Explore the karst-studded waters of Palawan with El Nido Resorts’ newest and most luxurious property
Approaching Pangalusian Island of El Nido Resorts it’s hard to believe you’re just an hour plane ride from the Philippine capital. From a private airport, guests are whisked through iridescent blue waters and past limestone cliff faces by a 30-minute boat ride to Pangalusian Island. Alighting from the sandy shore, smiling staff armed with cool towels and banana leaf leis welcome travelers. Unwind with a tropical welcome drink or go straight to your villa digs amid vegetation teeming with songbirds and reptiles.
The Look: One of the four El Nido resorts in Palawan, Pangalusian Island is the newest and most luxurious of the group. Interiors are dressed in natural earth tones and muted colors with natural woods, such as acacia bedecking window frames and floors. Connected by sandy trails and stone pathways, villas enjoy individual privacy but share the same stunning ocean view. The resort is situated along the coast of the island such that guests are never without sight of the karst-studded waters of Bacuit Bay.
The Rooms: The resort’s 42 villas start from a generous 65 square meters. Designed in contemporary Filipino style, each cogan-roofed villa has a lounge-worthy wooden deck, some with private plunge pools. Objects reflective of Palawan culture—carved wooden fish, a discreet hornbill of the Kalaw bird on villas’ roofs—add local texture, while other accents like the wood circulating fans add a colonial touch. As part of the resort’s sustainability program, amenities are bottled in silver Pangalusian-branded bottles to reduce plastic waste, and soak bathtubs, seagrass carpets, and oversize, pure-white beds feel stately amid the surrounding jungle.
The Appeal: With rich marine biodiversity, guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to water activities. Each guest is paired with a guide for daily jaunts, be it hiking the island’s steep peaks, snorkeling, or kayaking. Guides are knowledgeable about not only the area’s 20 dive spots, but also the resort’s conservation efforts to preserve the natural reef, and each resort has its own conservation officer who leads weekly talks on sustainability and wildlife. For guests seeking more relaxed respite, Pangalusian offers luxurious spa treatments, such as its signature Filipino hilot massage. Dining blends local fruits and produce with the catch-of-the-day and imported meats, and afternoon fare is best enjoyed by the pool with a mangorita (that’s a mango margarita).
The Surrounds: Pangalusian’s best feature is its seclusion. While guests can island hop to neighboring resorts and El Nido’s beach club, Pangalusian is exclusive to its patrons. There is something about looking out onto its uninhabited surrounds that creates a soothing tranquility.
For those in the know: While El Nido may be the only resort in the area, its nearby Big and Small Lagoons are huge tourist draws. Skip the crowds by planning your day around off-peak hours to experience the awe of the caves that date back thousands of years in relative privacy.
El Nido Resorts, Palawan; 63-2/813-0000; Pangulasian Island; doubles from US$681