When I was transitioning jobs last August 2008 and before I moved into another group, my previous team had an outing to get our well-deserved break as well as to celebrate a good performance for the previous fiscal year together with our partners. So two days after my Guam trip, I was back at the airport again, headed towards another beach resort. This time to El Nido, Palawan. I have heard about the place a number of times but since I didn't have much time to read about the place or even look at our iterinary. I was thinking this is again another beach resort so I just packed my bags and didn't expect much on this trip. It will turn out later I was wrong...
We boarded a small 19-seater plane and went off. This is my first time to sit in such a small plane and for someone with fear on heights, taking flights on these are more scary because you can actually see from windows both on your left and on your right and the turbulence can be felt even greater than on a larger aircraft.
The plane flew in a lower altitude than those commercial jetliners. From our windows we can see the beautiful islands as we pass by them on our way to Palawan.
After an hour of flight time, we started descending and thought we finally reached our destination.
On arrival, the group were led into an area where they served light snacks. As we are waiting for a jeepney, we helped ourselves and munched on the rice cakes while drinking ice-cold beverages.
A few minutes later, we boarded a jeepney. Obviously this is a customized one since it was bigger and has more head room.
As it turned out, I was surprised that the jeepney ride was just about 2-3 minutes. It just took us to a jetty where boats were waiting for us that will take us to where we will be staying.
After an hour or so of water travel, we finally saw where we're staying - Miniloc island. This place is owned by El Nido Resorts, which owns the most luxurious accomodations and facilities in the area.
The group was greeted by the staff as we go down and we were led to an area where lunch was waiting for us.
Because of the long trip, everyone were already hungry and looked forward to eating lunch.
Immediately after lunch we were given our room keys so we can freshen up and start with the activities for the remainder of the day. We found our bags already in our rooms and so far everything went smoothly without a hassle. I was sharing the room with Jojo.
view from our beachside room
Instead of attending an introduction to scuba diving class, we just strolled around the island and tried the different water activities - dipping, kayaking, bumming, etc.
fishes near the shoreline
beach front and island shore
deluxe seaview rooms at night
During dinner time, our group was treated to Filipino cultural dances and at the end, they invited (or forced) our expats to join them in the dance.
Because we are a team full of energy and can't stay aside doing nothing, most of us opted to do karaoke instead of sleeping early so we sang our hearts out until midnight.
It was a bright, shiny day the next morning. We expected overcast because we were told it was raining the past few days but so far, so good for us. Earlier that day there was a fishing activity but we decided to skip that to have longer hours of sleep.
Boats were already waiting at the jetty early that morning. Our activity for the second day is to do island-hopping so we left Miniloc island and started the activities for that day.
It was low tide during that day so we need to transfer from a speedboat to a regular boat for our island hopping.
Miniloc island from afar
We reached Lagen island after around 30 minutes of boat ride. This is a sister island to Miniloc, owned by the same group.
The difference here in Lagen is that the rooms here are more modern as compared to the cottages in Miniloc and this island have a pool. Other than that, I feel more comfortable in Miniloc because there are only a few number of cottages which means less occupants and more peaceful surrounding.
Lagen island beach front
me, george, erick and jojo
El Nido is comprised of different islands. Going around the the peninsula, you can't help but be awed by the numerous number of islands that are inhabited sporting white sand beach fronts.
We also went inside a cave by boat.
Our last stop before lunch was Snake island. It is actually a sandbar and is called such because of its shape and not because there are snakes in the island.
A 5-minute trail going up the island is a must to have a good vantage point of the surrounding, including the sandbar.
the snake island sandbar from above
around the island
another view from the top
We then proceeded to Entalula island to have our lunch. It was already past lunch time and we started to get hungry.
Our lunch was served picnic-style and by the beach. It was a wonderful experience sitting on the floor, with pillows, and eating with our hands.
seafood and grilled lunch
After eating, others preferred to stay in the cottages and relax while the others went out for a swim. Others explored around and see what else is in store on that island.
tree by the shore
After an hour of rest, we headed to the small lagoon for kayak. It started to drizzle a bit and the wind was blowing. I was afraid to join since I cannot swim but it seems to be a lovely activity so I gave in.
After kayaking, we also went for a boat ride at the big lagoon. Aside from rock formations, we also saw corals in shallow waters.
We returned to Lagen island after this and ate our dinner. While others had body massages, I preferred to sleep early that night.
The next morning is our last day in the resort. Our only activity was to go to an island, swim and relax. I just took picture of the place while waiting to board our boat.
fishes near the shoreline
Pangalusian Island. This is part of El Nido Resorts and they previously had accomodations in the island until few years back when fire destroyed the cottages. For me it was the best island we visited among the rest. Clear, pristine and calm water, fine white sandy beach and cool breeze.
There are cottages where you can sit down, hangout and watch the surrounding while relaxing.
a picturesque view of the island
We left the island after we had lunch. We were supposed to have a hat-making activity but everyone else preferred to just rest until it's time for us to leave so the staff just made the hat and gave it to everyone in the group. On our way out, the staff bade goodbye to us and off we went to the airport.
A 19-seater plane was waiting for us in the airport.
It was sad to leave El Nido, but it was nice to bring back good memories as we turn back and head home. It was one of the most luxurious trips I ever had (the resort is targetted more to foreigners than locals). This is where I saw the most beautiful beaches and islands so far in my life and with the good service of the resort staff, the experience is really very enjoyable and memorable.
On our way back, we saw smoke-like air coming out of the cockpit. The pilot assured us it was normal but others who are not used to riding planes like this panicked a bit.
It was already sunset time as we approach the airport in Manila. We were stranded in the air for almost an hour and we cannot land immediately because there was a VIP allegedly by that time. Later on we were told it was the president of the Philippines!