Friday, September 13, 2019

When in Palawan: Miniloc Island Resort

Our eco adventure in Apulit Island Resort made us realize that it might have been a bad idea to head to Miniloc right after. With more complimentary activities to try, we had to delay our plan to recover from hours of snorkeling, swimming and climbing lime stones. 

Hello, Miniloc Island Resort.
Located just 50 minutes away from Lio Airport, Miniloc Island is one of the more popular islands of El Nido Resorts. 
Our transfer from Apulit dropped us off at the El Nido Resorts lounge where we had some snacks while waiting for the other guests to arrive. 
We were then assisted by Mario who ushered us to Miniloc's speed boat. We didn't transfer anymore to an outrigger boat cutting our travel time by 10 minutes. 
Just like other El Nido Resorts properties, we were greeted by the staff with welcome drinks, cold towels and the itchy leaf necklaces. 
We booked a Garden Cottage (PHP21,800/night; direct booking rate) which includes complimentary activities, full board meals and transfers from Lio Estate.  

Our Garden Cottage is equipped with a double bed, cable television, ample cabinet space and veranda facing the pool/beach. 
We got the cottage with the most convenient location of being a few steps away from the restaurant and bar. 
The only downside of this cottage is that the washroom was rather small and you don't get to have a good view of the sea. 

We noticed that Agoda offers the same room with all the inclusions for just PHP19,300 per night. 

After settling down in our room, Ann of Miniloc called and offered us a room upgrade to make up for the price difference.
We decided to have lunch first before moving to our new room.
I have to admit, I was impressed that crab was on the menu. Selection of food in Miniloc also seemed better. I also liked that the salad bar and desserts are in chillers.
We got upgraded to a Deluxe Seaview Room (PHP26,000/night via Agoda) which was on the opposite side of the Garden Cottages. 
Equipped with a comfortable double bed, spacious bathroom, work table, open cabinet, balcony cable television and coffee and tea nook, you are set to have a relaxing vacation. It's just weird that there were no throw pillows on the balcony sofa and the single bed by the wall and work desk.
We noticed that Miniloc does not offer slippers so make sure to bring one. Or maybe they do offer but upon request along with other toiletries like toothbrush. 
We also got a bottle of Prosecco as a token for being repeat guests of El Nido Resorts.
We've been to Small Lagoon last February when we stayed in Pangulasian Island Resort. But there was nothing else to do that afternoon so we went again. [Note that the resort will collect a one time environmental fee of PHP200 per guest for the duration of your whole stay. Another PHP200 per person per entry is charged to your account when you visit either Big or Small Lagoon.]
The Small Lagoon, as always, is beautiful. I got to appreciate it even more when the municipality controlled the number of guests entering the lagoon. We also got to see another sea turtle before heading back to Miniloc! No photo though as our encounter was faster than a blink of an eye. 
We got back to the resort just in time for the sunset cruise. 
I love that they used a bigger speedboat for this as an outrigger boat would feel crowded for a big group of 25. 
With the sun no longer shy, it awed us with its wonderful warm colors as it slipped away from our sight.
We took a short dip when we got back to the resort and we were pleasantly surprised that the water was warm. 
Dinner spread was just as good as lunch, or maybe better. 
I loved the pork belly cooked with mustard and roast beef. We also enjoyed our meal with the red wine we got from Eds of Apulit.
We joined the sunrise cruise the next morning which was great too. 
Breakfast that day had my favorites tocino and beans. 
There was also an egg station where you can request for your favorite kind. 
Our first snorkeling activity in Miniloc was at Shimizu Island.
I don't recall visiting this island before so I was excited to join this activity. 
Sadly, it seemed that it had too many visitors in the past. There were a lot of dead corals everywhere and some of the guests I was with were carelessly stepping on some of the alive ones.
There was a local selling fresh coconuts and we decided to get one. I love that we even got an El Nido Palawan bamboo straw as souvenir. 
We opted to have a picnic lunch at Entalula Beach Club after snorkeling. 
The island is just 25 minutes away from the resort and is subdivided into two--public and private. The beach club is managed by El Nido Resorts for its Lagen and Miniloc guests. 
Our picnic lunch wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Tables and chairs took the place of picnic mats. The only difference was that the appetizer, salad and dessert were placed inside the huge picnic baskets. 
The set up of lunch itself was also like the buffet lunch you'd get from the resort as you can get refill of the dishes you liked. 
While some were snorkeling till past noon, R and I decided to just stay under the shade as we still had sunburn to nurse from Apulit. Also, the shore was too rocky and full of broken shells. We also spotted some sea glass so best to have your aqua shoes on.
We decided to go to Small Lagoon again after lunch with the mission to find a sea turtleWe failed but the Small Lagoon is something we'd never get tired of.
We got back to the resort around 5 p.m. which was in time for happy hour! We went with Bacuit Breeze (PHP250) which was sweet and only mildly spiked. 
Our order also came with a small bowl of peanuts. (Note: Cocktails in Miniloc are about PHP100 cheaper than in Apulit.)
As we settled for a table for the buffet dinner, Richard of Food & Beverage unexpectedly approached and told us that they prepared a private dinner for us by the pool. 
It was a pleasant surprise. El Nido Resorts sure know how to spoil its guests!
We definitely capped our night in a good note as we strolled back to our room.
...and read our El Nido story.
Our weary bodies were giving up on us after days of numerous activities. We listened to it this time as we slept longer the next day and skipped our plan of joining the Big Lagoon tour. I managed to wake up early though to enjoy breakfast and joined the jack fish feeding session. We actually watched it twice already before but it was so entertaining seeing these huge fish go crazy!
We actually snorkeled with them and it was quite scary. Do note that its fins are sharp so accidents can happen. 
Since our last stop for this Palawan trip was Huni in Lio, we opted to join the last boat leaving the resort which was 2:15 p.m. giving us enough time to grab lunch.
Miniloc Island Resort is the oldest among the four El Nido Resorts properties. It is very accessible from Lio and one of the more affordable islands that offer complimentary island activities and full board meals. The only complaint I have with this resort is that the dining staff seem to be too lean. 
If you've been to El Nido before, the activities in Miniloc might not be as magical as the first time. Most of the activities offered by Miniloc overlaps with Pangulasian's and those you can avail from El Nido Town. The activity we liked best was jack fish feeding which we found new and rather exciting. And perhaps the bumpy but fun sunset cruise.
Nonetheless, it was a lovely visit and we'll surely be back. 

 To book Miniloc, you may visit El Nido Resorts or click here.

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