The El Nido Resorts Miniloc Difference

Of all the destinations I've been to in the Philippines so far, Palawan is one of my favorites. I never get tired of the limestone rock formations and be it Coron, Puerto Princesa, Pamalican (where Amanpulo is) or El Nido, the most popular destinations in Palawan, you'll always experience something different. I've been to Coron and the sunken warships and mangroves are just two of many highlights. The most popular attraction in Puerto Princesa is the penal colony and the underground river. I will feature the beauty and exclusivity of El Nido in this series of posts. None of the commercial carriers like Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific, ZestAir or SEAIR can take you to El Nido. Let me take you there.

The Other Manila Airport
There's another Manila take-off point for El Nido, same for Amanpulo. We were instructed to proceed to the A. Soriano Hangar at the corner of Lima Road and Andrews Avenue (Domestic Airport, Pasay City) where a 19-seater Dornier 228-212 aircraft will take us straight to the El Nido airport.

Miniloc Island or Lagen Island?
Everything was thoroughly arranged through El Nido Resorts and they were very happy to accommodate us in Miniloc Island (the more traditional resort compared to the more modern Lagen Island).

In this post, I will highlight the special kind of treatment that I got, probably everyone who chooses El Nido Resorts, when the topic is about experiencing the beauty of El Nido the Guiltless Getaway way.

Before the Flight: Baggage Allowance, Lounge and Boarding
Each passenger and luggage were weighed. Only 10 kgs total weight per passenger, including the hand-carried luggage, was allowed for this island experience. We were issued reusable boarding passes that were collected upon boarding.

They had a separate and air-conditioned private El Nido Resorts lounge for the waiting passengers where we were served muffins, juice and coffee before our flight.

The on-the-ground flight safety demo was also done here before our flight. No flight attendants to serve you and no bathroom break in this 45-minute flight to El Nido.

During the Flight: Seats, Fly Green Program, El Nido Route
I was happy to know that I could sit anywhere I want on the plane and the cold smoke, fog actually, coming out of the vents inside the aircraft was normal because the cabin is not pressurized.

P200 of the flight fee will also go to the "voluntary" carbon offset contribution program of ITI (Island Transvoyager, Inc.), the air service provider for El Nido Resorts.

Since there are no viable green alternative fuel yet to offset carbon emission generated by a roundtrip flight to El Nido, the 200 pesos will go to protecting and maintaining the watershed forests of El Nido and rearing 6 trees to maturity.

There is also a route map that will leave you looking out the window for scenic spots every 5 minutes after take-off and not sleep instead.

Back issues of in-flight magazines were also put to good use.

After the Morning Flight: Transfer to the Resort

After touchdown at Lio Airport (also El Nido Airport, code: ENI) from Manila, these waving ladies will welcome you with a song or two.

You'll also have time to snatch some biko and orange juice at the receiving area or do some picture-taking or go to the bathroom if you wish.

The mood was just unhurried and the smooth arrival process with the resort staff who were with us from the time we arrived had a lot to do with it.

We were ushered into this very big jeep and we didn't have to think of our luggage the whole time.

While on the jeep, our very able guide Joven for the 4D3N group trip introduced himself, welcomed us and answered every question I threw out to him. FYI, the El Nido guides can swim, spot birds of all kinds, dive, hike, take good pictures, operate underwater cameras, do first aid, make fancy hats and many more!

He told us about the bird's nest livelihood of the El Nido people (who climb these dangerous and hard-to-reach rock formations during the allowed collecting season - January to May).

There was also a fishing ban (in its 2nd year - our trip was November 2011) due to overfishing in Palawan and 9 dialects in Palawan close to Bisaya and Ilonggo.

And apparently, because it was low tide in the morning, we would have to ride the jeep to the port where the boat that will take us to the resort is waiting for us (after a brief and safe boat transfer, with life vests and all at every step of the way).

All in all, it takes a plane ride, a jeep ride and 3 boat rides - 2 small ones to get to Miniloc Island or Lagen Island during a morning flight.

The Miniloc Island Experience
Crystal clear kayak-able waters,

cabins on stilts,

a long wooden dock

and a warm welcome officially means that we made it to Miniloc Island.

The hotel staff welcomed us with the Palawan March, which was sung in local dialect and with a very refreshing buko pandan juice.

The guest activity manager briefed us about the eco bag, the marine diversity and the environmental conservation efforts undertaken by El Nido Resorts. 1998 was the year that the government declared El Nido as a protected area. Every guest is enjoined into that effort and told to "leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures and fond memories of this piece of paradise" plus to tell them if we see any animals and fish in their eco watch list and use the eco bag to bring home our trash with us.

On another note, this is probably the time to tell you that the signal of Smart and Globe in the area is weak, especially in the inner cabins, and there is no TV in the room. Bedtime stories, manmade birds or insects, a handmade woven bag that supports El Nido women and their families that will serve as your souvenir and best buddy for the boat sessions, midnight snacks and the comfort of a lovely bed will take their place.

I enjoyed the Bandi the most. It's a caramelized sugar candy with cashew.

Each meal is also served buffet-style and it changes every day.

So Worth It
This is just the beginning of my awesome El Nido experience.

No more cash out was needed when I go out of my room and everything was paid for (as in all-in in the P10K plus per night rate) including the flights, the transfers, the meals, the boat rides, the facilities, the snorkeling gear, the kayaks and the activities (which you will set with the guest activity manager assigned to you). Any extras like happy hour or scuba diving can be charged to your room. I guess the next logical step is to make the most out of the trip EVERY SINGLE DAY, right? I got just that. I would recommend to travel in a group for this (the more, the merrier!). All the other activities I did and locations I went to in the next days will be featured in the next posts.

My Posts on El Nido Resorts