Monday, August 11, 2014

a day spent traveling to secret paradise resort

The first full day in the Philippines was spent traveling by tricycle, plane, bus, and bangka (outrigger canoe). In total it took 10 hours to reach our destination, Secret Paradise Resort on Palawan Island.

first glance of palawan - water bungalows!
Alanna and I wanted to live in style and stay at a water bungalow, those fancy places located right over the water. However upon further research we found that all these water bungalow places were not only expensive, which we expected, but they were all located on their own private islands which we had to pay for the transportation to get it. Also the timing of the boats to the island weren't ideal as we were left with half a day and just a night there with an early departure the next day. Most people stayed more than a night but we weren't so ballin' that we wanted to spend more than a night there, at $400+ a night! Since a water bungalow wasn't gonna work out we expanded our search to resorts, we still wanted a night living in luxury!

Alanna found Secret Paradise Resort which in addition to being a resort was also a turtle sanctuary, a huge reason we chose this place, that had bungalows right on their own private beaches. However to get to Port Barton, where we needed to catch a bangka to the resort, it was going to be a lonnnnnnng trek from Puerto Princesa, where the airport is located.

bus from puerto princesa to port barton
We were on this bus for four hours with no air con in super humid weather. However we managed to get a row of seats to ourselves. When I say row I really mean two cramped little seats that wouldn't fit two regular sized humans. The workers would sit on the roof because there inside and outside was crammed with passengers and supplies. Sometimes the bus would stop and people would just load their supplies and not get on the bus. Really cool how this bus acted as a delivery vehicle too, look at that trust! When we finally arrived in Port Barton we were covered head to toe in a dust, my hair was stiff with it!

port barton - bangkas ready for island tours

We caught a private bangka to reach Secret Paradise Resort. In the picture above, the cloud is sitting right over the private beach where our bungalows are located. Freaking loved how blue the water was!

our cute little bungalow
our posh ass room - alanna won rock, paper, scissors so she got the big bed
got to hold some recently saved baby turtles who are recovering before being released into the wild!
We went snorkeling to try to find some turtles only to find out after we were finished that the turtles are usually only in the area early in the morning to feed. Did see a lot of other fishes but the water was a little murky for clear pictures. After that we headed up to Turtle Bay View Point to see the sunset.

There was this really precarious perch made of hammered wood we could sit on to admire the view. What a cute place for lovers to sit! Don't know if they can both fit on this branch without falling. It looks like the ground is right below it but you were literally just hanging over treetops.

sunset at turtle bay view point
Climbing up to the point was pretty difficult due to the lack of a proper path, the crazy humidity, and the fact that I was wearing some cheap sandals. Going back down without light was harrowing. I kept sliding on all the wet leaves and pretty sure I fell down at one point! The view was breathtaking tho so all worth it!

special menu dinner - 650 php or ~14 USD; upper right hand corner: lunch
Dinner consisted of mushroom soup, vegetable spring rolls with garlic rice and graham balls for dessert. Since there are no stores on this island you had to buy all meals from the resort. Thankfully meals here were delicious and weren't super expensive. I enjoyed my time at the resort even though all the other guests were coupled off. You can tell resorts are meant for couples since all prices are quoted for two people. Good thing I had Alanna with me or it would have been super awkward...

The Details
San Isidro Express Bus from Puerto Princesa to Port Barton
leaves at 9am daily from San Jose Terminal - to get to the terminal from the airport take a tricycle for 15-20 php
cost: 250 php ~5.50 USD (they tried quoting a higher price point but when I said I saw it for cheaper they relented - always haggle first!)
travel time: 4 hours
Lakas ng Trip - great blog about the Philippines and alternative methods of reaching Port Barton

Secret Paradise Resort - the costs below are what we paid for our stay
Orchid Cottage for 2 people - 4950 php
Round trip boat ride from Port Barton to the resort for 2 people - 3240 php (trip takes over an hour)
Prices fluctuate depending on the season and I always see them have sales!
Food here cost between 180-400 php & alcohol cost between 60-100 php

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