Well, it’s that time of the year again. No, it’s not Christmas or New Year I’m talking about. Rising temperatures, the scorching heat of the sun, the intense urge to order halo-halo and the growing call to hit the beach… SUMMER! Davao is no stranger to beautiful beaches as Samal Island is just a boat ride away from the city. However, with a plethora of beach resorts lying around Samal Island, picking a resort can be confusing. As a standout from other beach resorts, one can never go wrong with Pearl Farm.
Kaye and I aren’t really strangers to Pearl Farm, albeit a few years removed from our first visits, respectively. For rates, boat schedules and other booking concerns, you can go directly through their official website at http://www.pearlfarmresort.com/. However, being extra aggressive in finding the best rates, we were able to get a cheaper rate. A bed and breakfast package at Samal house (overnight stay with complimentary breakfast buffet) shelled us a total of Php6,500.00. Note that this was last year’s price (March 2012) so prices this time may vary. The published rate for the same package is at Php4,000.00 per person so that’s a total savings of Php1,500.00.
Disclaimer: For the love of all things great, I could not remember the name of the travel agency that offered this cheaper rate. I will update this post when I have the details in hand. Sorry!
Getting to Pearl Farm was a piece of cake. First stop is the Pearl Farm Marina located at Lanang where guests will patiently wait for the boat. Do mind to be early to avoid inconvenience. The boat schedules are as follows: 8am, 1:30pm, 4pm and 6pm. We opted for the 1:30pm schedule.
The boat ride runs about 45 minutes to an hour from the Marina. The boat is fairly big, can pack up many guests and can withstand waves along the way. Since the ride is a bit long, feel free to appreciate Samal’s lush blue waters (or you can just sleep, perfectly fine).
Upon arrival, guests are served with complimentary drinks (fresh pineapple juice). After all guests have disembarked, we were gathered around the parola for the group orientation.
After the orientation, we headed to the admin office to get our keys and request for a shuttle ride to our room. The Samal houses are situated near the infinity pool of the resort.
We booked the Samal house since the price difference from the Hilltop/Balay room was not very material. I wasn’t able to shoot photos of the interior but the room was big enough for two people (can even fit 3). The bathroom was clean and we were provided with basic toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush). There’s the standard cable TV and cabinets with some drawers. We were even provided with disposable slippers which was a nice touch. The bed though could be a bit longer. For illustration purposes, here is an image from Pearl Farm’s official website: http://www.pearlfarmresort.com/accommodations/samal-houses/images/samal-house-interior-large.png
After settling down, we decided to go on a stroll to the Mandaya houses located at the far end of the resort. There, groups can play volleyball and billiards. The resort also provides scuba diving equipment for rent. A pool for guests staying nearby is in the vicinity.
After the Mandaya house tour, we then decided to go back to the parola. Since the group orientation was somewhat crowded, we weren’t able to get good photos of the resort so going back for some photography was a must.
Even though it was summer and a Saturday at that, it was quite a surprise to find the beach not that crowded during the afternoon. Siesta, perhaps?
One thing that sets Pearl Farm apart from other resorts in Samal is its overall vibe and appearance. The authentic Mindanaoan feel you can see from the rooms to the interiors, the Maranao restaurant to the parola and even from the staff uniforms is something to be applauded for. This is something that foreigners or tourists from outside Mindanao can truly appreciate.
We then went back to the Mandaya pool and took a quick dip before the sun sets. After the swim, we went back to our room to prepare for dinner.
We opted to have the buffet dinner at Maranao restaurant. Although they also serve a la carte, we found the buffet to be really enticing with the smorgasbord of entrees and desserts in front of us. The buffet cost Php1,100.00 per person.
While one can argue that the buffet was quite steep, you have to remember that in almost all resorts, food is something that you can’t buy cheap. I’d say the buffet was quite reasonably priced. The food choice was good and the dishes were all flavorful and delicious. From the stomach-filling meat viands to the refreshing fresh fruits and the mouth-watering desserts, there is something for every meticulous palate.
Waking up in your Pearl Farm room is something of an experience in itself. Being greeted by the serene morning breeze, the calm sea and a scenic view can really kick your day right. And of course there’s the complimentary breakfast buffet that’s nothing short of awesome. Pancakes, cereals, sausages, bacon and even yogurt. I may have gained 2 pounds just by the breakfast alone.
The sumptuous breakfast meant that we had some work to do on the tummy department so we went on to the swimming part of the trip. We headed to the infinity pool near Maranao restaurant first and figured we head to Malipano island after that. The main beach helped us channel our inner Georges St.-Pierre (in short, we weren’t impressed by its performance) so we skipped swimming on that part of the resort.
Though the infinity pool was adequately sized, it didn’t provide that much of a challenge as far as swimming goes. We headed to the parola to have our scheduled boat ride to Malipano island which is 5 minutes away from the main island. The pump boat has a 30-minute interval going-back and forth the Malipano route so make sure to schedule your turn to avoid wasting precious time.
The last time I was in Pearl Farm, I remember that they used Malipano island as the main restaurant for guests since the Maranao resto was under renovation. But since the transfer, I was quite disappointed that Malipano island wasn’t maintained as much as before. The island is clean, don’t get me wrong. It was just weird to see the island with dry leaves lying around and not as lively as before.
Most of the island is composed of grass and coconut trees (lots of ’em). While wandering around the island, we were lucky enough to encounter some domesticated peacocks. And since the island isn’t very crowded, you can do almost everything you want. Even embarrassing jump shots.
The beach at the back of the island is off limits to other guests and is exclusive for tourists staying in the Malipano villas (which is crazy expensive compared to the other rooms). I don’t think they hide real pearls in there, why the high price tag? Bummer.
What I like most about Malipano island is the beach. The shoreline may look small but once you take a dive, you’d really appreciate the extra depth the beach has to offer. The water is also very salty which is very much ideal for swimmers who you know, can’t swim. You can just float in there like there’s no tomorrow trust me. There’s also a jetski rental but we found the rates too steep for our liking. We can swim, no biggie.
Another cool thing you can do in Malipano island is reef walking (sort of). Yeah, it’s not exactly the same as in Boracay but if you have the right equipment (goggles, underwater camera and aqua shoes), good swimming skills and above average guts, you can pull this off. It’s a good thing that the beautiful corals are still intact and there are still fishes swimming around.
We got back to the main island and got ready for our trip back to Pearl Farm Marina. We skipped lunch at the Maranao restaurant since we were still feeling full from the breakfast buffet. Haha.
Overall, a fun and relaxing way to spend quality time during the summer. If you’d like a private getaway and temporarily get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, an overnight stay in Pearl Farm won’t be a mistake. Just be sure to prepare your wallet… and your tummies. -rod-