Our trip began at 10 a.m. when we landed in Busuanga airport. Club Paradise, our first hotel, had a van arranged to pick us up and deliver us to their dock on the Pangawaran river.
Arrivals and boat rides
The customer service started out excellently right from airport pickup. Jonard made us feel welcome right from the start, handing out seashell bracelets and giving us an overview of what the trip to the hotel would look like (20 min van ride, 40 min boat ride). He made use of the time in transit by telling us about the tours / activities available and teaching us about the area. They kept us nicely fed and hydrated, and gave us towels for the only slightly damp boat ride over. There was even a handy bottle of alcohol in the van in case you feel like sanitizing.
The river is surrounded by mangrove trees (where you can find mudcrabs), and consists of 30 percent salt water / 70 percent fresh water.
As we approached the island, I saw what I thought was a tree with dark leaves. In reality, it was a tree of bats who make their home at Club Paradise. They lived on the island before the resort was here, using it as their sleeping spot and leaving in the evenings to find food elsewhere. They’re actually quite cute, and there’s something deeply responsible about the hotel respecting the original inhabitants of the island.
There’s no perfect way to describe the feeling you get pulling into the private island of Club Paradise, with its sparkling blue waters and powdery sand. Everything that I write won’t do it justice, but it almost felt like a promise of adventures and relaxation.
We stepped off the boat, aided by 3 very cautious kuyas, we were welcomed with a face towel (for those who had splashier boat rides), refreshing drinks in Champagne flutes and an introduction to the island. They had an envelope of activity recommendations customized to our stay. We hung out in a cabana sipping drinks while we filled out our registration and listened to their Earth friendly reminders.
Club Paradise, Coron
Club Paradise comes equipped with karaoke, a TV lounge, billiards, beer pong table, a complete set of tour options, a pool, and a lot of fun things to do. Guests can have picnic lunches at the hidden beach and moonlight dinners on the main beach (just arrange it in advance with the front desk, there’s a small fee of approx $10). After we settled in, we were surprised with complimentary foot baths!
Our hotel was in front of a lagoon and Eagle’s Point hike. I was told it was a 20 minute hike, but it was the longest 20 minute hike I’ve ever been on. While my friend had a de-stressing massage at the spa (no massages in-room or at the beach), I decided to check out the hike. I was in flip flops, which was a mistake. At the end of the hour my friend was nice and relaxed and I looked like I lost a fight with a sweat hurricane (the next day I decided to get an aromatherapy massage). But there’s no arguing with the view at the top.
We snorkled the rest of the afternoon, then caught the sunset cruise on our way out. The waves are pretty strong, which are great for keeping the jellyfish away, but if you’re bringing kids be sure to rent life vests from the hotel. It’s free to borrow snorkeling gear, flippers, lifevests and kayaks (first come first serve basis).
That night I woke up with a few sand flea bites. Before I realized what they were I definitely sleep-scratched them. Do not do like I did.
The next the morning we had breakfast, rented some snorkeling gear, got stung by jellyfish, then hit the spa. Their spa manager Trixie seemed quite rude to my friend. It stood out as especially rude because all of her fellow staff were ultra polite. Each person we passed greeted us a happy summer, so it was mostly smiles even just strolling around. Poyce at the front desk was especially attentive, and even helped me print out a last-minute contract.
The light massage was the perfect way to relax. Plus, the spa, unlike the rooms, has fresh water to shower with.
We spent our last evening lounging on the beach and taking a clear-bottom kayak around. It was April Fool’s, and I had the back seat, so whenever my companion tried to steer us in one direction I’d paddle the other way. We watched the sunset on the kayak, then returned to our room to shower and get ready for dinner.
Another perfectly cooked meal of tanigue (Filipino for king fish) made me glad we ordered off the menu instead of going for their buffet. The service was slow, but courteous throughout.
Beware the bug bites. The locals call them nik nik, and I checked with the resort doctor and she said they were most likely sand flea bites. Being especially susceptible to bug bites, I assume I got bit by sand fleas, mosquitoes, and reacted to the jellyfish stings. Bring bug repellent on your trip, and if you get bitten try not to scratch. If you do, apply alcohol and you’ll just have to wait for the dark marks to fade.
Also, check the water for jellyfish and look up the months jellyfish are in Palawan before you book. We were bit up by small, palm-sized jellyfish one morning when we went to swim, and they left terrible marks. We had asked the staff beforehand if there were any jellyfish, and they said it wasn’t likely since the waves around Club Paradise are strong, so don’t always take the locals’ word for it. Stick close to the shore if you arent certain, wear lots of sunblock, and bring a rash guard and swim shoes.
There’s slow WiFi in the common areas, and no outlets. However, the data is fairly quick and I got good reception throughout the island resort. I would recommend tethering your phone’s data (I have a plan with Globe) or buying a portable WiFi device.
A recommendation that I would have for the resort is to leave their WiFi password open, since they are the only resort on the island. I believe they do this to limit the bandwidth usage, but changing it every day so their guests have to constantly ask the staff about it (I still put in a few hours of work) is one of the few friction points I’ve noticed here. Everything else is seamless.