Philippine Daily Inquirer

5 things to do in Palawan now

- BEA J. LEDESMA Travel Inspiration · Recreation · Restaurants · Travel · Dining Out · Iceland · Austria · Belarus · Belgium · Turkey · Instagram · Bacolod · Colombia · Lio

El Nido is boom­ing. With an air­port ter­mi­nal at Lio (which of­fers free me­rienda to de­part­ing pas­sen­gers), a di­rect flight via Air Swift, and new es­tab­lish­ments open­ing daily, there’s no rea­son to skip this beach town.

Here are five things to do now:

Go for a dive

Palawan is a hotspot for divers, thanks to its rich marine life and coral gar­dens. Try scuba div­ing or free div­ing with com­pa­nies like Palawan Divers, which of­fers classes to new­bies and in­ter­me­di­ate level divers.

There are plenty of dive sites within reach, with a di­verse mix of depths—from walls that drop down 40 m, to shal­lower sites.

Stay at a de­sign ho­tel

La­gun Ho­tel, sit­u­ated within El Nido town across stun­ning limestone cliffs, was de­signed by Ce­cile Rave­las.

In­spired by El Nido, Span­ish for “the nest,” key de­sign el­e­ments were taken from birds’ nests, which can also be found pep­per­ing the limestone cliffs.

Rave­las cre­ated a foyer that evokes the in­te­rior of a nest, with its warm wooden tones, bam­boo ceil­ing and mix of rat­tan fur­ni­ture cus­tom-made for the ho­tel.

Color­ful SZ Viz­carra hang­ing lamps dot the area, while a large wooden ta­ble an­chors the space. A prow-shaped desk at re­cep­tion mim­ics the spa­tial di­men­sions of a bird’s nest with its over­lap­ping wooden frame. Glass walls pro­vide a back­drop for the limestone cliffs.

A pool, lo­cated at the deck on the top­most floor, of­fers one of the best views of the cliffs.

The rooms fea­ture de­tails evok­ing the is­land’s na­tive el­e­ments, like a reef pat­tern above the bed, or a mod­ern blue-tiled bath­room.

Though the look of the ho­tel is its pri­mary al­lure, along with its view of the cliffs, make sure to make time to eat at their Habi restau­rant, which has some re­ally good Filipino food. From grilled squid and seafood sini­gang to bi­nakol to tin­u­tun­gan, a chicken dish cooked in a gata made from toasted co­conut, their se­lec­tion is sur­pris­ingly sub­stan­tial and well-made. Per­fect cap to a day spent is­land hop­ping. Call 0917-1561507, fol­l­low @la­gun­ho­tel on In­sta­gram.

Take a pri­vate tour of the is­lands and la­goons

Palawan is fa­mous for its tours—in­fa­mously labeled tour A, B, C, D, which cov­ers both Big and Small La­goons, as well as var­i­ous spots like Snake Is­land, He­li­copter Is­land, Matin­loc Shrine, Cathe­dral Cave, and more.

We were lucky enough to get a pri­vate tour through La­gun Ho­tel, which ar­ranged a pri­vate boat for our group, which took us to Kad­lao Lagoon, a ma­jes­tic patch of aqua­ma­rine wa­ter and cliffs.

At Big Lagoon, we kayaked (with the help of our guide, who—let’s be hon­est—ac­tu­ally did most of the kayak­ing). It’s about a 15-minute boat ride from El Nido beach. Our boat, a large bangka that could com­fort­ably seat 20, of­fered views of He­li­copter Is­land, and fish and tur­tles.

We spent half the day on Ipil Is­land, a pri­vate beach with soft, white sand. Ipil Wa­ter­front, which has a house you can rent for P25,000 a night (which means you have the whole is­land to your­self), can be ac­cessed through the pri­vate tour of La­gun. Spend the day sun­ning on a rock (there are plenty on Ipil) or float­ing in one of the many la­goons of Palawan.

Eat at Tam­bok’s

Ba­colod-based Josef Sagemuller was in­vited by Bea Zo­bel to set up shop in El Nido. The Ne­gros na­tive opened a grill, in­spired by his grand­mother Lina Mon­tilla’s recipes.

“Her place was like an open house,” Sagemuller said. “Any­one who was hun­gry would just come in.”

His grand­mother’s sig­na­ture leche flan recipe is on the menu, along­side ba­nana and jack­fruit turon with home­made salted caramel sauce.

Tam­bok’s is pri­mar­ily a grill, and Ba­colod-style chicken inasal is one of their main­stays along with their fish-of-the-day spe­cials. Try the sisig burger, made with atchara, fried egg, tomato, aioli and an at­suete oil­basted bun. Call 0926-0785343, fol­low @tam­bok­sel­nido on In­sta­gram.

Visit Ka­lye Ar­ti­sano

Ka­lye Ar­ti­sano is di­vided into three spa­ces. “Co­gon House is en­tirely ded­i­cated to the lo­cal Palawan artists in res­i­dency. In this build­ing, the artists have set up shops tar­geted to­ward tourists and lo­cal busi­ness own- ers as well as of­fer­ing work­shops and im­mer­sion pro­grams,” Paloma Zo­bel says.

“Rat­tan House is our food and bev­er­age out­let. It of­fers vis­i­tors a taste of Filipino cui­sine.

“Bam­boo House is a hos­tel and co-work­ing space, which of­fers vis­i­tors the chance to not only visit, but a chance to im­merse them­selves and in­ter­act with the com­mu­nity over a pe­riod of time.”

At Co­gon House, you’ll find Paloma Zo­bel’s brand Pio­pio, along­side shops sell­ing lo­cal wares. I found lo­cally woven bags, art, cold-pressed virgin co­conut oil soap, bam­boo tooth­brushes and even fried taro chips. Fol­low @Ka­lyearti­sano on In­sta­gram

 ??  ?? La­gun Ho­tel in El Nido is sit­u­ated across stun­ning limestone cliffs. Call 0908-8802866; fol­low @ip­il­wa­ter­front on In­sta­gram.
La­gun Ho­tel in El Nido is sit­u­ated across stun­ning limestone cliffs. Call 0908-8802866; fol­low @ip­il­wa­ter­front on In­sta­gram.
 ??  ?? The “sisig” burger at Tam­bok’s
The “sisig” burger at Tam­bok’s
 ??  ?? Vis­i­tors must tour the stun­ning is­lands and la­goons of El Nido.
Vis­i­tors must tour the stun­ning is­lands and la­goons of El Nido.
 ??  ??

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