Is this the world's most relaxing beach?
Welcome to the Philippines, or as I remember it, the week I simply stopped.
I’m usually an active traveller; checking out the newest restaurants or trekking out of big cities to discover local landscapes. Partying it up in the coolest clubs in town, or visiting local places of historic or religious significance.
But what if you can’t? What if there are no such activities nearby? I travelled to Southern Palawan to find out if such a holiday would suit an active person like myself.
Southern Palawan in the Philippines is a place not many tourists have visited. Certainly in all my years working as a travel journalist, I’d never net anyone who had been, or even anyone who had discussed it with me. Northern Palawan, yes. But Southern, no.
To reach our accommodation we’d taken an 8 hour flight from Dubai to Manila, followed by a 1 hour flight to Puerto Princessa, followed by a five hour drive south, to an area called Rizal.
On the drive as we wound our way through the thick forests, seeing barely another soul aside from at occasional roadside shacks serving water or noodles (to who, I don’t know). I wondered about our destination. Questions ran through my mind. Where were we heading? What might somewhere so remote look like? Who we might meet? How did such a remote location come to be rented out to tourists? Who visited?
Top of my question list though, of course, was just what would I do with my time?
Having long wanted to visit the Philippines, we booked Mommy Sally’s guesthouse via Airbnb. On her host page, she states that she runs a “secluded eco house on a deserted beach", which sold it to us. Let's be honest, that along with the images of the location.
After our long journey, we arrived at our destination in the dark, late at night. Mommy Sally herself was there to greet us, show us our beach hut for the week, introduce us to the local (friendly!) stray dogs, and assure us that we would be greeted with the most spectacular view when we awoke the next morning.
Mommy Sally, as we later found out, had grown up on this plot of land. A Filipino native, she married a Frenchman with whom she had children, one of who ended up working in the French film industry. It was he, who on a visit back home from France, suggested this secluded plot of land might be somewhere to rent out. It was he who helped build the beach shacks and ensure they had some modern amenities, and it was he who provided the drone camera to take such breathtaking photos that are now displayed proudly on their Airbnb booking page.
And I’m so thankful he did. Without him, this small corner of the Philippines would still be undiscovered by anyone except the locals.
Certainly not by me.
Mommy Sally still lives on this plot of land, slightly inland from her rented beach huts. Her home is a more modest affair, in keeping with the lifestyle she’s been accustomed to since childhood.
After our night arrival where we saw nothing of the local habitat besides the glittering stars, and, despite our long journey to reach our location, we awoke at 6AM, bright and breezy, feeling naturally energised by the morning light pouring in through the white muslin curtains.
One peek out of these curtains, and just as Mommy Sally had promised, our breath was quite literally taken away.
In view; five sandy metres from our front door stretched a row of palm trees. In front of them a wider stretch of pristine white sand, not a foot print on it, tumbled its way down to a transparent-blue flat sea, stretching out to the horizon. The calmest, flattest, sea I’ve ever seen. And it kept its calm right out to the horizon.
Thanks to the lack of tourists, we quickly realised we had this entire beautiful beach cove to ourselves for the week. Not another soul to share it with, aside from the occasional fisherman making his way home. Oh, the fishermen plus our pink flamingo who travelled here with us. A flamingo that proved quite the sight to the few locals we saw who really didn’t know what to make of it (or us, I imagine!).
A week here is a week in paradise indeed.
It’s a time I’ve come to remember as, the week I simply stopped.
My days went something like this: wake up, take a coffee down to our hammock on the beach. Dip my toes in the ocean. Don my bikini and dip my whole body into the ocean. Head back to the hut where Mommy Sally has brought a fresh breakfast to the table. Eat breakfast and head back to the ocean. Sunbathe. Seabathe. Read. Hear Mommy Sally come back with lunch. The same again in the afternoon.… You get the idea.
Of course, we did partake in a few activities during the week; a trip to the local market to buy vegetables with Mommy Sally, and a snorkelling trip out to sea with one of the nearby fisherman. But otherwise it was eat, sleep, relax, repeat. In the truest sense of the terms.
And, despite all preconceptions of my lack of ability to do nothing - I loved it.
Stay with Mommy Sally:
If you fancy a stay here yourself, please note that Mommy Sally’s huts don’t meet the luxurious standards of 5* hotels. While a pleasant wooden stilt house you do need to be prepared for a more eco friendly living standard, in keeping with the local environment. You’ll have a love/hate relationship with the local cockerel who decides to crow through the thin walls every morning around 3AM, and you may have to make your peace with the occasional insect or gekko who wants to share your living room. All of that said, we were brought fresh crab and prawns for lunch on a regular basis which, if food is as important to you as it is to me, is living the life of luxury indeed!
Visit Mommy Sally’s Airbnb link to book. Her English is limited but she has family around her who will be happy to assist with booking accommodation and transport from Puerto Princesca airport, Palawan.
And, if you like the pink flamingo spotted throughout this article, purchase on on our online store.
- By Katie Silcox
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