Sights and Sounds

A Weekend in El Nido, Palawan: Lio Beach, Las Cabanas, Cuna’s Scape Skydeck, and more

I’m nearing the end of my five-week stay here in Palawan, but I still have a number of blog entries to share. It’s been an eventful workation so far. I’ve managed to work remotely, visit a few beaches, start practicing yoga, make new connections, explore more of Puerto Princesa, and become a dog momma (more on this in a separate post).

My first weekend, C and I took a trip to El Nido. It had been a year since I last visited the beach town, and I was looking forward to seeing what’s new and what’s still good in the tourist hotspot. We only had a couple of nights there, so we made them count.

Caalan Beach Resort

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The first order of business was to catch up with C and his old friends. Among them were husband and wife John and Bee, the owners of Caalan Beach Resort (just five minutes from El Nido town proper), who generously put us up for our two nights in town.

They are continuously upgrading their services and amenities to better serve their guests. Aside from adding more rooms, they also recently opened a swimming pool, so guests can score some R&R at the resort during their downtime.

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Caalan Beach Resort has all the basics you’ll need, plus services that aim to make your visit more enjoyable and convenient. They have their own tricycles that can bring you to and from the town proper. I recommend walking to town at least once, though, because the view while strolling by the beach is pretty ace.

You can also book your island hopping tours with the resort. C and I loved our Tour A last year, where we got to have a private group lunch on a quite island away from all the other tour groups.

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Our first night, we gorged on a ton of cold cuts, cheeses, and olives paired with drinks and fun conversations with the El Nido crew – John and Bee, husband and wife Mark and Shen, and paragliding instructor Eric, who was a pleasure to meet for the first time. It was a definite delight to see familiar faces.

Maremegmeg Beach / Las Cabanas

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I’ve said it many times to C, but I absolutely love hanging out at Maremegmeg Beach. It’s more popularly known as Las Cabanas (the name of an actual resort located there) and is in Corong Corong, about 10-15 minutes outside El Nido town proper. You can ride a tricycle or rent a scooter to reach this popular El Nido destination.

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Why do I love this place so much? It’s not as stunning as Boracay or Nacpan, but I always feel at home here. It’s not the underdeveloped, off-the-beaten-path escape most people crave when they’re close to nature. In fact, large cliff resorts, right by the beach, are currently being built. Nevertheless, I always enjoy the chill vibe here.

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From the side of the highway, you’ll need to go down a series of steps to reach the beach. There are several beach bars, most of which play relaxing lounge music. They have ice cold beers, cocktails, and sodas for refreshments. Others also serve food. There are beach chairs and beds in front of the bars.

Aside from all that, the spot is great for swimming. I only learned to swim in open waters last year, and I’m not that confident in my skills yet. The calmer and slightly shallow waters of Maremegmeg are a good place to practice.

Trattoria Altrove

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Trattoria Altrove is one of the more well-known restaurants in El Nido. During peak season, long lines are not uncommon here. They are also in Coron, and not too long ago, they opened a branch in Manila. I heard a Siargao outlet just opened, and a Bohol one is in the works.

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Altrove serves brick oven pizzas and fresh pastas, among others. Their straightforward flavors and consistent quality easily make Altrove an absolute must-try restaurant in town.

Scape Skydeck by Cuna

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Cuna Hotel was on soft opening during our visit a few weeks ago. On the rooftop is their bar and restaurant called Scape Skydeck. The boutique hotel is away from the beach, but the roof deck offers a stunning view of the cliffs and waters.

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I suggest you hit Scape Skydeck for sunset if you’re ever in El Nido. They have a chic and modern design and a pretty laidback vibe. Their menu offers big plates, bar chows, and cocktails for a night of eating and drinking with friends.

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Kalye Artisano

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Inside the Lio Tourism Estate is Kalye Artisano, a quaint compound teeming with creativity and culture. Drop by here to score artisan products, vintage finds, and proudly Filipino-made items.

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I especially loved the colors in this area. The bright murals contrast with the mostly neutral colors inside the shops. The surrounding trees and flowers are enhanced with handmade art.

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Lio Beach

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Lio Beach is free to access. You can drive, take a tricyle, or ride the free shuttle from El Nido town to reach Lio (and go back). You can grab a beach bed, sunbathe, and swim in the clear blue waters while relishing the peace and quiet. Airswift planes regularly pass through as they make their landing in the nearby Lio/El Nido Airport.

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Near the beach are bars and restaurants, most of which are open in the afternoon onwards.

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*

C and I didn’t go on any of the island tours (A, B, C, D) nor the city tour during our recent visit. But if you’re looking to island-hop, tours A and C are the most popular ones (lagoons and hidden beaches). They cost more or less PHP1500 per tour per person, and there’s a PHP200 environmental fee that is valid for 10 days. You may get picked up for the tour anytime between 7 to 9 a.m. The tours usually end around 4 p.m., perfect for you to sip some sunset drinks. Here are some photos from our Tour A last year:

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A few other El Nido spots that come highly recommended are:

Art Cafe for everything from your morning coffee to your dinner meal

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La Plage in Corong Corong and SAVA in El Nido town for sunset cocktails

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Gandhi’s Revenge for their curry options,

and Nacpan Beach for swimming and sunbathing.

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