Lio Beach El Nido, The Ultimate Guide
I recently spent 10 amazing days in El Nido Philippines, where we had the opportunity to stay in a couple of hotels in 2 areas of El Nido. The reason we chose to do this is because we wanted to be able to fully immerse ourselves in everything each location had to offer. Lio Beach, El Nido Philippines the Ultimate Guide.
We are a travelling family on a 2 month adventure in the Philippines and we are creating vlog and travel blog content for you, so that we can help introduce some of the amazing locations we have travelled to the world. Yes you can go on your dream vacation with your kids! Ours are a 5 years old boy named Rayden and our baby girl is 2 years old.
Should I stay at Lio Beach El Nido?
In El Nido we first stayed in an area called Lio Beach, specifically we stayed at a midrange hotel called Hotel Covo. There are several other hotels on the Lio property including Seda Lio Hotels, Balai Adlao, and Casa Kalaw. The hotel group that owns Lio beach have created a masterpiece of a property with all of the amenities anyone would need during a relaxing beach vacation.
During our stay on Lio beach we found that it was absolutely the best place to stay in El Nido with kids or as a couple. There are tons of reasons for this and I will outline the main reasons in this article. If you have anything to add please feel free to comment below so that we can update this post with the latest greatest information. I want to stress that I do not work for the Lio group, this review is by my actual experience of this place and it is not all going to be positive!
31 Things you need to know about Lio Beach
Lio Beach has loads of security guards working there. Not only will they help you with your luggage and organize rides for you, but they also limit the amount of vehicles coming onto the property. One of the major disappointments you will have in El Nido is there is so much traffic. The vehicles in town do not yield for pedestrians and it can be dangerous. Another reason for the high security is to prevent shady people from coming onto the property to rob guests.
El Nido is a poor place and with poverty will always come some theft. The security at Lio beach prevent this by checking every vehicles purpose before they enter the property. The high security also prevents gangsters from coming onto the property to sell drugs.
You can rest assured that you will be the safest that you can be if you are staying on Lio beach.
2. Stunning Beach
The beach itself is breathtaking, it is something out of a magazine and the hotel employs many people to make sure it is in pristine condition. When you first get to the beach you will notice that is is all soft beige sand. It is softer and thicker than the other beaches in El Nido possibly because the staff rakes the beach multiple times a day to ensure quality.
When you enter the warm water of the ocean on Lio beach, you will notice that is is very shallow, there are very little rocks and there is no current. This is the perfect beach for children and people that can’t swim!
3. Live bands
In the evenings there is a live band that plays smooth beachy tunes at the grill house restaurant beachfront. The band is amazing, filipinos are know to be great entertainers. The singers are the same ones that sing in the main town. They start their evening at Lio beach and end it in El Nido town. The reason for this is that everything shuts down early at Lio beach as it is more of a secluded sleepy beach feel.
4. Amazing restaurants
Some of the best restaurants we visited in all of El Nido were here at Lio beach. The company that owns Lio beach have set a very high minimum standard for the restaurants. They are all very clean and cockroach free, the food is well cooked and fresh. We ate at a cool restaurant on the west side of the beach that overlooked the ocean, there were awesome bean bags here that we sat on every afternoon. They served Filipino and western dishes as well as good drinks like mojito’s and Daquiries. There is a coffee shop and an ice cream shop right beside that place that were both awesome.
Some of the other cool restaurants were a pizza place, Chinese, and rooftop burger bar for the best view.
Lio Beach is very clean, there are grounds people keeping up with overall maintenance of the landscape, there is an abundance of hotel and restaurant employees all keeping up with their part of keeping Lio beach clean. While I was on Lio beach I barely saw larger bugs and when we did they were dead. Unlike the other areas of El Nido like downtown, you will not see garbage thrown around everywhere. Lio Beach is very clean.
Even the bathrooms off the beach are super clean and you can really tell that they stick to their cleaning schedule.
6. Manicured grounds
The grounds here are very well manicured, the trees and shrubs are cut to perfection and the gardens are clean of debris and garbage. They remove the coconuts from the trees in the area to protect the guests from getting hit by dropping coconuts. They even rake the sand multiple times a day!
7. Soft sand
The sand at Lio beach is some of the softest in all of El Nido. You and your family will appreciate the ultra wide and long beach with soft thick sand. It is perfect for building sandcastles or playing beach volleyball on the beach.
8. Free sun beds on the beach
Unlike most places in El Nido the sun beds are free and they are made with nice wicker.
9. A Gym
There is a gym attached to the Covo hotel and it is one of the 2 gyms in all of El Nido. They do charge an entry fee, even if you are staying at one of the Lio hotels. This is the cleanest gym that can be accessed by the public in El Nido, I thought it was brutal that they charged hotel guests to use the facility, the cost was $180 pesos, more expensive than the gym in town and it is tiny for the price. Don’t waste your time or money on this gym, Lio needs to change their policies about this gym. It is definitely not a benefit of staying at Lio Beach. I stepped into their gym and the person that was upfront did not tell me anything about the cost until I had set up with all of my gear on and begun my workout. The hotel staff also did not mention the cost when I checked in. When I asked where the gym was, they only said at the side of the building open 7am to 9pm.
10. Clean Massage studio
The massage place at Lio Beach is located at the back of one of the buildings closest to the beach on the second floor. When we checked in the hotel did not tell you it existed, I only found it while I was hunting around the area. There were a few employees hanging around the place, but no guests for the 5 days I spent there. When I told my wife about it she was really excited because of the convenient location this place offers. Her massage costed $650 pesos for an hour full body oil massage and she said it was a really good massage.
We had multiple massages all over El Nido and this is one of the cleaner places and it offers air conditioning and smells great. It also helps that the building is brand new and there were no bugs in it like a lot of other places in El Nido. There is nothing worst than getting bit up by mosquitos while you have your clothes off in a relaxing massage. It was expensive to get a massage at Lio Beach considering you can get a massage in town for 400 pesos but 650 is still only $14 USD so we were fine with it. If you are on a budget, this is not the best place for you. They offered other types of massages here including sport massage and stone massage and those treatments are more expensive. They try to upset you all over El Nido, but really all a person needs is the basic oil massage. If they are not giving enough pressure, tell them. These ladies were really strong.
11. Free shuttles
There is a free shuttle service at Lio beach that will take you directly into town for free, it is not only for hotel guests but also people who just want to visit. The shuttle is in an air conditioned van that seats around 12 people. The thing that was annoying about it is that it is first come first serve, you cannot reserve you seat on the bus. So if you are in a group you will have to sit there for a while until there is room for you.
We went as a family of four a few times to the shuttle area and they told us that we would have to wait for the next bus that was an hour later. We got there 10 minutes early to try to avoid this, but there is so many people on these things crammed in that we just could not fit with a family of 4. Instead of wasting an hour out of our trip we ended up calling tricycles to pick us up right away and that costs $300 pesos. This was a bit of a money grab as the hotel organizes the tricycle rides and I’m sure they get a pice of the action because the ride back will only cost you $200 pesos.
Is the Free Shuttle any Good?
The shuttle is great if you are travelling there solo as they will try to cram you in, it is easy if you are travelling this way. The bus itself is newer and very clean with leather seats and it is air conditioned with the windows tinted.
The roads in El Nido are in really bad shape, so it is a nice change to be in the van with proper shocks. That being said the trikes are fun and open air and can be a mini adventure in itself! In my opinion Lio should prioritize the hotel guests for their convenience and allow them to call down to the lobby to make a reservation. The shuttle pickup is a 3 minute walk from anywhere on the Lio Property and would be really convenient if they did it that way. There is so much staff at Lio and extra vans around that they could easily have 2 of these running rather that the one they have. Lio is trying to make this the place to be for vacationers in El Nido and they are doing this so well in other categories.
12. It smells fresh
It is extremely clean at Lio beach, if you can’t stand weird smells then this is the place to be. You will enjoy the fresh clean ocean breeze while you are there the entire time. First of all there is good separation between the buildings allowing the breeze to get through. A percentage of the property is to remain undeveloped treelike and beach line so Lio is protecting the area so that it can be presented as an eco resort.
The restaurants are properly ventilated and this prevents the smells of seafood and bbq from getting all over the place. And the there is no weird smell of sewage like there is in El Nido town. Recently in another famous part of the Philippines the island of Boracay. The Philippine government shut them down for a period of time because the local businesses, and resorts were unsanitary. There are millions of people travelling to these location every year and in EL Nido town it is really smelly. If you are staying at Lio beach, you will be all good. My kids and wife are sensitive to smells, they get nauseous from the mixed smells of El Nido town. Do not attempt to stay there if you are sensitive to smells.
At Lio beach they are trying to make this a good area for hiking. It is not mountainous but the beach is beautiful for this and they are working on some paths around the estate to ride bikes and go on short hikes. You will not find anything challenging here, but you can find some hidden gems.
My favourite hike at Lio beach was on the beach and around the beach area. Facing the beach head right and just keep walking. You will pass neat areas with small wooden bridges over streams that you can explore. When you keep walking you will pass another resort and then a fishing village. I was lucky enough to see a group of people net fishing and some kids hunting for crabs! It’s really neat to see people coming together to make their meal happen, it will remind you that you are not just at a beach paradise but also in a different world where things are done differently than many other places. It’s also neat to show kids.
Looking out at the beach to the left you will see a huge peer. Don’t try to hike past that area, that is an airport restricted zone and the security will most likely stop you.
14. Right beside the airport and a free shuttle to your hotel
The airport is located right beside the Lio property and when you get there you will most likely be flying with air Swift that is owned by the owners of the Lio property. It is so close that you will be at your hotel in 5 minutes when you get out of the airport. The bus that picks you up is bright orange and you will be sitting in open air in comfortable seats in the back. It is a lot of fun, and will give you the feeling that you are in fact in the Philippines.
15. They own air swift.
The Owners of Lio Own the popular air swift airline that flies direct into El Nido. They are well priced and good quality. We pre paid for our bags and they served us a meal because of this on a 1 hour flight!
16. No Drone Zone
With the airport being so close to the Lio Property, there are strict rules about flying drones on their beach. I was told by a security guard that you can fly them after the last plane has landed at around 5:30 pm. The problem with flying your drone in this area is that if you have done the updates for the Philippines, then your drone may know that this is a no fly zone. We have a dji mavic air and because this is a no fly zone, it automatically put my drone in ATTI mode, which gives limited controls. I was not comfortable flying here, as I have lost control when the drone has been in this mode in the past.
You can walk down the beach in the opposite direction of the airport, it is really naturally beautiful there and it is not considered Lio property at the end of the beach. You can take your drone there and it is out of the restricted zone.
17. A little more expensive than in town
Lio is around 15% more expensive for everything you want to do than in El Nido town, and for good reason. To get the level of cleanliness and service that they are providing it is worth the price difference. There are several hotels on the Lio property and they vary in price ranges, but there is no hostel. They are not after the backpacker crowd. In my opinion they want people with money and for the property to be an oasis rather than a party area.
The food, drink, massages, products in the stores, gym pass, rentals etc were all a little more pricey.
18. Beautiful sunset views
At the Lio beach you will find that there is nothing that will block your view of the ocean. It is stunning and the mountains in the background give the sunset and sunrise a dramatic effect. The water is clear and shining and reflects the sun perfectly.
You can get an even higher view if you sit at one of the rooftop restaurants. We sat at the burger bar and the view was unreal. You can also go down to the edge of the pier to take some really cool pics of the sunset at Lio Beach.
19. Rooftop restaurants
There are 3 Rooftop restaurants at Lio Beach, our favourite was the Pair A Dice Burger Shop owned by a former popular DJ from Taiwan. We had a really great bacon cheese burger here and our kids had chicken fingers and fries. The day we went here we really wanted western food and this place was awesome. After we ate we chilled out in the restaurant for a while because of the spectacular views and the chilling music they were playing inside. One thing that we found useful after putting back a few cervezas was that there is a toilet right in the restaurant, unlike most places here. And it was clean!
The next rooftop restaurant on the Lio property is Amore Pizza. This is located behind the burger bar and overlooks the giant T-P like structure they have built at the Lio Property. From the patio here you can see the ocean but the view is definitely better at the burger bar. In this restaurant they will cook your pizza in a wood burning pizza oven from scratch. We found that in the Philippines if it is not cooked this way the pizza can be sketchy.
Try the margarita pizza from this place or get the base pizza and add your toppings. The price range was great for a pizza and a family can easily share one. Our family of four shared a pepperoni pizza and it costed $400 pesos. So for around $8 USD you can easily feed a family of four. The pizza was so good we even ate the crust!
20. Swimming pools
There are 2 swimming pool on the Lio property, they are located in the Seda lio Resort and the Lio Villas. They are not very big and do not have the infiniti feature. But they are amazing to cool down in on a hot El Nido afternoon. If you are staying at any of the other hotels on the Lio property you will not have access to the pools, not even for a fee. This kind of sucked for us because we were staying at the hotel Covo, but the beach is what we came here for in the first place so that did the trick! The best pool of all is free and clean in the open ocean.
21. Kayak, SUP, and beach ball rentals
They do rent all of the above at the Lio property, there is a small tiki booth set up to the right of the beach in front of the burger restaurant and they have all of the rates clearly posted there. It is really cheap and they rent by the half hour or by the hour. They will bring the kayak out to sea for you and they will blow a whistle when it is time to come in. The excessive amounts of guards are there to protect the visitors and they will keep an eye on you while you are in the water.
22. Designated smoking areas
This was amazing, you will notice the you can smoke almost anywhere when you are in the Philippines. The designated areas that the government tries to put in place are not followed by the locals, so your kids will get a puff of smoke in their little faces every now and then. On the Lio property, they strictly enforce their smoking policies and the guards will tell you to move if you are in the wrong place. There are 4 main smoking areas located at each end of the beach and behind the hotels. It is a smoking pit and for your comfort they built benches and put it in sand.
I thought this was a great idea, as I hate sitting in a restaurant or chilling at the beach and inhaling smoke. The other sweet part about this is you will not find cigarette butts in the sand!Again another big win for Lio beach.
23. Highly trained staff
I watched 2 of their staff meetings, that happened often while I was there and they looked very thorough. They had security meeting where the guards were all lined up and given their instruction for the day as well as an in class meeting with the hotel staff. This is incredible for the Philippines and because of this, all of the employees seemed like they were on the same page, and were extra helpful having answers for almost everything we asked.
24. No beggars
The security on Lio beach does not allow beggars and random vendors on the property. If they are caught they are removed from the property promptly. This is good and bad in a way. If you really hate being bothered and offered, then you will love this. Pure peace, everywhere you go on the Lio Property.
I don’t really mind people offering me goods or services as it can be a good way to get a great deal if you negotiate with them.There is no negotiating at the Lio property, therefor no way to pick up a good deal on anything.
The other reason I don’t mind begging and salespeople is because it is a dose of reality for visitors. I don’t ever want to visit a country and be so closed minded to not pay attention to my surroundings, and the people there. Many people in El Nido live off of the tourism and many of them cannot find jobs. These are usually the one begging. Sometimes it will be kids, and some of them may genuinely be hungry. I usually adopt one of these kids while I am in an area for the time I am there and try to feed them or just buy their stock.
25. Very few stray animals
There were not as many stray animals on the Lio property as there is in town, and the best part about the ones that are there is that they are cleaner than the ones in town and very friendly. They will come to your table and try to get some food, but the wait staff will quickly chase them away. I learned their technique for chasing them away and my kids and we had fun with this.
We like to jog and hike every morning and during my most recent 2 month trip, I was chased a few times by guard dogs and stray dogs. I was almost attacked by monkeys in Langkawi! You will not get any of this when you are at the Lio property, the animals are controlled and they clean their poop.
26. Free breakfast
We had a free breakfast at hotel Covo every morning and it was fantastic. They had something for everyone and the breakfast was buffet style. Covo serves fresh fruit, coffee, tea, cereal, pancakes, toast and waffles every morning and they will make you an omelet any way you like from scratch. They also serve a new soup every day as well as 3 hot dishes that they change up daily.
Because they changed up the food every day we were able to sample a large array of Filipino foods in a short period of time without having to order an entire dish! For me this was the absolute best way to sample the local foods. Filipino food can be hit or miss to people that are not from the Philippines. There are some staple dishes that are always good like Pancit and then other dishes that you will not ever want to eat again like Balut.
They also have infused juices every morning. Some days it will be cucumber infused and other days lime. I filled up my water bottle every morning with this water.
As long as you are able to wake up between 6am and 10am, then you are in for a treat with the breakfast at Lio beach.
There is a book and game area set up at hotel Covo at Lio beach. We hung out there fo a while almost every night. They have bean bags on the floor for you to hang out on and tables to play the games. We took a few of the kids books back to the room and returned them when we left. This was awesome for kids, ours loved it. You will find that there is a lack of book stores in the Philippines, especially El Nido. The people here are woking hard to make a living and books are not a top priority. Having the book area was a great idea for the hotel guests.
28. A Designated ATM
El Nido is horrible for banking, There is only one place in the entire El Nido downtown to get money at. There are huge lineups here and they often run out of money. You might line up for 20 minutes only to have the machine say out of money. It litterally happens every day. Then they limit the amount of money you can take out to $10 000 pesos in town with a $250 pesos service fee.
At the Lio property there is a designated ATM and there is never a lineup. You are able to take out $20, 000 pesos at a time and the service charge is the same $250 pesos.
29. The best internet on El Nido
When you are in El Nido you will realize fast that the internet sucks. Even if you buy a SIM card you will have a hard time with the internet here. There is one tower at the top of a cliff that services the entire El Nido area.
At most hotels there is no fibre optic connection so their internet service is really poor. The Lio group has invested a lot in this and they absolutely have the best internet in El Nido. We were able to watch netflix in our room it was so good. Oh ya by the way, if you have a netflix account it will auto switch to the Philippines netflix and every disney movie is on there.
30. A tour office
The big thing to do in El Nido is the island tours. If you are staying at Lio beach you will find a dedicated tour office for the Lio guests. It is located on the second floor of the building with the pizza shop. I checked out their pricing and it was similar to the pricing in El Nido town. You can also book other things through them like scuba diving and flights.
This makes it really convenient for the tourists as many people don’t even want to leave the resort unless it is convenient.
31. Instagram heaven
Lio beach is an amazing place to get some great pictures. The grounds are well manicured and the beach is gorgeous. They have set up some really cool backdrops at Lio like a giant colourful Lio Beach sign, a tiki pagoda, swings at a restaurant, bean bags, and a well polished jeepney. Lio has the biggest dock in El Nido and it stretches deep into the ocean. you can get great pictures at the end of the dock with an ocean and mountain background or in the middle of the dock with a beach background. Some of the other cool pictures you can get on the Lio property are of the giant TP, or hiking the trails at Lio Beach.
Your Pictures will be amazing!