There is a piece of me that doesn’t want to tell you about this place. It is an island so serene and beautiful that I’m afraid that too many people knowing of its existence and location will spoil the tranquility. However, I did promise Andy I’d post some info about our stay, so here you go.
As I’m sitting on our balcony of one of two beachfront chalets (a couple more to come in the near future), all I can hear is the occasional puttering of a boat, the laughter from the workers in the resort and the crickets. Oh yes, as because it is rainy season, the high pitched hum of a mosquito trying to find that one small spot that I’ve missed with the repellant. But don’t let that minor irritation put you off coming here – there’s neither dengue nor malaria.
Where is it?
Sangat Island is at the northern tip of Palawan, which is probably better known for the resorts of El Nido.
How to get there?
The closest airport is Busuanga, which is an easy 30 minute flight from Manila. Planes are small and check in luggage may be limited to 10kg (a point to note if you bring dive equipment). A range of airlines fly between the two, including Philippines Air, Cebu Pacific and for those wanting something a bit special, even sea planes.
From the airport, you’ll need to find your minibus for the 30 minute transfer to the port. The vans are efficient and friendly, but don’t expect luxury. Amd equally don’t expect much from the port. It is more your working fishing port rather than a grand ferry port. For those of you who have been to Caticlan for Boracay, it is nothing as grand as that!
Skipping sightseeing in Coron, we boarded our bangka, together with the day’s supply of eggs and veggies for the hour shuttle to the island. There’s limited shade on the boat, which was ok for the two of us, but if you’re travelling in a larger group remember to have a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen handy for the journey.
We wove through islands reminiscent of Halong Bay, and the water turned from dark blue to turquoise and back again as we skirted around the corals. After about an hour we sidled closer to one island and took a right turn, coming face to face with the resort and beach which would be home for the next week.
Sangat Island Dive Resort is small. Don’t expect a party island or extravagant luxury. What you do get here is super friendly service, desert island appropriate accommodation including eco friendly and renewable energy where possible, and the chance to chill away from the insanity of modern life. Wifi is available in the common areas only, but this is limited, so if you need to be online 24/7 then your best option is to pay for roaming. For us, the opportunity to switch off and recharge was what brought us here.
The Resort provides 3 meals per day plus afternoon snacks (which if you’re lucky, will be chocolate cake). Fine dining it is not, but all are a good balance of meats, fish and veggies and dinner is three courses. There’s free tea, coffee, chocolate and water available all day too, and a bar serves other options. There’s also the Rock Bar, which is an ideal location for a cold drink as the sun sets.
The beach is shallow and made of coarse white sand which is perfect for whiling away the hours with a book under a palm tree. Each chalet has its own sun loungers and hammocks so choose your position of rest accordingly.
The Resort capitalises on its location and has an onsite dive shop (more on the dive sites later) and water sports centre, both staffed by a friendly team. You’ll probably have noted the dive equipment and paraphernalia in the bar already, and it is a big piece of this place. All equipment is for hire and in the case of jet skis and sailing, comes with a guide.
The Resort has a range of options, from the beachfront chalets to forest chalets, although none are far from either the beach or the communal areas. For those seeking more privacy, or for a bigger group, a short walk around a rocky headland brings you to a private beach with a hideaway villa.
Each chalet has its own bathroom with desal water and sleeps 2-4 per chalet. Mosquito nets are provided, and if you’re like me, welcome! There’s also a mini bar and fan.
What to do?
Once you’ve relaxed sufficiently, diving is a great option. This was a big reason we chose this area, as in relatively shallow waters (down to about 35m) are a dozen or so WWII wrecks. Check out Coron Wrecks for more info and background.
The closest to the Resort is only a 5 minute speedboat trip and provides the opportunity for an easy intro to wreck diving, with big, light swim throughs. Check out my post on diving in Coron Bay for a review.
A short kayak around the island from the resort are hot springs….hire a kayak or paddle board from the resort and spend some time chilling in the hot water.
For those of you more interested in staying on top of the water, the Resort also rents kayaks, paddle boards and jet skis. Being close to numerous other islands, island hopping is made easy and Sangat Island itself has hot springs which are a half hour paddle away. We hired a jet ski (and a guide) for an hour of whizzing about on the water. As a newbie to this sport, it was a little hair raising at the start, but heaps of fun and recommended to see more of the islands in the Bay. A longer hire will see the guides show you Culion and the surrounding areas too.
The hardest part? Leaving. I’ll be back.