The sun had yet to rise when our taxi driver dropped us off at the airport in Manila on Feb 5th as we were heading to Coron. We made our way to Busuanga and from there we drove 45 min to Coron town, which lies some 257km southwest of Manila. Coron town is a small fishing village. From there we took a boat ride by bangka and almost 2 hours later we finally got at our final destination: Bamboo Private Island.
Palawan, the region where Bamboo Island is located in the south-west Philippines, is a hidden piece of heaven on earth. It was named “The Top Island in the World” a few years back. There, beautiful blue water mixes with emerald green, mountains and rocky escarpments that appear to rise up from the ocean, and small fishing villages along the islands. It was hard to believe that a few years back, the typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in history, tore across this region, leaving 8,000 people dead or missing. The most famous destination in Palawan is El Nido. It has carved out a niche on the backpacker circuit and turned into a popular touristic destination. Bamboo Island, on the other hand, is an unknown paradise, so that’s why we picked Bamboo Private Island as our beach holiday destination.
We were in the middle of nowhere, paradise-style: a sea of high-definition azure stretching to the horizon. Bamboo Private Island can either be entirely rented (14 people max) or managed under 250k Kite camp during the windy season from November to March. And that was exactly the purpose of our trip so we were hoping for a lot of wind to come during the following days.
Bamboo is indeed a dream tropical heaven and they are not kidding when they say “Private Island”. There has been nearly no boat traffic and so much room to kite surf safely. Unfortunately the wind was not very consistent therefore we were not able to kite surf all day long but on the other hand we also had the chance to enjoy different activities such as snorkelling, paddle boarding, wake boarding and kayaking over to one of the nearby islands.
We could also have gone diving at Coron bay as it is considered the best spot in the world for shipwrecks diving. The wrecks are from the second world war as the Japanese moved a fleet to the Coron Bay area during the war, which the Americans later sank. However we decided to spend all the time at the Private Island. After a few days in this beach paradise, life had become a lazy routine: eat (food was pretty good), kite surf (or other activities, in the case there was not enough wind), chill out. Repeat.
The accommodation at the Bamboo Island is rustic and charming. Small-space designed bamboo huts with a breathtaking view to turquoise-blue waters. I do miss falling asleep while hearing the sound of the ocean. It’s also a zero carbon emission island and operations are 100% solar-powered.
The life on the island revolves around the open-air main pavilion, located right on the beach and featuring a sunset lounge, a bar and dining areas, all with great views of the surrounding waters, islands and mountains capes. The main pavilion is where all the guests hang out and dine together at the communal table. Almost everyone staying at the Private Island during the wind season is there for the same reason: Kite Surfing, which adds a sense of shared purpose and after 1 or 2 days at the island we have the feeling that we are all a big family.
We spent 3 amazing and relaxing days at this lost paradise in the Philippines. On February 8th, on our way back to Coron town, we stopped by Lake Kayangan and Lake Barracuda, Coron’s primary attractions. We hiked up the limestone and then went swimming in the lake Barracuda. Its unique layers of fresh, crystal clear and brackish water makes it very special. I was expecting to see many tourists in this area, but luckily there were just 2 or 3 other people by the time we got there. Amazing nature!
We spent 4 days on Bamboo Private Island. There is only one hotel in the Island and it offers accommodation, meals, kite surfing assistance and transportation to Coron. We flew to Manilla with Singapore Airlines.