REVIEW: El Nido Resort Apulit, Palawan Philippines
October 16 – 20, 2015
Room 46 – Water Cottage
I highly recommend El Nido Resort Apulit. It was definitely an adventure island where adventures were abound. Staff were very friendly and accommodating.
Island was beautiful
Length of travel getting there
- If you require TV, do not book this resort.
- If you booked a water cottage, ask for the cottages on the east side. I found the area to be cleaner. Just remember that they are farther from the dock/activities area.
- If you are looking to book a loft (2-level) water cottage, just note that it is farthest away from the center of the resort where the front desk, restaurant, pool and beach were located. However, you can snorkel the house reef straight from the cottage.
- If you are planning to book ITI (now called Air Swift) to El Nido, I recommend taking the earliest flight. You will get to the resort by lunch time. Eat lunch and you can do a tour in the afternoon.
- Unless their amenities changed, don’t bother eating before getting to the airport if you booked an ITI (Air Swift) flight. We were served a lot of food!
- Bring your own water bottle.
- If you plan to do cave exploration and/or hiking, bring your own bug repellent. A small bug repellent at the resort cost us PHP 305!
For more tips and photos, please contact me.
My cousin booked the resort and ITI (now called Air Swift) flights for us at the El Nido Resorts booth at the 2015 PTAA Travel Tour Expo. We did save a little by booking at the expo and paying in full at the time of booking with a credit card. We paid PHP 76,128.00 for four nights for two people, including meals and airport transfer from El Nido airport. Round-trip direct flight on ITI from Manila to El Nido was PHP 10,500.00 per person.
Of all four El Nido Resorts, El Nido Resort Apulit was the farthest from El Nido. From El Nido airport, we rode a comfortable air-conditioned van to Taytay town for about 90 minutes. From Taytay town, we took a 30-minute boat ride to Apulit Island. Despite the long travel, you will not go hungry. Food and drinks were provided at the Manila airport lounge while we waited for our flight, at the El Nido airport lounge while we waited for our ride to Taytay, and at the Taytay lounge while waiting for our boat ride to Apulit Island. We practically had 3 breakfasts that day.
We booked ITI for round-trip flight straight from Manila to El Nido. It was more expensive than booking a flight to Puerto Princesa (capital city of Palawan, the province where El Nido is located). But the ride from Puerto Princesa to Taytay where we picked up the boat to Apulit Island was almost 3 hours, and we thought it was worth it to just book a flight straight to El Nido. All in all, we saved about 2 hours of travel.
The flight allowed only up to 10 kg (22 lbs) of luggage including carry-on for free. Each additional kg cost PHP 100. They weighed our luggage, but not our backpacks where our valuables (cameras, etc) were stored.
The ITI lounge in Manila was not as big as the lounges in a regular airport, but it was clean and had more complimentary amenities. Breakfast was provided at the ITI wait lounge. They served arroz caldo (porridge), several types of sandwiches, pastries, fruits, coffee and teas. Wi-fi was complimentary and I got an average speed of 3.5 Mbps for both download and upload. There was also a play area for kids with toys and books.
The plane was 50-seater. Legroom was better than some of the legrooms in US domestic flights, and was fine for my husband who is 5’10” (see photo). The flight took 50 minutes and it was uneventful. We were greeted with a song from the local ladies when we arrived in El Nido. More food (suman, pitsi-pitsi and juices) were provided at the El Nido lounge while we wait for the next part of our travel, the 90-minute ride to Taytay.
HOTEL & GROUNDS
When we arrived at the island, we were welcomed with a delicious tropical drink and cool towel. The grounds was beautiful. I saw people cleaning all the time, but there were areas that needed more attention like the bathroom by the dive shop and the pathway around that area.
The front desk, shop, restaurant, pool and beach were at the center of the resort. All public areas are open air including the massage hut, so you need umbrella when it rains to go around the resort. There were big umbrellas all over the resort for guests to use.
I sort of noticed a slight smell while walking between the dock and the center of the resort. I was not sure if it was sewer smell or the sea when tide was low. There were water cottages in the area as well. So when you check in, request the water cottages on the east side, farther from the dock if you want to avoid the smell. Just remember that it is farther from the dock, but the area is nicer.
The staff was very friendly and accommodating. However, there was one time we called the front desk regarding a problem with the toilet flush, but it was not resolved until we spoke with the activity coordinator in person. Tip is not mandatory, but appreciated. I left tip on the desk in our room everyday, but housekeeping never took it. I ended up leaving tip for the whole staff (masseuse was separate) at the front desk on our last day. They accepted US currency (cash) for tip.
Room 46 was located on the east side, farther from the dock. I preferred this area as the water/sand below the cottages were cleaner and water did not recede as much during low tide. We saw fishes and baby black-tip reef shark!
Room was a little bit on the small side, but sufficient for me and my husband for 4 nights. I love the feel of the water cottages. It was authentic, yet modern. I loved hearing the sound of the water crashing into the limestone cliff across our room.
Complimentary slippers and palm leaf bag were provided.
The balcony had a small table, two comfortable cushioned chairs, and a drying rack. I loved hanging out in the balcony.
Bathroom was very small. Shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, lotion and cotton swabs were provided. We had problem with the toilet flush, it filled up very slowly.
Bed was firm, but comfortable.
Air-conditioner was not in the best area in the room. The air was blowing towards the bathroom wall and didn’t cool the room very efficiently. We ended up using the hotel information book in the room to divert the blown air towards the area where the bed was (see photo).
The room had no TV. We didn’t miss it, we were too busy with activities.
FEATURES & AMENITIES
Food was included in the price and served buffet style at the resort’s restaurant. They served about a selection of appetizers, breads soup, salad (make-your-own), 4 main entrees, a grill station (made-to-order), desserts. I enjoyed the food, and the fresh seafood was my favorite.
The day we checked out was my husband’s birthday, and the staff surprised us the night before with a song and a cake after dinner. We ate so much for dinner that we didn’t know what to do with the cake. We decided to have a taste and it was delicious! It was so delicious that we finished it even when we felt like throwing up from feeling so full from dinner.
Bar drinks weren’t included in the price. El Nido Resort Apulit is an eco resort and they ask that you use a water bottle to be refilled instead of buying bottled water. They sell their own water bottle which cost PHP 450 and had a metallic taste despite cleaning it, so I recommend bringing your own water bottle.
There were plenty of activities available that are included in the price. Our four-night stay was not long enough. They gave us a book of available activities, complete with details on the boat ride to the resort. They had hiking trails, cave exploration, snorkeling in several areas, diving, island hopping, sunrise and sunset cruises, rappelling, rock climbing, cliff jumping, kayaking, paddle boarding, and wind surfing. Massages, private dining and scuba diving are available for a fee. A 60-minute massage cost PHP 976. Many of the foreign guests booked massages almost daily because the price was way cheaper than massages in their country. Please see photo uploaded for more prices.
I got download and upload speeds between 0.75 to 1.4 Mbps in our room, which was sufficient. Wi-fi was available throughout the resort, with some areas getting stronger signal than others. For some reason, our room got better wi-fi signal than the other rooms closer to the center of the resort.
I went to the clinic once for a rash on my neck I got from snorkeling. The doctor looked at it and gave me a cream that helped with the itch for no extra charge.
The pool was small and there weren’t a lot of pool beds, but they were somehow sufficient. There weren’t a lot of guests in the pool, so we always found a bed for ourselves. I think guests were busy with other activities, not a lot of guests had time to play in the pool. Unfortunately, the fresh towels weren’t replenished as often as it should.