Palawan, Philippines

Palawan, Philippines

Gorgeous private island, but where was that wind?

In December 2014, I made it to 250K Kiteboarding in Palawan – Philippines. It is quite a journey to get there: fly from Manila to Coron Airport, an hour on a dirt road to get to Coron City, then a traditional Filipino 3hr boat ride from Coron’s marina to the island. 250k Kiteboarding has its own little island located in the middle of nowhere: Bamboo Private Island! It’s absolutely gorgeous and unspoiled: a getaway from all the busy Asian cities.

At first, our plan was to stay at Bamboo Island for 3 weeks. We were hoping to avoid the crowd and get a relaxing holiday. 250k sounded perfect for our getaway plan: pristine water, 7 little cottages, a cook for the guests, a rescue boat, SUP to use for free, an IKO instructor, non-windy days island hopping, fresh fruits and seafood, bar on the beach and kite/equipment area.

This sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Well, we couldn’t take “paradise” for more than 5 days.

 

First, the wind in this area is very inconsistent. The island is surrounded by multiple islands which means wind shadows and venturi effects. Even though some other parts of the Philippines have great wind, Palawan area doesn’t seem to have wind that strong. We inflated our 17M and 13M twice for about two hours or so while we were there.

Johannes was the manager of the place. Originally from Germany, he seems to be a good guy and very responsive by email. On our second day on the island, Johannes took off leaving us with his staff (cook, boat driver, and construction guys). The wind forecast was completely dead for 3-4 days in a row. He booked a last-minute trip and flew to another part of the Philippines where the wind was strong and where there was a big kite event with pro-riders. I would have died to go too but he never told us about it (until he came back).

When we decided to leave earlier than planned, Johannes admitted that he didn’t understand how we could have considered staying there 3 weeks; he wouldn’t have done it himself.

It’s not a cheap location either; if you are expecting luxury, this place might not be what you are looking for as it is a bit on the rough side. Showers were with limited water, not having clean towels or bed sheets even if you stay there for a while.

On the plus side, it took me 15 minutes stand up paddle boarding around the island. This was fun for sure. Our cottage was seconds from the beach and it was super quiet.

All in all, go there if you have money, don’t care about luxury, are ready to not have any wind, are ready to do other activities in a gorgeous environment (Palawan has so much to offer).

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My husband’s take on the plus and minuses:

Pluses (in Dec 2014): Perfect island, fine sand, no bugs, nice hammocks, quiet. Fantastic bamboo huts with private toilet and comfortable mattresses. Listen to the sound of the ocean while you sleep. Very few guests at a time. Healthy food that I found decent. Boat excursion to desert island, lagoon and fishermen’s islands was a wonderful experience. No wi-fi and pretty much no cell coverage.

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Minuses (in Dec 2014): Long, uncomfortable and hot fishing boat (advertised as “catamaran”) ride with no shade from Coron to the island. French “Maître De” (or host) from hell welcomed the severely dehydrated/tired from 48h+ of travel new comers with rum (even though I asked for water or coconut water) for a mandatory welcome ritual/ceremony.  No laundry possible on the island (not even do it yourself in the sink) for ecological reasons. The host told us on arrival that the showers in our rooms didn’t work, that if we absolutely wanted to shower, that we could use a cup or two(max) of water from drums in the common “shower area”. Rescue boat was a flimsy fishing boat that can only be used in low/no wind. Sharp coral where we could stand. Instant coffee only (Maître De said real coffee was too expensive). No bottled water (I didn’t find the earthy spring water that bad, but another guest did). Coconut water was a huge favor that only the brave would exceptionally ask for. Helpful and nice local staff did not engage with guests. Very limited methods of payment on site. I would have countless anecdotal and funny stories to tell, but this isn’t a humor blog.

Advice

Ask questions to set your expectations. If you have any diva demands, take the time to list them ALL and get an email confirmation that they have been communicated to and accepted. Enjoy everything there is to enjoy and immediately accept the less pleasant surprises.  You might have a wonderful time.


Where to stay: http://www.kiteboarding-philippines.com/
Closest airport: Coron (USU)
How to get there: by boat
Where to stay: 250K Kiteboarding (only option)
The GPS coordinates of the island are: 11°45’53.75″N  120° 5’4.37″E