More Than Just a Paradise: A Trip to El Nido, Palawan - Travel
February 10, 2020
photos Marc Pagdilao & Seven Barretto

A piece of heaven on earth, Palawan preserves the beauty of its natural wonders by continuing to be at the forefront of eco-tourism and sustainability.

One of the reason why Philippines’ as a tourist destination became famous is because its an archipelago made up of 7,107 islands. Thousands of beautiful and majestic islands waiting to be explored and developed. A concentration of it is actually found in El Nido, Palawan.  It  certainly is one of the most famous destinations in the Philippines and in the world  that is rapidly developing and leading tourism in the country. Its beaches are absolutely stunning  and the limestone formations rising above the turquoise water, are entirely majestic, not to mention the  well preserved coral reefs great for snorkeling or diving.

Getting to El Nido

Palawan, a regular on the Condé Nast Traveler list of The World’s Best Islands, draws millions of tourists from the Philippines and around the world. Fortunately, within the past couple of years, El Nido Airport (also known as Lio Airport) opened and made traveling to the island more convenient. No need to go through Puerto Princessa or Busuanga airports and take hours and hours of the van ride. Air Swift, owned and operated by the Ayala group, flies from NAIA Terminal 4 and lands at the El Nido Airport which is just fifteen minutes outside of the town proper.  Regardless of its size, the airport is extremely convenient for travelers, clean and very efficient. Air Swift operates several flights a day.

Also Read: The Best Of The Philippine Islands: Editor’s Choice For Hotels & Resorts

El Nido Town

I love El Nido. I have been to the island several times, but there is always something new to see and experience. It is idyllic, quaint, and offers a myriad of things to do. Bars and restaurants are everywhere, with several expatriates and foreigners coming in and out of the island. At times, it does feel like I’m in a foreign land. I would hope to see more Filipinos explore and experience it. 

A visit to Kalye Artisano is a must. It’s a lifestyle hub that features sustainable fashion. This is one of Paloma Urquijo Zobel and mother Bea Zobel’s projects in El Nido. A home that promotes Philippine arts and crafts, it provides a platform for local artists, drawing in local and foreign tourists from around the world.  The place is open with a very vibrant and rustic charm. Structures are artistically painted and decked with locally made home accessories, all of which make the place more inviting and welcoming. The selection is quite good, from the well-made bags of Piopio to clothes, cold-pressed VCO soaps, paintings, bamboo straws, fashion accessories, recycled bracelets, and other island-crafted goods. It’s a well-curated sustainable lifestyle space that anyone who steps into El Nido should visit.

One would never run out of new places to eat. Different cuisines are widely available and food is relatively expensive by Philippine standards. Among many favorites is Bella Vita. It’s a beachfront Restaurant that offers delicious pizza. Others say that Altrove offers arguably the best pizza in El Nido, but I guess this is for you to try and decide for yourself. Happiness Beach Bar offers a different kind of experience, with you sitting on swing seats while eating shakshuka, hummus, and other Mediterranean food. Other must-tries are Boodle Fight and Art Café.

Sunsets are picturesque in El Nido. There are several places you can spend admiring the beautiful sun in El Nido as it dips itself in the sea. Let me share with you my top 4 best sunset spots. Marimegmeg Beach Bar and The Beach Shack – great beats, tasty cocktails, and the perfect bites to go along with it. Republica Sunset Bar is cozy and offers the best Spanish food on the island, aside from being a great place to watch the sunset. La Plage, a French restaurant located at Corong-Corong, is owned and being run by French nationals who are very friendly, personally receiving and serving guests. The sunset view here is also quite majestic and you might end up spending several nights here with its good crowd to boast. Last, but not the least, is Lio Beach. This beach area, an Ayala Land development, spans four kilometers-long and offers a charming white cove with a striking view of Cadlao Island. With a wide selection of bars and restaurants to hang out here, my favorite is the Jungle Bar by Piopio. While savoring the taste of great-tasting healthy dishes, you’ll also appreciate its chic native interiors.

Read the full story written by Dong Ronquillo in Lifestyle Asia’s February 2020 edition titled, “Exploring Our Island Paradise.”

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