We recently traveled to the Philippines, spending a week in Manila and a week in El Nido, a town in Palawan. Palawan is a region in the Philippines considered by travel experts to be among the best island destinations in the world.
El Nido has a relaxed, low-key backpacker vibe. It’s become a vibrant town, with heavy foot and moped traffic from the influx of travelers. The scene is international, heavy on French, Italian and American visitors. Filipinos speak English, so it’s easy to get around.
We spent the week diving and relaxing beach and poolside. Actually, I only went diving one day; a pleasant all-day experience with Palawan Divers. The coral is beautiful, but, unfortunately, the water was unexpectedly cold, and I got sick, so no diving for the rest of the week for me.
Fortunately, we stayed at a modern and comfortable boutique hotel called Sea Cocoon, where I lounged around while recuperating. While it’s not oceanfront, you still get a dramatic view of the mountains and maybe a sliver of ocean, depending on your room. It’s got AC and cable TV, and four lovely, adorable chow chow dogs on the premises.
The beachfront of El Nido is lined with casual dining options serving mostly Filipino food. If you crave good pizza, Trattoria Altrove, a short walk from the beachfront, is excellent. Get there before 6 p.m. if you want to avoid the nightly waiting line. The pizzas are handmade and oven fired, and they rival the best of what major global cities have to offer. The photo above is a pizza topped with capers, olives, prosciutto and sundried tomatoes. You’ll want to come back again for the delicious, filling pies.