My family and I always make it a point that we get to travel at the least once in a year. I’ve been dreaming to visit Palawan since forever, but my family was never a fan of beaches. So I thought I would have to wait until I’m old and capable enough of travelling alone. But then one day far more ordinary than the others, they suddenly expressed how they would all appreciate a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. So we waited for cheap flights and packed our bags to some tropical paradise.
How to get there.
Dos Palmas Island Resort and Spa is an exclusive island in Honda Bay, northeast of Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan in the Philippines. From Manila, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia are usually the airlines that offer flights at discounted price. The resort offers a van transfer from the Puerto Princesa International Airport to the Sta. Lourdes Wharf on a scheduled basis. At the wharf, you will be meeting up with courteous crew from Dos Palmas Resort who would safely bring you to the private island. The ferry is only exclusive for guests going to the private island. You will be offered life vests upon boarding, which you are all required to wear throughout the entire trip for safety purposes.
The boat crew were all so friendly that they will be the ones to initiate to take photos of you during the 1-hour boat ride from the Sta. Lourdes Wharf to the private island of Dos Palmas.
Upon arrival at the private island, you will be welcomed by a native band playing live folk songs, a refreshing gulaman drink and handmade necklaces. It was a such great experience to kickstart our vacation.
The resort offers a choice between two types of accommodation — the Bay Cottages situated in the shallow waters of the island (the ones that would give you that feel-good Maldives experience), and the Beach Villas situated beachfront of the island.
The Bay Cottages were unfortunately under renovation when we visited, so we were left with the only option that is to stay in a Beach Villa. Though it was a beachfront villa, it was mangroves that were all over the waters so it is not really inviting to take a dip. The room comes in with a television and an air-conditioning unit, and Gumamela flowers were also all over the place — over the sheets, on the couch, and in the bathroom. I love how the island values aesthetics so much. But you also have to note that though there is a television set available in the room, there is no cable television and access to the Internet inside the rooms.
Inclusive of the rate of your accommodation is a full-board breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner meals. When the weather permits, they set up the buffet tables in this spacious garden beside the pool area to give you that close encounter with nature while enjoying the sumptuous meal.
During dinner, there was also a small performance brought by some staff in the island — waiters, bellboys, housekeepers, etc. — who are said to be rehearsing during their idle time.
If you are thrilled for some adventure, there are a lot of activities available at the island. The next morning, we opted to go for a dive, and the first step was to practice breathing underwater in the pool. Please note that only ages 11 onwards are allowed.
After the training, we were set out to the seas where we finally got to meet Nemo in person. An exclusive speed boat is available to bring guests to the diving area, free of charge. And since my brothers were still not allowed to go diving, all they did was to accompany the friendly boat crew back-and-forth to bring guests to the site and back to the island.
Kuya Albert offered to bring the camera the whole time we were under water. It was so generous of him that he took enough photos of us that would allow us to relive that wonderful experience.
Go island hopping.
We got back to the island just in time for the lunch buffet scheduled on a neighbouring island. About 10 to 15-minute boat ride from the private island of Dos Palmas is the Isla Putingbuhangin, an island that disappears during high tide. It is similar to that of Singapore’s Pulau Hantu Island.
Isla Putingbuhangin’s fine white sand and clear waters were very inviting to take a dip, but you should also watch out for sea urchins. During the time we visited, a sandbar is also visible on the island which only happens not quite a lot.
When we got back to the private island of Dos Palmas Resort, we came across with a friendly supervisor of the island. The small talks we had led him to introduce Pikoy to us, and he also told us stories about birds and reptiles.
Bikes are available for you to use, free of charge. This is probably what my brothers enjoyed the most as they were able to tour the private island not by foot. You can bike your way to the villa if you know how to, and no worries if you don’t, you can also hitchhike a service golf cart also free of charge.
On the last night of our vacation, live acoustic is performed at dinner so my mom requested the song “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton because we really, really did feel wonderful that night. We capped the night off with a sumptuous meal and a lot of funny stories.
If you are up for a worthwhile experience, Dos Palmas Island Resort and Spa offers a variety of activities to do and also even when you would just prefer to comfortably lie by the beach and have an effortlessly chill vacation.
Back in 2001, a number of guests were kidnapped by the Abu Sayaff and were brought to their base in Sulu and held captive for about a year long. Since then, numerous nipa huts were built around the island, serving as homes for the soldiers who look after possible security threats, constantly making an effort to give the guests the security and peace of mind that they deserve.