Tag Archives: philippines

On the Road: Vivere Azure Experience

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I am a self confessed wanderlust who loves to take the road less traveled. The idea of exploring a remote and unpopular destination always consigns happiness into my system. Make that two happy souls, a weekend or holiday is sure spent on the road with my husband (and friends). We love waking up from our tent and see the mighty ranges of the mountains, or the slow waves of the beach, or the ravishing waters of a waterfall.

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We are more of a traveler than a tourist. Yet, we often indulge ourselves with the comforts of the destination. We splurge and savor the high life that’s offered by the resort or hotel. My mantra is this: book a high end resort or hotel if it is your second time coming to the destination. This is to utilize the resort’s amenities and to spend much time in your bed! Basically, we usually just stay in the resort or hotel because, heck, we pay hefty amount for it!

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To celebrate our first year anniversary, we booked at Vivere Azure in Anilao, Batangas. It was a weekend that’s sandwich by hell work weeks so we opted for a nearer destination so we can relax and spend quality time together.

The boutique resort lives to what you aim for a luxury and private place to stay, They have limited rooms making it ideal for a weekend of slow down and quietness. It’s indeed an oasis of relaxation! The overall andscape of the resort attributes to the marvelous experience as all rooms and amenities are rightfully placed to where they stand. It’s cozy and very alluring to the eyes.

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The food, oh the food! It’s a four course meal starting off with a soup, followed by a salad, your choice of main entree, and finally finishing it off with a dessert. Ah, it is one of my most relaxed meal that we spent about 2 hours to finish. Yes, talk about savoring each bite while gazing at the ocean breeze and leisurely talking to your husband – it was a delight! The food is too sumptuous to define and we were too engrossed on every bite that we take. Yes, great food, it is!

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Stepping into the room transported me into a nirvana of tranquility. All the stress and pressures in my system were wiped out on-the-spot and all i did  was to roll over on the bed for a couple of minutes. It is spacious with carefully selected furniture and outstanding toilet amenities.

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Anilao is not famous for nice beaches (it’s more of a diving spot) but we were pleasantly surprise to see beautiful corals a few shy away from the shoreline! We gleefully played with the undersea’s treasures and drain the afternoon away by lounging by the shores and dipping into the infinity pool.

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With such a luxurious place, beautiful ambiance, and impeccable services (they upgraded our rooms!), I could not ask for a better way to define relaxation over a weekend. it was definitely one for the books!

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So the next time you hit Manila or your guy loves to dive, go and visit Anilao and check out Vivere Azure!

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-Dahl-

 

On the Road: Port Barton and Her Underrated Beauty

image-755dd0c3f0861e3864a367d96f1f02cb7b2baafbca6b3e36cf3dbc37051d480b-VI’m kind of half hearted to share this amazing discovery of Port Barton because I want it to stay as how it is today and would not be taken over by commercialism. Nevertheless, I am spilling the beans in the interest of Philippine tourism and satiate everyone’s wanderlust souls. Responsible travelers, that’s one of the core values for everyone who’s hitting the road.

About halfway from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, there is a quite town of Port Barton. It is a quaint town but home to true blooded foreign travelers. It is an understated destination probably because it is overshadowed by the more popular El Nido town. The road leading to Port Barton isn’t fully cemented (yet) which makes it an off the beaten track destination.

Port Barton captivated our hearts the moment we stepped out of our van. The organic feel of the community, the warm welcome of the locals, and the alluring shoreline are just some of the obvious reasons why we promptly loved the island. It’s a sanctuary for travelers who traverse the globe to immerse themselves with the community. Heck, there’s even a book exchange in one of the cafes!image-2e50ce86cf40ec0891b3091995d4be9cd6b2a7d34a5a5c9501a66844793f66f4-V

Think of a slow morning grind, taking an early walk by the village, and finally taking your hearty breakfast by the shore. Ah, such is a simple yet very ‘wowfulfilling travel life. No wonder why foreigners flocked into this charming island!

The nearby islands are worth every “wow” and “grabe” that you utter, It’s your kind of steady beach bumming with all the beautiful sights handed over to your very eyes. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Attractions:

  • Luli (Lulubog Lilitaw) Islandimage-feca8dc2c18468c7828dc682137f0698b73f54140d1d505f4a8eb8ce707698fe-V
  • Paradise Islandimage-167e7144bfa8f57cd3ca6ce24b1f8c889c6a029f26350ac7a5d2ad21afd7c60b-V
  • German IslandFB_IMG_1459470957736
  • Exotic Islandimage-7069c2949b643ede077c6fa453300a9f54ac803621513a762d1043d5ce62b76f-V
  • Aquarium (for snorkel)image-abd7a2730b77b35ea79d7a6e58df8264913e2f4fbc178ebbbe1671710bda7c83-V                                                          Captured from the surface of the water!

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Yes, this stellar experience is tucked in my memory book for life!

Here are the things to consider when planning your trip to Port Barton:

Considerations:

  1. Unlike with El Nido, I reckon a beachfront accommodation is a good option. As I mentioned, the shoreline is spectacular and there is not much crowd wandering along the beach. Among the resorts, I’ve seen Summer Homes and Ausan which exhibits a good impression. Please do note that I have not stayed here (screw late inquiries and bookings!) so I do not vouch for them.
  2. However, there are other inns as well in the community which is equally charming and one of which is owned by Nanay Nelly. it’s a detached cabin exuding a provincial feel! This is where we stayed for Php 1,500 a night – comfortably fits 4 but balcony can be used to sleep in another 2 pax. This is highly recommended!
  3. Bring a book! There is no greater feeling of spending an afternoon by the shore with a book in your one hand, and a beer on the other!
  4. Sunset watching is a must. Oh, I had one of the best sunset memories in Port Barton!
  5. Island camp is possible in Port Barton. We stayed in German island but please note that there iis no fresh water source here. If you aren’t comfortable, it is best to stay at the mainland.
  6. NOT RECOMMENDED: Going to El Nido via motorized bangka. This is not a popular route but given how adventurous our group is, we dived into this idea. Not only it is more expensive but it will take you 6 solid hours to reach El Nido. Land trip will only take about 2-3 hours.image-bffecb07a0f4768addf7a8727f87b23e51858394e7d6a088baec68c40e7afcc8-V

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 1:

  1. Arrival at Puerto Princesa, head straight to Port Barton at the terminal
  2. Spend the rest of the day by the beach front with you mat, book, and beer. Talk to the locals while waiting for the sunset.

Day 2:

  1. Go for an entire day of island hopping. You may have your tours arranged in your hotel or book it separately. We had ours with Kuya Jojo. Spend more time at German island. The hammocks are to die for (but please be cautious of small insects that may lurk your entire body!).

Day 3:

  1. Make your way to Long Beach in San Vicente, the longest white sand shoreline in Asia.
  2. Travel back to Puerto Princesa or head straight to El Nido

So, are you packing your bags, yet? :) Let us know how your Port Barton vacation goes!

P.S. Credit to Levy Bajamundi (@tapsiturbi) for the photos. 

-Dahl-

On the Road: El Nido And Why You Should Go

El NIdo is every Filipino’s bragging rights and there is definitely a compelling reason why in recent years, it always tops the list of the world’s number one island. Why is it so, you ask?

While any wonderful island can claim white sands, turquoise waters, and sunny tropical weather, El Nido gives you more reasons than that and let me tell you:

  1. The majestic limestone formations make it like a “walled” island, rendering it to be astounding and unique.DSC08323The mighty “walls” surrounding the Big Lagoon
  2. The islands are not the typical ones, you need to “work” for it to get a glimpse of their beauty. One must paddle up to see both small and big lagoons, you need to peak into a small hole that’s only suitable for one person to be engulfed in the beauty of secret lagoon and secret beach, and you have to swim in deep waters to land in hidden beach and Cadlao lagoon.Kayaking through Small LagoonKayaking though the Small Lagoon
  3. While flocked by tourists, El Nido offers raw and spontaneous feel of an island lifeDSC08250One of the many raw sights in El Nido
  4. Just as you thought the last island that you visited was the best, the next one will leave you, once again, in chief wonderment! Each island has its own character that you can clearly place them side by side in your memory lane.DSC08492

A common notion with El Nido is that it is an expensive getaway probably because it has been popularized by El Nido Resorts, a chain of luxury resorts owned by the Ayalas. However, while it is indeed relatively expensive than other Philippine destination, it is not one that will put a hole on your pockets. To give you a perspective, we spent about Php 9000, exclusive of plane ride, and inclusive of our 3 day stay at Port Barton (more of this another captivating destination on my next post).

Hitting El Nido is a must, and here are some of the tips that I can share based on our experience:

  • Ride the van at the terminal, not at the airport as fare is generally cheaper there

You can do this by hiring a tricycle (usually costs Php 120 good for 3-4 persons) and head to the terminal.

  • Always ask for Filipino rate

We did not know of this until we rode a van going to El Nido. Our driver from Recaro bus voluntarily said we are getting a hundred bucks off our trip. We also got a discount with our accommodation. Note though that not all establishments may have this but it pays to ask. Also, please be discreet especially when there are foreigners nearby so as to avoid an awkward situation among you, the vendor, and the foreigner.

  • Beach front is not a necessity in El Nido town proper

It may be a perfect idea of waking up to a beach front view but we feel that this is unnecessary in El Nido. For one, the beach front is not as astounding as the islands, there are trashes in the shores, and it is just relatively busy that it takes away the calmness that you are looking for in a beach front.

  • Corong corong town is a better option for accommodation

Corong corong is a stone throw’s away from town proper and it is way more peaceful. Accommodations are relatively cheaper here. Arguably, the beach front is also better here than in the town proper. If you you’ll die without a beachfront view, then this is a good alternative to search for an inn or resort that’s facing the beach.

  • Go for a night of beach camping!

Want an unobstructed view of the mighty limestones, crystal clear waters, and purest sands in the morning but do not have the means to stay in Miniloc or Lagen? Then beach camp is the answer! In Papaya island, there is a fresh water source that makes your stay “bearable”. Also, you can ask your tour guide to lend you with cooking and eating utensils. Just brign your own tents, though. There is a tour as well but it will cost you much higher than doing it DIY.

DSC08441Where we spent our night by the beach

  • Tours A and C are the best options when you have limited time

The bests of El Nido are on this tour. You got to kayak to see small and big lagoons, make your way through a small hole to get to secret lagoon and beach, and you have to swim to reach hidden beach and cadlao lagoon! On the other side, if you want a more chill vibe, then you may opt for tour B as it is more of a beach bumming (as what you usually do in other island hopping.

It can be overwhelming to arrange your tours but let me give you an idea and some suggestions on how to plan for it.

  1. Have at least a 4 days, 3 nights trip in which the first and last day is dedicated to travel time. El Nido is 5 hours away from Puerto Princesa so you need to take it into account. If you have spare time, make it 3 full days of tours with Tour A first, followed by Tour C, then finally Tour B. Tour B as mentioned is more of chill in the islands with not much physical activities so make it as your last stop.
  2. For transportation, we rode via Recaro Transport It is generally okay and as expected in a sharing set up, the van is packed with tourists. If you want to splurge in a private van, it can cost you around Php 5,000.
  3. I recommend Novies Tourist Inn in Corong Corong for accomodation – Php 3,500 for 6 pax with a spacious room and private toilet. It has verandas too! Again, they can give it for Php 2,500 depending on the season so don’t forget to ask! However, if you really insist on getting an accommodatin in El Nido town proper, you may want to check out Rico’s Inn, Rossana’s Pension, or El Nido Garden Resort. By far, they have the best looking resorts that we’ve seen while walking through the stretch of El Nido beachfront.
  4. For the tours, we got Lagoon Tours which relatively offers the lowest rate (Php 1,000 per day). However, do not fret too much on looking for the cheapest ones as all the tours are regularized, hence, it does not come in too far fetch in terms of pricing.
  5. If you plan to spend a night camping by the beach, I strongly recommend Papaya island. Hands down to the view, the water, and the sand!

So there you go! i hope I tickled your fancies and gets you packing your bags to hit this paradise! Happy Travel!

DSC08400DSC08504P.S. For more photos and stories of our El Nido travel, please follow my personal account in IG @dahlgrenjoy and search for hashtag #cozyexplorersxelnido.

*All photos are owned by Levy Bajamundi (@tapsiturbi).

-Dahl-