Sangat Island Resort
Sangat Island, Philippines
Sangat Island Resort Reviews
Sangat Island / Coron - The tropical island frontier wilderness Jan 03, 2012
It is probably useful to start with a little background so we are on the same page. Otherwise, as I’ve learned from friends with a different outlook on vacations, this review may not be useful to everyone :-). During a tour of SE Asia I really wanted to include a trip somewhere remote & natural. Don’t get me wrong, experiencing different Asian cultures/cities/people/buildings/history is a lot of fun but I’m the type of person who also longs to escape the cities and see the geography and natural world of a place. I tire of tropical beach resorts with artificial chlorine pools, crowded beaches, and fake plants. ‘d rather enjoy the real outdoors and not the artificial knock offs. If you are the type of person whose dream vacation means amazing hotel room amenities, air conditioning everywhere you go, and a broad choice of restaurants then we have a different perspective. If your idea of a dream vacation is less about the quality of marble in the lobby and more about how the beach feels, the amount of life in the reef, whether the view looks like it did a thousand years ago… Sangat is a winner.
Before the trip Sangat seemed to fit exactly what I was looking for. Remote private island, interesting terrain (lush tall islands), and amazing diving. While I researched at least 20 resorts throughout the northern Philippines my runner up choice was El Nido, another private island resort farther south. By comparison El Nido seemed to be a bit more developed (multiple restraints and traditional rooms w/ AC) however the scuba diving appeared to be more a hassle (you had to take a boat to town first) and the cost seemed to be about triple. Alas, we tried Sangat for four days in December.
Observations / Points of Note:
Diving: I dive a lot so this was something I was interested in but I VASTLY under-estimated how amazing it would be. I thought I would only dive every day or two but dove at every opportunity. While you could certainly stay in town and dive the same sites, Sangat has tremendously better access and a great dive program. You are literally mere minutes from some of the best wreak diving in Asia. A sizable portion of the WWII Japanese fleet is sunk so close to the island that you could literally kayak to some of the best sites. Don’t expect to see any ships from the surface witout scuba gear but the local reefs are amazing too.
Bugs: My top fear based on reviews was that we would be miserable biting insects the whole time. My guess is there are some very non-outdoorsy “big resort” people that visited Sangat and gave some very bitter reviews. While we did use some bug spray on a few days the bugs were NOTHING compared to the vast majority of hikes, camping, and remote places I go at home. If you are an outdoors person and have bug repellant I think you will be fine. If there is a breeze you won’t even need the repellant.
Food: Based on reviews I feared the food would be just “OK”. Turns out Sangat recently hired a new chef and the food was fantastic (and we consider ourselves foodies). One of the breakfasts was a little boring (a typical American style breakfast) but the lunches, dinners, and other breakfasts more than made up for it.
Cost: My only negative was that the activities and alcohol add up very quickly but I might have had unrealistic expectations… don’t go here if you are pinching pennies. To be fair El Nido resort would have been at least twice the cost plus most of my cost was because I didn’t do any of the “free” activities included with the room rental. Daily costs worked out to be about $100 each towards our beachfront cottage and food, $20/day for alcohol, and about $100/day/each for other activities (diving, renting their small sailboat, etc).
Next trip: I would absolutely return to Sangat. The entire area is epic, remote, pristine, and we hardly scratched the surface. We even talked about making it a yearly or bi-yearly thing. Next time I’ll probably research some of the other resorts closer to Coron, however, to compare prices… I noticed a couple resorts next to town that I hadn’t found online and I’m curious if they are significantly cheaper because they aren’t as remote. Anyone have any experience?
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