Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort: Escapist Sanctuary in Culion | Palawan


A few days after typhoon Odette got us holed up in our hotel in Coron, we finally saw blue skies and the green light from the Philippine Coast Guard to set out on a sea voyage to Culion Island. Returning to the island formerly known as the “Leper Colony”, had me revisiting memories of dread when I first found out about its history from a prior visit almost a decade ago.

Mikaela Ayeera Kisido
Photo credit: Out of Town Blog

Despite its harrowing past, my second visit to Culion gave me another chance at exploring its other side where a storied heritage remains, and bounteous beautiful nature exists. One such place that spreads slightly off-the-beaten path is a luxury getaway called Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort — situated on an 18-hectare Naglayan Island which is a half an hour away by boat from Culion town.

Mishi Magno

SETIR for short

Abbreviated as “SETIR”, Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort covers the tadpole-shaped island with dotted villas stretching out to the azure-colored waters of Busuanga Bay edged by powdery white sands, under a camouflage of its verdant foliage.

Mikaela Ayeera Kisido

SETIR is made up of 99 overwater villas and 9 Sikaran villas (or otherwise known as the "honeymoon villas") and a sundry set of amenities highlighted by three beaches and a private port. 

Jomie Naynes

Other amenities include a fitness gym facing a wonderful view of the ocean, a wellness space The Sanctuary Spa, Luna Bar, a dive shop, a couple of cafes; Adlaw and the Sun, outdoor themed gardens, a KTV bar and a few on-island restaurants such as the Mangrove Grill & Bar.

Marky Ramone Go

Supernova Villas

I stayed in one of the overwater villas — the duplex type that connects to another villa — which just like the rest, comes with a spacious veranda that opens to a spectacular scenery of the sea. Furnished with a wooden theme, and a high ceiling, the villa blends ideally just the same as any elevated beach hut would to any random island in the Philippines.

Muffet sta maria

As superb as the overwater villa’s interior, I might say my favorite spot was sitting on a chair on the balcony especially during sunrise when the sun rises slightly slant across my line of sight. Fellow travel writer Ferdz Decena who is an avid bird watcher even saw a Common Green Shank near his villa.

Marky Ramone Go

Bike and Swim

We were supposed to stay at SETIR for a couple of nights. However, since we have to ride out typhoon Odette for a couple of days, our trip to Culion was slashed to a single night, thereby giving us only a full day to explore and enjoy the amenities of Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort.

Marky Ramone Go

I wasted no time — after a power nap — and immediately rented a Japanese bike at the resort’s Dive Shop to explore the other hidden crooks and crannies of the island. Based on my Strava app, circling the whole of Naglayan Island is only a hairline less of 5 kilometers, perfect for a chill and stop-to-marvel-at-the-scenery kind of ride. 

Charisse Vilchez

After my brief bike exploration, I hurriedly took a dip into the waters of the main beach and afterward, went to the infinite pool as I waited for sunset.

Celine Arenillo

In between my biking and swimming activities, I also enjoyed a freshly brewed coffee and tiramisu at Adlaw Café.

Beachfront Dinner

Another great thing about SETIR is they are willing to cater to a guest’s mood or preference of banqueting. One can opt to have their dinner at one of the restaurants or have a group beachfront dinner set-up over the fine white sands of the island.

Alyanna Bromero

A four-course meal to remember filled me up satisfyingly until I retired for the night and waking up to another splendid morning on the island — which unfortunately, was the last for our Coron trip.

Sandra Santiago

Who knows, I might get another chance of coming back to SETIR with a really good reason to stay at one of the resort’s honeymoon (Sikaran) villas.

Jessica Cuenca and Audrey Trinidad

Travel tip: You can double book your stay at Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resorts with a chartered flight from their subsidiary Sunlight Air for a compete luxury getaway feels.