Bonding in Paradise Resort

The ringing telephone hidden under our bed put my little kid on alert. We are normally hiding the telephone once we are in the hotel because the toddler loved to play with it. The hotel receptionist informed us that our check out time would be 10am. We were advised to meet our travel agent who booked our next resort accommodation in Maldives before 11am.

The booking was made by Island Voyage, the travel agent we knew online by chatting while surfing Maldives resorts. At first, it was uncomfortable conversation. If we should believe on these people or not. We’re thinking the possibilities of an online fraud who victimized travelers. However, we decided to try. The agent only request a 50% down-payment. The remaining would be paid upon arrival in Maldives. As they are sending vouchers and receipt with a legitimate company address, we determined that the agent was recognized and legal.

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At 10:30am, we left the hotel going to the airport. The hotel driver assured that we will meet the agent. He led us to the booths area where the agent was waiting for us. We paid the additional 50% payment, and he gave us the hotel accommodation check in voucher. He then transferred us to another booth to prepare the speedboat transfer going to the resort.

The speedboat departed from the airport at 11:20am. Together with us were the group of Chinese family.

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Location: Lankanfinolhu Island, Maldives

Where I Stayed: Paradise Island Resort & Spa

Buddies: Family

After 20 minutes, we arrived at the resort’s jetty. A staff greeted and guided us to the reception which was a few minutes by walk. At the reception, they gave each of us forms to fill in information and a welcome drink. After a short introduction, the bellboy guided us to our beach front bungalow room. We actually preferred water villas but it’s not safe for kids. Anyway, beach bungalow was wide and spacious. The toilet was so spacious and there was an outdoor shower.

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Paradise Island Resort and Spa gave us the most relaxing days in Maldives. Our daily routine for three days was so luxurious. We started the day with snorkeling at the jetty, buffet breakfast in restaurant, relax inside the room, and beach bathing in the afternoon. Our night ended sitting at the jetty walkway watching the group of stingrays and sharks after a buffet dinner.

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The snorkeling sites on this resort are at the jetty side and in water villas. The beach at the water villas was the safest ground for small children. The water was shallow and also not busy from water sport activities.

The best thing we did at  the night was watching for sharks and stingrays during feeding time. It was my first time to meet small sharks while swimming. They said, they don’t bite and will ignore human.

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Recommendation

This was only based on my personal experience. Don’t stay in the resort for longer than three days if you are a food critic. I observed that the menu was repeatedly served on the third day. The drinks on the night are not free. A bottle of water is not free too.  Some resort, like Paradise, doesn’t offer free wifi. Only US dollars and credit cards payment are accepted.

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Wandering in Camiguin

There are so many tourist destinations in Camiguin. Gladly, I could say that this island is with full boost of natural wonders. One traveler said that roaming in Camiguin can be done for a day but for me it’s not enough.

The White Island is the most photographed site and became famous as background for any traveler who have been in the island. It is a white sand bar that can be accessed by renting a  motor boat situated in Marina port near Paras Resort, the most known resort in the island.

By paying 650 pesos as rental, the motorboat brought us to the white island. It is a long sand bar with actually nothing. No trees, no plants. There were so many tourists, both foreigners and locals, but couldn’t fill the entire place. Nobody stayed longer in the white island because there was nowhere for shade. We’re still lucky, the gloomy sky kept the sun hiding from the clouds.

After an hour, we asked the staff to call our motor boat to fetch us. The staff is the man having handheld radio and stationed in the center. It took few minutes before the motor boat came and brought us back to the mainland. Before we left the dock, everyone availed the shower rooms for a fee of 5 pesos per head.

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The Walkway. A few minutes drive from the port is what they called Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross. The group stopped just to buy souvenirs and not part of the itinerary. As we were curious of what was on the place, we stepped on the stairs and paid an entrance fee. As we are moving upwards passing station 3, we met a staff and asked her if what services they are offering on the hilltop and how many minutes to reach the last station. It looks like the gap between stations are quite few meters. She told us that there is a volcano crater on the top and might reach there within 30 minutes. We didn’t have so much time, so we agreed to go down and continued to our next destination.

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Standing on the exact location of the real cross of the Sunken Cemetery

The Sunken Cemetery. Whoever thinks that it was an old ruined cemetery. Beneath the water lied hundreds of dead people. I thought that we will just pass by after taking photos with a big cross on the water as a background. But there was a twist on the visit.

I was invited to do snorkeling on the sunken cemetery. It was a weird thing. Swimming on top of the cemetery! Hesitated,  but I agreed and we did the stuff. There we have to pay the environment fee and the guide. The area is a protected area since long time. But who dares, it still a cemetery!

The next thing happened was the nicest experience I did. Swimming on top of the colorful and different types of corals, big shells and fishes. I personally saw the real cross under the water and some of the evidence that there were buildings on this part of the sea. The area is no longer a cemetery. For me, it was the most remembered place of Camiguin. However, I didn’t have underwater camera to prove what I saw under the sunken cemetery.

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Old Church Ruins. A few minutes from the sunken cemetery is the old ruins church which was damaged when the volcano erupted in 1871. A candle lighting on the unseen altar was done with a solemn prayer. At the back of the old church was a tree which was believed to be more than hundred years old.

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Majestic Katibawasan Falls

Katibawasan Falls. We moved back passing the town proper ascending up to the mountain to see the famous Katibawasan Falls. After paying the entrance fees, we directly headed to the magnificent water falls.

The water drops made the entire place covered in humidity. It looks like it is always raining. The water from the falls was so cold that nobody can stay longer. I noticed a rope as caution. I asked the guard if what was the rope for. He told us that getting near the fall was restricted for the falling water was sometimes with rocks.

After the whole tiring day in Camiguin, we spent our last hours in Ardent Hot Spring. We enjoyed the day exploring one side of the island. Camiguin has still more wonders so it has more reasons for me to come back and continued rediscovering this wonderful island.

On the next day, we woke up early for our long road trip back to Central Mindanao.

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Beautiful island of Camiguin, Northern Mindanao, Philippines

Patrick on the Beach, a family beach in Siargao

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We departed Alpa City Suites in Cebu at 8am. Our flight to Siargao by Cebu Pacific Air is at 9:40am. I was very excited to see and fly in a propeller and small aircraft. Checking in for this flight was different because each passenger passed through a weighing scale. Each passenger should be weighed including the checked-in bag. I noticed that the foreigners on the flight are distributively seated on different rows, though they are in one group. I thought it was a way to balance the aircraft load.

Cebu Pacific Air is the only domestic airline flying to Siargao airport. The smallest airport I’ve been so far. Just sighed when landed seeing that small building. Anyway, I noticed a building constructed near it, maybe it will rise soon to be part of the terminal building.
At the airport, the resort’s car was waiting and brought us to Patrick on the Beach in Gen. Luna. A less than an hour travel from the airport.

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Comfortable Bed of Patrick on the Beach

Location: Siargao Island, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Patrick’s on the Beach

Buddies: Partner

Accommodation. In the beach, I saw two kids bathing and playing. I asked their name and they replied BJ while the youngest named Francis. From the distance, another boy came and called him Patrick. They were sons of the resort’s owner enjoying with us in the beach. Just visit their site, www.patrickonthebeach.com for additional information.

Patrick on the Beach is a resort owned by a German named Andreas who is married to a Filipina. It seems that his family is also living here. It’s a family resort after all. I really loved the privacy of the place. He offered to accommodate us in a tree house for its very romantic but we preferred the big beachfront house as stated in my reservation. He offered me a good package for couple for four nights worth P20,+++, with full meals, surfing lessons, trip to Cloud 9, island hopping, and unlimited use of water gadgets and water sports.

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DAY TWO

Island hopping to three islands; Naked, Dako, and Guyam. At 8am, we took our breakfast. The resort’s staffs prepared the boat including a small kayak. They also prepared snorkeling sets and picnic lunch. At, 9am, the activity started. Before going to the first island, I did snorkeling while my wife on kayaking. Though I’m afraid to be alone in the water, still I tried just to see the underwater creatures on this part of the island. Snorkeling in Siargao was incomparable to other snorkeling sites in the country. Less corals, less fishes but more grasses. The sea grasses made the beach colored green during high tide and the locals here caught strange lobsters, (look like mixed shrimp and lobster).

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We headed to Naked Island. It was raining but it didn’t stop us to see the famous fantasy island which they said without any plant. We explored the small white island by only two of us. Nobody there, just us. There are few plants on it but for me, it still naked. We stayed there for an hour.

Dako island is the next stop. It was a big island with community on it, so many people. We stayed for just five minutes.

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Guyam island, the island seen from Patrick’s beach, for me is paradise. The Siargao’s Garden of Eden. The place was amazing. There are rock formations seen during low tide (we’re lucky!). From there, we’ve seen surfers playing with big waves from the distance.
We controlled the time, so at 1pm we headed back to the resort. We couldn’t surf for it was low tide so we reserved the activity for the next day.

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DAY THREE

Surfing at Cloud 9 started at 7am on high tide. I stopped the surfing session after two hours because I was already tired and exhausted. Learning basic and standing on board for few seconds while the waves pushed the board was not easy. Paddling again, waiting for bigger waves, and standing on board repeatedly loosened energy but I really enjoyed it. We spent the entire afternoon for sleeping. We learned basic surfing and body pain in returned.

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Food at Patrick. Nothing to say. Everyday, we woke up and ordered delicious meals at the restaurant from selection of American, Asian, and European cuisines. Returned back to the room and waited a staff knocks on the door to tell us, “Your food is ready”.

Missed Tours. Sohoton and Yohoho tours. These trips are best in a big group.

Pearl Farm Paradise of Samal

Settling in the southern part of Davao City lies a hidden paradise which is less than an hour boat travel from the city wharf.

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Comfortable Bed of Pearl Farm Resort

Location: Samal Island, Davao, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Pearl Farm Beach Resort

Buddy: Friends (3+)

Pearl Farm is a private resort for relaxation. I admit that it’s quietly expensive but my stay there for two days was worth for the price. Pearl Farm has its own private Marina wharf in the city where we boarded a boat going to the resort. A cold and refreshing “pina colada” was given to us as welcome drink while their friendly staff gave us briefing about the resort and its facilities.

We preferred to stay on hilltop “balay”accommodation as the cheapest option and its various natural views. A breath taking scenarios of beach, Parola bar, Malipano island, and famous Mount Apo greeted us in the morning. Next time, when there’s a chance to come back, I’ll try the Samal House built on top of the water. The room is with native and tribal decors with a personal refrigerator full of chocolates, chips, and beverages. Wow! but they have prices, it was not compliments.

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The Resort’s Aqua Sports Center offered us island hopping and snorkeling for three hours. Included in the rental are towels, speed boat, guide, and snorkeling equipments. We enjoyed the island hopping especially to Malipano Island and sight seeing of marine life by snorkeling. However, the sea that time was slightly itchy because of jellies so we didn’t stay longer in the water.

Starting at 6pm, cocktails in Parola Bar was 50% off, so it was the time for a little talk while watching the sea on sunset. There was an excellent buffet food on all meals with variety of seafood especially during dinner. There was also a native group performance at night starting 7pm that will last for almost two hours. I loved the traditional dance “Singkil”, which was performed during our stay.

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Tips. It is a luxurious and rated 5 star resort so a bit expensive for a normal local tourist.  I availed Bed and Breakfast which price varies on their site www.pearlfarmresort.com.
There is a Free WIFI in the resort.
Payment can be settled with cash or credit card.

Bohol Country

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Two days tour in a magnificent island of Bohol. We visited historical landmarks, marvelous chocolate hills, dolphin watching, island hopping, lunch in a floating restaurant and snorkeling in a marine sanctuary.

Location: Bohol, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Alona Tropical Beach and Resort

Buddies: Group (10+)

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DAY ONE

10am, arrived in Tagbilaran port, Bohol via Supercat Ferry boat from Cebu.
Joined the stoned heroes at Blood Compact Site and prayed at the island’s oldest coral stone church, the Baclayon Church.
12n, buffet lunch in River Watch Floating Resto while cruising the Loboc river and witnessed the singing and dancing locals at the river side.


Encountered the island’s oldest captured anaconda and been in the biggest non-edible Heshey’s kisses like chocolate, the famous Chocolate Hills.
Stopped-over at great man-made forest, sought butterfly at the sanctuary, tickled the cutest and smallest mammals, the tarsiers, and sip a fresh coconut after the bamboo hanging bridge.
6pm, we arrived at Bee Farm. Unfortunately, All bees was already resting at their beehives!

Checked-in at Alona Tropical Beach and Resort and dinner along seaside restaurant.

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DAY TWO

5:30am, woke up earlier for the dolphin watching in Panglao Bay.
7am, met the schools of fishes while snorkeling in the Marine Sanctuary and took our locally prepared breakfast in Balicasag Island.
9am, island hopping, docked at the Virgin Island, and back to the hotel to enjoy the warm water of Panglao beach.

1pm, checked out from Alona and visited the miraculous Dauis Church before going back to Tagbilaran Port.