13 Jan 2013 13 Comments
We had the perfect time to take the entire family to the Philippines for my sister’s wedding last December so we took advantage and rewarded ourselves from working so hard throughout the years and spent a few days in Palawan.
Apulit Island, El Nido Resort is a beautiful resort tucked into a quiet cove surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs. There are lush trees, colorful flowers, thatched-roofed cottages perched on stilts above crystal clear turquoise water. This place was truly the perfect place for a forget-about-the-world-for-a-while type of vacation.
From Manila, we took a 19-seater charter plane exclusive to the El Nido Resorts and it took about 75 minutes to get to Palawan. The flight was interesting because we hit an air pocket a few minutes prior to landing so it felt like we were on a roller coaster! We could also see the dirt runway and I honestly felt like I was in one of the episodes of LOST!
We arrived at the airport with it’s dirt-floored hut and fresh native Filipino snacks waiting for us.
We spent about half an hour snacking and getting refreshed before we hopped on a jeepney for a 10-minute ride to a secluded wooden pier where there was a boat and life jackets waiting for us.
For those who are worried about safety in the Philippines, Apulit Island is really set up to protect you without you feeling like you’re in any danger. I was so fascinated with the scenery that I didn’t even notice that there were at least 5 security people that went on the boat with us. I just became aware of them when I heard my dad asked our guide if there were any pirates/terrorists in that area of Palawan hence the guards but we were told that it was just the resort’s security protocol.
The boat ride took about 75 minutes and as we docked, we were welcomed by the resort staff singing and dancing. We were given a refreshing drink, rice cakes and a necklace of a palm leaf braided into a fish. We relaxed in the shade while some of the staff introduced themselves and gave us an overview of the resort.
We stayed in 2-storey Deluxe Cottages that opens up to a private deck that has stairs leading directly into the water for you to swim or snorkel anytime of the day. The panoramic view of the sea and the resort is very beautiful and it was so amazing to just look at the water underneath our deck and find colorful fish and baby black tip reef sharks!
Apulit Island Resort offered three buffet meals a day.
Everything was so fresh and homemade with the fruits and vegetables grown locally, most on an organic farm.
The seafood was caught daily in the local waters. The mangoes were amazing. I think Michael ate at least 2 every meal!
Speaking of food, another must-do for anyone staying at the resort is a private meal. You can chose the day, time, and location! We chose to have a beach picnic. After our island hopping, we were brought to a secluded beach where everything was already set-up and fresh food and cold beverages waiting for us!
The resort was really perfect for what we were seeking – total relaxation. It is completely secluded, no roads, and no distractions.
But in spite of that, it was never boring because there are several activities that you can enjoy like island hopping, windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, rappelling, etc.
If not for the stronger waves, we could have experienced spelunking. One of our guides told us that we could have enjoyed a candlelit dinner inside the inner cavern and also enjoy swimming in a lagoon inside the cave. Unfortunately for us, the cave’s opening was covered by the high tide but according to our guide, the cave is clearly visible during low tides.
Overall, the resort’s asset is not just the beautiful island but its amazing staff. They are what indeed makes the island so special.
I really love their thoughtful gesture of leaving hand-written messages on leaves – always made us smile!
We were farewelled the same way we were welcomed. The only difference was the emotions we felt because everyone was saying goodbye to us, calling us by our first names. Our boat pushed away but the staff stood on the pier waving until we literally could not see them anymore. It was truly our best vacation so far.