The most sparsely populated of the Filipino provinces, Palawan is a paradise of unspoiled beaches and tropical jungles. Here are the stunning archipelago’s most romantic hotels.
Guests arrive at El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Island by boat and step onto its wide beautiful beach surrounded by turquoise water and jade-colored vegetation. The 42 spacious and elegant stand-alone villas are exactly what many people have in mind when they dream about the tropics. They feature contemporary Filipino design and amenities like flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, iPod docks, high-end coffeemakers, minibars, and rainfall showerheads. Some have soaking tubs. Activities are plentiful and include snorkeling, diving, kayaking, sailing, island tours, and hiking, while the on-site restaurant highlights local ingredients, and the pool and spa are ideal spots for relaxing. It's an ideal place for honeymooners and other couples, but families and groups of friends are drawn to its beauty as well.
The Princesa Garden Island Resort & Spa is a luxury property right by the coast, with lots of green space and room to spread out. All 78 guest rooms have minibars, safes, flat-screen TVs, coffee- and tea-making facilities, bathrobes, and balconies with sun beds. Many come with perks such as whirlpool tubs or direct access to the enormous lagoon pool. The chlorine-free pool, large covered whirlpool, and on-site spa are big draws (in-room treatments are available). Five bars and restaurants, plus room service, serve international and local cuisine.
El Nido Resorts Lagen Island is an upscale property set amid lush tropical forests and stunning limestone cliffs on a remote island in northern Palawan. There are plenty of outdoor activities available here, including non-motorized water sports, hiking, and island-hopping tours, but the property also offers a quiet beach, a serene pool, and a spa for those who just want to relax. Its 50 spacious and elegant rooms have plenty of local character and solid amenities, such as free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. One drawback is that the restaurant, which serves a varied buffet for all three meals, gets mixed reviews.
Located on a remote beach in northeastern Palawan, the four-pearl El Nido Resorts Apulit Island is a stunning, intimate retreat for those looking to get in touch with nature. Its 50 rooms are housed in stand-alone thatched cottages built on stilts directly over the clear waters. Interiors are simple and in-room amenities are limited, but that only adds to the unplugged feel and tranquil vibe. The property offers a wide array of on-site activities, including water sports, a PADI diving center, and a beautiful infinity pool with beach and sea views. In line with the hotel’s many eco-friendly practices, the buffet restaurant serves a menu made with sustainable ingredients, and meals are included in the rate. Getting to the hotel can be quite an ordeal -- it requires a combination of air, land and sea transfers -- but the gorgeous setting and peaceful atmosphere are well worth it.
The 50-room El Nido Resort Miniloc Island is an upper-middle-range all-inclusive resort in a spectacular setting that's surrounded by natural beauty. It offers multiple activities including water sports and island tours, some of which are included with room rates. Rooms are a bit rustic and some are showing their age, but they are clean and some have unbeatable views of the surrounding karsts. Buffets are offered in the Clubhouse, and there's a bar by the beach for drinks and light fare. The simple spa, which sits over the water, is a fine opportunity for guests to relax as well. Rates are not cheap, but the all-inclusive deals and idyllic setting are worth it.
The Qi is a small upper-middle-range resort located on a remote beach in northern mainland Palawan. Its seven rooms are housed in stand-alone cottages tucked away amid thick tropical forests and built around a charming pool with ocean views. Units are spacious and full of local charm, with bamboo walls, cogon roofs, rustic wooden furniture, and outdoor showers. Some may find the property a little too remote, but the free morning yoga classes, small spa, long sandy beach (beware of the sandflies, though), and free non-motorized water sports make it a great pick for travelers seeking peace and relaxation.
The eco-friendly Secret Paradise Resort & Turtle Sanctuary has 11 rooms in a remote location on Turtle Bay. It takes an hour by boat to get here from the mainland, so once you are here, you're here, making it less than ideal for those in search of action. It's a romantic choice for couples, thanks to four private beaches and the fact that most rooms are beachfront cabins with lots of dark-wood interior features. On-site amenities include a free breakfast at the restaurant, billiards, and volleyball, and the resort has kayaks and snorkeling gear that guests can borrow free of charge.
Located on the southern end of Coron Island, the four-pearl Busuanga Bay Lodge is a boutique resort with 38 rooms plus three villas with plunge pools. All rooms have modern tech features and balconies, and most have lovely views out over the ocean. Facilities include a small fitness center, a couple of spas, three bars and restaurants with room service, a marina for boats and even seaplanes, and plenty of opportunities for water sports. There's also an infinity pool and the resort sits right on a small beach.
El Nido Cove Resort is a quiet mid-range property suited for those looking to spend a few semi-unplugged days by the beach. Its 20 rooms are clean and airy, with simple island decor and basic amenities, such as air-conditioning, eco-friendly toiletries, and ceiling fans. Not having a TV and reliable Wi-Fi service may be a perk for those who want to get away from it all, but the lack of mini-fridges, electric kettles, and safes makes rooms feel a little too basic for the price. The restaurant serves decent local cuisine at reasonable prices, but breakfast offers limited options. Although the on-site beach is just average, guests can walk to a wider, sandier one a few minutes away, or swim in the serene pool that offers lovely views of Bacuit Bay and Cadlao Island.
With a remote location in Busuanga Island, limited Wi-Fi access, spotty mobile service, and no TVs in rooms, El Rio y Mar Resort is a good upper-middle-range pick for those looking to get away from it all. Its 31 units come in a variety of styles and layouts, from stand-alone huts full of traditional details to more standard hotel guest rooms. All have furnished balconies overlooking the ocean, as well as minibars stocked with sodas and water, safes, and thermoses with purified water. Although secluded and tranquil, the property offers a lot to do on-site, including free non-motorized water sports, hiking, and island-hopping tours.