Around the World: The Philippines

Many foreign tourists come to the Philippines for their gorgeous islands and beaches. We were no different as this is what brought us here as well.

We have very good friends who worked with a Non-Profit in Cebu and they were the first to tell us of some excellent work being done in the charitable world. When they mentioned the beautiful beaches, we knew it was a good fit for our clientele and focus on legacy travel.

One of the many beautiful beaches in the Philippines
International arrival into the Philippines is usually through Cebu or Manila. Manila worked best for us and we had one night in the city before flying on to Siargao. We chose to stay at Nobu which is a short drive from the airport. There is a Marriott at the airport but Nobu, Hyatt and Nuwa are all located in the City of Dreams. Nobu is connected to a casino and a mall. Our room, 8533, is perfect for families as it has a separate living area that we used as our children’s bedroom. A highlight for families such as ours would be the DreamWorks kids area. We had a delicious dinner at Nobu and all for less than we paid at other Nobu’s in London and LA. The sushi was amazing and the service spot on.
The next morning, we used a car service to drive us back to the airport, but you can easily use Grab as well. Make sure to pick up cash at an ATM in the airport as we had difficulty with the machines in town.

The domestic terminal 4 in Manila is small and you should expect to wait in line just to enter the airport. Once inside, you will find some interesting options such as Krispy Krème, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Papa Johns and massages by the blind. It is best to keep expectations low as the waiting area is compact and needs updating.

James flexing his Flying Muscles
Our flight time to Siargao from Manila was about 1 hour and 20 minutes. We flew one of the main domestic airlines called SkyJet. They canceled our return flight and put us on a later flight. Apparently, this is relatively common so be prepared that all might not run smoothly or according to plan. It is always best to be flexible when traveling.

The five star resort that we stayed in, Nay Palad, was a truly special and unique experience. They have such a small number of villas that I am not sure you can even call it a resort. We loved it for its intimacy, barefoot luxury experience, style, friendly staff and their commitment to giving back to the community. It is a place with stylish soul and substance.

Our Villa

Luxury to us is not about the bling but the experience. Nay Palad provides this in a very special way. At any given time, they will have only five villas occupied. This allows them to provide guests with the best in service and attention. Although the price tag is high, everything is included. All meals, drinks, and even activities. We had a massage every single day and every day we experienced a different activity. The island hopping and surfing were our favorites! Surfing was a true highlight for us as the area in which we surfed, Cloud 9, is ranked amongst the worlds best. We had fantastic local instructors and an amazing babysitter to help with the kids. Our babysitter also made it possible for us to experience fine dining with wine pairing in the evening. You could ask for whatever you wanted and didn’t have to pay or sign a bill.

Chef Marc was great with our Kids!

Romantic dinners in various locations around the resort

We were especially touched by the charitable aspect of Nay Palad. They have a non profit that is helping with housing and income generating projects in Cebu and they also support the local school in Siargao. We were thrilled to join some of the hotel team to visit the school children and teachers. We brought delicious cookies from the hotel and some needed school supplies that we were able to purchase before our arrival. It was nice to see the connection between the community and Nay Palad.

Passing out School Supplies

It is our desire to return to Nay Palad and to the Philippines one day. In fact, it was the first place we looked into changing our flights so we could stay longer. We had wanted to explore Palawan and visit charitable work in Cebu. We were sad that it did not work out this time but we will be sure to return one day, God willing.

Tips for Travel:

Surfing Cloud 9
1.     If you enjoy surfing, Siargao is not to be missed. June to August is the best time for beginners, like us.

2.     Go Island hopping and spend time on beautiful beaches. 

3.     Spend time exploring. Get out and take a ride to see the town while interacting with the local culture if you can.

4.     Be patient. Things do not always run smoothly, and Manila especially can be a bit chaotic.

5.   Try the delicious Kalamansi juice. James loved it and it also makes the best margaritas.

6.   Get cash at an ATM upon arrival into the airport. The machines out and about did not always work for us. 

7.  Visit Palawan and stay in El Nido or Coron for beautiful beaches and diving. It would make for a great combination with Siargao.

Useful Words and Phrases in Filipino (Tagalog Language):
1.     Hello is Kumusta
2.     Please is Pakiusap 
3.     Thank you is Salamat

Island Hopping By Private Boat

Interesting Facts about the Philippines:
1.     Siargao is a tear drop shaped island known for surfing at cloud 9 which is one of the top 10 locations to surf in the country.

2.     The most popular time to visit Siargao is in September or October when the waves are the biggest and when Siargao hosts the Surfing Cup in September.

3.     The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands.

4.   The Philippines is the leading producer of coconuts.


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