Post-lockdown beach escape!
Due to the pandemic, many of us are still unsure about the idea of traveling after all, COVID-19 still lurks in the shadows. This weekend, I finally had the courage to fly out of Manila for a much-needed beach getaway. My first air travel since the lockdown!
Join me as I rediscover the outside world and the concept of travel in the new normal.
First Things First
First thing that came to mind upon planning this trip: Is it safe?
Since I’ve heard the news that the government has started easing domestic travel restrictions, I started researching the travel rules and requirements of my favorite travel destinations locally.
Right on top of my list was Palawan. I was actually pleasantly surprised to learn that Coron, Palawan has recently reopened (Dec 1, 2020) and is now allowing tourists/local visitors from all over the Philippines—provided that each guest has undergone stringent health protocols and acquired all necessary documents for domestic air travel.
We hurriedly planned a trip to Coron with Cebu Pacific and our DOT accredited resort of choice or the best resort in Coron: Club Paradise Palawan.
Club Paradise Palawan is an exclusive island resort in Coron nestled amid the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. True to its name, this private island resort indeed is a Paradise. It has the most picturesque panoramic view, turquoise waters, and pristine white sand.
If you’re looking for a safe place to restart, unwind, and detach from the modern, chaotic world, Club Paradise Palawan is definitely the place to be.
Safe Travel to Palawan
This was our first air travel since the lockdown! And we were surprised to learn that this was Cebu Pacific’s maiden flight to Coron, Palawan (Busuanga) since it reopening last Dec. 1, 2020.
Stepping foot into an airplane again after many months of being stuck at home was a weird experience for all of us. I think it’s going to take some time for us to get used to seeing flight attendants and airport crew wearing hazmat suits.
Note: Faceshields and face masks are required to be worn at all times. Also, Alcohol is your new best friend! Make sure you sanitize everything before getting comfy in your seats.
Upon landing at Busuanga Airport, we were greeted by the airport crew equipped with misting disinfectants for sanitizing luggage and carryons.
After getting our bags and luggages disinfected, we were then instructed to proceed to the hand washing station and then fil-out contactless forms.
And since there were very few passengers, there were no long lines and the entire process was fairly smooth.
From the airport, we traveled (via van for 15mins) to a port exclusive only to Club Paradise Palawan guests.
Aboard a small catamaran boat, we got to enjoy a serene view of the river surrounded by mangroves while on our way to the resort.
Like any other Discovery Group resort, light snacks and refreshments were always provided prior to boarding. Here’s kuya Noel in full gear: Face shield, face mask, gloves.
Social distancing was observed at all time and maximum capacity of the boat was down to only 50% – this is to ensure that social distancing measures are observed.
It only took us less than an hour to get to the resort, kind of wished it took longer as we really enjoyed the scenic boat ride. Badly missed the salty air and the sound of waves crashing against the boat.
The weather was perfect and the turquoise water was really inviting, made me want to jump straight to the water and swim right away!
It was a weird feeling, finally being able to touch the sand again after months of being confined in the metro. The sound of the waves hitting the sand was music to my ears.
Club Paradise Palawan Experience
Upon arrival, the resort staff greeted us with warmth and excitement. It’s as if they too deprived of social interaction but at the same time were craving to see and meet new faces.
After the beach welcome, our bags were then taken to a disinfecting area for another round of sanitation while we had our lunch at the building, The Firefish Restaurant.
We were welcomed by a festive spread of fresh seafood cooked on the spot. Unlike the usual buffet setting, the new custom is to point which food you like > have the chef cook it for you > then wait for the food to be served to your table.
Everything is contactless now and even the menu is digital! You just need to scan the QR code in order for you to access their breakfast, lunch and dinner selections.
It’s the little things that matter! I also noticed that the. common areas were constantly sanitized.
Our first of many meals in paradise: Freshly grilled assorted seafood and spicy Tom Yum.
A personal favorite of mine is their Mango Sticky rice. The resident chef is actually a Thai national which explains why the Thai food we had for lunch tasted like actual Thai cuisine.
Here’s a pic of our villa, we stayed here for 3 days and 2 nights.
The villa was called “Sunset Villas” – the view from this part of the island is where the sun sets, hence the name.
At first glance, The Villas seemed like a typical beach-hut on the outside but upon entering you’ll notice the contrast of beachy yet modern vibe on the inside.
Also, I really like the rustic look and feel of the interior. Not to mention, the almost all wood high ceiling, flooring, and local-wood furnishings which make it feel like you never left home.
Aside from the rooms, Club Paradise also features an equally inviting swimming pool that’s conveniently located smack right at the center where the rooms, dining halls, and the beach meet.
Fun fact: Club Paradise Palawan’s pool is half salt water and half freshwater and it’s also open all day everyday!
And of course, on our first day, we went straight to one of their beachside huts to relax and enjoy the salty fresh breeze!
Surprisingly, the resort also features a fast and stable internet connection which I did not expect from a such remote island in palawan. oh! and it’s Perfect for workstations too!
To say that we were “pampered” would be an understatement. All throughout the day, we would always be approached by the extremely friendly resort staff and offer us snacks, refreshments, or occasionally, Evian water facial mist! One of my favorites were these Christmas themed brownies.
It’s times like this that makes you appreciate how quiet and tranquil this place is.
The whole place was picture perfect! Everyday was a sunny day and during the afternoon when the sun sets we make sure to go for bare-foot walks by the beach to enjoy powdery white sand and crystal clear waters.
And if ever you get tired of walking you can always go do some kayaking right before sunset.
Club Paradise Palawan is also home to hundreds of fruit bats – which goes to show how unscathed this place is. Never felt so close to nature before! At exactly 5:30pm you’ll regularly see hundreds of bats flying out of the forest from behind the resort and onto the next island.
No better way to end the day with an Ice cold beer by the beach!
At night, the resort transforms into a romantic getaway kind of vibe that’s perfect for young partners and couples. I also really fancied the warm lights, white drapes adorning the cabanas, and the soft relaxing music playing in the background.
Another interesting spot on the resort The Club House/Reception area that is often overlooked. Its front porch flaunts an old tree embellished with vines and funky looking furnitures that kind of reminded me of Bali.
For our 2nd night, we had a lovely filipino style fiesta dinner under the stars and were served a variety of filipino dishes from Kare-kare, Crispy pata, Tinola, and the staple pinoy-favorite dessert, buko pandan!
Like all their catered buffet feast, everyone maintained social distancing at all times during our stay, and the food was always heated and cooked right on the spot.
After our nice sumptuous dinner, they even prepared an outdoor movie screening with bean bags as seats. And of course, a movie night wouldn’t be complete without free popcorn!
Featuring the resort’s resident night heron, George! Funny how this guy seems to be watching the movie with us. We would constantly see him casually roaming around the resort along with the Bayawaks!
Prior to dinner I also had my room cleaned and was surprised to come back to a personalized pillow and a ready to use foot spa set. A great way to relax after a full day of outdoor activities.
and I ofcourse I was also glad to see a replenished in-room midnight snack of fruits, cheese, and pastries. You can never have enough good food!
On our last day, we decided to arrange and wake up extra early to climb up the “Eagle’s Point” the highest point on the whole island.
The view was nothing short of amazing! It was a quick 15-minute hike going to the viewing deck that is resting on top of a limestone cliff.
Eagle’s Point boasts a 360 view of the entire island and Coron mainland.
It’s really rewarding to get to enjoy this view and soak up the morning sun before returning to Manila.
After the hike, the next best thing to doof course is to go for a swim in the crystal clear morning waters surrounding the resort.
And if you’re lucky enough, you might even bump into some baby sharks, dugongs (Sea Cow), or sea turtles that regularly visit the reef of Club Paradise.
Being in a protected area (UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), the waters surrounding the resort is teeming with marine life.
During one of my snorkeling sessions, I even got to swim alongside 3 turtles swimming oh so casually along the reef! One of the highlights of this trip I must say.
Overall, we had such a wonderful time at Club Paradise Palawan. I couldn’t have asked for more. I’m really glad I spent my first ever post-lockdown travel adventure here, I can’t even think of a better place to relax, reset, and recharge. Props to the unmatched hospitality shown to us by Discovery Group!
And one thing is for sure! Once travel returns to normal, I would definitely go back and treat my family here! The unmatched hospitality, care, and warm accommodation of Discovery Group’s staff is really what sets it apart from the rest of the resorts and hotels I’ve been to. The staff’s hospitality is really what makes the experience here unique.
My Thoughts about the flight:
The entire booking, checking-in, and boarding was all-in-all a lengthy but relatively smooth process. Although, the process took longer than usual and more tedious as the airline staff still had to go through each of our documents and had to recheck if it’s falsified or not. It was still definitely a welcome change.
Props to Cebu Pacific and the local government of Coron for managing to implement and carry out a smooth and systematic protocol that would prioritize the safety of the tourists coming in and out of Coron.
Becoming a responsible new normal traveler:
Protocols change sometimes without notice and with the global pandemic still raging around the world, of course, I too had my fair share of hesitations and went back and forth before actually arranging this trip (it’s better to be safe than sorry).
I did a lot of research and made sure that I have followed the “new normal travel guidelines” so I wouldn’t be caught off guard. At the airport, I saw a lot of travelers that were uninformed of the requirements and new procedures. These setbacks would sometimes prevent them from boarding the plane or from making the trip. Thankfully, the Club Paradise Palawan staff was very helpful and had provided us with FAQ’s and a summary of the travel requirements right upon booking and had guided us all throughout prior to our departure.
Another thing that made me decide to finally go on this trip was the thought of having an entire island all to ourselves. Also, the fact that all guests were required to take an RT-PCR test (48hrs before flight) and the resort staff were isolated in a “safety bubble”— so it can’t get any safer than that!
I’ve concluded that traveling amid the pandemic can be safe and harmless as long as you take extra precautions and become a more responsible traveler by following the rules, doing your research, and carefully planning out your trip before anything else.
Live an Awesome Life,
NICO of Team Our Awesome Planet