Saturday, March 18, 2017

Savoring Samal Island’s Soothing Solace (Part 3)

Spending time with kith and kin is fast becoming a once-in-a-blue-moon affair for many people these days. Most often than not, the busy lives that many of us lead make it difficult to be with those who mean the most to us.

Life on the fast lane keeps us occupied with myriad things to do, both at home or at work. There are so many tasks to fulfill every week that literally fill up every second of our days. Time was when I’d spend almost all of my weekends in the company of family and friends. Nowadays, the get-togethers have become a rarity given our hectic work schedule. Also, many of my relatives and friends have joined the global diaspora to other parts of the world.

A glimpse of Samal Island

In recent years, there’s hardly any time for get-togethers, at least in my circle, except perhaps during Christmas, holidays, and other special occasions (which are quite few and far between). Finding some spare time for the finer things in life, however, is easier said than done; it’s becoming something as rare as hen’s teeth! These days, I have yet to meet someone who believes he has so much time to spare—have you?

A barge headed for the island

Everyone seems so busy as bees 24/7, forsaking the chance to bond with loved ones. Ours has become a restless society where the drive to work beyond the usual hours is the new normal, as longer hours, in most cases, mean more money for the whims and caprices of our modern, consumerist culture.

Davao as seen from a hilly portion of Samal

Someone said that time flies, but you are the pilot. So when you can’t have your cake and eat it, too, then you better rob the baker! Simply put, you got to create some quality time with your family and friends. You got to run away from your high-tech quotidian life once in a while and hie off to some surreal destination where you let your hair down and throw away caution to the wind. 

Good thing, I live near an island, a garden and a city—all rolled into one—that’s just a few minutes away by boat from my place: the Island Garden City of Samal, or simply IGaCos. the tadpole-shaped island that’s made up of one mainland (Samal), a smaller one (Talikud) and several islets (Big and Small Ligid; Arboles Shoal, a.k.a. Sanipaan; Big and Small Malipano; Dela Paz; and Wishing Islet).

Popularly called Samal by locals, the city has everything you’d hope to find in a dream destination. Good thing, I got a break from the rat race for a few days. Good thing, I got to spend not just one but two weekends with both kith and kin in some of the island’s wonderful hideaways! 

For those raring to get a healthy dose of sun, sea and sand in Samal, here are a few of the most interesting resorts, all in the city’s main island, where you can seek solace and spend some quality time with your loved ones:

Infinity pool at Bali-Bali

Bali-Bali Resort. This semi-private resort derived its name from the Pangasinense word for “beautiful”. Found along the southwestern part of the island, Bali-Bali is the perfect hideaway for those seeking to break free from the din and drudgery of city life without going to some faraway destination. At the resort, you’ll get that rare chance to either hang out by the infinity pool, hibernate inside your shack or have fun in the sun. 

The pool at night

Surrounded by lush greenery, the one-hectare beachfront property in the village of Catagman offers guests with various types of accommodations found in its chic villas and suites designed with Japanese, Thai, Balinese, Oriental, Mediterranean and Filipiniana-inspired motifs. Aside from these, Bali-Bali also boasts of a two-storey hotel that’s quite cozy and capacious to give you the ultimate holiday experience. 
Rates for the villas and suites (good for two persons) near the infinity pool range from Php6,000 to Php7,000 while those for the two-bedroom rester suites (good for four people) range from Ph10,000 to Php12,000 per night. For the hotel, the price is pegged at Php6,500 per night for a deluxe room (good for two persons) and Php7,000 per night for a superior room (good for two persons). You have to pay extra for any excess in the number of persons per room/accommodation type.

Camp Holiday's two-storey hotel

Camp Holiday. Located right beside Samal Ferry Wharf in Babak, Camp Holiday offers the ideal hideaway especially for families and groups of friends. The resort boasts of a sprawling ground where kids can safely play around and camp out, a white sand beach, a large outdoor swimming pool, an open veranda, and several casitas. It’s your perfect venue for business events, meetings, conferences, conventions, seminars, and social functions and gatherings such as parties, reunions, and the like.

If you opt to stay overnight, Camp Holiday has a two -storey hotel with 57 rooms, 3 suites (with 2 bedrooms), and 12 cottages and 8 dormitory-type dwellings. Each of the resort’s guest rooms and cottage are air-conditioned, complete with amenities for a relaxing and restful vacay.

Mt. Apo as seen from Camp Holiday

Camp Holiday aircon cottages

The rooms are furnished with cable TV, desks, hot and cold showers, and wi-fi connections. Camping tents are also available for rent. Deluxe rooms and cottages are priced at Php1,800 (good for two to three persons); suite rooms at Php3,500 (good for four to six people); dormitory rooms at Php2,100 (good for a maximum of six people). 

While you may opt to bring in your own food, the resort has its own restaurant serving surprisingly affordable dishes. For parties, food may be served buffet-style. 

Camp Holiday resto at night

Kaputian Beach Park. Owned by the local government, this public beach resort is found at the southern coast of the island, specifically in the village of Kaputian. If you’re on a shoestring budget, then the resort is the best place to be. As the name implies, the beach park boasts of a powdery white sand beach and crystal clear blue waters.

Kaputian Beach Park

The port of Kaputian

For a pittance of an entrance fee, you gain access to a liberating swim in the inviting waters and a leisurely stroll along the powdery white sand beach. Rates are Php5 for kids and Php10 for adults on day tour and Php25 for kids and Php75 for adults for an overnight stay at the beach. Picnic sheds are available at Php75 for day tourists and Php100 for overnighters. Tents good for two are available at Php250 per day.

One of the most popular destinations in Samal, the resort has modest accommodations, mostly nipa cottages, with the following rates: Php300 (small cottage with fan but no comfort room good for a maximum of two persons); Php400 (small, aircon cottage with toilet and bathroom good for a maximum of two persons); and Php800 (big, aircon cottage with toilet and bathroom good for a maximum of four people). It also has a family room with fan and double-deck beds at Php200 per person. 

All cottages are built facing west, giving guests a beachfront view of nearby Talikud Island.
Punta del Sol Beach Resort. Located on the southwestern side of the island in the village of Catagman, this charming beach resort provides an unforgettable tropical island experience for those raring for a beach life. Be it a corporate team building event, a weekend wandering with friends, a family reunion with loved ones, a honeymoon with your better half or even a solo sojourn, Punta Del Sol is the place to be in Samal.

A marina at Punta del Sol

Sunrise at Punta del Sol

Accommodations include overnight cottages with rates ranging from as low as Php1,500 (good for two persons) to as much as Php4,800 (good for two persons), all inclusive of free brekkie. There are, however, cottages that are good for four people. The resort also has aircon and non-aircon dormitory-type dwellings good for 10 to 20 people, with rates varying from Php2,500 to Php7,200 per night. 

Relax in Punta del Sol's refreshing huts!

Punta del Sol is perfect for those who want to go snorkeling and/or scuba diving. Visitors get a chance to experience the life aquatic while swimming and scouring the underwater world, equipped with diving mask, snorkel and swim fins. The resort offers diving lessons with rates hovering between Php1,050 to Php2,500.

It also has its own resto where you can savor the freshest catch from the sea. If you’re craving for tuna (jaw, belly, tail and what have you), it’s the perfect place for lunches and dinners, all at reasonable prices. The beach resort also offers island hopping package tours and caters to birthdays, weddings, reunions, seminars, conferences and the like.

Bali huts are perfect for massages

Having written about some of the most exciting destinations in Samal, let me close this post with these popular lines from Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The poet may have other things in mind when he wrote them but for me, they seem to prod us to ditch whatever it is we’re doing; to take the road not taken, the one we often take for granted in our quest for fame and fortune. It’s the road that leads us to true happiness, the one that brings us back to the people who make life worth living—our families and friends. 

Frost’s words stir us to set sail, seek solace and soak in on all the fun and frolic that are to be experienced in some exciting destination of our own choice. NOW. For now is the time to make the choice. Now is the time to pack your bags and embark on a sojourn to Samal with your loved ones! 

No comments:

Post a Comment