The “Joy Of Quiet”. I remember reading Pico Iyer’s New York Time’s article on black-hole resorts, where people are now paying a premium do get disconnected and having their mobile gadgets tucked away on their duration of stay. It seems that with some people, the more ways we have to connect the more people seem desperate to unplug. Island Garden Resort in Pangubatan in IGACOS (Island Garden City of Samal), Davao del Norte somehow reminds me of this article. Not entirely a black-hole resort, but the limited internet and cellular coverage gives visitors a choice to enjoy nature more. Which honestly was a personal struggle but later I fully embraced for this much deserved quiet getaway.
It took at least four hours of travel on my part to reach Island Garden Resort from Manila. Flying into Davao City from Manila for almost two hours, then an hour ferry ride to Baranggay Kaputian from Sta Ana Wharf, after which I coursed through a hilly rough road of the island for half an hour to find this remote resort. Tucked far down southeast of the Island Garden City of Samal in Baranggay Pangubatan, it is the currently the only resort open for the public in the area. A family-run business, the place has been around for three years but it was only last year, January 2013 when they decided to open this private resort to the public.
Island Garden Resort has 11 rustic rooms of different variety. They have three main cottages good for two, three family rooms good up to four people, one gazebo room and two dorm rooms with several double beds they offer per bed. The rooms have basic amenities with airconditioning. I do like how tasteful their toilet and bath are (for the cottages and family rooms). They were of open-air and eco-friendly in design.
Of special interest to gung-ho travellers, especially for foreigners are the couple of tree houses they have. The higher one at the sampaloc tree even have branches penetrating the rooms. A canopy walk then leads to the one near the beach tree house even with its own small living area. These two does make use of the easily accessible shared bathrooms.
The dining area with bar is a good place to hangout. They have a large Cable TV, Wifi (though currently limited) and also some indoor sports activities like table tennis and darts. I do recommend once bring a mosquito repellant (though they have complimentary sachets in the room) as they have quite a lot especially for me who’s a mosquito magnet. Not really surprising as this part of IGACOS is still heavily forested, hence the name Pan-gubatan which means forested.
Interesting developments are coming its way. A bar is almost done for those who enjoy a little cocktail or mixed drinks by the beach. An addition of 4-5 rooms and a pool area are already in construction on their upper lot across the street.
The beach stretch at Pangubatan is not of the fine white powdery kind but of grainy and crushed corals type, albeit a bit rocky, it is scenic still. It’s the kind where snorkelers and divers would enjoy as in good weather during the amihan (north-east winds) season, there’s a sanctuary in front of the resort and several spots nearby that underwater enthusiast would enjoy. If one is lucky, visitors could even catch sea turtles laying eggs on the beach or catch the turtles hatch. Wander along the coast and find a small lagoon and a picturesque rocky coast nearby.
My 3-day and 2-night stay in Island Garden Resort offered a peaceful distraction from my heavily connected lifestyle. In exchange from dumbing down on my internet activity, it made me appreciate the island more, a little time by the hammock, exploring the beach, taking inland tours, massage by the beach, great food and really amiable staff. It’s no wonder they have repeat guest from foreigners. Some even stay weeks to at least a month. These days, it’s already a luxury to find places to retreat to. Where the rustic and quiet vibe still lingers naturally.
Island Garden Resort in Pangubatan
Purok 4, Brgy Pangubatan, Kaputian District
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.