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Breathtaking sunsets, sumptuous meals, sublime sceneries: In this El Nido resort, the winner takes it all

By NICK GARCIA Published Dec 20, 2022 2:05 pm Updated Dec 20, 2022 2:29 pm

El Nido—the island paradise in Palawan that has been the subject of several travel articles, vlogs, documentaries, music videos (the latest entry being P-pop sensation SB19’s SLMT), and even international media. (Remember the American reality television show The Amazing Race and action film The Bourne Legacy?)

Yet, not everyone's first choice for vacation is El Nido.

It can be a real bummer, as they’re missing out on its white-sand beaches, emerald waters, limestone cliffs, and gastronomic delights. They deserve more than just living vicariously through posts from the Internet.

From Manila, one may book a flight to El Nido via AirSWIFT Airlines. Being the only airline with direct flights to the tourist hotspot, the plane ride takes only about an hour and a half—(still) relatively shorter than the worsening traffic inferno in the metro.

From the El Nido/Lio airport, the ideal place to stay should be one that’s just minutes away from it, and the famed Lime Resort offers exactly that.

Lime Resort has a total of 181 rooms, classified as superior, deluxe with a mountainside or partial sea view, junior suite, premiere suite, sky suite, and sky villa. Price ranges from P4,550 to P22,050 a night, all inclusive of a breakfast buffet, hot and cold shower, basic toiletries, Wi-Fi access, fitness center, coffee and tea via its Pulp Cafe, and pool access at its Sky Lounge roof deck and bar. It’s also set to open a kids activity area soon.

PhilSTAR L!fe had the privilege to stay in a premiere suite, which has a bath tub and a balcony offering a sublime view of the horizon, particularly the sunset. Guests may also catch the breathtaking sight at the hotel lobby, which in itself is a sight for its Instagrammable interiors.

The lobby’s hues of seashell white and wood brown simulate the El Nido beaches, giving off serene and homey vibes.

@philstarlife Went to #ElNido and this is where we stayed. #FlyAirSWIFT #LiveTheLimeLife #PhilSTARLife #socialnewsph ♬ Beach Life (Travel Vlog Music) - TheDreamFlow
Extensive island-hopping options

When it comes to island-hopping, Lime will already do the research with its own five-destination tour packages.

For the extroverted ones who love to make new friends, locals and foreigners alike, a shared tour may be their best bet. Those who want more intimacy may instead opt for a private tour, either via banca or speedboat. Here are Lime's tour packages:

Tour A – Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Seven Commandos Island, Payong Payong Island, Secret Lagoon

  • Shared – P1,800/pax, including tourism and transportation fees
  • Private Banca – P13,500 for 3 pax; P1,600/extra
  • Private Premium – P20,000 for 5 pax; P1,800/extra
  • Private Speedboat – P25,000 for 6 pax; P2,500/extra

Tour B – Cathedral Cave, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave, Entalula Island, Popolkan Island snorkeling

  • Shared – P1,700/pax, including tourism and transportation fees
  • Private Banca – P14,000 for 3 pax; P1,700/extra
  • Private Premium – P20,000 for 5 pax; P1,800/extra
  • Private Speedboat – P25,000 for 6 pax; P2,500/extra

Tour C – Helicopter Island, Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Secret Beach, Talisay Beach

  • Shared – P1,800/pax, including tourism and transportation fees
  • Private Banca – P14,500 for 3 pax; P1,800/extra
  • Private Premium – P20,000 for 5 pax; P2,000/extra
  • Private Speedboat – P25,000 for 6 pax; P2,500/extra

Tour D – Small Lagoon, Cadlao Lagoon, Pasandigan Cove, Nat Nat Beach, Bukal Beach

  • Shared – P1,800/pax, including tourism and transportation fees
  • Private Banca – P13,500 for 3 pax; P1,700/extra
  • Private Premium – P20,000 for 5 pax; P1,800/extra
  • Private Speedboat – P25,000 for 6 pax; P2,500/extra

The media and other special guests in Cadlao Lagoon.

Tourists take a dip at the lagoon's emerald waters.

View of the afternoon sea just outside Small Lagoon.

The author inside the Cudugnon Cave.

The media and other special guests in Cadlao Lagoon.

Tourists take a dip at the lagoon's emerald waters.

View of the afternoon sea just outside Small Lagoon.

The author inside the Cudugnon Cave.

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With manifold choices at hand, Lime also has a highlights tour comprising Big Lagoon, Snake Island, Hidden Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, and Serenity Beach, with the following rates:

  • Private Regular Speedboat – P25,000 for 5 pax; P2,500/extra
  • Private Premium Speedboat – P27,000 for 5 pax; P2,500/extra
  • VIP Speedboat – P50,000 for 10 pax; P3,500/extra

There's also an inland tour consisting of Canopy Walk, Kalye Artisano, Lio Beach, Duli Beach, and Nacpan Beach.

It has the following rates, inclusive of a private van, Duli Beach lunch, tour guide, Canopy Walk free entrance, beach towels, snacks, and bottled water:

  • Shared – P2,500/pax, min. 4
  • Private – P12,000/pax, min. 3; P1,350/extra

The Canopy Walk, a 75-meter bridge suspended 30 meters from the ground.

The cliffside of Taraw Cliff, where swiftlets make the famed edible nest (hence the name El Nido or "the nest" in Spanish.)

The rewarding view after crossing Canopy Walk's hanging bridge and climbing flights of its metal scaffolding.

The Canopy Walk, a 75-meter bridge suspended 30 meters from the ground.

The cliffside of Taraw Cliff, where swiftlets make the famed edible nest (hence the name El Nido or "the nest" in Spanish.)

The rewarding view after crossing Canopy Walk's hanging bridge and climbing flights of its metal scaffolding.

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Scuba diving is also being offered, in partnership with El Nido Adventure Scuba Dive Center. Beginners may choose P4,800 for two sessions and P5,350 for three, while the more experienced ones can have cheaper diving rates of P4,300 (two) and P4,750 (three).

Those who want to take scuba diving to the next level may also enroll themselves in a course from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors or PADI founded in the United States. It has the following rates:

  • Open water – P23,500
  • Advance open water – P21,000
  • Rescue and emergency first response – P34,000
  • Dive master – P65,000

Guests have to pay for the island's mandatory P200 environmental fee and P2,000 confirmation deposit.

All packages are inclusive of GoPro underwater photos, full gear equipment, instructor, speedboat transfer, snacks, water, coffee, tea, beach towels, and lunch.

Gastronomical experience

In terms of food, El Nido has a reputable roster of the palatable.

Among them is Kape ni Manang, which locals say is one must visit whenever they’re in El Nido, especially that it’s just a few meters away from the airport. It offers Pinoy grilled classics like inasal na manok, pork barbecue, liempo, and pusit, as well as sabaw favorites like chicken sotanghon, almondigas, and sinigang na isda/baboy.

Its coffee can be so potent and will give so-called bestsellers of urban cafes a run for their money. It also has a unique offering in its turon sisig, as well as the usual deep-fried banana roll but with chocnut, macapuno, langka, ube, and butterscotch.

@philstarlife Tara, foodtrip tayo sa #ElNido! #PhilSTARLife #FlyAirSWIFT #LiveTheLimeLife #palawan #food #foodie #foodtrip ♬ Happy Funny Music (Cooking Show Food Vlog Background Intro Theme) - bgmusiclab

Kape ni Manang's daing na bangus and garlic rice.

Kape ni Manang's inasal na manok and chicken oil-infused rice.

Kape ni Manang's lechon kawali.

Kape ni Manang's ginisang munggo.

Kape ni Manang's very own turon.

Kape ni Manang's black coffee.

Kape ni Manang's daing na bangus and garlic rice.

Kape ni Manang's inasal na manok and chicken oil-infused rice.

Kape ni Manang's lechon kawali.

Kape ni Manang's ginisang munggo.

Kape ni Manang's very own turon.

Kape ni Manang's black coffee.

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Blue Mango, which is just a few steps away from Lime, meanwhile, has a rustic vibe with its woody interiors. Its offerings include Western cuisines that has its El Nido touch.

Another nearby attraction from Lime is Chica Chica, a Spanish restaurant that gives its dishes a contemporary twist. It has neon lights, framed photographs, and a painting that demand to be on one’s Instagram Stories.

Chica Chica's facade.

The neon lights and framed photographs of different personalities worldwide are a sight for sore eyes.

The DJ's booth, with more celebrity photographs and a painting of a woman.

Chica Chica's Korean crispy tuna taco.

Chica Chica's sweet chili prawn tempura.

Chica Chica's facade.

The neon lights and framed photographs of different personalities worldwide are a sight for sore eyes.

The DJ's booth, with more celebrity photographs and a painting of a woman.

Chica Chica's Korean crispy tuna taco.

Chica Chica's sweet chili prawn tempura.

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Lunch by the beach? Isla Amara got you with its fresh seafood, inihaw, and other Pinoy favorites.

Fresh crabs at Isla Amara.

A humble yet hearty meryenda is available in El Nudols at Kalye Artisano, which houses local craft shops and other eateries. As its name suggests, El Nudols specializes in noodle soups inspired by Japan's ramen. Smoked duck is its bestseller, cooked low and slow and whose broth has a mélange of local and foreign spices and aromatics. Their in-house chili paste is unlike the cookie-cutter versions that can be found some of the city’s mami houses and silog stalls.

To cap off the day, one also ought to grab a drink from Kalye Artisano’s Islas Makinas, which boasts of coffee and milkshake. It has reimagined Mexico’s horchata with gata, rice and dairy milk, cinnamon, and other secret ingredients.

Smoked duck noodle soup from Kalye Artisano's El Nudols.

El Nudols's in-house chili sauce.

Islas Makinas's take on Mexico's horchata.

Smoked duck noodle soup from Kalye Artisano's El Nudols.

El Nudols's in-house chili sauce.

Islas Makinas's take on Mexico's horchata.

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More importantly, one also doesn’t have to search far away, as Lime’s food fits the bill. Aside from lutong bahay specialties, it also has Italian pizza and pasta.

So, what are you waiting for? Book a flight to El Nido, pronto.

Book your El Nido trip at the AirSWIFT website. For reservations and other queries, you may call Lime Resort & Hotel at 0968-688-5364 / 0967-409-2462, email [email protected], or visit its website.