Everything was quiet and peaceful as we waited on dock to get in the boat that was going to bring us to our resort. After the chaos at the airport that morning wrought by flight delays and aircraft noise and the 15-minute bumpy ride from the airport, the stillness of the waters of Palawan was just what I needed. Suddenly there was a total change of scene, as if magical.
Crisp clean breeze and clear waters that fade from emerald to turquoise—these were descriptions I had only heard and read about Coron, Palawan. Visiting this part of the country for the very first time, both photographer Angelo Cantera and I found ourselves awestruck as we passed every tiny island and limestone cliff during our 45-minute trip to Club Paradise Resort. I considered this boat ride our first island tour with our boatman being our tour guide. Although I found it hard hearing the names of the little islands he pointed to us along the way, there was one village that caught my eye. The fishing village of Busuanga appeared like a quaint vision of paradise with all the thatched huts and small boats lined up on one side of an island. The tranquility gave me a glimpse of what to expect in this whole island escapade.
Excitement overcame my exhaustion from the trip from Manila to Busuanga. Just a few meters to shore, I found myself waving to the welcoming crew of Club Paradise in Dimakya Island. The pristine white sand beach of this island, even from afar, seemed like a hidden paradise- serene but happy.
As I dug my feet in the cold, white and powdery sand, a lady handed us our cold towels and led us to the wooden picnic tables where they served us our welcome drinks. This cold and sweet fruit tea seemed the best refreshing drink I had that day. The receiving staff sang their welcome song in Filipino and a representative from the front office Rapunzel Garcia gave us a brief introduction about Club Paradise, the resort that will home us for the next three days.
After the quick talks we were then led to our island view rooms in an apartment building near sunset beach facing the lagoon. Beachfront cottages, cottages with garden view and sea view, bedrooms and suites with the island view and garden view were all designed to look like native Filipino huts with a modern touch.
My room was quite spacious with a king sized bed. The wooden furniture and flooring gave it a homey feel.
Given only a few minutes to get settled in our rooms I decided to enjoy my modern Filipino style bedroom after dinner. So, I just grabbed my camera and tripod, changed into my flip-flops and decided to take a stroll around the resort before we meet Rapunzel before dinner.
I thought of heading out to the beach, explore some parts of the resort and wait for the sunset- the best part of any beach trip. Considering that the resort was full that day, everything still remained quiet and peaceful. All I heard were the sounds of the guitar playing and the singing of a few members of the staff welcoming other guests that had just arrived.
With no exaggeration, the sand was the finest and the whitest kind of sand I have ever seen. It was just blinding. For a moment, I found no words to describe the water. I remember having searched the resort in Google and seeing photos of its beach, but I didn’t believe that it could be that clean, clear, and the colors of aquamarine and turquoise could be so vibrant.
As I took my time playing with the sand and dipping my feet in the clear water a boatman approached and informed me that the Sunset Cruise will leave at quarter past five. The 30-minute cruise takes guests of Club Paradise around the nearby islands and get the best, if not, the most spectacular views of the sunset. Angelo and I hurriedly hopped in the boat and chose the best seats—the front of the boat.
I must admit that it was a little bumpy where Angelo and I sat. I chose the best part closest to the bow of the boat. To be honest, it’s not the smoothest ride and I wouldn’t take this ride after a full meal. The sky was changing colors with each second that passed. The sunset view was simply beautiful and enticing.
Back to the resort, it was time for our first meal in the resort. The Ocean Restaurant with its modern Filipino design created a very relaxing, casual and elegant atmosphere. Wooden chairs and tables filled the veranda that was lighted up only with white candles in glass holders and made a very romantic ambience. The restaurant’s buffet served International cuisine to satisfy everyone’s picky palate.
For a secluded resort and one that is far from their main town, the day-to-day menu of the restaurant depends on what is readily available to serve. My choices for my big meal were the split back white snapper in sweet and sour sauce, pork piccata and vegetable quiche. The restaurant also offers a selection of delicate and sinfully baked desserts like cassava, mango agar-agar, crema de fruta, and fresh fruits in season. Our last stop before heading to our rooms was the Dugong Bar where I had my banana shake.
My second day started with a breakfast buffet serving Filipino, Continental and American breakfast. My victims for that morning were freshly baked rolls, toasts, and congee together with my morning coffee.
Our day’s schedule included a little fun and adventure. Snorkeling at Club Paradise is very convenient for guests. One doesn’t have to go too far to get a good glimpse of the island’s colorful fishes and corals of different shapes. In some resorts, you would need to ride the boat to go to a snorkeling area. Here, just a few meters from shore, Angelo joined by Rapunzel even saw a sea turtle, clown fish and other transparent looking and different colored fishes. It was an aquarium scene, according to them.
I waited for them to finish in one of the beach beds under a couple of coconut trees as I chatted with a German guest. He told me how they traveled from Berlin just to visit Club Paradise with his whole family. The family loved the beautiful beach, how hospitable the resort’s staff is, and how much he enjoyed his introductory dive given by the Dugong Dive Center. I asked if he was considering coming back and he said that they would definitely schedule another trip on their next summer vacation.
No beach trip will ever be complete without having a taste of the island’s freshest seafood selections. For our lunch, Chef Dario Dalman, the resort’s executive chef prepared a grilled seafood platter just for us with a good size crab, king prawns, white snapper, squids, and green mussels. It was truly a feast. Just what we needed before we headed to the hidden beach.
It was just a fifteen-minute trail hike going to the entrance of the hidden beach. A small, quiet, and even more private beach that the resort’s guests can enjoy. The sand is not as powdery as the main beach but what I loved about it was the breathtaking view before going down long stairs to the beach and the rock formations you’ll see.
Aside from snorkeling, hiking, sunset-cruise, kayaking, lazing around in hammocks outside the cottages, or simply having fun under the sun, there are also tours that guests can enjoy. The Calauit Safari, Coron Island, Bottom Fishing, Island Hopping, and Island Escapade tours can be booked through the resort. Getting treatments and the resort’s signature massage in the Island Spa is also one of the highlights of the resort.
For our last evening dinner we witnessed one of Club Paradise’s programmed activities that is the Cultural show performed by the resort’s employees. It was amazing to see their passion for dances as they performed the Philippines’ native and folk dances.
Our last night ended early because we were scheduled for an early tour to Isla Walang Lang-aw (meaning an island with no trees). A truly must-see island and is only five minutes away by boat from Club Paradise. Our boatman said that some guests kayak from the resort then back. The uninhabited island was just heart stopping with the powdery white sand, very clear emerald waters and amazing rock formations. The island has no shade so boatmen usually bring umbrellas or the cave and rock formations may serve as natural shades
I have to be honest: I am not a beach person and the last thing on my list of places to visit with my family is the beach. But after seeing and experiencing Club Paradise’s beauty and richness, and the many activities they have for the whole family I found myself leaving the island with only one thing in mind. I thought of how lucky I was to see and explore the island. I will definitely take a trip back.