Ironically, sometimes the hardest part about being a travel blogger is writing about the places you have visited. I’m not talking about the actual act of writing or the frustration of writer’s block—though that does indeed strike with exasperating regularity—but rather, sometimes you visit it a place and it is so completely perfect that you develop a fierce protectiveness for it, one that does battle with your mission to share your adventures with the world. Sometimes you find a place that’s not squarely on the tourist trail and you tumble so head over heels in love with it that you get a little bit selfish and don’t want to share.

Generally, Tony and I love writing about our adventures and sharing our stories with you, but we’re also travelers. I’d wager that 75% of travel blogs out there have at least one post about “getting off the beaten path”, and while neither of us takes issue with doing touristy things every so often or visiting popular places, nor are we immune to the siren song of undiscovered paradises that have somehow slipped under everyone else’s radar. I won’t lie, there is a special thrill you get when you discover something other people have foolishly ignored. When we have the good fortune to stumble upon one of these places, there’s very much a part of us that wants to keep it all to ourselves so that crowds don’t steal our paradise out from under us. But we want to be good bloggers and make sure that any of you intrepid souls out there who follow in our footsteps get the very most out of your own adventures, so part of us also very much wants to spill our guts and tell you all about the very best places we found so you can enjoy them too… and therein lies the dilemma!

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The island in the Philippines where we learned to dive is one of those difficult places, because we loved it so much that our readers deserve to know about it, but we don’t really want the whole world in on our secret. So I came up with a compromise: I’ll write about this place and try to capture what it was that made it so special, but I won’t tell you its name. I know, I know, that’s a big “but” and the worst kind of tease, however, I’ll also add that if you read this post and find yourself desperate to visit this island, you can email me and I will privately send you the details.

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With that out of the way, let’s get to the gushing!

This place that Tony & I love so much, it is the kind of place that travelers are always looking for: an island so pretty, it is the tropical equivalent of a solar eclipse—at times, you feel you can’t look at it straight on for too long because its beauty just might blind you. I’m sure that the fact that we arrived at the island on a mother-effing sailboat colored my impressions ever so slightly, but as I looked back over my shoulder towards the mainland, the mountainous peaks pierced the clouds in just such a way that it looked like they were ringed with fluffy halos, and I felt for certain it was a sign we were sailing straight to heaven on earth. Seeing our island (for in truth, I do think of this place as “ours”) for the first time, I was struck with the knowledge that I was gazing on one of the most beautiful sights I had ever had the good fortune to see. From afar, its hulking form of undulating rock capped with lush vegetation looked positively primordial, and Tony & I jokingly began to hum the theme to Jurassic Park. As we drew closer, I tore my eyes from the natural beauty of the island to gaze at the water, which took on a hue of turquoise so rich and vibrant, it scarcely seemed real. Though we had seen a healthy amount of picturesque beaches and oceanscapes in our time in the Philippines, this was clearly the crème de la crème. As glimpses of white sandy beaches secluded in rocky alcoves began to appear, I had one of those moments that strike you every so often on a trip of this scope where you feel both humbled and lucky to be living exactly your life.

It is easy to focus on the island’s natural beauty, and for many travelers its physical charms would certainly be enough to warrant a trip, but let’s face it: there are plenty of pretty islands in the Philippines. There has to be something more that made this place so special to us.

And yet as I look at all the things, all the tiny moments that still form bright bursts of happiness in my heart as I call them to mind, I realize that all the things that mean so much to me are likely things that would mean nothing to a stranger, to someone who wasn’t there. On paper, all the things that made that island so special, they actually sound kind of terrible:

  • We had guests above us who clomped around and snored so loudly that Tony joked it was like trying to sleep in the Haunted Mansion.
  • The roosters—oh the roosters! They were only supposed to crow once at 3:30 am and then again at 5:30 am as a signal to the fishermen that it was time to go out and throw their nets into the ocean, only we were plagued with a rooster that was clearly broken and seemed to love nothing more than to perch on our windowsill as it crowed all the goddamn time; we’d always thought that cock fighting was barbaric, but honestly, after a week with that dude, we were pretty disappointed when the island had their weekly fight and he emerged from the bloodbath only to live to crow another day.
  • Tony got a haircut from the one barber on the island, something that became a village-wide event! After nixing the offer for an “Italian style” haircut (still don’t know what that means), he wound up with a buzz cut we affectionately dubbed “the Mario” due to its resembling our dive instructor’s own ‘do.
  • There’s no wifi on the island, in part because electricity only ran for 3.5 hours per day, from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm, the golden hours signaled by immense blazes of light as all the lights in every household in the village burst to life with the surge in power. And, this being the Philippines, there must always be music, and so the soundtrack to that time that is forever seared on my brain is the soulful caterwauling of Celine Dion songs from the one karaoke bar pitted against the pounding beats from the one dance club in the village and the loud cries of dismay when the electricity would die, always too soon, and always halfway through a song. We learned that the island has only had electricity for a few years now, and when it first got it, the plan was to have electricity from 6 pm until midnight. But the fishermen complained because the karaoke would go the entire time and they could not sleep, so the cutoff was pushed to 9 pm. But then the rest of the islanders complained because there is a popular soap opera that runs until 9:15 and so they kept missing the tail end of their show. So a compromise was struck and 9:30 pm is now when all the lights go out.
  • Bedtime was always before the power-failed because the battery-powered fan in our room only lasted about 15 minutes and we swiftly discovered that no fan + a mosquito net = sweltering sweat box. I don’t think there was a single night we stayed on the island when I didn’t find myself gasping for breath at 2 or 3 in the morning feeling smothered by the heat and the only way I could get back to bed was by sluicing myself with buckets of cold water (the only temperature to be had, naturally) in the bathroom.

It sounds dreadful, I know, and yet we can’t look back at all of those moments without breaking out into a smile. Even though it was about as far from glamorous as you can get, we were insanely happy on that island, and even during the moments that weren’t all that fun (like the roosters and the hot-boxed bedroom), we were somehow still having fun.

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As much as I believe this island has nebulous, mystical charms of its very own, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the people we met there, who surely exerted a magnetic pull on us as strong as the island itself. We’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the people are the places, and simply put, the people on this island were awesome. Tony & I both had a serious case of hero worship regarding our dive instructor, Mario, as not only did he simply exude this calming aura of laid-back good humor, he also happened to be an immeasurably cool guy. Not only has he logged an impressive 8000+ dives in the surrounding waters alone, he was also elected island chief, a title he held for 10 years, though traditionally the position can only be held for eight. During that time he made strides that brought electricity and clean water to the island, and did much to rehabilitate the reefs around the island. Originally a fishing island, it was not all that long ago that the waters here were dangerously overfished, and many of the local fishermen had been turning to unsound fishing methods such as cyanide fishing.  Mario made it his mission to educate the fishermen about sustainable practices and helped turn part of the island into a protected marine sanctuary. We were constantly in awe of the reefs here, full as they were with a healthy fish population and some truly excellent coral. For this, we have Mario to thank! As if that weren’t enough good mojo for one man in one lifetime, Mario has also done a lot of outreach with local children, teaching them about the importance of protecting the environment through fun dive sessions and sustainability workshops focusing on recycling  and other green activities. Mario’s reach has also extended far beyond his home island, as he’s traveled to Indonesia to help with reef rehabilitation and conservancy efforts there.  One of the best things about traveling is getting to meet locals, and it always feels good when you know your hard-saved travel fund is stimulating the local economy, but we felt especially amazing in this case. Mario’s activism and passion for what he does and his tiny slice of the world was just so inspiring and exhilarating, it made us both want to do more and be a little bit better, a little more selfless.

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Mario before a dive

I am so glad that we eschewed a sterile resort environment and stayed with Mario and his family instead. They were so warm, so obviously good, we immediately felt like we had been reunited with the very cool family we never knew we had until that moment. It’s not hard to feel that way here, though, as the island’s core population sprouts from just three or four families. It’s an incredibly small but welcoming community where even the souvenir vendor by the beach (who also happened to be Mario’s second cousin) knows your name and always has a smile for you, regardless of whether you buy anything or not, and the kids are adorable and actually scream “Thank You!!!” when you take their pictures.

Perhaps it’s because it only gets a throwaway mention in the Lonely Planet (more of a footnote, really), but we found that a certain breed of traveler gravitated to this island, mostly people looking to do some diving in a very undeveloped, untouristy environment. The Philippines doesn’t get the droves of tourists that its Asian neighbors do, and yet, even so, you find people who are interested in trailblazing rather than following the predictable course set out for them by the guidebooks. The people we met at Mario’s homestay were definitely kindred spirits, from Romain & Fatouh—the French couple who joined in our Open Water diving course (lucky for them I could play translator at times!)—to Thomas—a German who was returning to the island so that his friend, Manuel, could learn to dive from Mario—and Eva, a Dutch girl who stopped in on her way to New Zealand. We spent many hours happily chatting away with them about diving and travel, our conversations more often punctuated with laughter than pauses. On our final night on the island, Romain, Fatouh, Tony & I had a big dinner to celebrate our newly minted Open Water certification. Pulling on his bartender boots, Romain created a potent concoction pumped full of the local rum, Tanduay; in honor of Fatouh who sinks like a stone, we christened it “One Kilo Punch”. And pack a punch it did! After a few of those, we were all ready to head out and do some dancing in a club that really was nothing more than a cobbled together shack with a disco ball hung from the ceiling. The photos from that night are far from elegant, but I think they actually give a fairly accurate reflection of the tone of the evening.

How can I explain what it was like to find proof everywhere we looked that we were as far from home as we had ever been, and yet simultaneously feel like we were, in fact, home? Life on that island was unlike any reality we had ever known with most of our days spent beneath the waves, and the rest of the time simply reveling in being still and slow, not many travelers’ forte. And yet we slid into this life, this world where all we had were the basics—the essentials?—effortlessly, like Cinderella and her glass slipper.

Maybe that’s the key to unlocking the mystery of this island: we didn’t have much there, but we had everything we needed. Every day we woke up to unspeakable beauty, whether it was diving the reefs or simply trying to lose ourselves amongst the village’s twisting laneways. And everywhere we looked, we saw people whose grins of utter contentment mirrored our own.

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The only time we felt sadness during our time here was when it was finally time to leave. Our time was the perfect balance of doing a lot and not very much at all, and truly felt like a hedonistic vacation. As we prepared to move on, I realized how much happiness centers us and grounds us in the moment, and how hard it is to look forward when all you want is to be here now.

Just as sometimes the hardest part about travel blogging is the actual writing, so too is the hardest part of traveling the actual act of moving from one place to the next. For us, the next adventure was calling and our feet were carrying us onward, but even now, I know a bit of my heart will forever remain on that island.  My only comfort is that this place—so special that I could not bare to share it with you, but also could not keep it from you either—was waiting for us when we needed it, and it will be there again. Parting is such sweet sorrow and all that, but I think this quote sums up the bittersweet aspect of travelers who find paradise:

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A. A. Milne

Written by: Stephenie Harrison


In another life, I moved from Toronto, Canada to Nashville, TN to pursue my doctoral degree in Psychology. That chapter of my life is now finished, but I did earn the right to demand you call me Dr. Steph (though I respond just as well to plain old Steph). I am an avid reader whose book collection is rivaled only by my many pairs of cute shoes. I also like to knit, hold impromptu karaoke parties, and try new and unusual foods. Generally not all at the same time. I also really love to learn languages, which may explain why I took 3 years of Latin in highschool. I'm turning over a new leaf, so instead of looking forward, I'm going to work on enjoying the present, so the country I'm most looking forward to is whichever one we're in right now!

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Read comments (43)

  1. April 17, 2013 at 8:41 am
    Apr. 17, '13

    Sounds like absolute paradise. Well, except for that damned rooster. We have a saying…there is always a barking dog and a rooster…and…always order the rooster for dinner!
    Gillian @GlobalBookshelf recently posted..Birth Of The Global Bookshelf

    • April 20, 2013 at 1:59 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      Yup, after our time in the Philippines, we are blood-thirsty for roosters. Our time on this island definitely solidified our eternal loathing of them! 😀

  2. April 17, 2013 at 9:43 am
    Apr. 17, '13

    What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. And you better bet I’ll be sending you an email to find out where this magical place lies…

    However, it is always a little hard to follow in someone’s footsteps with the expectation that it will also be perfect for you. Know what I mean? It’s almost like the stars aligned for you and it’s hard to replicate. But I’m still curious, so I still want to know!
    Carmel recently posted..Easter Rising

    • April 20, 2013 at 2:05 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      Oh, I totally agree with you! I even contemplated whether to just throw caution to the wind and name our perfect island, because there were so many personal factors at play that made it paradise for us that it would likely be impossible for anyone else (maybe even us) to capture that magic again. I mean, honestly, as much as we loved our time there, certain aspects of our stay were really quite rough and I could see another traveler just as easy complaining about how “primitive” this place was.

      That said, I decided to err on the safe side and keep the island anonymous. I think part of its charm lies in the fact that it requires some effort to reach, and I figure that if I make it too easy, so many of the things we loved could be jeopardized. Anyone who is willing to take the effort to email me, on the other hand, is someone I feel I can safely pass the torch on to! 🙂

  3. April 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm
    Apr. 17, '13

    Even from my short stint travelling, I acutely remember the feeling of loving a place so much I never wanted to leave but, at the same time, unable to stop wondering what was waiting in the next. I always tell myself I’ll return just to make it easier to leave. Though I truly believe if a place touches you as much as this island seems to have touched you both you’ll definitely return one day. The island sounds beautiful, I can understand my you fell in love with it!
    Charlie recently posted..Pinning Down our Round the World Travel Itinerary

    • April 20, 2013 at 2:08 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      We definitely have had internal struggles about when is the right time to move on because on the one hand, when will we ever have as much time as this just to *be* and revel in the places we find ourselves? On the other hand, we want to maximize the time we do have and see and do as much as we can because we cannot travel endlessly (at least not for now). I am definitely a “completionist” and have issues about leaving things partially done, so it’s really hard for me to go to a place and feel like I didn’t squeeze as much out of it as possible… sometimes I forget that we can always come back, though it will certainly never be as convenient as right now!

  4. April 18, 2013 at 12:13 am
    Apr. 18, '13

    Wow, what a beautifully-written post. It’s so wonderful that you were able to experience such a genuine place. Meeting genuine people and soaking up the natural beauty… that’s really the best part about traveling!

    • April 20, 2013 at 2:10 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      Thank you for your kind comment! And yes, you are so very right about having authentic interactions with locals being the very best part of travel! We always find that we gain much greater insight (and affection!) for the places we visit when we have reached out and made contact with the people who actually live there. It’s definitely the personal element that you just can’t get through blogs, photos, or documentaries!

  5. April 18, 2013 at 1:38 am
    Apr. 18, '13

    What a lovely post! Places like this are what traveling is all about – there are so many places that I love, but only a few that are truly special; places that I not only do like visiting, but I feel like I really belong there. If we end up going to the Philippines this year, I’m definitely going to be emailing you to find out where this is!
    Jessica recently posted..They Say It’s One of Japan’s Most Beautiful Festivals…

    • April 20, 2013 at 2:13 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      As perpetual nomads, it really is deeply satisfying where you find a place where you don’t flounder and struggle but just can immediately let down your guards and relax without worry. I found that in general, we slid right into the Philippines pretty effortlessly, even if parts of them can be far more rustic than we were accustomed to.

      I hope you do manage to visit! There’s so much to explore!

  6. April 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm
    Apr. 18, '13

    I get how you feel about keeping hidden gems hidden. If you write about these off the beaten path places, it will still take sometime before everyone flocks to it. Maybe by sharing the destination, tourism would increase and the people who live in that area can improve their quality of life by more business. I find that when I want to be the moment, I don’t want to take out my camera, but soak in everything. Trying to document everything to blog about can be challenging too.
    Curious Nomad recently posted..The adventure has begun

    • April 20, 2013 at 2:20 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      I’ll be honest, I don’t feel bad for the locals about keeping this island close to my chest! We’ve been to many places in Asia where destinations have become completely unbalanced by the deluge of tourists and so locals have forsaken their professions in order to tout and try to make money off of visitors. I think that we need to be mindful of our impact on local communities when we travel and focus on sustainabilty; I don’t begrudge places that have managed to integrate responsible tourism without losing what they were already doing beforehand. This island has a very healthy fishing community and most of it is completely removed from tourism… I think that is part of what makes it so lovely!

  7. April 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm
    Apr. 18, '13

    Oh man, this post was beautiful, and I totally get and respect your need and want to keep it private for yourselves. Mario sounds like a really wonderful person, and the things that he has done amaze me, and make me happy that you got to know him, and developed a friendship with him. Just as you will never forget these moments spent on the island, I am sure he will never forget you two. The pictures are incredible, and if I ever find my way to that part of the world, you know I will be emailing!! Your post today shows me just how happy and free you were on this island, and my heart is filled with joy for you. Keep on posting and sharing. I am loving it!!
    zibilee recently posted..Defiant Heart by Marty Steere — 400 pgs

    • April 20, 2013 at 2:22 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      I have heard from many divers that the most important aspect about learning to dive is not the school you go to or the agency, but rather who your instructor is. If you like and trust your instructor, that is worth more than anything else. We definitely understand that having learned from Mario, who we both have placed on something of a pedestal. As beautiful as this island is, I know that it was the personal connections we formed there and just the simple comfort of feeling completely at home that made it so special for us.

  8. April 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm
    Apr. 18, '13

    What a stunning place! The beach looks secluded and so clean. Loved the post!
    Arti recently posted..‘One Picture From My Photo Album’ Contest!

    • April 20, 2013 at 2:24 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      This island was remarkably clean and put in a lot of hard work to keep the beaches and shorelines as clean as possible. Unfortunately a lot of debris would float in from the mainland, but people were really diligent about picking up as much of it as possible. It’s clear they took pride in their home, and when you see the photos, I think you can see why!

  9. April 19, 2013 at 3:36 am
    Apr. 19, '13

    I completely understand your dilemma. I’m exactly the same when I discover something really special. There are a few places that I won’t share with the world either – only my family and friends get to hear about the real gems. If I ever go the Philippines I’ll be sending you an email as that island sounds perfect for me. 🙂
    Jackie (Farm Lane Books) recently posted..Magda by Meike Ziervogel

    • April 20, 2013 at 2:27 am
      Apr. 20, '13

      I think that truly special places should be saved for truly special people! I know that many people will find their way to this island on their own, but I don’t want to make it any easier! My thought was that if someone is conscientious enough to take the time to send me an email requesting information on this island, then they are the kind of person I wouldn’t mind sharing it with! I do hope that one day you and your family make it to the Philippines; it’s a great destination!

  10. April 20, 2013 at 5:27 am
    Apr. 20, '13

    This place looks so gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing. I really know what you mean when it’s so hard to leave a place that you’ve just fallen in love with. It was like that for me after leaving several islands in Thailand. I still miss it! Love the quote at the end :).
    Veronica recently posted..No place like Cuba

    • April 21, 2013 at 7:48 am
      Apr. 21, '13

      We’ve been traveling long enough now that we definitely know when we’ve stumbled upon a really special place, and really, the only way we tear ourselves away is by knowing that we can always come back. Now, to just make sure that happens!

  11. April 20, 2013 at 8:49 am
    Apr. 20, '13

    Steph that just looks magical 🙂 Aside from the rooster and I feel ya with that one! What a wonderful place to learn to dive and just fully relax… Great photos from Tony too 🙂
    Maddie recently posted..The best diet I have ever been on – travel

    • April 21, 2013 at 7:50 am
      Apr. 21, '13

      We have encountered roosters elsewhere in Asia, but I swear, they are nowhere near as bad as in the Philippines. People are SO obsessed with them there. The sound of their crowing now elicits fear responses in me!

  12. April 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm
    Apr. 20, '13

    Woot. When I was browsing through the blog entry, I figured out ‘wow, looks like one of the pristine beaches of the Philippines’ and viola, it is! 😀

    I share the same sentiments when it comes to the urge keeping that certain secluded place to yourself. I am also from the Philippines and in my home province alone, we have a number of white sand beaches that are really beautiful and unspoiled. If only I can stay there and deprive other tourists from coming in lol just kidding 😛
    Micamyx|Senyorita recently posted..Why I Want to Visit Culion Island

    • April 21, 2013 at 7:52 am
      Apr. 21, '13

      I think it would be amazing to live for a while in the Philippines and have the chance to really see some of the places that only you locals know about! There really is no substitute for living in a place and really letting it get under your skin! I can’t blame you for wanting to keep your beaches to yourself… we tourists are always ruining everything… 😉

  13. April 24, 2013 at 6:59 am
    Apr. 24, '13

    Beautiful! I can understand wanting to keep some gems to yourself – though I suppose some places are far enough off the beaten track that most will never get there 🙂
    eemusings recently posted..A kiwi encounter on Motutapu Island

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:24 pm
      Apr. 14, '14

      That’s definitely true… but given the emails I have received about this post (and the Philippines in general), I think it’s safe to say that their tourism numbers are going to be on the rise! Gotta protect this place for as long as I can! 😀

  14. May 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm
    May. 20, '13

    I completely know where you are coming from! I recently came back from diving in Mexico and I love the little village so much I don’t want anyone else to know about it more than they already do!

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:27 pm
      Apr. 14, '14

      It’s always so lovely to fall completely in love with a place that it can be so hard to share it with others! That might make me selfish, but for now, this is the best I could do. Glad you understand from your own experiences too! 😀

  15. May 29, 2013 at 6:42 am
    May. 29, '13

    Hey there! I live in Nashville and will be traveling to the Philippines in November! Great photos and information! I’m so excited!

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm
      Apr. 14, '14

      Glad to hear another Nashvillean is hitting the road and that you’ve got the Philippines in your sights! It is a wonderful country and I am sure you will have a BLAST!

  16. June 6, 2013 at 12:36 am
    Jun. 6, '13

    Looks wonderful Steph! But WHAT A TEASE!!! 😉
    I think more people should stop writing about these secret little gems actually. Soon there won’t be any left, because of all the guide books and travel bloggers out there. Imagne what Ko Phi Phi would be like now if the film ‘The Beach’ hadn’t been filmed.
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Behind the Berlin Wall – Life in Communist Germany

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:55 pm
      Apr. 14, '14

      The more we travel, the more I am inclined to agree with you. There have been some places we have been that you could tell were once really fantastic, but have just been so overrun by tourism these days that they are absolute hell. I love sharing our travel experiences here, and I hope that they encourage others to go out there and discover places they love, but some of them I have to keep just for us!

  17. Amanda
    December 31, 2013 at 5:15 pm
    Dec. 31, '13

    Wow steph, what a tease! We’re headed over to the Philippines in April and would love to know the island and also any contact details for Mario and the dive center. Happy travels

    • April 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm
      Apr. 14, '14

      Amanda, I’m fairly certain I emailed you personally with the information, but if not, send me and email and I’ll be sure to send the info your way!

  18. Steph
    April 10, 2014 at 4:33 am
    Apr. 10, '14

    Amazing post that has made me SO much more excited to visit the Philippines next year. I made it to El Nido in 2013 but loved the country so much I decided to plan another trip, this time making sure my hubby gets to join me! I’ve done my fair share of research on the best places to dive, and I have also heard of a dive instructor named Mario on a certain island that only has 3 letters for it’s name….. so I am guessing that I know where this perfect island is… could I be right?!

    • April 14, 2014 at 9:21 pm
      Apr. 14, '14

      Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Seems like you’ve done all the sleuthing on your own and figured out our mystery island. Enjoy your hard-earned reward… You deserve it! 🙂

  19. Ayim
    April 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm
    Apr. 14, '14

    Steph (a.k.a Dr. Steph),
    I just found your blog and after sitting here and reading the first few posts, I love it already. I’m interested in going to the Philippines and Island hopping. Any thoughts on the best way to do this. I love living on boats, can one rent/charter/hire someone to take you from Islaand to Island inexpensively. Or are Bangkas the best option?

    • April 14, 2014 at 10:02 pm
      Apr. 14, '14

      Hi Ayim! Thanks for taking the time to comment and I’m so happy to hear you are enjoying our site.

      We didn’t do tons of island hopping when we were in the Philippines, at least not anything above and beyond a simple day trip out, but I think if you were interested in this kind of thing, heading to El Nido would probably be your best bet. If you check out the posts we wrote about that part of the country, you’ll see that we were able to charter a boat while we were there and the captain who took us out had said if we had more time, he could have done a multi-day journey taking us to some less visited islands along the way. There is always the option to charter a bangka where ever you may be in the Philippines, but generally this is not so cheap, so I suspect El Nido might have more reasonable options as there is probably more of a demand for this kind of thing there.

  20. Mae
    July 26, 2014 at 9:41 am
    Jul. 26, '14

    Hi Steph! Your posts are so nice and photos gorgeous. I’ve been reading them until I got to this part. I know where this is! The weekly cock fight gave it away. But I won’t tell! 🙂 we live in Melbourne now but I’m filipino and my husband is from the city nearest your secret island, few hours drive then a boat across to get there. Definitely still one of the least touristy areas. Was there last month for holiday but not enough time to do or see everything. If you ever want to go back and/or need travel tips around the area, I might be able to help.. there are lakes, falls, hot/cold spring, beaches waiting to be discovered.

    • July 29, 2014 at 2:11 pm
      Jul. 29, '14

      Hi Mae! Thanks for taking the time to comment and for your sweet comment. So glad to hear that not only do you know the delights of the Philippines in general but that you’ve been able to enjoy our favorite secret island! I’m sure we’ll make it back to the Philippines again one day—there’s so much more for us to explore!

  21. August 31, 2014 at 9:22 am
    Aug. 31, '14

    I know where this is :P, it’s A _ _ Is_ _ _d in N _ _ _ _ s hihi, too bad I wasn’t able to go there when I was in the city nearest it, we simply ran out of time. Maybe next time.

    • September 2, 2014 at 7:46 am
      Sep. 2, '14

      Provided I’m interpreting your “Hang Man” style reveal correctly, you are right! It’s a shame you weren’t able to visit as it is truly something special and one of our very favorite places in the Philippines, but I definitely understand about there not being nearly enough time to fully explore this beautiful country. Maybe next time!

  22. Viraj Samani
    June 23, 2016 at 4:43 pm
    Jun. 23, '16

    Wow! Sounds amazing. I am heading over to Phillipines next month and would love to check this out.

    Could you send me the name of the island to see if it will fit in our travels!

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