MY BORACAY TIMELINE BEGINS. WHY NOT?

And so in an hour this 2Go ship will arrive in Caticlan Port. In about an hour, I will finally get to anchor myself yet again to a new place. Well… not really a new place that I am not familiar with rather a place I have fallen in love with the first time I saw it years ago. Boracay.

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Way back, mid 2000s, I saved enough money and got the opportunity to visit Boracay and see what was all the rave about. I told myself then that I will one day stay there, work and live the rest of my life as an islander.

Years passed, I have become so busy to even remember and that Boracay dream remained to be just a dream… a seemingly distant reality. The regular news about its degradation and alarming pollution made it less attractive for me to even reconsider reliving the dream. Its closure on April 26, 2018 was the ultimate sign for me to kill the dream.

Then came October 2018. While backpacking in Southern Leyte, my long time friend of 10 years, Jen, asked me to join her in Boracay on October 26, 2018, exactly 6 months after its closure for rehabilitation. She said that it would be a great subject for my vlog. I could not agree more. Featuring Boracay on my blog and vlog after six months of closure would certainly be a hit. I said I needed to be there. Jen told me that I just needed to pay for my airline tickets and she will shoulder the accommodations. How could I say no to that? Who would? So, without batting an eyelash and without checking my cash flow, I booked the cheapest flight to Caticlan. You see, keeping track of my expenses became vital since I left the corporate world in 2016 when I got a redundancy package. Working as a freelance digital nomad now requires a higher level of financial acumen and emotional quotient so to speak.

After seven years, alas, I was back on the island. Boracay is back… back to how it was… back to how it should be. I fell in love again and that dream of living on the island got resuscitated. But the odds were against me and chances were slim. How can I even do it when I have financial responsibilities in the city? There were a lot of questions that needed to be answered before I could even begin to entertain the idea of Boracay.

But as they say, be careful what you wish for because you might just get it… sooner than later.

After my 12-day stay on the island, I was back in Metro Manila in November to do my usual grind. Before leaving the island, Jen and I agreed to be back in February 2019 with meaner beach bodies. Funny. So I booked the cheapest ticket I could find and remained religious to my intermittent fasting cycle.

On February 21, 2019, with meaner bodies, Jen and I met at the Clark International Airport to board a flight to Caticlan. We were supposed to meet at Trinoma to catch the P2P bus to Clark together at 5 AM. But as expected, Jen did not make it on time.

I stayed on the island for 11 days. My stay surprisingly did not push through as planned. You see, I intended to stay on the beach more often which did not happen. I think I only got to swim twice. I planned to stay up late bar hopping which did not happen. I was mostly in the hotel room either doing a teleconference or editing videos. I planned to spend more alone time but instead I was busy arranging island activities for a group of 126. I planned to visit my friends on Carabao Island but I was busy meeting new friends on the island instead. And that was when things started to happen.

To be continued…

MY TRAVEL TO LEYTE TO EXPLORE CUATRO ISLAS, KALANGGAMAN ISLAND, SAN JUANICO BRIDGE & TACLOBAN

 

Five years after the devastating super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda hit the Philippines, I finally got to visit Leyte where it made landfall. I went to Leyte on October 19 to 23, 2018 with fellow backpackers. And I must tell you that Leyte is a beautiful province with so much to offer.

Everyone I spoke to had a story to tell about his or her personal experience with Yoianda not too long ago. Despite that, people were always smiling and accommodating during my visit.

The places of interest that I got to visit and are featured in this vlog include:

  • San Juanico Bridge
  • Cuatro Islas (Himolikan Island, Mahaba Island, Apid Island & Digyo Island),Inopacan
  • Kalanggaman Island, Palompon
  • Sto. Nino Church, Tacloban
  • Leyte Provincial Capitol, Tacloban
  • Balyu-an Ampitheater, Tacloban
  • Maria Kanon Madonna of Peace Shrine, Tacloban
  • Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum, Tacloban
  • Tacloban City Convention Center, Tacloban
  • Yoland Memorial Monument, Tacloban
  • Anibong Shipwreck, Tacloban
  • Tacloban City Hall, Tacloban
  • MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, Palo

Five days was not enough to explore the whole province of Leyte. I hope to be back soon!

Featured and sponsored song is entitled “No Man Is An Island” by Jeck Pilpil and Peacepipe. Mabuhay ang Original Pilipino Music!

If you like this video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more travel vlogs.

You may follow me on the following social media channel, too to stay updated. Let’s connect:

  • https://www.facebook.com/joeljawsandrada
  • https://www.facebook.com/andrada.joel
  • https://www.instagram.com/joeljawsandrada

I will be updating this blog with photos and information about how to get there soon so stay tuned! Signing out for now. Peace!

BORACAY CELEBRATES THE ATI-ATIHAN FESTIVAL & HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT

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Boracay, the country’s number one island destination during the reopening on October 26, 2018 after six months of rehabilitation. Watch vlog here.

One of the best times to visit Boracay, the country’s number one island destination, is during the Ati-Atihan Festival when the weather is warm and the atmosphere is festive. Get a piece of paradise while witnessing the Aklanons celebrate this annual religious and cultural event in honor of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus) this coming January 11 to 13, 2019. Click here for the updated list of accredited hotels by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force.

Here is what to expect from Mr. Gian Kyle Talapian, Administrative Assistant and Youth Committee Chairman of the Malay-Aklan Local Government Unit – Boracay:

  • January 11, 2019, Friday
    • 6:30 PM- Barangay and Parishioner’s Night at the Balabag Plaza

 

  • January 12, 2019, Saturday
    • 11:00 AM- Hornada at the Holy Rosary Parish Church
    • 6:00 PM- Kabataan’s Night at the Balabag Plaza

 

  • January 14, 2019, Sunday
    • 4:00 AM- Motorcade and Fluvial Parade from Cagban Port to Boracay’s Rock
    • 6:30 AM-  First Morning Regular Mass at the Holy Rosary Parish Church
    • 7:30 AM- High Mass at the Balabag Plaza
    • 8:30 AM- Boracay Santo Niño Ati-Atihan “Sadsad” from Balabag Plaza to the beach area near Willy’s Beach Hotel then to the Tourist Center and back passing by the “Vegetation Area”
    • 4:00 PM- First Afternoon Regular  Mass at the Holy Rosary Parish Church
    • 5:30 PM- Procession of the Santo Niño Image from the Holy Rosary Parish Church to the beach area near Willy’s Beach Hotel all the way to Astoria Hotel and back via the main road
    • 5:30 PM- Second Afternoon Regular Mass at the Holy Rosary Parish Church
    • 6:30 PM- Group Showdown and Binayle at the Balabag Plaza

Boracay Ati-Atihan 2019 Schedule of Activities 1Boracay Ati-Atihan 2019 Schedule of Activities 2

Expect a number of participants to showcase their costumes in the following categories:

Boracay Ati-Atihan 2019 balik ati category

  • Balik-Ati Category- where costumes are made from indigenous materials, no paints allowed on the body and face and must only be covered with the traditional “uling” / “buling” (charcoal)

Boracay Ati-Atihan 2019 Tribal Category

  • Tribal Category- where costumes are made of recyclable materials or indigenous materials or a combination of both.

Boracay Ati-Atihan 2019 Commercial Category

  • Commercial Category- where participants may wear any commercial printed shirt or advocacy shirt and “buling” or body paints are allowed.

The procession of the Santo Niño image will start from the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church at the Balabag Plaza Station 1 and will proceed to the beach area near Willy’s Beach Hotel. The procession will head back to the church through the beach access road near the Astoria Hotel and the main road.

Boracay Ati-Atihan 2019 Procession of the Santo Nino

On the other hand, the Street Dance will begin at the Balabag Plaza and will then proceed to the beach area near Willy’s Beach Hotel to go all the way down to the Tourist Center and then back to the Balabag Plaza.

Boracay Ati-Atihan 2019 Street Dance Sadsad

Below are the Do’s and Dont’s:

  • Bring own garbage bags for proper waste disposal
  • Only personal water containers are allowed.
  • Observe cleanliness at all times
  • Ensure crowd control
  • No bottles are allowd
  • No smoking
  • No pets allowed
  • No littering
  • No unnecessary and indecent costumes.

Boracay Ati-Atihan 2019 Do's and Dont'sBoracay Ati-Atihan 2019 Allowed Container Samples

Watch the coverage of the Boracay Ati-Atihan in 2017 courtesy of Paradise Cable Television Network, Inc.

Watch my vlog during my visit to Boracay when it reopened on October 26, 2018 after six months of rehabilitation. Click here for the do’s and dont’s when visiting Boracay.

For better definition, watch this vlog on my Youtube channel.

Special thanks to Mr. Gian Kyle Talapian, Administrative Assistant and Youth Committee Chairman of the Malay-Aklan Local Government Unit- Boracay.

I will be missing this event but will be visiting Boracay in February 2019. Let me know if you want to meet up. I can’t wait to be back!

UPDATED LIST OF ACCREDITED HOTELS IN BORACAY AS OF DECEMBER 2018

Are you planning to go to Boracay?

For better definition, watch the full vlog on my youtbe channel:

Here is the updated list of accredited hotels by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force as of 14 December 2018. Only these hotels are allowed to accept bookings and reservations:

boracay accredited hotels dec 2018 compiled by joelandrada

To know the do’s and dont’s in Boracay and to read more about my trip during its reopening after six months of rehabilitation, click here.

I am by the way going to Boracay in February 2019. Let me know if you want to meet up. Signing out for now. Peace!

MY FAVORITE BED AND BREAKFAST IN BATANES

Batanes is an island group province located at the northernmost tip of the Philippines. Undeniably, Batanes is one of the most sought after places to visit in the Philippines because of its mystifying beauty. In fact, Batanes is the only province in the country that is protected in its entirety, both landscapes and seascapes and was listed in the Tentative List of the Philippines for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

Batanes is the country’s smallest province in terms of population and land area and is composed of only ten islands. The three largest of which are the only ones inhabited. These are Batan, Itbayat and Sabtang. I was able to visit two, Batan and Sabtang.

What made my stay in Batanes memorable, more than the picturesque sights, was really the warm welcome that I got from the Ivatans or locals whom I met. Not unknown to many of my friends and followers, I lost my drone on day one to the mighty winds of Batanes during the first and the last time I visited. Because I lost my main video equipment, I was not able to produce a travel video which was the primary reason of my trip. Watch the vlog here.

The entry point of Batanes by air is Basco, the capital of Batanes. Basco is located in the island of Batan.

Basco, Batanes Welcome Arch
Me at the Basco, Batanes Welcome Arch

Upon arrival, I met Tita Elda, her son Mitchel Lechuga and family of Safetravel Philippines at the airport and brought me to a quaint bed and breakfast inn in Basco, the Katuvang B&B.

Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B is a quaint bed and breakfast inn in Basco, Batanes.

Owned and managed by couple Mike and Edna Acebes, Katuvang B&B offers exquisite accommodation with casual elegance. The couple are pretty much hands on in making sure everything is in place and each guest is taken good care of.

Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes is family-owned. It used to be the ancestral home of Ms. Edna Acebes family.

I woke up in the morning of my first night with Tito Mike tending the front yard and Tita Edna asking me if she should prepare my breakfast already.

Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B owners are hands-on in making sure that every guest is taken good care of.

Katuvang B&B is also located near the town center or Basco’s Historic Plaza. On my first morning in Batanes, I went jogging. It felt as if I was in a small town abroad where the only and most convenient means of getting from point A to point B was by walking.

View this post on Instagram

Jogging muna (naks)

A post shared by Joel Jaws Andrada (@jawsandrada) on

Below are Katuvang B&B’s room rates:

  • Room with breakfast for 2 persons- Php 2,500 per night
  • Room with breakfast for 3 persons- Php 3,250 per night

Katuvang B&B rooms are comfortably spacious and properly air-conditioned with the option to use the ceiling fan. I loved their linens. The bed also felt luxurious. The room came with complimentary toiletries, extra beddings and breakfast for two. They have rooms ideal for friends and families.

Katuvang B&B Gate
Katuvang B&B Gate
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B foyer
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B Dining Hall
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
I enjoyed my stay in Katuvang B&B. I felt a warm welcome comparable to family. Thanks to Tito Mike and Tita Edna Acebes
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katubang B&B. My room during my stay in Basco , Batanes.
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B offers luxurious accommodation comparable to that of a five star hotel in the city, I must say.
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
I especially loved the bed. It felt luxuriously comfortable. I cannot wait to be back!
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B Toilet is so clean and well-kept. They also use top of the line toiletries.
Katuvang B&B in Basco, Batanes
Katuvang B&B owners maintained the Ivatan heritage in the feel and look of the inn.

I enjoyed my stay overall in Batanes. Batanes will always occupy a special place in my heart. To all my friends in Batanes who treated me like family… Dios Mamajes and see you again very soon.

For bookings and inquiries, visit Katuvang B&B’s Facebook Page here or contact Safetravel Philippines here.

SELAH GARDEN HOTEL | ONE OF MY BEST CHOICES FOR STAYCATION IN METRO MANILA

If you just can’t wait to have that elusive vacation but do not have the time and budget to go out of town whether alone or with family and friends, then the Selah Garden Hotel in Pasay City could be your best option.

The Selah Garden Hotel, Pasay City
The Selah Garden Hotel, Pasay City

My brother was here two weeks ago on a short nine-day vacation. He is a flight attendant based in the United Arab Emirates. We wanted to maximize his short stay with fun and excitement without having to leave Metro Manila. So the day he arrived, I packed my bags of clothes and shooting equipment and we booked a Grab Car and headed to the Selah Garden Hotel.

I love the Selah Garden Hotel
The Selah Garden Hotel in Pasay City, Metro Manila.

The Selah Garden Hotel is a boutique hotel near the Makati Business District and various historical landmarks such as Intramuros and Luneta Park. Likewise, the Selah Garden Hotel is accessible to the airport and the Mall of Asia (one of the biggest shopping malls in Asia).

The Selah Garden Hotel
The Selah Garden Hotel is an 83-room boutique hotel located near the Makati Central Business District and historical landmarks such as Intramuros and Luneta in Manila.

Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed at the lobby by the receptionists with refreshing welcome drinks. Check in time is 2 PM and check out is 12 noon. We stayed in a Flagship Double Room.

The Selah Garden Hotel Infinity Pool
The Selah Garden Hotel Infinity Pool

The Selah Garden Hotel has 83 rooms of varying types that can fit different guest preferences. Below are Selah Garden Hotel’s type of accommodations and corresponding published rates:

  • Flagship Room at Php 3,200 per night for two with breakfast and Php 3,800 per night for three with breakfast
  • Cozy Room at Php 3,800 per night for two with breakfast
  • Fantastic Loft at Php 5,100 per night for four to five occupants with breakfast
  • Fantabulous Loft at Php 6,700 per night for seven occupants with breakfast
  • Fabulous Suite at Php 5,900 per night for five to six occupants
  • Stellar Suite at Php 13,000 per night for ten occupants
  • Bunk Room at Php 800 per occupant per night, good for four, six or eight occupants
  • Clique Room at Php 800 per occupant per night, good for ten occupants
The Selah Garden Hotel Room
The Selah Garden Hotel has 83 rooms of varying types that can fit different guest preferences

Amenities include:

  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Complimentary wi-fi access
  • Welcome drinks
  • Safety deposit box
  • 24-hour room service
  • TV with cable channels
  • Daily complimentary bottled water per person
  • Hot and cold shower with toiletries set
  • 24-hour elevator service
  • Refrigerator
  • Laundry service upon request

Hotel features include:

  • Function rooms
  • Table Restaurant
  • Spa by Selah
  • Infinity pool
  • Scuba diving course
  • Team-building facilities with high rope activities

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It was a tiring but fruitful day one at the Selah Garden Hotel. My brother and I tried out Selah Garden Hotel’s high-rope activities such as wall climbing, zip line, control descent, Burma Bridge, multivines, Jacob’s Ladder and broken bridge with the other bloggers. We also joined the team building activity arranged by the hotel staff.

The Selah Garden Hotel Zipline
The Selah Garden Hotel offers extreme activities to spice up one’s stay in the urban oasis.

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It was a hot and humid day and the infinity pool was just too tempting. I, however, conserved all the energy I had left and postponed swimming the next day. It was, anyway, going to be a long and fun Karaoke night with the gang as we celebrated our fellow blogger and friend’s birthday at the TLC Room of the Selah Garden Hotel.

The Selah Garden Hotel TLC Function Room
The gang at the spacious and super comfy TLC Function Room of the Selah Garden Hotel to celebrate Lee’s birthday.

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After eating a sumptuous dinner, chugging on some drinks, singing our hearts out and basically had one of the most fun get-together’s we have ever had, we called it a night.

The next day, my brother woke up early and decided to have an early swim. I, on the other hand, slept in and woke up much later.

I had breakfast with some of the not so early birds. After breakfast, I went for a quick swim and met new friends. I also took some aerial shots. I did not fly my drone too high because I am not so at ease flying my drone in the city.

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Overall, my brother and I had a grand time in The Selah Garden Hotel, a quick getaway found right smack in the middle of the city.

For more information, visit The Selah Garden Hotel’s website here.

For booking and inquiries, please contact:

  • Mobile: +63917-9582760, +63925-5111131, +63998-8810864
  • Landline: +632-5111331 or +632-8997080

You may also book via their Facebook Page here.

Signing out for now. Remember to never stop exploring the world one story at a time. Peace!

On the way to Masasa Beach, Tingloy  Batangas.
On the way to Masasa Beach, Tingloy Batangas.

AIR ASIA LAUNCHES RELIEF FUND FOR INDONESIA #ToIDwithLove

Last September 28, 2018, Palu, Indonesia was struck by a disastrous earthquake and tsunami.

To support the victims of the said tragedy, AirAsia, the world’s best low cost carrier, launched the #ToIDwithLove Relief Fund on October 12, 2018.

To Indonesia With Love.jpg

Donations may be done online via the AirAsia Foundation, the airline’s philanthropic arm. Click here to donate. The #ToIDwithLove fund will be collecting donations until October 31, 2018 channeled to Yayasan Arkom Indonesia to help rebuild homes and improve disaster resilience in affected areas.

Further, AirAsia will also carry out phased onboard cash collections, beginning with AirAsia Malaysia (carried code AK), AirAsia Thailand (FD), AirAsia Indonesia (QZ), AirAsia X Malaysia (D7), AirAsia X Thailand (XJ) and AirAsia X Indonesia (XT) flights until the end of October 2018, with more airlines in AirAsia Group to follow.

AirAsia will match the total public collection, which will be announced in January 2019.

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said, “It’s been an incredibly tough year for Indonesia, which has been beset by one deadly disaster after another. Our hearts go out to all those who have suffered unimaginable losses as a result.”

“As an ASEAN airline, we share a close bond with the communities we serve, and we want to do our part to help those in need. Through this donation drive, we hope to raise enough money to make a positive contribution to rebuilding efforts, so please give freely. Every dollar counts”, Fernandes added.

For more information about the #ToIDwithLove campaign, visit AirAsia’s Facebook Page and Twitter.

HERE’S WHY YOU HAVE TO VISIT SOUTH CEBU

Watch my solo do-it-yourself travel to South Cebu featuring Oslob including Sumilon Island, Allegria and Moalboal. Watch as I swim with the whalesharks in Oslob, cliffjump in Allegria, swim with sea turtles and sardines in Moalboal and so much more.
Full article and backstory to be published soon.

ESCAPE TO THE BEST RESORT IN GUIMARAS | NATURE’S EYE BEACH RESORT

Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras

The first thing that comes to mind whenever I hear the word “Guimaras” is mangoes. Guimaras Mangoes are dubbed as the world’s sweetest fruit. I have not really tasted Guimaras Mangoes until I have set foot on the island and stayed in Nature’s Eye Beach Resort last month. And I must tell you that Guimaras Mangoes are the best mangoes I have ever tasted… taste bud delight, if I may add. You see, I am from Pangasinan and we have mango trees in our yard. Hence, mangoes, when in season, are a mainstay around the family table. Suffice to say that I know my mangoes. LOL.

Other than knowing about Guimaras as the Mango Capital of the Philippines, I have always been curious about this island down south especially after news broke out on August 11, 2006 about an oil tanker that sank off the coast of  Guimaras causing what is considered today as the worst oil spill the country has ever had.

Oil Spill 2 (Nueva Valencia, Guimaras).jpg
The Taklong Island National Marine Reserve was severely damaged after the the M/T Solar oil tanker sank off the Guimaras Strait, Philippines, on 11 August 2006. Photo By Shubert CienciaFlickr: Oil Spill (Nueva Valencia, Guimaras), CC BY 2.0, Link

Twelve years later, who would have thought that I would have the privilege of exploring Guimaras? On August 12, 2018, I took the first boat trip out of Carabao Island to Caticlan to board a Ceres Bus to Iloilo.

Ceres Bus Terminal near Caticlan Jetty Port in Aklan
Ceres Bus Terminal near Caticlan Jetty Port in Aklan

Click here to read about my visit to Carabao Island, Romblon.

On board a Ceres Bus from Caticlan, Aklan to Iloilo City
On board a Ceres Bus from Caticlan, Aklan to Iloilo City, Iloilo

The bus ride from Caticlan to Iloilo took about 6 hours because of slow traffic. I did not really mind the long ride because it was such a scenic route. Also, I needed to catch a few winks to regenerate for Guimaras. Hence, I slept most of the time throughout the trip and woke up only at bus stops- Kalibo and Passi.

Ceres Bus Terminal in Kalibo, Aklan
Ceres Bus Terminal in Kalibo, Aklan

I traveled with fellow travel blogger Cai Dominguez of Travelosyo who is also the Resort Manager of Nature’s Eye Beach Resort in Guimaras. He quit his corporate job in the bustling Metropolitan Manila to live a more meaningful life on the island.

Upon arrival at the Ceres Bus Terminal in Iloilo City, we took a couple of rides more, a jeepney and a tricycle, to get to the Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal.

How To Get To Guimaras Island

Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal
Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal

The Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal is the gateway to Guimaras Island. So if you are coming from Metro Manila, you need to book a flight to Iloilo. In our case, we traveled by land from Caticlan to Iloilo. Other do-it-yourself travelers whom I met in Guimaras traveled by sea to Iloilo from Bacolod for 2 hours. A boat trip from Cebu takes about 14 hours and a boat trip from Manila takes about 27 hours.

The Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal is near the newly opened CityMall Parola where we got some snacks to go before boarding the boat. Boat fares are as follows:

  • Day Time (6 AM to 5:57 PM), 43 passengers per trip: Php 15 per passenger
  • Night Time (6 PM onwards), 31 passengers per trip: Php 22 per passenger

Senior Citizens and Persons With Disabilities may avail of discounted rates upon presentation of proper identification.

Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal
Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal

I must say that I was quite impressed with the Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal. It was spacious and orderly. It had good air-conditioning and efficient lighting. Boat trips to and fro Guimaras are frequent. Usually, a boat leaves every 15 minutes. The last trip to Guimaras is at 8 PM while the last boat leaves Guimaras at 7 PM.

Boat docked at the Jordan Guimaras Jetty Port
Boat docked at the Jordan Guimaras Jetty Port

Our boat trip from Iloilo to Guimaras was on schedule and took only 20 minutes. The boat docked at the Jordan Guimaras Jetty Port upon arrival in Guimaras.

 

We have been traveling close to 8 hours in total since we left Carabao Island. I was close to exhaustion (yeah, coming from someone who slept throughout the whole trip). I tried convincing myself that this long trip had better be worth it. I mean… a destination this hard to get to must really be awesome, don’t you think?

We rented a tricycle for Php 500 to take us to Nature’s Eye Beach Resort instead of riding a regular public utility jeepney. I had too many pieces of luggage with me anyway and told Cai that I did not want to inconvenience the other passengers (or me, LOL).

How To Get To Nature’s Eye Beach Resort

Below are the number of ways you can get to the number one beach resort on Guimaras Island from the Jordan Guimaras Jetty Port:

  • Take a public utility jeepney from Jordan Guimaras Jetty Port to Dolores Crossing for Php 38 per person. Then, hire a motorcycle from Dolores Crossing to Tando. Fare is Php 50 per head
  • Hire a multicab from Jordan Guimaras Jetty Port to Nature’s Eye Resort. Fare is Php 500 per way
  • Hire a multicab from Jordan Guimaras Jetty Port to Guisi. Then, hire a private boat from Guisi Beach to Nature’s Eye Beach Resort Beach Front. Fare is  Php 300 for 2 persons (additional Php 100 per person)

On the way, we passed by The Pitstop Restaurant to get the famous Mango Pizza. The 9-inch Mango Pizza cost P240.

I rode at the back of the tricycle with my drone and luggage. Guimaras has paved highways and not too many people by the roadside. Not too many vehicles plying the road either. I guess most of them were already in their houses as it was already beginning to get dark.

Twenty minutes before reaching Tando, it was already pitch dark and all I could hear was the revving of the tricycle. I could also already smell the beach. When we reached Tando, a Nature’s Eye Beach Resort staff was waiting for us and helped me with my luggage. With our cellphones serving as flashlights, we hiked for a good ten minutes to reach the gates of Nature’s Eye Beach Resort traversing what seemed to be a forest.

Path to Nature's Eye Resort
The path to Nature’s Eye Beach Resort.

We trekked through mud. I could feel the undergrowth brushing against my ankles, too. I could hear crickets and the ebb and flow of the waves of a nearby beach.  I willed my eyes to adjust to the dark surroundings so I could see what I was hearing but to no avail. I just let my vivid imagination to take over.

Ficus Tree in Nature'se Eye Beach Resort
One of the Ficus Trees that abound in Nature’s Eye Beach Resort.

We went straight to the main reception and dining cottage where the owner, Ms. Rowena Amancio, was waiting. She warmly welcomed me to her resort. Over dinner, she shared to me how she started the resort. I learned that she used to live and work in Switzerland for the longest time. During one of her vacations in the Philippines some years ago, she came to visit Guimaras and went island hopping. That was when she discovered this serene area by the cliffs overlooking the sea. In 2014, she decided to build her retirement nest and later on with only two cottages she opened the resort to the public.

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Fast forward to 2018, Nature’s Eye Beach Resort already has five cottages and is the number 1 resort on Guimaras Island per Tripadvisor. It is the perfect place for that once in a while getaway with your significant other. Privacy is high. Hospitality is warm. Service is customized.

Rainy Season Sale

Nature’s Eye Beach Resort has an ongoing Rainy Season Sale from July 1 to September 30, 2018:

  • Sunset Cottage for two, 3 days and 2 nights, Php 3980 per head, rate includes:
    • 1 Queen Size Bed
    • Fan
    • Native bathroom with sunset and ocean view
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch
    • Dinner
    • 3 hours of island adventure
  • Sunset Cottage for two, 2 days and 1 night, Php 2115 per head, rate includes:
    • Queen size bed
    • Fan
    • Native bathroom with sunset and ocean view
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch
    • Dinner
    • 3 hours of island adventure
  • Ocean View Lower Deck for two, 3 days and 2 nights, Php 4700 per head, rate includes:
    • King Size Bed
    • Fan
    • Private bathroom
    • Balcony with sunset and ocean view
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch
    • Dinner
    • 3 hours of island adventure
  • Ocean View Lower Deck for two, 2 days and 1 night, Php 2475 per head, rate includes:
    • King Size Bed
    • Fan
    • Private Bathroom
    • Balcony with sunset and ocean view
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch
    • Dinner
    • 3 hours of island adventure

House Rules

  • Please keep noise to a minimum.
  • Avoid staining our bed sheets and towels.
  • Take good care of our home and things.
  • We do not have wi-fi, talk to each other pretend it is 1995.
  • No smoking, eating and drinking inside the room.
  • Check-out time is 12 noon.
Nature's Eye Beach Resort House Rules
Nature’s Eye Beach Resort House Rules

How To Book

For bookings, visit Nature’s Eye Beach Resort’s Facebook Page here or call +63-907-7579055.

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Cliff Top Cottage

After dinner, it was time to call it a day. I was billeted at the Cliff Top Cottage. From the reception cottage, I had to go down some 200 or so steps and climb up another 50 or so steps to get to my room. It was windy when I got to the veranda of my cottage but I could not really see any of the surroundings apart from the cottage itself. I reckoned that the beach must be nearby. I fell as asleep listening to the waves hitting some rocks and the rustling of the leaves in the trees as they danced with the wind. It was that time of the year when habagat or south wind was at its mightiest. I had a good night’s sleep just the same.

When I woke up in the morning, only then did I realize that I have certainly hit the bull’s-eye with Nature’s Eye Beach Resort! I was so sleepy last night that I did not appreciate how sizable my room was. It was big enough for a family of four. The mattress and pillows were comfortable. The bed also came with a pull-out.

Cliff Top Cottage, Nature's Eye Beach Resort, Guimaras
Cliff Top Cottage, Nature’s Eye Beach Resort, Guimaras

To keep that back to nature mood, the room’s interior was made of indigenous materials fused with modern and sturdy structure. There was a big closet with extra beddings and a safe deposit box to boot. There was also a number of electrical sockets strategically spread around the room… just perfect for charging my gadgets. How many did I have to charge every time anyway? Well…

  1. Two drone batteries
  2. Drone remote control
  3. Two laptops
  4. Three mobile phones
  5. Gimbal
  6. Action camera
  7. Two DSLR batteries
  8. Power bank

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When I stepped out of the room, lo and behold, the view was to die for with the veranda overlooking the ocean. Between me and the cliff were two branches of trees made into terrace railings.

Cliff Top Cottage Veranda, Nature's Eye Beach Resort, Guimaras
Cliff Top Cottage Veranda, Nature’s Eye Beach Resort, Guimaras

It was such a beautiful sight to greet my first morning in the resort! The view was so inspiring that I thought if I were a novelist I could actually write a whole novel here. Just peace and quiet.

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Instantly, I fell in love with the place. The next logical thing to do was for me to get my camera and take lots of photos and selfies. The veranda was my second most favorite part of the Cliff Top Cottage. It served as my me-time spot in the resort where I regrouped myself and planned for the next move in my life. You see… I have been contemplating for the longest time if I should go on with travel blogging or go back to doing a routinary 9 AM to 5 PM (most of the time 11 PM) work schedule. I guess this time, it is still passion over money.

Native Bathroom

Adjacent to the veranda was the toilet and bath or native bathroom… my most favorite part of the Cliff Top Cottage. They do not call it native bathroom for nothing. It did not have walls. You can do numbers 1, 2, 3  and what have you while staring at the big blue sea.

I guess the only downside was the low water pressure in the shower. Having a cottage perched on top of a cliff would certainly weaken the flow of water without an electric pump to boost it . I guess the resort management knew about this already because the native bathroom came with a pail and a dipper. Oh, let me not forget to mention that I loved their organic shampoo and shower gel. Being true to the resorts eco-tourism advocacy, they only use organic toiletries.

Taking a shower in the Native Bathroom of Natures Eye Beach Resort Guimaras

After doing my morning rituals, I got a text message from Cai to proceed to the dining area for breakfast.

Nature's Eye Beach Resort Breakfast
Nature’s Eye Beach Resort Breakfast

The five-minute walk from my room to the main cottage was not so tiring at all. The pebble-covered path through the thick foliage seemed more of a treat to me than torture.

Natures Eye Beach Resort Path
Natures Eye Beach Resort Path

The main cottage was breezy and had a perfect view of the Guimaras Marine Sanctuary. I must say that my coffee never tasted so good. That view and my cup… just the perfect blend.

Natures Eye Resort View from the Dining Area
Natures Eye Resort View from the Dining Area

Sunset Cottage

I also checked the resort’s Sunset Cottage. For obvious reasons, this cottage was facing the west and had the perfect view of the sunset. No one was billeted in the cottage so I stayed at the balcony and waited for the sunset.

Sunset in Natures Eye Beach Resort
Sunset in Natures Eye Beach Resort

While waiting for sunset, I attempted to fly my drone but habagat was too strong. Ten minutes into challenging nature, I landed my drone and told myself, “Next time, Jaws… next time.”

Sunset Cottage Natures Eye Beach Resort Guimaras 2
Me attempting to fly my drone in windy Guimaras
A hermit crab in Nature's Eye Beach Resort
Be ready to see lots of hermit crabs patrolling the grounds of Nature’s Eye Beach Resort.

Island Adventure

I also went on an island hopping activity to visit the nearby islets of the Guimaras Marine Sanctuary. The resort can arrange this for you. In fact, it is already included in their Rainy Season Sale.

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The boat’s pick-up point was a good ten minute walk from Nature’s Eye Beach Resort. On regular days, the boat can pick up the guests from the resort’s beach front. On the way, we passed by two small villages.

The tide was stronger than usual. I was told though that the waves were manageable. I was glad we pushed through because I wanted to see for myself if the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve has already recovered from the damage brought about by the oil spill.

Three hours of island adventure is included in the room rates of Nature's Eye Beach Resort
Three hours of island adventure is included in the room rates of Nature’s Eye Beach Resort

 

Taklong Island National Marine Reserve

After braving the strong waves of the open sea, we sailed through mangroves where the clear water was still.

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Taklong Island National Marine Reserve Nueva Valencia Guimaras
The Taklong Island National Marine Reserve in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, composed of 46 islands and islets, is home to various species of birds, marine creatures and other animals. The mangrove is 53 hectares.

From what I saw, the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve may be on its way to full recovery from the damage brought about by the oil spill twelve years ago. Unfortunately, it is not spared from humanity’s complete disregard of nature. Sadly, from the boat, I could see plastic bottles floating by. When we checked, most of the discarded mineral water bottles came from neighboring countries Malaysia and Indonesia. The current apparently has brought them here to stay.  I hope that all (and not just tourists) be more responsible in disposing their wastes. We only have one planet.

Plastic bottles floating within the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Plastic bottles floating within the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras

Our first stop was the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve Eco-Park Office. The eco-park, composed of 46 islands and islets, is home to various species of birds, marine creatures and other animals. The mangrove is 53 hectares.

Taklong Island National Marine Reserve Office, Guimaras
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve Office, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras

I was not allowed to fly my drone in the eco-park. Besides, the wind was too strong anyway. So, after paying the environmental fee of Php 30, we headed immediately to the nearby tower to get a good 360-degree vantage point of the eco-park.

Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras

 

Floating Cottage

On our way back, we stopped by the Floating Cottage Sandbar . These two large nipa huts were built on a submerged sandbar in December 2015 through the help of Gina Lopez whose family hails from Guimaras. We paid an entrance fee of Php 50 per head. Tables and chairs were available for the guests to lounge and relax. Some guests brought packed lunch and were eating when we arrived. Smoking and drinking of alcoholic beverages were not allowed.

Floating Cottage Sandbar, Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Floating Cottage Sandbar, Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras

The swimming area was enclosed by a net for safety.  When I went in, the water level was about 5 feet deep. I was told that during summer, the water level is lower (about waist deep) and safe for children to swim.

Floating Cottage, Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
The swimming area was enclosed by a net for safety. The water level was about 5 feet deep. I was told that during summer, the water level is lower (about waist deep) and safe for children to swim.

We did not bring any food. So after an hour of swimming, we decided to head back to the resort.

Selfie with the women manning the Floating Cottage
Selfie with the women manning the Floating Cottage Sandbar, Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras

 

Tan-Luc Snorkeling Site

Back on the mainland of Guimaras, we visited the Tan-Luc Snorkeling Site near the boat’s drop off point. Well, it was not the best time to go snorkeling because of habagat but I had a good dip nonetheless.

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Guimaras #natureseyeresort #guimaras

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Below are their rates:

  • Entrance fee is only P20 (adults); P10 (18 & below)
  • Snorkeling Gears Rental P10 per hour for locals; P50 per hour for individuals from outside the barangay
  • Life Jackets P20 per hour
  • Paddle boat P100 per hour
  • Patrol Boat P450 for the first hour; P150 for every hour succeeding

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Well, it was not the best time to go snorkeling because of Habagat (Southwind). I had a good dip nonetheless. I'm coming back next summer when the water is less disturbed. They say it is crystal clear. But it's already nice as it is. When in Guimaras, visit Tan-Luc Snorkeling Site. It is just a 5-to-10-minute walk from Nature's Eye Resort. ➡️Entrance fee is only P20 (adults); P10 (18 & below) ➡️Snorkeling Gears Rental P10 per hour for locals; P50 per hour for individuals from outside the barangay ➡️Life Jackets P20 per hour ➡️Paddle boat P100 per hour ➡️Patrol Boat P450 for the first hour; P150 for every hour succeeding Will post some more photos on my Facebook Page and website. Don't be a stranger. Follow me. You might learn something new. #natureseyeresort #guimaras #itsmorefuninthephilippines #travelbloggers #travelblogger #travelblog #travelph #travelphotography #travelphotos #pinoywanderer #wanderer #wanderlust #globetrotter #asianwanderlust #Philippines #likesforlikes #followsforfollows #digitalnomads #diginomads #pinasmuna #online #content #creator #island #likeforlike #followforfollow

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I enjoyed my stay in Nature’s Eye Beach Resort. It was a good three days and two nights of communing with nature, disconnecting from the stressful urban life and reconnecting to my core. I would love to be back though in summer to visit other places of interest in Guimaras such as:

  • Guisi Lighthouse
  • Ava Maria Islet
  • Guisi Beach
  • Tatlong Pulo Beach
  • Balaan Bukid
  • Roca Encantada
  • Turtle Island
  • Villa Igang Beach
  • Buho Ramirez Cave
  • Sad-Sad Falls

Thanks to Ms. Rowena Amancio, Cai Dominguez and the whole staff of Nature’s Eye Beach Resort for welcoming me like family. See you soon and keep in touch.

Selfie with Ms. Rowena Amancio, owner of Nature's Eye Beach Resort in Guimaras.
Selfie with Ms. Rowena Amancio, owner of Nature’s Eye Beach Resort in Guimaras.

We have got only one life. Never stop exploring the world one island at a time. Signing out for now. Peace!

 

LANAS BEACH RESORT | BEST PLACE TO STAY IN CARABAO ISLAND

Carabao Island 2

Carabao Island (or Hambil), officially known as the Municipality of San Jose, is the southernmost island of the province of Romblon. It sits right smack in between the islands of Tablas, Romblon and Boracay, Aklan.

Carabao Island has a lot of potential in becoming one of the best islands in the country. Its sheer beauty, i.e. clear waters and amazing landscape, is enough to capture one’s fancy. Carabao Island is a mere 20-minute boat ride from one of the most sought after resort islands in the world, Boracay, which happens to be closed for tourism as it undergoes rehabilitation. Hence, to those who have already booked their flights prior to the government’s announcement of Boracay’s closure last April 26, 2018, Carabao Island might just be a good alternative. While Boracay is closed, Carabao has got your back!

I had the opportunity to explore Carabao Island when I tagged along with fellow travel blogger Cai Dominguez of Travelosyo.com. From Manila, I arrived at 1335H via Air Asia in Caticlan Airport. Outside Caticlan Airport, I met Cai who traveled all the way by bus from Iloilo to Caticlan and Kuya (big brother) Yolly Loquinto of Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11.

Watch my vlog here:

From Caticlan Airport, we rode a tricycle to Sambiray Port in Malay, Aklan. After paying the environmental fee of Php 50, we boarded a small boat to bring us to a bigger boat that would take us to Carabao Island. Total boat fare was Php 100 per head. There are two daily boat trips from Caticlan to Carabao Island. The first one is at 9 AM. We took the 3 PM trip. Return trip to Caticlan is at 6 AM. Quite honestly, I did not know much about Carabao Island. I would hear about it though from boatmen in Boracay as part of their island hopping tours.

The 45-minute boat ride to Carabao Island was smooth despite the gloomy weather. I must say though that I was a bit disappointed because I won’t be able to fly my drone as much as I initially planned because of the strong habagat or south wind.

Port of Said San Jose Romblon.JPG

Upon arrival at Said Port, I could not help but be amazed by how alive the waters of this island was. It was crystal clear. From the wharf, I could readily see a number of starfishes darting the shore.

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Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 is situated on the western side of the island. Hence, from Said Port, we had to ride a habal-habal or motorcycle that took us through the poblacion or town of San Jose. It was a twenty-minute-or-so ride on a narrow and winding path. The habal-habal fare ranges from Php 150 to 200 with luggage. The locals discourage tourists from renting habal-habal without drivers to avoid any untoward incidents because the roads are not as paved. Even Kuya Yolly, admittedly, still finds them challenging.

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On the way to Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11, Carabao Island reminded me so much of the virginal Boracay of the late 90’s before commercialization set in. The green lush, pristine waters, fresh sea breeze and the “innocence” of the island took me to a trip down memory lane.

Where To Stay In Carabao Island

To date, Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 tops the list of resorts in Carabao Island. They offer warm accommodations and the best of home-made organically grown meals. They can also arrange a land tour for in-house guests to visit the amazing spots on the island.

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I believe Carabao Island has a lot of potential. It is just a 20-minute boat ride from Boracay and reminds me so much of the old Boracay, serene and pure, before all the commercialization set in. When in #carabaoisland, try Lanas Beach Resort. They offer warm accommodations and the best of home-made and organically grown meals. They can also arrange a land tour to visit the amazing spots on the island.#carabao #itsmorefuninthephilippines #travelbloggers #travelblogger #travelblog #travelph #travelphotography #travelphotos #pinoywanderer #wanderer #wanderlust #globetrotter #asianwanderlust #Philippines #digitalnomads #diginomads #pinasmuna #online #content #creator #islandlife

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Accommodations

Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 has 5 suites and 2 apartments (rates below are inclusive of VAT):

  1. Villa Sol Suite, top floor, for 2, Php 2800 per night or Php 3584 per night with breakfast
  2. Villa Sol Suite, ground floor, for 4, Php 2800 per night or Php 4368 per night with breakfast
  3. Light House Suite (ground or upper), for 2, Php 3360 per night or Php 4144 per night with breakfast
  4. Villa Bo Apartment, top floor, for 2, Php 3920 per night or Php 4704 per night with breakfast
  5. Villa Bo Apartment, ground floor, for 6, Php 3360 per night or Php 5712 per night with breakfast

Below are some of the photos that I took of the Villa Sol Suite and Villa Bo Apartment.

Lanas beach Resort by Oceans 11 Villa Sol
Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 Villa Sol and Villa Bo

Villa Sol Suite (Ground Floor)

Villa Bo Apartment (Top Floor)

We stayed in the the Light House Ground Floor Suite. It has a veranda that opens up to the sea. It is the best place to have a drink or two while watching the sunset.

Light House Suites

Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 Light House Suite
Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 Light House Suites

With windows all over, the Light House Suite on the upper floor to me is the best suite in the resort. Imagine waking up to the beautiful sight of the ocean while cuddling up with your significant other.

Complimentary water and toiletries are provided upon check-in.

All accommodations have air-conditioning. Cooking is discouraged in the rooms but may be discussed with the resort management if necessary. Pets are allowed as long as the guests abide by the House Rules.

Be ready to embrace the island life when in Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11:

  • No electricity from 6 AM to 2 PM
  • No WIFI but there is a strong mobile internet signal by Globe to upload your photos on Instagram
  • No TV


Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 also offers the following resort services to make your stay as fun, convenient and relaxing as ever:

  • Boat Rentals:
    • Small Boat for 6 persons: Php 3500
    • Medium Boat for 16 persons: Php 7500
    • Big Boat for 20 persons: Php 8000
    • Speed Boat for 3 hours: Php 8500
  • Land Tours: Php 1000 for the whole day, includes visits to
    • Bat Cave (Mireton)
    • Cathedral (cliff diving)
    • Kuding-kuding (sea cave and cliff diving)
    • Bugtong Bato
    • Poblacion (San Jose)
    • Boracay View Point
  • Massage Service: starts at Php 500
  • Laundry: Php 60 per kilo
Cathedral Cave and Cliff Diving, Carabao Island, Romblon
Cathedral Cave and Cliff Diving, Carabao Island, Romblon
Cathedral Cave and Cliff Diving, Carabao Island, Romblon
Cathedral Cave and Cliff Diving, Carabao Island, Romblon
Five PM Viewing Deck, Carabao Island, Romblon
On a clear day, catch the sunset at Five PM Viewing Deck, Carabao Island, Romblon

Food

What I liked best about my stay in Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 was their affordable gourmet food. The Resort Manager happens to be the Executive Chef, too. Chef James Altas made sure that our dining experience was memorable.

They have a fixed menu but they also serve “Catch of the Day” meals like the one that we had during our first dinner in the resort: Seafood Laksa and Sea Urchin Omelette. Being a sweet-tooth myself, I celebrated eating their Turon a la Mode for dessert. Mind you, the ice cream topping was home-made.

Chef James also generously showed us how to cook Chicken Binakol. Chicken Binakol is chicken stew (similar to Tinola) cooked in coconut water instead of water. I got this on video and will publish a vlog soon. Stay tuned!

Restaurant

Both in-house and walk-in guests may enjoy the gourmet offerings of Lanas Beach Resort Restaurant, located just steps away from the white sand beach of Lanas. It has a seating capacity of up to 30 people.

Lanas Beach Resort Mess Hall
The restaurant has a spacious mess hall perfect for big groups.
Lanas Beach Resort Hut
The beach hut is perfect for couples who would love to wine and dine while enjoying some privacy and view of the beach.
Lanas Beach Resort Restaurant and Bar
They also have a bar that serves drinks such as fresh fruit shakes, cocktails, beer and hard liquor.

For more information, visit their website here or follow their Facebook page here.

For bookings, call +63-32-4164021 or +63908-1363319 or email info@lanasbeachresort.ph.

I believe that Carabao Island is not just a good Boracay-alternative but will be one popular island destination soon. I cannot wait to be back in Lanas Beach Resort by Oceans 11 and explore the island. I only got to visit a few of the tourist spots last time and was not able to do cliff diving because of the inclement weather.

Signing out for now. Peace!

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Oh well… the choices we make #atm #islandlife

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