If you’re inspired by Robinson Crusoe and have ever fantisized about enjoying a stint on a white-sand, palm-fringed tropical island, we have the answer–an impromptu island beach camp only a 20-minute boat ride from expedition base Palawan SandCastles Busuanga.
The destination is the island of Bubuyuyan, some 5 kilometres north, where your guide will string up a hammock to have you stare in wonder at the bright stars illuminated against a dark sky devoid of the artificial light that so mars the stargazing experience elsewhere. Of course, you’ll have a tent–with hotel linen and pillow atop a camp mattress. There’ll also be a pop-up bathroom–with porta-loo and solar-bag showers suspended from tree branches. It’s no time to be modest: the beach is 500 metres long and no feathers won’t offend the local wildlife. There’s also a cook from SandCastles who’ll prepare a fresh camp-fire dinner that night and breakfast the following morning.
The overnight tour departs at 10am from SandCastles and returns 10am the following day.
And the overnight camp IS a tour: Participants enjoy an island hopping cruise, stopping to snorkel before enjoying a freshly cooked lunch onboard their expedition boat as it cruises to Bubuyuyan where participants alight and take to kayaks for an exploration of the island if they like. Circumnavigating it takes a little less than an hour at a leisurely pace, stopping often.
While paddling, the crew will be setting up camp and have afternoon merienda (afternoon tea) ready for participants when they arrive. The rest of the afternoon will bring out the Robinson Crusoe in you: snorkeling the exquisite coral reef–and you can fish too–hiking the length of the beach and climbing to the island’s high point, scouring the beach for shells, and collecting driftwood for the camp fire.
From your camp on the beach you’ll see the sun set as you down your San Miguel beer or Tanduay rum with mango juice, nibbling some of SandCastles’ own cashew nuts.
Dinner is our brand of expedition cuisine: fresh, natural and made from locally sourced ingredients. Fish, vegetables and tropical fruit prepared personally by cook Ricci or Lerma, served on banana leaves, is the staple unless participants advise us of their individual preferences. Going vegetarian or vegan is fine by Ricci and Lerma.
Hope no one baulks at marshmallows cooked on the campfire! The overnight camp revisits a time of innocence past. It’s an opportunity to enjoy — even if for 24 hours — the simple pleasures of youth of a bygone era: taking a midnight skinny dip amid an explosion of phospheresence, hearing the squeek of barefeet on sand, gazing up at a blanket of heavenly stars from your hammock strung between two coconut trees, witnessing a shooting star and making that wish that’s now come true — going back to a better time.
Morning breaks to the smell of freshly brewing coffee wafting into your tent. The early morning is particularly magical on tropical islands: snorkeling can be at its best, as can be a walk along the beach, both great ways to build up an appetite for the breakfast that awaits.
After breakfast, it will be pack up time. You will have a dry bag you can leave your clothes and valuables in. This can be left in front of your tent. Those participants wanting a divine paddle, can take to their kayaks with your guide and head in the direction of SandCastles. The boat will catch up after the crew breaks camp. During October to May the amihan (easterly) wind is at our backs and the kayak trip to SandCastles can take as little as one hour. The boat though will shadow and pick up anyone who wishes to cruise instead.
The trip ends at SandCastles at 10am, the 24-hour Robinson Crusoe overnight island camp and tour wrapped up.
For those with no accommodation at SandCastles, there’s a spring water plunge pool: we’ll let you have a towel.