yacht out to the ocean. Or, paddleboard your way just off the coast. The El Nido resorts make everything simple and easy for you when it comes to accommodating your needs. With a large variety of water sports, there are also activities to satisfy others not so fond of sand in their toes. Go for a morning hike up to the island's peak to watch the sunrise, or if you’re not a morning person, book the afternoon hike to watch the sunset. 

Booking and enjoying a holiday has never been easier when traveling to Palawan. You are able to enjoy first-hand what nature has to offer and have the opportunity to take a break from the bustling city life. You are taken care of by all the friendly El Nido staff and wake up to exclusivity and beauty. So convince your family and friends to take a trip down to the islands of the Philippines and enjoy the secret island gem of Palawan.

Sean Choi