Published: August 6th 2007June 16th 2007
We felt we’d been on a rotating rollercoaster of ferries, out-rigger boats, buses, jeepneys, and tri-cycles and it was becoming draining. A relaxing stay on Pandan Island was just what we needed for a vacation from a vacation. Just a short boat ride from the mainland, Pandan Island is a privately owned property with few amenities. Electricity is supplied via solar power and salt water showers are the norm. It’s not a place for people who require air-conditioning and regular pedicures.
Just off shore a house reef is home to countless fish, hard corals, and other sea creatures. The reef is separated into two sections by an area of sea grass where at any given time of day endangered green sea turtles can be found savoring a tasty snack. Dusk is the popular meal time where seeing at least one turtle is a given. If you’re quiet you can hear the turtles rip the grass out and every few minutes they surface gasping for a big breathe of air before diving back down for more sea grass. When the sun starts to set blue-spotted sting rays also come out of hiding and skim along the sandy patches and grassy beds.
On our best evening we were surrounded by four turtles munching away and two sting rays hovering inches above the sea grass. Hanging around the turtles and rays are bat-fish the size of charger plates looking for tasty scraps and discards for their evening meal. During the day we’d go snorkeling on the reef and each day something special would be found. Our personal favorite was watching a black and white banded sea snake poking in holes and crevices in search of food. Other highlights were seeing a school of about 50 one-meter long hump-head parrotfish roving in deeper water taking bites of coral. They were about 15 meters deep, but even from the surface you could hear the parrotfish chomping on the coral as they passed by. Beautiful blue and silver eels poked their heads out of holes in the rocks and spectacular plumed lion fish hang around flaunting their beautiful fins like ribbons or sails in the wind. If it roams in the South China Sea chances are you could find it (if you stay long enough) on Pandan Island. We really wished we had an underwater camera!
Other sealife we found (but not all): Trigger
Fish* Trumpet Fish * Banded Long-Spined Urchin * Short Spined Red Urchin * Feather Duster Worm * Groupers * Christmas Tree Worms * Crowned Puffer Fish * Barracuda * Moray Eels * Various Angel Fish * Clown Fish * Cushion StarFish * Crown-of-Thorns StarFish * Banner Fish * Snapper * Skunk AnemoneFish * Gold Spotted Sweet-Lips * Regal Angel Fish * Black Tailed Humbug * Thousand Spot Grub Fish * Blue Barred Parrot Fish * Moorish Idols * Leopard Flounder * Finespotted Porcupine Fish * Long-Jawed Squirrel Fish * Sergent Major * Bananafish * Electric blue Damselfish * Purple Sea Hare * Sponge Crabs .... yes, I spent hours looking at the fish identification books at the dive shop!
The first few days we established a daily routine revolving around meal time. The buffet lunch and dinner’s were delicious and we had to stop going back for second helpings in fear of gaining a pound a day and no longer being able to fit into our swimsuits. After dinner we retired to the bar to play pool, cards or simply chit-chat with the few other guests. The owners, Dominique and Marina, the employees, and wildlife were all very friendly
and entertaining. There was a dog, parrot, and best of all an owl named Potter who liked to visit at night.
The days stretched on and started to melt into each other becoming indistinguishable from one another. Many other guests had come and gone yet we couldn’t find a compelling reason to leave. The food was excellent. The snorkeling was superb. And so we stayed two weeks - the longest we’ve stayed in any one place in ten and a half months. Really, we would have liked to stay longer, but our flight out of the Philippines was reason to finally pack up and move on.
Pandan is an oasis we’d definitely recommend. In high season it books up quickly so reservations would likely be needed.
Cost: rooms $12 and up. Buffet meal $7 each or $15 for three meals a day.
Address: Pandan Island Beach Resort Corp.
Occ. Mindoro, Philippines
There are more photos below