Marooned in an Island in Davao

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January 14th 2010
Published: January 18th 2010
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Isla Malipano is an island among several Samal islands, just a 5 minute speedboat ride from the more famous Pearl Farm Resort. But first, you must take the 90 minute flight from Manila to Davao, then the 1 hour boat ride to Samal Island's Pearl Farm. ;-)

Morning flights to Davao went as early as 6am, but we opted to take the 10am flight. We landed half an hour before noon and the shuttle took us for a short ride to the Pearl Farm jetty port. We were served a buffet lunch just before taking the boat that will ferry us to Samal Island. Pearl Farm is so called because it actually was a Pearl Farm sometime back. But it is now one of the pricey resorts in the country and appeals mainly to honeymooners, balikbayans (literally meaning back to country Filipinos on holiday), tourists and locals with money to spend, or used as convention or conference venue. This is my 3rd time here in Pearl Farm , but my first in Isla Malipano. Now this island is actually a private island right across the resort, used by the family which owns and operates the Pearl Farm Resort whenever
Ferry to Samal IslandFerry to Samal IslandFerry to Samal Island

From Davao airport, we were whisked to this Pearl Farm Hotel restaurant for a sumptuous lunch, then boarded our boat for Samal Island. Nearly one hour boat ride.
they are here or when they entertain their own guests. The cost of maintaining the place may have compelled them to make available the villas to paying guests too, and that explains how we got here.

Our Very Own Island

It was almost 3pm when we checked in. They served fresh pineapple juice as soon as we reached Pearl Farm's pagoda reception area , complete with a local group playing native music. In this southern part of the Philippines, the Muslim influence manifests itself in the dances and songs. I love the colorful costumes and beadwork too. Then we took the small speedboat to get to our private island. There are only 7 villas in the private island which also has a 3 hole golf course, a small chapel and a good-sized activity center which can be used for parties and conferences. At the time we were there, we occupied 3 of the 7 villas. We were the only ones in the island .

It was surreal to have an island all to yourself. I mean, we were a group occupying 3 villas, but each 3-storey villa has its own beachfront , and we
Halfway HouseHalfway HouseHalfway House

From the airport , we had lunch in this place by the jetty port. Soon after, we took the one hour boat ride for the island.
couldn't even see each other from the balconies or verandahs of our villas. Everything was so self-contained. One need only to get down and take hold of any one of a few beach chairs or beds, maybe ask for a massage therapist whilst there, or just sit it out there in his/her own private beach and wait for the sunset. The place is ideal for honeymooners, as well as families. Our villa has 3 bedrooms and a verandah cum view deck jutting out to the sea. Depending on one's mood, it is easy to feel either romantic, happy or melancholy here. The days are long, and unless you want to spend your entire day at the beach, there is nothing much else to do. Which is fine, if you are spending just a few days here. Make it a week and I think I'd snap and go crazy. And make that poor too. I will not even talk about the rates for the villa, as I frankly think it is obscene. No, I did not pay for it. I happened to be attending a convention here, which allowed me this luxury at no cost. But I did check out the
The Samal SuitesThe Samal SuitesThe Samal Suites

There are 3 types of accommodations here. There's Isla Malipano's Villas in a separate island where we stayed. Then there's Samal Suites in Pearl Farm, along with the more "modest" Samal Houses.
rates for the day tours , which I find reasonable at 1,500 pesos or about US $30-33. This day tour rate includes the boat transfers, lunch and use of one of the native houses by the beach for a few hours.

The villa is dripping in luxury. The huge rooms, each with its own private toilet and bath, heavenly beds, bay windows looking out into the sea, ethnic inspired local furniture and appointments. I particularly liked a floor lamp and local vase made of local ropes and cordage. And the huge and comfortable chairs on the verandah. It was also interesting to find a big jar by the gate of each villa. This jar is filled with water , to be used with a dipper made from coconut shell, to wash one's feet before entering the villa. Interesting detail. The only thing I hated is the phone out in the balcony. The times the phone rang, I wanted to bury my head under the soft pillows. I also found it odd that there were no full length mirrors inside the bedroom and bathroom. Instinctively, I thought the one who decided on the architecture and interior design of the villas
That's Our VillaThat's Our VillaThat's Our Villa

All of 3 bedrooms, complete with a porch and balcony overlooking the beach. Pure luxury.
must be male. I cannot imagine anyone of my gender to miss installing a full-length mirror .......... I mean, every woman just had to check her "total look" before stepping out of the room, right?

I took my Sydney-based niece with me to Isla Malipano (isla actually translates to island). She doesn't play golf, jet ski, kayak, nor scuba-dive, so she didn't really find much to do in the island. While she agreed with me about the telephone and full-length mirror, she had to add that all rooms should have hair dryers and television sets. Only the Master's bedroom had a tv and dryer. That said, she also added that the bar did not have enough stuff. I mean, there were 6 of us in the villa and not much chips and nuts and sodas. This is important since all meals are served in Pearl Farm which we can reach by riding the speedboat each time. For coffee lovers that we are, we can easily exhaust the pantry for coffee pods!

So, what to do?

I spent the entire day in conference, while my niece checked out all 5 beaches in Isla Malipano and Pearl Farm. There were 2 lovely swimming pools too, one of which is an infinity pool with a view that stretches out to the sea. Shelly also discovered the boutique and the Spa. By the afternoon, she was done with her swimming and her pedicure. 😊

In the evening, one can enjoy dinner while a local song and dance group entertained us. The leader of the group explained each of the Muslim instruments such as the kulintang, an ancient instrument composed of gongs in graduated sizes , laid out horizontally to be struck to produce a melody much like a xylophone. And there's the kadlong, a 2 stringed guitar or lute shaped like a boat, with 5 small holes on its back. The band leader said the kadlong is played with the 5 holes over the player's chest so that music emanates from the heart. The men in our group discovered the Parola bar and the Game Room where one can play chess, billiard, or simply enjoy some karaoke singing. The following night, we had an al fresco dinner by the beach while the same band played. To be honest, I was growing tired with the local music by the
Pearl FarmPearl FarmPearl Farm

After that one hour boat ride, we got off here. Right across Pearl Farm is Isla Malipano.......owned and managed by the same group.
second day. It was the same repertoire each time. Thank God someone in our group thought of inviting a local folk singer from another city to entertain us that night.

Judging by the crowd we met over breakfast, lunch and dinner, many chose the place for its privacy. A few were there for some water sports, but I didn't think that department was nowhere as active as what we found in Boracay just a couple of weeks back. (check out Christmas Stars in Boracay ) But the buffet spreads were good , and in this part of the Philippines, local fruits are in abundance. One can try marang, lanzones, pomelo, papaya, mango, rambutan, etc.

So, for those of you planning on a bit of luxury, you can try the day tours to Pearl Farm or if you really wish to stay at least a night, go make a reservation for one of the Samal houses right in Pearl Farm. You don't need a private island nor a villa. I have tried the Samal Houses before and at 5,000 pesos a night (about US $100-110), it is sooo much cheaper than renting a villa.

Oh, don't forget to bring a good book with you . As for the massage, I frankly think it is expensive at 850 pesos (about US$15) , perhaps because I still have pleasant memories of the same therapy for about a third of the price in Boracay. In fact, the ones I had in Boracay were better than the massage I paid for here in Isla Malipano.

Privacy, good food, luxury accompanied by peace and quiet..........these you'd get in this island. But be prepared to burn holes in your pocket. 😊

PS. There's another recent blog on Davao which you may wish to check out. Southern Philippines: Davao In Focus

Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 28


Our Own Jetty PortOur Own Jetty Port
Our Own Jetty Port

This is where we get on and off the speedboat to and from Isla Malipano.......very private.
no one else one else around..........
no one else around..........

strolled around the island and met absolutely no one at 8am!
Sunset in Isla MalipanoSunset in Isla Malipano
Sunset in Isla Malipano

This was taken right in front of our villa...........
They thought of everything......They thought of everything......
They thought of everything......

Walking on the sand towards our villa, there was this jar filled with water and a coconut ladle to use so we can clean our feet . Such attention to the minutest detail!
Samal HousesSamal Houses
Samal Houses

On stilts, by the water. I stayed here the last time . This time around, our villa is in a separate island about 5 minutes by speedboat across Pearl Farm.
Can u tell?Can u tell?
Can u tell?

Infinity pool looking out to the sea............

19th January 2010

Thanks for letting us know about the burning hole in the pocket! Found a fun deal for bloggers. Last year I won a trip to Bahamas! I recommend Paradise Island. (Dec 25,2008 post) What can you win (bloggers!)? Check out link on the right! Good luck and have a wonderful day! Are you on Twitter?
21st January 2010

Sounds luxuriously relaxing!
What an island paradise! This place sounds extraordinary! Thanks for sharing your experience and warning us about the prices. I am curious though. How was was the villa for one night? The other villas at $110 sound pretty cheap. Stunning photography my friend!
1st March 2010

i just visited pearl farm last feb22,2010. we stayed overnight at samal house :) it was the most practical of all the accommodations yet with a lovely set-up, so i am quite contented with it. pearl farm was really a great place. and malipano island is perfect for unwinding :) happy and privileged to have visited this place :)
23rd March 2010

any contact number???
good am!!!! pictures look good..if you can give any contact number that would be great...Thanks a lot.... Mike

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