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Desirable Diversion

Dominique Cerqueda
September 4, 2018        |


Discovering El Nido’s other side

Prehistoric limestone cliffs, coral reefs teeming with neon-colored fish, crystal-clear turquoise waters, aqua skies, and islands not even your wildest dreams are made of. These are just some of the natural bounties that invade your senses while visiting the El Nido isles. But there is more to this revered part of Palawan than its pristine islands. El Nido’s mainland boasts of a lively town filled with a growing restaurant and café culture, complete with live bands in bars to attract even the weariest traveler. And an even newer destination has started making waves, revealing another layer to El Nido. Just a 15-minute ride away from town and 5 minutes from the airport, endless coconut trees reach for the sky like mini skyscrapers, hidden mangroves snake their way around kayakers, and a thick forest gently hugs a lengthy beach shoreline. Welcome to Lio’s world. Here at Lio Tourism Estate, environmental protection and preservation are of prime consideration in Lio’s continuous development, and it is one of the great new examples of sustainable tourism.

beachfront by the Lio sign
Kalye Artisano, shopping enclave of Filipino handicrafts by local El Nido artists

Lio carries a relaxed, barefoot vibe that is as infectious as watching the throngs of beachgoers seen sunbathing and frolicking on its shore. Paddleboarders and surfers play in the waves all day, and laughter and chatter fill the air surrounding the restaurants and cafes: a nice concoction of Filipino cuisine, burger joints, pizza places, seafood restaurants, cocktail bars, and cafes, just to name a few. Located along the coastline of Bacuit Bay, Lio presently features three bed and breakfast hotels with a fourth larger one on the way. A boutique shopping strip, as well as an art and handicrafts shopping enclave called Kalye Artisano, where visitors can sample native products created by talented local El Nido artists are also must-sees for any visitor.

Casa Kalaw's pool
Balai Adlao's Glass-wall dining area
El Nido Grill serves Filipino delights

Of the three hotels, Casa Kalaw was the first to open its doors. A 42-room bed and breakfast designed with traditional Filipino architecture interspersed with a modern feel; its coziness and family atmosphere envelop you as you walk into reception. As the only resort in Lio with a swimming pool, it is not uncommon to see large families and groups of friends lounging around the area in the late afternoon enjoying each other’s company.

Right next door, lies Balai Adlao, whose dining area’s see-through glass wall gives your eyes a peek at its turquoise chairs and beach club vibe. Mainly built of stone and wood, the hotel’s Filipino design features bamboo, weaves, and rattan elements. The hotel also has a skydeck with an open-air bar deck, where one can watch the sunset languidly with their significant other and a drink in hand.

Manille Bar's Larry Guevarra whipping up cocktails
Hotel Covo's Colorful Vibe
Lio Tourism Estate boasts some of the tallest coconut trees in the world

Last but not least, Hotel Covo displays its colorful and playful vibe targeting younger travelers and backpackers looking for a casual setting, while remaining affordable, edgy, and hip. Huge beanbags in little nooks, photo murals, and mosaic tiles are just some of the amenities and surprises you can encounter in Covo.

Activities are also an essential part of the estate, as they encourage travelers to discover the hidden wonders of El Nido and get off the beaten track, if only for a moment. Try riding the bamboo bikes for rent around the estate, or take a hike through a nature’s trail and the surrounding forests…and discover yet another side of El Nido.


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