Cauayan Island Resort – Picturesque “laid back luxury” private island resort in El Nido, Palawan
I had the pleasure of staying at Cauayan Island Resort for two nights and what a magical two nights it was. The resort is breathtaking in every aspect; it is the perfect island holiday destination. You cannot really put my stay into words as it truly was one of the best places I have ever been to.
After a scenic 20-minute boat ride from the El Nido Port, I arrived at the most beautiful setting – a private cove nestled in between towering limestone cliffs with over-water villas, white sand, lush palm trees and the most vibrant blue water that I have laid my eyes on.
What an idyllic setting, it is rare to find so much beauty in one place.
I received one of the warmest greetings from the staff when I arrived at the resort. This continued throughout my stay as every staff member greeted me by name. This was a small gesture but a very touching one, as it made me feel at ease wherever I went on the island.
I checked in to one of their water villas which overlooked the cove. The views of the cove being immersed by the limestone cliffs as you sit on the edge of the bed, could pass as one of the 7 wonders of the world. The villa itself offered me privacy which made me feel as though I was the only person on the island. All rooms on the island are villas that each have their own unique feel and features. These include beach villas, lagoon villas, as well as sunrise and sunset villas with their own private pools.
The water villa offers two loungers on the deck which was without a doubt the highlight of the room; allowing me to relax outside and listen to the sounds of the ocean. Included on the deck floor is a glass panel, so you can admire the sea creatures below. The sliding doors leading out onto the deck, as well as the window beside the bed, are tinted, allowing guests comfort and privacy in their own villa.
There was a large tub in the bathroom, that included a rain shower. It is not your typical shower bath. There is also an outdoor shower which is accessible from the bathroom as well as the main entrance, allowing you to rinse off before entering your villa. The amenities in the bathroom were all from L’Occitane, another small touch that really amplifies the luxury of the resort.
I had one of the best nights’ sleep in the extra king bed. The sounds of the ocean beneath evoking a sense of calm. The cabinet at the base of the bed has a television that can be brought up through remote control if you want to watch one of your favorite Netflix shows, or you can leave it down and admire the view of the cove.
One of the main features of the resort is the infinity pool. It encapsulates everything a resort pool should be. It has unobstructed views of the ocean and is a stone’s throw away from the beach.
The resort offers complimentary water sports and activities. All motorized water sports are unauthorized due to El Nido islands’ regulations. The activities on offer include, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. I opted to go snorkeling in the cove. This presented me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with the numerous baby sharks that are residents of the cove (they are ‘vegetarian’ as the guide put it, and not harmful in any way). All the gear is provided free-of-charge, including swimming shoes to protect you from the sea urchins and coral reefs.
The resort offers numerous activities on the island. These include sunrise and sunset hikes, yoga, volleyball, board games, and many more. I opted to do both hikes. The sunrise hike is a challenging one that includes rock climbing. It is worth it for one of the most breathtaking sunrises over the El Nido mainland, as well as memorable views of the Cauayan Island Resort. The guides are fantastic, you are provided with a helmet with a light as well as gloves for the sharp limestone cliffs you must climb. There are ropes all the way along the path for you to hold onto to make the climb easier, and to feel safe all the way. The sunset hike is on the opposite side of the island and is a lot less strenuous. It is a lot quicker and can be done in open shoes. It also delivered spectacular views and the perfect way to unwind before dinner.
In addition to the island-based activities the resort also offers full and half-day island hopping tours, as well as a sunset cruise. These tours can either be done on their speedboat or on the local group boat. There are numerous different packages on offer, all allowing you to take in the incredible different islands in and around El Nido.
I chose to do the half-day island hopping tour with the resort’s private speedboat, which was a fantastic experience. We visited some of the most picturesque lagoons and snorkeling spots, some of which have been featured in world-renowned films. The tour guide, Alan, was so friendly and gave me all the information regarding the sights and assisted me with all of the equipment.
The resort has one main dining area, which is located right next to the swimming pool, looking out over the cove. The tables are well positioned, allowing you to get the best view of the beach, as well as a real tropical feel from the surrounding palm trees. They offer a full buffet breakfast, with the option to order from the kitchen. My favourite was the eggs benedict, which I ordered every morning together with an orange juice. The orange juice was freshly squeezed, and the staff ensured that your glass was always full.
Lunch and dinner are served à la carte. You will not be short on variety as the menu is extensive. It includes over 100 different dishes bringing together flavours from all over the world. The portion sizes are generous, so you will not leave feeling hungry or short-changed. Lunch around the pool was relaxed. I had a fresh coconut which is the perfect hydrating drink on holiday. The dinner ambience was complimented by the pool lighting and ocean sounds. Fresh seafood is also available every evening, displaying the catch of the day that you can choose from. My favourite was the mango meringue roll for dessert, which was freshly made by their talented pastry chef.
On top of the à la carte menu there is also a bar menu that includes bar snacks as well as sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. Not to mention the numerous cocktails, wines, spirits, and beer on offer that any bar around the world would envy. This menu is also available at lunch and dinner, you can relax on one of the pool loungers, or sit in the bar located across the swimming pool from the main dining area, and order from there. It really is the ideal dining setup: informal and relaxed, the perfect combination for a holidaymaker seeking to unwind.
The spa treatment room was one-of-a-kind. Each treatment room is tranquil and private. Each massage table includes a glass panel beneath it, allowing you to spot your favorite fish or take in the resident baby sharks. If you really want to get into a sense of Zen, there is no better feeling than doing it to the calming sound of the ocean. I opted for the signature massage. It did not disappoint, the pressure from the therapist was perfect and the setting could not have been better. I can honestly say it was one of the best massages I have ever experienced, and 90 minutes that I wish had never ended. To bring me back to reality, I was given a homemade ginger tea whilst sitting out on the deck overlooking the cove and El Nido mainland.
The resort has a romantic ambience and is a place you can call ‘a home away from home’. They offer honeymoon and special occasion packages which makes it the perfect romantic destination. They have private dinner locations and, of course, top-class service and hospitality. I would rate this property as one of the best honeymoon destinations in the world.
There were so many small touches that contributed to making my stay so perfect, many of which I cannot explain as it has to be experienced personally.
Everyone I encountered made me feel so well taken care of, especially Jolery and Kath who looked after me in the restaurant, Jen and the front office team, and Alan the tour guide. I had the pleasure of meeting the owners of Cauayan and what a lovely couple, so down to earth and they look after their staff well.
Cauayan Island Resort really is a paradise of tranquility and a haven of comfort. Their slogan is “the art of laid back luxury” and that is exactly what you will experience.
The photos online do not do this resort justice. There are also small details and personal touches that really elevate your stay that you won’t get from their advertising or website. The staff really focus on giving you a personalized experience and creating lasting memories. I cannot sum up my stay any better than to say the resort is truly out of this world and the most beautiful place I have ever stayed at.
To book your stay at Cauayan Island Resort, visit their website: cauayanresort.com