Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Discover Lio El Nido...

A unique and one-of-a-kind immersive experience in nature awaits at Palawan's newest travel destination...

Located in El Nido within Bacuit Bay on the west coast of Northern Palawan, the Lio Tourism Estate is Ayala Land's first masterplanned integrated resort community envisioned as an ecologically sustainable tourism destination. The Lio Tourism Estate is an impressive development of hotels and resorts, commercial establishments, residential communities, amenities, and facilities for eco-adventure and leisure travelers. Guided by the principles of sustainability and inclusive growth for minimal impact to the environment, Lio El Nido allows visitors to experience all of its natural beauty while enjoying the modern comforts of a full service resort designed to benefit nearby local communities. Read on and take a sneak peek at Palawan's newest travel destination...

A direct flight via Air Swift to El Nido kicks off your getaway to Palawan's jewel. The sleek ATR42-600 is a twin turbo-prop aircraft that accommodates 40 passengers in comfort for the 55 minute flight from Manila to El Nido. 

Touchdown, El Nido. And before you know it, your El Nido adventure is off to a great start, greeted by serenaders at the new El Nido Airport. With its own airport terminal and jetty, the Lio Tourism Estate will also be criss-crossed by its own road network as well as special walkways and bicycle trails. A sea port and transport terminal will also be completed soon. 

A van takes you through preserved mangroves, reflecting Ayala Land's commitment to maintaining the environment. It's this blend of sustainable development and the raw beauty of nature that sets El Nido apart from the usual travel destinations. With a total land area of 325 hectares, Lio El Nido will maintain roughly one half as nature reserves and open spaces. Like many modern communities, Lio El Nido's utilities are built underground, with Manila Water and Globe infrastructure already operational within the estate.

Up ahead, the eco-masterplanned township of Lio appeared, and for the next three days, this is home. 

The Lio Beach Village offers a unique township experience with all the amenities and facilities you need for that perfect Palawan getaway, from bed & breakfasts to resorts, shops, and dining establishments, all in one self-contained community. Over 3,000 square meters will be allotted for retail, with 95% already leased to twenty food and retail merchants, with half of the merchants from Palawan. 

At the new Casa Kalaw, the clean, uncluttered and modern lines and pristine white facade welcomes you, this is your home base for the many Palawan adventures in store for the next three days.  

The use of space becomes a design element in itself, with everything you need just a few steps away.

The friendly and courteous staff of Casa Kalaw is the first link in a chain of memorable experiences that thread your stay at Lio El Nido, exuding that comforting warmth and hospitality that makes any vacation special 

With forty-two well-appointed guest rooms equipped with air-conditioning, hot and cold shower, wireless internet, 42-inch cable television, coffee and tea-making facilities, safety deposit box and bathroom amenities, Casa Kalaw is your home away from home set at the heart of the new Lio Tourism Estate.  

Surrounded by lush gardens leading to the pool, you may be tempted to just stay inside Casa Kalaw, and I can't blame you. 

The inviting pool is perfect for a few laps, or simply laze around doing nothing, it's your call. This is, after all, your vacation, and you make your own rules. 

Early mornings, late afternoons, and evenings are ideal times for a swim, so pick your spot.

And if you need to stay connected, Casa Kalaw's wi-fi access keeps you in touch with the rest of the world. But better yet, shut your phone off and just enjoy.

The Kalaw Cafe offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets to satisfy any appetite. Here's a tip. Request for some freshly prepared waffles from the station chef for breakfast for that perfect start (for more dining options at the Lio Tourism Estate, see my posts on Pair-A-Burger Bar, Pizza & Amore, Manille Beach Bar, Globy Travelling Chef, Bead Cafe, Pukka Bar, and El Nido Grill on my other food blog, Dude for Food). Other new establishments are set to open this year, including Hotel Covo and many more, so you can expect to hear more from Lio Tourism Estate.

The next morning, we were invited on a tour of Lio Tourism Estate's farms, highlighted by organically grown vegetables and greens. 

The fresh greens are planted with a special all-natural compost...

...sourced from the farm's livestock. Fresh and all-natural vegetables and pork supplied by their very own farms, it reinforces Lio Tourism Estate's philosophy based on sustainability. It's these little things that make your stay at Lio, El Nido, special.  

Within the estate is another surprise for guests. Time to get waterproofed for your first adventure in Lio, El Nido...

Just a few minutes drive from the farms and the Lio Beach Village is the secret lagoon, preserved in its all-natural state.

A short hiking trail leads to the dock, with kayaks and bamboo rafts for rent. Pick your ride and explore the tranquil lagoon surrounded by lush greens. Along the way, you'll find teams of local ducks, so be still and quiet. The large number of ducks are a sign of the lagoon's health, and Lio Tourism Estate plans to keep it that way. 

Further down the lagoon is a narrow entry to another secret lagoon. The tranquil waters and the sound of birds allows you to reconnect with nature. And yourself. But this is just one of Lio's many surprises...

No visit to El Nido is complete without island hopping, and Skipper Charters is your ticket for your next adventure in El Nido. Skipper Charters is an island adventure provider with a fleet of sleek and fast boats to take you around El Nido's islands in comfort and style. 

The rushing breeze and pounding surf adds to the experience, and Skipper Charters lets you get up close to El Nido's many islands.

Skipper Charters limits passengers to only 6-8 per boat, this ensures your cruise around the islands is comfortable. Depending on the package you select, Skipper Charters also serves food and drinks as part of their service. 

Our half-day cruise aboard Skipper Charters takes you through Palawan's famed limestone cliffs around Bacuit Bay, each one as impressive as the other. 

Along the way, more limestone cliffs marked our path toward the first stop, Sabang Beach.

Be sure to keep an eye out for sea turtles, as Sabang Beach is a known nesting ground. The calm waters in the secluded cove are perfect for snorkeling, and Skipper Charters has that too. 

Next stop, Helicopter Island. Named for its distinctive shape, Helicopter Island is yet another gem in El Nido. If the topside views were breathtaking, wait until you dive down the cool waters below for another perspective of El Nido... 

Below the cool blue waters around Helicopter Island, the bright and vivid colors of the corals takes you to another world...

...as shafts of the afternoon sun pierces though the deep blue. The delicate coral heads and sea fans are home to abundant marine life, and you'll find a healthy eco-system with each dive.

The legendary underwater visibility of El Nido is experienced first-hand, and all you can say in your mind is "yes, it's true."

You can observe different shades of turquoise blue as you go further out, and deeper. This is the El Nido I've always imagined it to be.

More boats arrived, with more people diving in. But it doesn't really matter. Somehow, you still feel like your the only one here.

Teeming with marine life, you'll find a variety of familiar fish in bright colors, and a few others you've only seen in print or the web. Trust me, seeing schools of fish never fails to amaze, they just swim way too fast before my camera can get close enough. And if you look closely, you'll even spot a Banded Sea Krait on the move...

But it was time to leave Helicopter Island, and with mixed feelings, we headed to our third stop...

...El Nido's iconic lagoons. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, the calm and tranquil waters reflect different shades of colors, from bright emerald greens to deep cerulean tints.

As you go deeper into the lagoon, the stillness of the waters adds a mystical charm to the experience.

The calm, cool and shallow waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, but you can also rent a kayak and explore the lagoon on your own.

A small and narrow entrance leads you to another secret lagoon, and yet another surprise. El Nido has so much to offer, both above and below the water, you'll need a few more days to fully explore its many secrets.

After a half-day of island-hopping, we cruised back to Lio Beach Village just in time for sunset. Hats off to the crew of Skipper Charters for an awesome tour of El Nido.

The sunset transforms the beach, with a lingering glow to signal the end of another amazing day at El Nido.

Go rent a bicycle for a tour of the beach as the sun sets...

...or try your hand with the stand-up paddle board.

Or simply admire the sunset with the gentle surf on your feet...

...as you plan the next day's adventures.

El Nido is truly one of those destinations that help you reconnect with nature, and no matter how many days you stay, you'll always feel that you need that extra day to complete the experience. It's that kind of place. And soon, the new Lio Tourism Estate will be 100% operational and complete for that perfect weekend getaway. Can't wait to be back...

Casa Kalaw is located at the new Lio Tourism Estate in El Nido, Palawan. You can also visit their website at http://www.casakalaw.com/.

For more information on the new Lio Tourism Estate, visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/LioElNido/ and their website at http://www.lio.ph/.

For more on Skipper Charters, check out their website at http://www.skippercharters.ph/.

Solo Expeditions is now on Facebook and Instagram, check out my FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/SoloExpeditions/ and scroll through my IG Feed at https://www.instagram.com/dudeforfood/ for more updates on cool destinations and good eats and enjoy the ride...

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