Best resort in El Nido
Las Cabanas is a small resort south of el nido town. It is owned by Dan and Bhing, who are most hospitable hosts. It currently consists of just three beach huts, with another planned. We stayed for four nights in December 2006. We had a great time, and I would recommend it to anyone (see below). It is not officially open as yet so has not advertised at all and does not have a website, but can be booked in el nido from Bhing's shop opposite the catholic church (Bhing's Bizz) or talk to judith at the arts cafe who will ring them. In advance you can email Dan on Las_Cabanas_resort@yahoo.com.
Dolorog looks posher (we walked past), but I am very glad we chose las cabanas, as we had a really memorable trip. I've stayed in a lot of beach resorts at this level in south east asia, and this is now probably my favorite (up there with sailing club in mui ne, paradise resort on long beach phi phi and sensi lodge on koh tau). Overall, this place feels like a labour of love. They ar elucky to have had the freedom to design a resort exactly as they would like without having to pack in huts, and I dont think I could have done better myself.
Also, no mosquitos! At least when we were there, there we no mossers at all. It gets worse in the rainy season, but I put it down to the cleanliness of the resort and the lack of people in the area.
Unique Quality: 1. Location: The plot is at the headland of two beaches. There is some coral off the beach which is easy to swim to, and fish stocks are growing because they have banned fishing in the area. The area is very lightly populated and the beaches are more or less deserted. We walked a way along the beach in both directions, no hassle, a few friendly local kids, just the right atmosphere.
2. The hosts: Dan and Bhing were charming hosts, made us most welcome and were interesting and friendly to chat to. They get exactly the right balance between giving you the space to do your thing and the attention and conversation to make your trip great. Attention to detail was superb. For example, one evening I was chatting to Dan about my liking for spicy food. The next day on our boat trip, some spicy chilli sauce has been added to the picnic. Staff are also very friendly and helpful.
3. The huts: While not as high specification as dolorog (no A/C or hot water), the huts are widely spaced apart and nicely fitted out. Each has a balcony and hammocks near by, and is solar powered giving light even when the generator is off. The beds are large, shutters block out all light and the surrounding area is very quiet (no dogs or cockerels!). We slept very well.
4. The food: The deal is all in, and Bhing cooks the food. She is a great cook, and the food was gorgeous and plentiful. Think I put on several pounds in the four days!
5. The resort: There are attractive benches set on the beach and the huts and raised dining area are set in lovingly cared for, well maintained gardens.
6. The trips: They will hire out a boat with a guide and a driver to let you construct your own trip. Whilst this is (relatively) not exactly cheap (2-3k per day for two people) it does offer tremendous freedom. The guys will pitch up at any beach you want and cook you a gigantic lunch of fish, port, chicken, salad and rice. It feels like true luxury to have that freedom. We also hired a Kayak and went accross the bay, great fun.
Directions: They will arrange airport transfer, or they will pick you up by boat from el nido and take you directly there (500 peso iirc). Alternatively get a bike and take a short walk (150 peso).