I’ve been living in El Nido for two decades now. The place has changed. We receive about 120,000 tourists a year, making environmental conservation even more challenging. El Nido is one of the few remaining places in the world where marine species not found anywhere else are still in abundance.
El Nido Resorts has participated in clean up of beaches that are not part of our resorts and funded a study on the congestion of El Nido’s iconic Big and Small Lagoons. Our recommendation is to remove the lagoons from the usual tours, placing them under a premium tours category charging higher rates, in order to reduce tourist traffic and give nature a break to recover. We feel a strong responsibility towards conservation in this area because we brought this place to international attention.
Miniloc Island is my happy place for personal reasons. Among all the island resorts, this was where my children spent the most time. My daughter was four and my son, one when we moved to live in El Nido. Now they are 22 and 19.
Barangay Sibaltan on the northeastern side of El Nido Island is a favorite place for its quiet and the warmth of the community. The Sibaltan Heritage Council has put in a lot of effort in developing cultural tourism in the area. It’s a place to experience the local community, walk around, have a taste of the local tuba or coconut wine, have nice, simple food.
Dibuluan Island is small, easy to explore and has nice snorkeling spots. Unlike other islands, it has no towering limestone cliffs. It’s a good place for a day out for lunch, snorkeling and water sports. A day destination. It’s located between Lagen Island and the mainland.
Potter’s Place, a five-hectare property in Taytay, El Nido National Highway, El Nido, is where my family and I have been living since 2007. This is also where our school is. My husband set up a water system that taps into a small mountain spring. This supplies our house and our school, with a total population of over 300, with water. This just shows how a healthy forest protects water sources.
Maremegmeg Beach for watching the sunset. Maremegmeg has a beach bar, and you could order simple food and drinks by the beach, from burgers, pasta, quality wine and beer.
FAVORITE PLACES TO STAY IN EL NIDO ASIDE FROM EL NIDO RESORTS
The 42-room Casa Kalaw at the Lio Tourism Estate near El Nido Airport. Originally a bed and breakfast, now a boutique hotel, which soft opened in December 2016.
Telesfora Cottages in Corong Corong because I know the owners — they worked for Ten Knots, owning company of El Nido Resorts — for 22 years and know how to take care of guests. The rooms are clean and have hot shower.
FOR PLACES TO EAT
I’d say Tambok’s, owned by a friend, Josef Sagemuller who is half German and half Ilonggo (native of Negros Occidental). Order the chicken inasal and batchoy. There are also lots of “turo-turo” or grill bars in town, but my favorite is Maa’s Grill. Order grilled blue marlin. They cook it in front of you. I usually go to places where I have a connection. The grill is owned by someone who used to work for me and the place is like family. And of course, there’s the El Nido Boutique and Artcafe. I go there to meet friends, including owner Judith Distal, and for some music.
WHAT NOT TO MISS IN EL NIDO
The cliffs of Matinloc is a good place to take a selfie. And Tapiutan Strait for excellent snorkeling. Nacpan beach, a five-kilometer stretch of white sand beach in the mainland, is where everyone goes. There’s a restaurant-bar along the beach.
Dilumacad Island or Helicopter Island has a turtle hatchery. The Asian Conservation Foundation transfers turtles to the hatchery if they are deemed to be in danger. The island — about 120 meters long — is bigger than others and has a creamy beige sand. It’s a good place for snorkeling.
Mariglo Laririt is Ten Knots Development Corporation’s Director of Environment and Sustainability. Ten Knots is the owning company of El Nido Resorts in El Nido, Palawan.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller Volume 4 Issue 16, 2017. Updated August 2017
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