The Philippines town of El Nido can be a harsh spot for beachcombers used to creature comforts - electricity cuts off early in the morning, there's little broadband Internet available, and the food choices in the restaurants can be mighty disappointing.
You can forget all these troubles if you can pay enough for these El Nido, Palawan hotels and resorts: now you can have your cake and eat it too, if by "cake" you mean air-conditioning, broadband Internet access, and good food. These resorts will also facilitate hiking, watersports and the many activities available to the El Nido visitor.
If cheaper digs are more your style, refer to this list of Budget El Nido Hotels & Resorts instead.
01 of 06
The El Nido Resorts brand has had long practice providing five-star service around Bacuit Bay, with their Pangulasian Island resort sitting on top of their collection. The service begins all the way in Manila, where you'll fly Air Swift to the El Nido Airport and its El Nido Resorts-only lounge. Shuttle and pumpboat take you from the lounge right to the dock on Pangulasian Island.
The resort's private beachfront stretches about 2,400 feet, a brilliant white margin framing Bacuit Bay for the El Nido Resorts guest. The property includes 42 villas with private balconies, 65 square meters of interior space, and a choice of views of the forest or the beach. Pool villas provide intimate privacy that the Beach villas cannot. (The 22-square-meter private pool is a nice bonus.)
Take advantage of the outdoor activities included in your booking: paddleboards, kayaks, and hobiecats are available, as are snorkeling accessories for use in the beach shallows and the nearby house reef. The... Pangulasian Island location is fortuitous for visitors: many “secret” beaches and coves are easily accessible from the resort, with help from the hired guide.
Star rating: ★★★★★
Address: Pangulasian Island, El Nido, Palawan (location on Google Maps)
Phone: +63 2 902 5990
02 of 06
Only seven free-standing air-conditioned cottages and villas make up the Qi Palawan's accommodations; two of the cottages are wheelchair-accessible (a first for El Nido, Palawan hotels). The smallest cottages are 50 sq.m. in size, and all have verandahs overlooking the beach.
A location set at some distance from the main town drag allow guests a measure of privacy and immediate access to El Nido's natural wonders. You'll sacrifice some creature comforts for immediate activities: mountain biking, scuba diving, kite boarding (from November to March only), and snorkeling around the nearby reefs.
The rooms' finishes use local, natural materials almost exclusively, with wood and bamboo everywhere you look. The restaurant serves a rustic menu; prices are a bit dear but expected considering the resort's relatively remote location.
Star rating: ★★★☆☆
Address: Sitio Palabuyan, San Fernando, El Nido (location on Google Maps)
Phone: +63 939 925 9433
03 of 06
One of the newest El Nido, Palawan hotels stands on one of Bacuit Bay's more scenic islands. Matinloc Resort requires an additional boat ride away from El Nido town proper, but you'll find a surprise at the other end of the trip: a series of 50 luxurious villas and suites nestled between lush jungles on one side and a dazzling beach and sea view on the other.
The Mountain Villas offer the best balance of value and view: to reach one, you'll need to climb 60 to 90 feet up a forested hillside to a spacious villa space with wraparound views of the jungle and the sea. Enjoy the scenery from the king-sized bed, or from the circular tub in the generously-sized bathroom.
The package stay offers full-board and half-board options. The beach-side restaurant serves Filipino delicacies and optional vegetarian- and pescetarian-friendly meals. Take note, there's a poolside bar, but no alcohol is served in the resort. Private dining at poolside, on the beach, or on another island can be... arranged with the concierge.
Work off the calories by hitting the quarter-mile nature trail winding through the jungle around Matinloc Island, then retire to the Spa at Matinloc for a relaxing session next to nature.
Star rating: ★★★★★
Address: Palio, Matinloc island, El Nido Palawan (location on Google Maps)
Phone: +63 48 244 0496 / +63 917 817 5930
04 of 06
It's set at a remove from town (a good thirty minute drive up north, past the airport), but the distance works in El Nido Cove Resort's favor: a less crowded beachfront that you feel you have all to yourself, a swimming pool overlooking the sea, and one of the better restaurants in this part of El Nido. (Good thing, too, as your other choices are far to the south in the main El Nido town stretch.)
The bungalows in El Nido Cove Resort favor groups, though the Garden Rooms comfortably accommodate a vacationing couple. (The expansive Beachfront Loft accommodates up to five adults, thanks to its unique-for-El-Nido-hotels loft structure.) You have a choice of views, either facing the resort gardens, or Bacuit Bay and the islands beyond.
Environmentally-conscious guests will be happy to note El Nido Cove Resort's conscientious practices, such as the use of solar panels and a greenhouse farm on the premises.
Star rating: ★★★★☆
Address: 73 Real Street, El Nido, Palawan (location on... Google Maps)
Phone: +63 2 682 7169Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
El Nido, already somewhat off the beaten path, also offers accommodations off off the beaten path. Take Aetas Glamping: a cottage set up some eight minutes off the beach, in the middle of Palawan farmland.
The four-hectare lot offers plenty of privacy, with accommodations positioned on top of a local hill. The cottage comes with a porch to take in the view, preferably from one of the two beanbags provided. Inside the tent, you'll find a queen-sized bed with comfortable clean beddings; and a bathroom with hot-and-cold water, sink area, and shower stall. Other amenities include playing cards and a chess board.
The cottage is just right to zen out in: ask the staff to bring you the local hot chocolate while you relax and enjoy the view. If you're of a more active sort, you can ask for cooking lessons or jewelry-making lessons, or go further afield to explore the town and the beaches (arrangements can be made with the management).
Star rating: ★★☆☆☆
Address: Barangay Villalibertad, El... Nido, Palawan (location on Google Maps)
Phone: +63 917 745 8334 / +63 949 630 6151
06 of 06
A tricycle ride from the main town center, past the cemetery, and the tricycle won't even take you all the way to the resort's door. Okay, Cadlao Resort's a bit of a struggle to get to, but once you get there, the resort offers an almost unbeatable sunset view of El Nido Bay, directly overlooking its namesake island.
As a guest, you'll have access to two swimming pools (one infinity-edged) with a view of the sea, Cadlao Island, and a gorgeous sunset at the end of the day.
The rooms combine spartan amenities with somewhat deluxe finishes: the bathrooms feel very luxurious, but the rest of the room facilities leave a little something to be desired. You're meant to go outside and explore, anyway: Cadlao Activities, the in-house activity center, can arrange island hopping tours and speedboat tours of the nearby islands, including the resort's own private beach at Cabagtang Cove on Matinloc Island.
Star rating: ★★★☆☆
Address: Caalan, Masagana, El Nido, Palawan (location... on Google Maps)
Phone: +63 917 589 7069