The crystal clear lagoons, white sandy beaches, giant waterfalls and landscapes dotted with palm trees make the Philippines a tropical paradise. Nestled above the scenery, in the treetops of Palawan, is a boutique glamping spot known as The Birdhouse. Here you can sleep in a nest overlooking Bacuit Bay, a handful of tropical islands and the beaches of El Nido.
Our friend Laura Altesa of travel blog Suncherries recently stayed in one of the nests and is sharing her take on the spot below. From the bike rides on palm tree laden fields to hobnobbing with the locals, her favorite memory? The sweet, juicy mangoes.
Why should fellow travelers put the Philippines on the top of their travel list?
I visited the Philippines last July. It was my first time exploring the country and, as I didn’t know much about it, I did quite a fair bit of planning of the journey beforehand.
If you are the type of traveler who enjoys exploring and not staying in just one location, the Philippines is the place for you! There are so many islands and special corners to visit in the country, that after your first visit you will want to go back!
There is just so much to experience and so much to see: breathtaking landscapes, swims in crystal clear lakes and lagoons, enjoying barefoot walks on white sand beaches, discovering amazing waterfalls, bike rides on roads along palm tree fields, meeting the friendly locals, and enjoying the tastiest and juiciest fruits you will ever eat (I think I ate the best mangoes in the world while I was there!).
I had heard wonders of the Philippines and I have to admit that reality exceeded all my expectations. Maybe it was the beautiful surroundings, the welcoming and kind people, or the slow-paced lifestyle that made me get really in touch with my thoughts and made me reflect on life quite a lot. While I was there I realised it was one of the moments I was the happiest and I didn’t have much with me (I only traveled with a backpack), I lived and enjoyed the moment so much during my trip. Every day was filled with adventure and discovery and I couldn’t recommend it enough, even though I went during the rainy season and only saw a couple or three days of sun. Because no matter the weather, it’s true what they say: it really is more fun in the Philippines.
You stayed in a 'nest' – give us the full review.
I found out about The Birdhouse through Instagram and whenever I travel I try to stay in places that preserve the culture of the place I am visiting. After I saw photos and tour videos of the location I knew I had to stay there for a couple of nights.
The nests are located high up the mountain among the trees and saying the view is breathtaking is an understatement. It is by far the best location I have ever stayed in in the Philippines.
I do not recommend staying in a nest if you are scared of bugs, sounds at night and the sound of heavy rain or storms. Even though the tent can be locked up with a zipper to prevent bugs to get in, you will see a few when you are outside. I didn’t mind the bugs (I got bitten by mosquitoes during the daytime walking around town anyway!), or the big tropical storm I witnessed the first night; I felt safe.
The nest didn’t move or shake while the wind was blowing and it was stormy at night. The bed was the comfiest and there was enough light and fans to keep you cool. The decoration inside the tent is so beautiful. Each nest has a private bathroom, which is inside a cute little shed by the tent and it is fully equipped. I really got to enjoy the landscape and stunning scenery while I stayed there and I even got to meet a fluffy visitor, Pakwan, that came to my nest to say good morning. He is the cutest dog and lives at The Birdhouse! He loves cuddles and affection from the guests.
Who wouldn’t want to stay in a cute, fully equipped nest among the trees, with ocean views and has puppies living there? I can’t wait to visit again one day!
What is the food scene like? Any must try restaurants or tips for navigating it all?
During my stay in El Nido I didn’t explore the local restaurants much. After I enjoyed the first dinner at The Birdhouse, I decided to go back there for dinner every night during my stay as the food was delicious and the atmosphere was so peaceful. They have this cute table on the balcony that overlooks the palm trees, the ocean and the islands and it makes the most romantic setting for a special dinner.
#1 experience you took part in that other travelers should do too?
I visited the Philippines during rainy season. I was hoping I would only see a tiny bit of rain but, unfortunately, that was not the case. During my holiday there, I only got to enjoy a few days of sunshine, which I tried to make the most of.
When I was in El Nido, I was dying to go one one of those island hopping tours, but they all got cancelled due to the weather and rough sea. Finally, when I visited Coron I finally got to enjoy a day of full sunshine and then I was able to join one of the island hopping tours that I had been dreaming of.
It was definitely one of the best days I had in the Philippines: a full day out at sea, on a boat with strangers that become friends as the day unfolds with fresh homemade food cooked on the boat for the group to enjoy on a white sand beach – what a feast that was. For me, it was a perfect day exploring all the lagoons, coral reefs, beaches and lakes Coron has to offer.
If the weather had allowed it, I would have loved to join the same type of tour in El Nido as the experience from other fellow travellers sounded wonderful too. Island hopping is definitely my #1 experience I took part in.