THE LATEST news is that Palawan made it to No. 1 among 20 entries in the “Best Islands in the World: Readers’ Choice Awards 2015” conducted by the New York-based Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
Among many tourist destinations in Palawan, the most recent attraction is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River—named as one of the seven new natural wonders of the world.
For the first-timer who prefers convenience, privacy and the privilege to see nature’s splendor—or what remains of it—El Nido Resorts is a persuasive choice.
Although travel is by air, checking in is hassle-free—not in Naia but in a private hangar with a nice lounge that offers snacks and drinks while waiting for the flight.
The chartered flight, in a small plane which carries about 30 people, is not claustrophobic. The flight takes about an hour.
El Nido Resorts has four islands—Apulit, Lagen, Miniloc and Pangulasian—all of which may be visited even if you’re booked in just one of them. There are boat rides that may be arranged, say, to go snorkeling in Miniloc, have snacks in Lagen and drop in on other islands just for the sheer pleasure on wading on seawater and dragging the feet in sand.
December is a good time to be in Pangulasian if you want a truly quiet and relaxing weekend. It’s the least crowded among the resorts, though the others are not exactly packed even if fully booked because guests are limited: Apulit has only 40 water cottages; Lagen, 50 rooms; Miniloc, 50; and Pangulasian, 42 villas.
Waking up at 5 a.m. for a 30-minute hike up a cliff to catch the sunrise is invigorating. For someone who is already huffing and puffing after five minutes of climbing, the sound of birds and other wildlife seems to be a cheering call to keep going.
Breakfast at Pangulasian is not the usual groaning buffet table, but just enough to fill one up with fresh fruits, soup and assorted meats and seafood.
The relentless blowing of the wind that accompanies the short boat ride to visit the other islands can lull you to sleep, but your eyes will be preoccupied by the sight of magnificent lime cliffs and green mountains, and your mind kept alert by the sense of wonder that unspoiled nature affords.
The sandbar is like an Eden—a pathway that connects two mountains, serene and breathtaking to look at.
There is a cave in one of the small islands, a bit difficult to crawl into, but nonetheless worth the effort because, once inside, a certain calmness connects the city-bred tourist to this rural oasis.
The barbecue lunch in another island is an indulgence that comes with an hour or so of stretching out on a wooden beach chair while gazing at a couple paddling in a canoe.
Back in Pangulasian, you feel like royalty upon entering the designated villa which has a two-poster bed and a really spacious toilet and bath—big enough to include a nook to sit around while pampering yourself.
There’s even an iPod that contains some good reggae, jazz, Latin and rock tunes.
You can have dinner outside, under the stars, as the wind keeps blowing, as if whispering into your ears: This is the life. Now save up so that you can come back.
El Nido Resorts, tel. 8130000; e-mail: [email protected]; visit the website: elnidoresorts.com