5 of El Nido's charming island hotels 

Travel blogger Ferdz Decena picks his favorite places to stay, from stylish private island hideaways to no-frills budget cottages facing Bacuit Bay

Photos by Ferdz Decena

#1 Dolarog Beach Resort

View from Dolarog Beach
Dolarog Beach is a palm-fringed resort, with big native cottages, a scenic wharf, and gorgeous sunsets, and sits just across the towering Pinagbuyutan Island and the southern islands of Bacuit Bay. 

Why go? It’s the perfect place to get away from it all. Dolarog Beach Resort is a no-frills, rustic hideaway for couples and families and a superb location for watching the sunset. 

Deluxe Cottage at Dolarog Beach Resort

Accommodation. Cottages are spacious, furnished with king-size beds, and have their own patios with hammock. All cottages have airconditioning and hot water. Amenities include a saltwater pool. Electricity is only from 6pm to 5am.

Don’t Miss. Island hopping tours of nearby Pinagbuyutan Island, Big and Small Lagoons at Miniloc and Snake Islands. Tours are included in the room rate, except for Matinloc tours which requires payment of a fuel surcharge. There's good snorkeling in the resort's surrounding waters if you’re not in the mood to go far.

Rates. Rates are from P4,200 (about US$90) per person for a garden cottage to P5,750 for a big deluxe cottage. Rates vary during peak season. Full board meals are included in the room rate.

Call Dolarog at tel+63916 472 7244 or email [email protected].

#2 Pangulasian Island Resort

Pangulasian Island Resort Pool Villa interior
Pangulasian Island faces Bacuit Bay’s turquoise waters and 750-meter long white sand beach. Beachside villas have replaced the previous seaside cottages on stilts. The contemporary Filipino design, using predominantly whites and neutrals, and bare wood, looks stylish. Statues of Filipino anitos (ancestral spirit statues or deities used in pre-hispanic time) lend local character to the rooms. The villas blend naturally with the lush forest backdrop.

Why go? Pangulasian Island Resort has the best snorkeling in Bacuit Bay, a fine white-sand beach and pristine low-lying forest.

Accommodation. Rooms have big, comfortable beds, a private balcony, and butler, and depending on the room category, a private pool. The Canopy Villas stand on stilts near the forest, offering a commanding view of Bacuit Bay. Other villas are the Beach Villas and Pool Villas.

Don’t Miss. Take a 30-minute hike through the forest trail leading to the island summit viewdeck for majestic sunrise and sunset views of Bacuit Bay. Go on a snorkeling tour to watch baby black tip sharks and sea turtles just a few meters from the shore.

Rates. The Canopy Villa costs from about P30,000 a night for two.

For inquiries and reservations, call +632 813 0000.

#3 Cadlao Resort and Restaurant

View from Cadlao Resort and Restaurant
A lovely tropical resort on the quiet side of El Nido at Sitio Caalan. At the entrance, guests are greeted by the scent of citronella and warmly welcomed by staff. Inside, there’s a well-manicured garden, lounge chairs and hammocks. A pathway leads to an infinity pool with a view of Cadlao Island and Bacuit Bay.

Why go. If you want to stay near the town but prefer the quiet, then Cadlao Resort is the perfect place. Its facilities are among the best in the Caalan area. Solar power and generators ensure energy self-sufficiency 24 hours a day.
Executive Room at Cadlao Resort and Restaurant
Accommodation. The rooms are immaculate, have queen size beds, a porch, and large toilet and bath.

Don’t Miss. The spa by the poolside and the souvenir shop at the reception. The restaurant's talk-of-the-town pork ribs.

Rates. A standard room for two costs about P9,000 a night. Seafront view rooms are from P13,000 a night, for two people. 

For inquiries and reservations, call +63917 589 7069.

#4 Lagen Island Resort 

Water Cottage interior at Lagen Island Resort
The setting is a beautiful cove on one of the larger islands in Bacuit Bay. The resort has a dense forest and limestone cliffs behind it and the sea in front. It is also home to a diverse species of birds and mammals. 

Why go. Lagen Island is the biggest among the El Nido resorts and its surrounding waters has the most biodiversity among the islands in Bacuit Bay.

Accommodation. The cottages make use of recycled timber, have large beds, spacious bath, private porch, and cable LCD TV. Forest Rooms are close to the lush island vegetation; beach cottages offer a panoramic view of the cove and rock formations; and water cottages on stilts offer magnificent sunset views.

Couple's spa room at Lagen Island Resort
Don’t Miss. Early morning forest walks, lazing by the resort's secluded beach and a private dinner at the island sandbar.

Rates. A beachfront cottage costs from about P25,700 a night for two.

For inquiries and reservations, call +632 813 0000.

#5 El Nido Overlooking

El Nido Overlooking cottage
This hillside resort at Corong Corong, El Nido has only a few cottages, all offering a wonderful view of Bacuit Bay. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, with numerous cashew trees surround it. There’s an inviting bean-shaped infinity pool.

Why go. For ultimate privacy. An air of perfect peace and tranquility close to town. Good value for the type of accommodation offered.

Accommodation. Four hillside cottages facing Bacuit Bay, each has a 90sqm area divided into an open air living area, porch with sun bed, a private garden, the bedroom with a king size bed and jacuzzi. All villas have hot shower, a kitchenette, and a large screen LCD TV.

El Nido Overlooking pool and cottage
Don’t Miss. Diving and island hopping. The resort has a partnership with Palawan Divers and can help book diving and island hopping tours.

Rates. From P5,250 a night for a cottage and P6,450 for the pool and privacy villa. All villa rates are good for two people. Additional two guests are allowed in the villa for an extra P500 per guest. 

For inquiries and reservations, call +63916 631 7078.

Read also, 16 of the best beaches in El Nido.

Visit Ferdz Decena's travel blog.

Originally published in InFlight Traveller April to May 2013. Updated June 2016