If you are travelling to El Nido in the Philippines, you will probably end up staying in Buena Suerte, otherwise known as El Nido town. That’s where we based ourselves, and found the quirky spot, El Gordo’s Guesthouse and Adventures.
To reach El Gordo’s takes about 10 minutes from the main shopping/eating street. Follow San Joaquin Street as it twists and turns its way along the port edge, until it reaches the basketball court. To the right side of the far hoop, is a wooden bridge. Take that and leave it at the first left. This leads you into a rocky path surrounded by wooden huts. If, halfway along this path you think you have made a terrible decision, persevere. This path will quickly lead you to El Gordo’s and its stunning view of the water.
As you can tell, it really isn’t in the centre of town, but that is why you would choose this spot. “Town” consists of a collection of reasonably faceless concrete rectangles. These guest houses are tile-floored and thoroughly lacking in personality (we know, we stayed in one of these as well).
The other issue with staying right in town is that El Nido is experiencing a huge tourism boom, and you know what that means? There is noisy building work all over town which really didn’t appeal. That is why we chose to spend three nights on the edge of town at El Gordo’s.
We were lucky enough to have a sea view double room. The room had an air of the nautical. By that, I don’t mean that there are fake portholes, or giant seahorses on the wall. I think it just reminded me of a fancy houseboat in Kerala or something.
You enter on one level and then down the stairs to the bathroom, or along and down to the bed.
The room was large, with a full size double bed. The mattress was good and we were even provided with two different kinds of pillows, one bouncy and one softer.
There is a mosquito net with pre-tied knots and handy hooks to put it up nice and easily. They did say that mosquitoes aren’t that common but I am a mosquito magnet, and so we put it up every night.
The ceiling fan was a little lacklustre, especially through the net, but they gave us a floor fan. They have got air conditioning units ready to install, so it may well be an AC room by the time you visit. This means that they are also enclosing the room properly, as at the moment there are some areas that are open to the world.
Another way to catch the breeze was to sit out on our own little balcony with a view over the water.
Finally, if you still aren’t cool enough, take a shower. They are, what they call “refreshing”. The bathroom was quite basic, but it was clean and I like that it was a little removed from the rest of the room.
We did have a quick look around at the other rooms. There is a four bed dorm, a double with a little balcony that opens at the back of the property and a ground floor double with its own little breakfast spot on the front deck. You can even ask to sleep out in the massage nook. A couple of guys were doing that while we were there and they were loving their al fresco slumbers.
So what does El Gordo’s have to offer?
They can help you organise onward travel, get your laundry done and hire kayaking gear for the day. As mentioned above, you can have a massage, performed by a licensed masseuse with the sounds of the sea below you. I think that’d be lovely after a spin on a kayak!
In the reception you will find an honesty fridge. Just take the drink you want (water, soda, beer) and write down what you had. The cost will be added to your bill when you check out.
You will also see the donation box, a really nice touch. If you are sick of carrying around the shoes that you will never wear, or you are going onto a colder climate and won’t need your little shorts any more, you can leave them here and they will be donated to the community.
Next to that is the breakfast board. Pop your breakfast order on the whiteboard the night before, or that morning with a time that you want it. It will be ready for you and you don’t need to worry about finding breakfast before an early tour departure.
I tried the mango crepe which was juicy and delicious and Mr Fluskey had toast, eggs and bacon. As you can see, both came with plenty of fresh fruit on the side.
Hot drinks and cookies can be found for free on the complimentary table. The cookies are from a local bakery, and a yummy little pick me up.
All of these can be enjoyed out on the front deck where the sun is beautiful in the morning.
Who or What is El Gordo!?
Gordon (El Gordo) and Christina are your hosts, and they are a wonderful couple. Canadian Gordon used to teach English in East Asia. After many years he decided to pack up and leave Asia, but first he was due to be best man at his friend’s wedding in the Philippines. At the reception Christina. They reconnected soon after the wedding and after a month of travelling the Philippines together, they settled on El Nido and built the guesthouse on the bay.
From here they also run El Gordo’s Adventures. Here you will find a great alternative to the fixed island hopping tours in town. Instead of tour A/B/C/D you can help create your own itinerary and spend 3-5 days kayaking, camping and exploring the amazing islands around El Nido. A support boat goes out with the kayakers so you can do as little or as much paddling as you choose.
On your first day, you will get a real feast and your last meal is taken back at the guesthouse. We saw the adobo being slowly cooked by Christina and it smelled great!
It really is this adventurous couple that makes El Gordo’s such a unique place to stay.
Come for an adventure, or come for a relaxing break, but do come. We really enjoyed our stay at El Gordo’s and would happily return. It sounds like they are making constant improvements so it will only get better and better!
Thank you to El Gordo’s Guesthouse for hosting us. All opinions are our own.