I’ve always wanted my own island. To have my own place in the middle of the ocean with a nice beach and lots or marine life around would be like heaven on earth. PLUS, it would be a safe place to go if ever a zombie apocalypse breaks out (weirdness alert). But of course, that’s impossible (the island and the zombie apocalypse). Unless I somehow gained access to Napoles’ (stolen) riches, having my own island will be on the list of things that I will never acquire. I can’t even afford a house yet. 😦
BUT fret not, people-who-also-dreams-of-having-their-own-island-but-do-not-have-the-millions-for-it. We may not be able to OWN one BUT it is possible to experience having an island all to yourself even for just a few days. And that’s exactly what we went back to Palawan for.
Thanks to Deal Grocer (yes, I’m a fan), we got to stay at Arena Island for two nights at an affordable price. Arena Island is a small island located at Narra, Palawan with abundant marine life surrounding it. For a few days, the hubby and I experienced royal treatment, privacy and good food. I have to say that it was the best beach vacation we’ve ever had.
I’ve been eyeing their promos at Deal Grocer for quite some time now but the hubby and I couldn’t avail it because we already had vacations planned and the booking period just didn’t match our planned leaves. That was until a few months ago. When I saw the new promo, I just couldn’t stop myself anymore. I told the hubby about it and bought a voucher. Since we didn’t have plans for our 12th anniversary, we decided to use the voucher for our anniversary week. Booking them was simple and easy. I just called their reservations number, asked for available dates, confirmed the date, provided my promo code and flight details. They sent me the confirmation and the contact information of the person who will be arranging our transfer from the airport to the island.
The flight I got from Cebu Pacific was scheduled to arrive at Puerto Princesa around 11:25AM. It was really rainy the day we left Manila. My heart sank when I woke up to a rainy morning. I was worried that our flight was going to get cancelled and we’ll have to postpone our vacation. Thankfully, God heard our prayers and the rain stopped for a few hours. We arrived Puerto Princesa 20-30 minutes earlier than scheduled which was quite surprising since Cebu Pacific has always been known for being late. I guess they’re trying to turn that around. So, yay!
As we exited the airport, we immediately saw the cardboard bearing our names and we were led to a van where snacks and water was waiting for us. From Puerto Princesa, it was about a 2-hour drive and then a 30-minute boat ride to the island. The travel was exhausting but as soon as I got a glimpse of the island, I knew the travel time was well worth it. As we get nearer, I imagine the island glowing and beckoning me. It was so pretty.
We were greeted by these two ladies (the ones standing on the sand, the two guys at front accompanied us from the port to the island). There was Filipino music playing in the background and they gave us pretty seashell necklaces. Orange juice (which I accidentally knocked down ‘coz I’m clumsy) and cold towels were waiting for us and they led us to our Casita (the right one).
The casita was really nice and spacious. It has a private deck with a nice view of the beach and I just loved the open bathrooms.
There’s a mini-bar available, scrabble and sungka to help pass your time.
One of the nice things about this vacation is that we had a personal butler. Em-Em (wish I took a picture with her) took care of everything for us and is there whenever we need anything. She pretty much arranged our itinerary for us and is always ready to answer questions we have.
After we arrived, Em-Em made arrangements for our lunch to be brought to our casita. We didn’t really have anything planned after that. The hubby and I wanted to just rest but we ended up exploring the island instead.
The island is not that big. It currently has two casitas (although from the map we saw in our room it looks like they’re planning to add two more) and a pavilion (for bigger groups). No other guests were there during our stay so we definitely had the whole island to ourselves which was the best part. Ultimate privacy. You can wear and do anything you want without having to worry about what other people think or being judged. The water was crystal clear and at certain times of the day, the water is so calm that it reminded me of some scenes from Life of Pi.
Trail from our casita to the other side of the island where the staff house, pavilion and turtle eggs are located.
Pavilion. For family or group outings. The casita can only accommodate a maximum of three adults so if you want to come here as a bigger group, the pavilion is where you will be staying.
I read online that they have sea turtles (pawikan) in the island but I was told that DENR has forbidden them to keep sea turtles in the island after getting featured in a TV show. The turtles still come to the island to lay eggs though and they put barriers around them to protect the eggs from getting eaten by crabs (and sometimes ants) but after the eggs hatch they release the baby turtles right away. Em-Em told us that if a sea turtle comes to the island to lay eggs they wake the guests up to witness it. Unfortunately, no sea turtles came while we were there. It was quite disappointing ’cause I was really looking forward to see the turtles but it’s not really something that anyone could control. I hope we see turtles lay eggs or hatch when we come back (yes, Arena Island is on the list of places I definitely want to go back to).
They record the date when the eggs are laid and the estimated day of hatching. We missed one batch by 3 or 4 days I think. 😦
One of the resort staff takes care of the eggs. He dug this one up to show us the eggs.
They look like ping pong balls, right? The shells are soft too and I was so scared I might break them so I refrained from touching too much.
Em-Em took us to the floating deck so we can snorkel and kayak. We even had snacks in between. I wish we had waterproof cameras. I wasn’t able to take a single photo while we were at the floating deck (Boo! Definitely need to go back). The snorkeling area was amazing, lots of marine life and the water was so clear you don’t even have to snorkel to see the fish and corals. In between snorkeling and fish feeding, Em-Em served us cold juice and one of the best Banana Qs I ever had for snacks.
Sorry but this is the best shot I have of the floating deck.
Electricity is not available 24 hrs a day though. I’m not sure if they just use generators but it would be really nice if we could keep the air condition running the whole afternoon. They shutdown the electricity from 7AM-11AM and then from 2PM-6PM. The morning is fine but it could get really hot and humid from 2-4PM. It was too hot to go swimming or snorkeling so playing scrabble and sungka occupied us during this time.
We took the kayak again one afternoon and just paddled near the shore. It was such a surreal experience. The place was so serene. It was just us, the sea and the island. At times we’d even stop paddling and just stay there floating to appreciate what we had at the moment.
The promo included a massage for two which Em-Em has also arranged for us to have in the evening. We were really looking forward to it to further relieve our stress. I wish we could have had two therapists so we can relax at the same time. But as it was, we had to take turns as there was only one and we used the extra bed in the casita for the massage. The massage was actually too hard for our taste although she did mention it when we started. I just didn’t expect for it to be like that.
Unfortunately, we had to go back to Manila on our third day. Our vacation had to end and the hubby and I wished we got stranded there instead. Arena Island is such a beautiful place and I hope we get to experience it again. Highly recommended especially to couples hoping to have a peaceful, private, relaxing time.