The Best Resorts in the Philippines

Every now and again, travelers just need to stay in one place and leave the running around to the rest of the world. That’s where resorts come in. Though most of these resorts on the Philippine Islands are within easy reach of other grand adventures, these properties serve up a world all their own. They all serve memorable meals and have snap-worthy views.

Pamalican Island, Sulu Archipelago, Agutaya, Palawan, Philippines
Amanpulo occupies its own island in the Cyuo Archipelago, where members of the animal kingdom outnumber humans by some comical order of magnitude. Adding to the resort’s castaway cred is the private airstrip, where guests land after a quick flight from Manila. When not communing with the islet’s dozens of resident bird species or carefully avoiding nesting sea turtles, visitors can dive among the countless colorful denizens in the adjacent marine park, sail to neighboring islands, or hide out under the seashell-tiled ceilings at the spa (don’t miss the Hilot massage, which features warm banana leaves and cold-pressed coconut oil). Those interested in the local cuisine can even pick their own ingredients in the resort’s organic garden and have the chef whip up a feast. Don’t leave without at least one peek through the island’s refracting telescope, which makes the epic night sky look hallucinatory.
Pangalusian Island, El Nido, Philippines
The problem with Pangulasian—dubbed the Island of the Sun, thanks to its surreal sunrise and sunset views—is its excess of good choices. Do you book a beach villa with direct access to the powdery sand and turquoise waters that likely lured you to the remote northern reaches of Palawan in the first place, or a pool villa with almost 240 square feet of private plunging space and gorgeous vistas of Bacuit Bay? What about a canopy villa that soars 50 to 60 feet above the ground and offers treetop-skimming panoramas of the El Nido islands, or a Kalaw Villa with its own private cove? Once you’ve decided on your accommodations, the choices only get harder. While heading off on an adventure is tempting—think snorkeling, diving, stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, touring lagoons, and picnicking on private islands—so is the prospect of simply taking in the view from your gracefully netted, organically appointed bed.
Barangay Yapak, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan 5608 Philippines
Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa is located in one of the Philippines’ most popular vacation spots. And while it has all the musts—the turquoise waters, the powdered-sugar shores, the lush hills—what it doesn’t have is the crowds. And therein lies the resort’s beauty, or at least some of it. Tucked into an eco-reserve with its own shimmering beach, the Shangri-La is also home to a canopy-cloaked dining aerie, sunset-surveying clifftop cabanas, and a peninsular spa on a private bay. Accommodations are impeccably appointed with local touches (think woven abaca rugs and lamps bedecked with capiz shells), and several of the lodgings feel more like private vacation homes. Take the aptly named treehouse villa, for example, where the canopy-level second story commands stunning sea views (best enjoyed from the hot tub on the balcony), or the pool villas, where the lure of en suite swimming almost overpowers the sea just outside.
Access Lane To Caalan Beach, El Nido, 5313 Palawan, Philippines
One of the top spots to watch the sun set behind the islands that make up the Bacuit Archipelago, Cadlao Resort is also one of El Nido’s most enticing resorts. Most of the 25 rooms offer views of El Nido Bay or the South China Sea--but, for those sunsets, consider taking them in while taking a dip in the inifinity pool. Decor is spare but elegant, with pops of color all around. If you find yourself antsy to get off property, there’s no better spot than the resort’s private beach, a 45-minute boat ride away. After? Perhaps a spa appointment before dinner at the on-site restaurant, where the catch of the day arrives wrapped in a banana leaf.
Santa Fe (Bantayan) - Hagnaya, Santa Fe, Cebu, Philippines
Bantayan Island’s fine white sand beaches and clear light blue waters are as enchanting as far busier Boracay, minus the noise and go go go night life. The island’s Ogtong Cave Resort offers a well-kept landscaped garden, a pool, and individual cottages, but the real draw is a cave below the resort grounds, where you can explore and wade in the waters. Rooms at the resort are simple and comfortable. The resort offers doubles up to family rooms with plenty of room for kids. There are two pools on the ground, with one reserved for resort guests. The usual jump off point is Cebu, a one-hour flight away from Metro Manila. You then take an almost 3-hour bus ride from North Terminal to Hagnaya for a 75-minute boat to Santa Fe, Bantayan. You can also opt to take a private van or taxi for a more comfortable and faster ride. Don’t be put off by the long travel time--the beach, cave, and everything else at the resort are well worth what it takes to get there.
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