Read this before your next trip to Sicogon!
Sicogon Island, Iloilo’s hidden gem in the north, reopened last December 19, 2022 with the resumption of Airswift flights from Manila to Sicogon and the newly re-opened Huni Sicogon Resort. This is a rising tourism leisure estate by Ayala Land in Western Visayas that’s three times the size of Lio Estate in El Nido, Palawan.
Before the pandemic, this was on our bucket list because we like visiting new destinations in their pristine condition and get to enjoy them with less crowd. Finally, it opened in time for the summer of 2023 for those families looking for new beach resort destinations to enjoy.
Here is our awesome travel guide for your next summit-to-sea experience at Huni Sicogon.
Related Blog Post: HUNI SICOGON: What to Expect @hunisicogon ? (First Look)
MANILA (MNL) ✈️ SICOGON (ICO)
We love flying via Airswift because it feels like flying on a private plane, bringing you point to point to the best beach destinations in the Philippines.
Usually you have to fly to Roxas City and go to Estancia fishing port to catch a public boat that will take you to Sicogon Island in 45 to 60 minutes. With the Airswift MNL-ICO flight, it only takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Huni Sicogon Resort.
Visit https://www.air-swift.com for your flight booking
You can enjoy Sicogon on a long weekend by taking the Friday early AM flight and going back on Monday morning for work. You can also enjoy the island on a weekday, fly on a Monday and back on a Friday. Round trip ticket costs about ₱9,000, but make sure to check the resort’s bundle offers.
The 5:55 am flight on a Friday is really tough because you have to wake up early and be at NAIA Terminal 4 (which is the old Manila Airport) by 4:30 am. Only 10kg of check-in luggage is allowed and strictly 1 piece of 7kg carry-on luggage.
The Sicogon Island leisure estate features 810 hectares of masterplanned island development by Ayala Land with 280 hectares of forest land.
It features its own airport and jetty port. It’s located near Boracay, Guimaras Island, Malapascua, Gigantes Island, and Concepcion Islands.
Huni Resort is literally 5 minutes from the airport.
🏨 WHERE TO STAY?
Huni Sicogon Resort is located in a serene beach enclave featuring an infinity pool and beach front access to a white shallow beach during low tide.
This boutique resort has 52 rooms in a 2 storey building with one main pool flanked by the resort’s only restaurant and the happy hour pool bar.
Family Suite (Room 220)
This family suite room is the best room in the resort, located on the 2nd floor in the corner (for privacy) with a view of the pool and the sea.
The room, with three single beds and a sofa bed, can comfortably fit a family of 4.
It has a big restroom with two wash sinks and eco-friendly bath amenities.
Deluxe Beach View (Room 209)
The teenagers had their own room far from the parents room but still near for comfort.
This is the second floor view from the deluxe room on the left side of the resort.
Soon the resort will feature rustic quaint accommodations under a kogon roof with an immersive local vibe and home-cooked food along the quiet end of Sicogon’s Buaya White Beach.
🦀 WHAT TO EAT? 🦐
The best part of our stay at Huni Sicogon is the lazy late lunch by the beach with the family with a windy beach al fresco ambiance.
We tried almost all the food (with mixed reactions), and here are our favorites.
Scallops. Indulge in these mini scallops baked with garlic, butter, and cheese plus charred goodness. Sicogon is famous for its one-peso scallops, and I’m craving for these now while writing this.
Soup. You get to enjoy famous Ilonggo food—their Batchoy noodle soup and Binakol with native chicken cooked in coconut juice served in its shell.
Squid. Generally, you won’t go wrong with fresh seafood. We loved their squid cooked just right, with a bite and not chewy. Served stuffed or cooked adobo style.
Crabs. We loved using our hands and feasting on the local Alimasag in coconut sauce. One kilo was served in two plates of thin tasty crabs. Sarap if you love crabs!
Meat. For variety, you can order the chicken inasal, crispy pata or the liempo which was just okay. The kids loved them.
Happy Hour. The cocktails were expensive but they were at buy one take one from 4pm to 6pm when people start to hang out by the pool bar or on the beach. Service can take some time so get ready with your cocktail order. The cocktails hit with a right kind of tipsy beach vibe.
Merienda. We loved their Palabok and Calamari, which you can enjoy while hanging out by the pool during happy hour. You can also try the burgers and other snacks.
We loved the Pinoy breakfast specially the pork tocino. On weekends, they serve buffet so you can enjoy a lazy breakfast with the family.
Dessert. Skip dessert; it would just be a waste of calories. The Halo Halo was disappointing.
⛵️ WHAT TO DO? 🌊
Isla de Gigantes Island Hopping
Tip: Best to leave as early as possible to be ahead of the tour group crowd from Iloilo.
Isla de Gigantes is a group of islands in Carles, Iloilo which resemble a giant laying down. It’s one hour away by banca from Sicogon Island’s own jetty port. Budget about ₱5,000 per group to a book day tour of the islands.
The tour takes you to Tanke Island with the Enchanted Lagoon, then to Cabugao Gamay which is known as the best selfie island because of the awesome selfie with a view of the island. Then you can visit the Bantigue Sandbar with white shelly sand where you can swim and hangout.
We had lunch at Antonia’s Island, where you can go snorkeling and enjoy a seafood feast.
Best to pre-order your food and budget about ₱2,000 for a family lunch.
Mt. Opao Summit Hike
Take the challenge to climb the highest point on Sicogon island—Mt. Opao summit with a height of 214 meters (702 ft). It takes about one hour and 30 minutes to hike to the summit.
This was my first summit hike after the pandemic, and it was tough because it was a steep climb all the way. We woke up at 5am and started hiking from the base at 5:58am and reached the summit around 7:12am (74 minutes). We went down 7:36am and were at the jump-off point at 8:26am (50 minutes). The area was recently declared as a wildlife sanctuary.
You are rewarded with awesome views of the Sicogon Island airport and Huni Sicogon resort and even get oriented on the nearby islands and the mainland of Estancia, Iloilo.
Don’t miss spotting the wild pitcher plants with vase-shaped leaves and tasting the wild batwan with the mukhang-asim sourness of kamias.
From the moment we arrived at the resort, Yugi wanted to swim, so we were wet all day everyday during our stay. Borrow the frisbee for added fun with the kids.
We couldn’t escape game nights with Yugi, playing Jenga and chess.
Don’t miss to take portrait shots of the family. We had to do solo shots of the kids.
The sun sets at the back of the resort and the resort glows beautifully during twilight.
Make sure to book the masseuse for a well-deserved in-room massage.
Tip: Cash only. There’s no ATM at the resort. We asked if someone in the resort had gcash and we exchanged for cash.
🤔 FINAL THOUGHTS
Overall, this was one of the memorable family experiences we had in 2022! We loved the secluded charm of the island where you literally you take your time to swim – eat – sleep – repeat. The flight schedule is ideal for a weekend family escape on long weekends and a 4-day/3-night stay is just the perfect time to relax and enjoy the serenity of the resort.
We loved the Ilonggo food, particularly the batchoy, binakol, and their fresh seafood—the Sicogon scallops, alimasag crabs, and squid served with stuffing, adobo or as fried calamares. We also enjoyed happy hour by the pool bar and their palabok. We often ate a lazy breakfast or a late lunch. Make sure to pre-order because service is on provincial time so allot at least 1 hour for your food to arrive.
Sicogon delivers on its Summit-to-Sea promise. Make sure to arrange the Islas de Gigantes island hopping tour and to take the Mt. Opao Summit Hike challenge when the weather is good. Make sure to leave as early as you can to avoid the crowds.
It was awesome to finally get to travel with newlyweds Martin and Ave and to mastermind how to move forward with Travel Content Creation in 2023 together. Yugi boy enjoyed their company.
Best of all, we loved how friendly, courteous and helpful the people were throughout our stay! Ang galing!
Congratulations to Ayala Resorts, Huni Sicogon, and the entire service team for an awesome stay.
Related Blog Post: HUNI SICOGON: What to Expect @hunisicogon ? (First Look)
Live an Awesome Life with Christ,
Founder & Digital Creator, Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Thank you to Huni Sicogon for the awesome experience. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. On the flight back, they do manual screening of your bags, and they are strict on the luggage limit.