Friday, September 14, 2012

Travelogue: Grace Island Resort - Occidental Mindoro, Philippines

Philippines has officially became my most frequent country all thanks to the Filipino travel-fanatics I have in my office. And I'm not sure if you've noticed but this is my third time travelling to Philippines within a year actually, first to Boracay last November (read here), then to Palawan this summer (read here) and now, Occidental Mindoro!


This year in August, we took a 4D3N trip down to Mindoro, the seventh largest island in Philippines, or to be more exact, Occidental Mindoro, the western half of the island, for some adventures and misadventures. HAHA!

We had a friend (and I am so thankful for her) who arranged the entire itinerary for us and we travelled with a group consisting of guards experienced boatmen, had lots of privileges and special treatments along the way. So I'm doing my travelogue post a little different this time, I will only be talking about the various wonderful locations that we checked out during this trip... :)


First up...

Grace Island Resort



Grace Island Resort is a tiny island located in the cove of the island of Ambulong, approximately an hour's boat ride from Caminawit Port.

Mind you, it is so small and secluded that it is hardly marked on the maps by Google so I really thank everyone who helped me derive at the location of the island on the map eventually! Can you spot the red circle I made to help you locate the island?



Departing from Caminawit Port...

We left for Grace Island on a bangka boat from Caminawit Port which is about a short 15 minutes car ride from the San Jose Domestic Airport. The port was actually very busy that Friday morning when we were there and the atmosphere was kinda tensed in my opinion where the locals had all their eyes on a foreigner like me.

Well, the tension ceased gradually as we move away from the port.



Watching the waves chasing each another while we rock in and out of sleep on the boat ride...



My usual shot of the side of the bangka we're on, skimming over the surface of the waters... :)



The sleepyheads but still excited even though we did an overnight flight from SG and transitting in Manila in the wee hours before we got to San Jose Domestic Airport!



After about an hour, we finally see the iconic view that tells us that Grace Island Resort is near!



THERE! In the near distance, our destination for the day and the place we'll be staying for the night!







Approaching the island and the resort...



When we disembark from our boat, we were greeted by a live band, an iced cold refreshing drink and staff giving us a short briefing about the facilities and activities available at the resort...



Some of the activities available at Grace Island Resort includes banana boat rides, jet-skis, snorkeling or if you prefer to stay dry, you can follow the trail on bike or foot or do island hopping trips to the nearby islands and beaches. For the full list of activities available, you can check their website here.

And that's us with the banana boat for a picture only! Hehe... 



The floating huts of Grace Island Resort!

On the way to check out our rooms after the welcome and briefing, we so absorbed by this view.
The floating huts, the clear blue sky, crystal clear waters, the sea breeze brushing pass your face and the tranquility you can find there, it seriously made me feel like I am somewhere else but Philippines. 

I shall be bold and say, this is the "Maldives" of Philippines!








Since we arrived slightly before lunch time and the crystal clear waters were seriously welcoming so we wasted no time and got ourselves changed and went for a swim! A big pity that the fishes we spotted while we're on deck were a little shy and disappeared after we jumped in but there's surely lots of starfishes around! HEHE! :)



I seriously wonder what's up there at the end...
Sadly, I forgot to check that place out before we left the next day! Haha...



The three musketeers, maybe? 



The friend (camera shy) who made all arrangements for us and I am super thankful for her efforts!



Meet the boys and the boys... Haha!
psst... the ones in the blue tees were the guards we had in our entourage while we travel this time!


A couple of scenery shots while walking back to the Octagon House where the meals are served...






The shower rooms and toilets on the upper levels on the right...
The Octagon House in the back ground... :)





Old school playground set!

You probably have idea how I screamed like a little kid when I saw these old school see-saw just outside the Octagon House! We used to have these kind of playgrounds in Singapore but not anymore. It seriously is nostalgic! 



The beautiful interiors of the Octagon House...



Poor kitty kitty was stuck up above while we're having lunch...
Took the staffs quite a while to save it!


Sorry for being a "workaholic" when I see food served on the table even though I am on a holiday but here's presenting to you... Our awesome spread of Filipino dishes for lunch! :D


Sinigang na Isda [Sour fish soup] 



Dinuguan [Pork blood stew]



Kaldereta Kambing [Goat meat stew in tomato sauce]


Inihaw na baboy [Filipino-styled Grilled pork chop]

Aside from grilled pork chops that we brought on our own and had one of the men in the entourage I had affectionally refer to as Tatay Boteng (Daddy Boteng), the rest of the food were prepared by the resort! We were not exactly extremely hungry but we cleared out most of the food because these Filipino dishes were simply scrumptious!


After lunch, we went to explore around the back of the island and found a small souvenir shop there while a couple of us went ahead to catch up on the sleep we missed the night before... 





It's cooling and serene at the back but too bad they are still constructing the benches or I did just hang around longer to enjoy a quiet afternoon doing nothing and watch the waves crashing onto the rocks... :)



Aside from the rooms or the meal hut, there are also spacious pavilions (left background) where you can rent for your lunch or dinner gathering if you have a big group and don't want to just sit around the table for your meals...



That's one of the family hut we took up with 2 rooms with a queen sized bed each...
A porch in front and a powder room at the rear!... :)



I remembered I joked that the bamboo bridge leading to the huts surely isn't a path for the drunkards...
And probably that's why they don't serve alcoholic drinks on this island! Hehe...






At the hut while getting some shade from the mad scorching afternoon sun, we did silly things at the porch, counted fishes that started to surface after i dropped a piece of my biscuit accidentally and starred at the underside of the roof made of dried leaves until we all dozed off shortly with the slight rocking of the floating huts along with the current!


We were actually supposed to go fishing some time late afternoon but we kind of overslept and by the time we woke up from the afternoon nap, the sun was almost going to set!






The boys with the basic line and hook but no matter the fact that we used hermit crabs as bait...
We were not lucky with much catch... :(



The one and only tiny fishy we had... so tiny that it's only palm sized!



Trying to keep it alive while waiting for more catch...


We gave up eventually and decided to just relax and watch the sunset plus check out the fishes at the Fish Cage where the resort reared a series of fishes, baby sharks and even a turtle!...


I took a deep breathe and figured that once I leave the island,
I will never ever feel so relaxed and composed ever again...



I really loved how the setting sun cast an orange hue over the floating huts of the resort! 
Simply gorgeous isn't it?... :)



Hermit crabs!

Since we had an abundance of them, we decided to give the reared sea creatures at the Fish Cage a little treat! :)



For viewing only, no fishing allowed.

But actually if you're game enough, you can actually jump in and have a swim with those fishes!
But looking at the size of the fishes, I had to admit that I chickened out. Haha!





Looked who surfaced to greet us when we arrived! The turtle!!! :D





Obviously they appreciated the hermit crabs better!











We had a great evening chatting about everything under the sun sitting there on the decks of the fish cage while I took a series of sunset shots... :)
























We hung around until the sun disappears behind the hills of Ambulong Island before I head off to get washed up and prepare for dinner. Watching the sun go down is actually quite heart dampening because it also marks the end of the awesome laid-back day we had... :(



Luckily there was a live band to cheer up the atmosphere over dinner! *beams*


Dinner was great also but I decided to give myself a break and didn't take any photos of food and even humans at all... Hehe! And I guess kudos to the live band over dinner, it kicked off the singing vibes in us and we took turns after dinner and did a mini concert with the karaoke system they have!


Seriously, we had no idea that all of us can sing so well! Hehe... =P



We sang till we got a little tired and headed back to our rooms to rest up...
before we set off again in the wee hours for our next stop of the trip at Apo Reef Island!...


Although it was a little boring that we didn't take up any activities like island hopping or the "thrill rides", I figured I grew to like that place and in fact, I missed the placid atmosphere all in all. I found myself so calmed and relaxed and I really enjoyed that change in my usual hectic lifestyle.

Anyway, did I forget to mention?
We hardly had reception for the phone lines there too and I seriously think that if you're looking at taking a good break and ditch the phone or the laptops and everything else for the day, Grace Island Resort is definitely the place for you!


For more information on Grace Island Resort, please refer to their website or Facebook page! :)

9 comments:

  1. I am impressed you travelled more of Philippines compared to a Filipino like me

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  2. Hehe! I just have some very adventurous Filipino friends to tag along with that's why… :)

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  3. This resort in the philippines is a perfect destination this summer.

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  4. nice travel blog...its very near to me...im living on the next town olny...but i never heard it before...maybe because i was working at manila and only fancy those places who's on philippines top list tourist destination....im now in saudi arabia and inshalah,,will visit this place when i got home...

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  5. Thank you for the compliments! Anyway yes, it's definitely worth a visit if you're looking for a relaxing break.

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  6. its been a year...since u replied and i didnt notice it... anyway..my town has more places to offer...i'll bring my camera next time...

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  7. Hey! You can always drop me a note and let me know where you think is good and I should check out. Don't mind another trip to the Philippines again... :)

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  8. in our island..your camera is good..for sure you can capture the beauty of the island

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