On a recent visit to the Philippines to explore some of her heritage, Kate Ceberano went to El Nido off the north coast of the island of Palawan. It's one of the 7107 islands making up the archipelago and while it's not easy to get to it's worth every minute.
El Nido, a marine and wildlife reserve, is about 420km south-west of Manila, and is a favourite destination for island hopping. Scuba diving is a popular activity with more than 30 sites for varying levels and skills.
It's been called the Philippines' last frontier and the whole area is made up of towering limestone islands, estimated to be 250 million years old.
Kate was amazed to find more than 50 beaches and private, serene lagoons. Caves lead to hidden beaches and there is a diverse variety of wildlife.
Kate found her way to Miniloc Island Resort, set in a cove with a dramatic backdrop of sheer limestone cliffs. Reminiscent of a coastal village, Miniloc's charm is topped off by clear waters teeming with tropical fish. At the end of the pier, guests snorkel alongside metre-long groupers and hundreds of sergeant majors, damsel fish, fusiliers and other multi-coloured tropical fish.
There are 50 rooms in a variety of styles. Five Water Cottages, two Waterside Cottages, five Seaview Rooms and 10 Deluxe Seaview Rooms on stilts. Thirteen Garden Cottages are surrounded by tropical plants, three Cliff Cottages are in the hillside and there are 12 Beachside Rooms.
They have thatches roofs and the local flavour continues inside from wooden floors and woven bamboo walls. Bamboo and rattan have been used to create comfortable furniture.
Facilities at Miniloc Island Resort include a restaurant located at the clubhouse, a boutique, video room, game area and Pavilion Bar.
There are diving and snorkelling facilities, as well as kayaks, aqua bikes, windsurfers and a Hobie catamaran.
Kate was thrilled to see around 70 newly hatched turtles right under her bungalow. It's a great sign that the range of eco-initiatives are working.
Miniloc Island in the Philippines, a 40-minute flight from Manila.
Viva! Holidays has an exclusive Getaway
package. It includes return economy airfares with Philippine Airlines, one night's pre-accommodation in Manila with return transfers, five nights' accommodation in an air-conditioned cottage at Miniloc Island Resort, return flights between Manila and El Nido, boat airport shuttles, daily breakfast, a one-hour massage, complimentary private dinner, including wine, island hopping tours and use of non-motorised marine sports equipment.
Prices starts at $2119 per person twin share from Melbourne and $2135 from Sydney. Call them for prices from other cities. Available between July 15 and September 14, 2011, and October 10 to 31, 2011.
Philippine Airlines has daily flights to Manila from:
- Melbourne $1139
- Sydney $1158
Sales and validity dates and other conditions apply.
Connections to El Nido are available.
Prices correct at July 2, 2011.
For further information
Ph: 1300 888 725
Ph: 131 415
Miniloc Island Resort
Ph: +632 902 5980
Fax: +632 810 3620
Philippine Department of Tourism
Suite 703, 301 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9279 3380
Fax: (02) 9279 3381