We had something a little more adventurous planned for our last day on the island. We were picked up from the hotel and taken to our boat for the day, along with a whole group of people from all over the island. The trip had been booked for us by the lovely staff at the Mandala Spa Resort and we had luckily been put on a boat with a smaller group rather than packed in like chickens in a battery farm.
Breakfast at the hotel was fresh fruit with a hot option for Ben, and before we knew it we were on the boat having the safety briefing before going on our way.
The first stop was a popular stretch of ocean filled with colourful fish. We kitted up with snorkels, fins and goggles, before diving straight into the stunningly clear, cool waters. Locals pulled up with their vessels filled with everything from towels to fresh coconuts, urging tourists to buy straight from the boat.
Once our fingers had turned to prunes, it was time to climb back onto the deck to dry as we motored off to our next stop. Our experienced crew clambered over the bamboo wings of the boat as we tackled the waves, carefully balancing the boat and ensuring we stayed on track.
We pulled (or washed, as some of the waves swamped us) up onto a beach, the sand replaced with beautiful shells. Steps were carved into the rocks to take us up to a stunning view of the surrounding islands. A beautifully manicured garden stretched out to palm leaf huts overlooking the cliffs where locals and tourists were hurling themselves off bamboo planks into the swirling waters below.
I’m a pretty confident swimmer, but the thought of hitting the water then immediately having to gather my senses to swim to a precarious looking bamboo ladder helped me to come to a pretty sensible decision. The Gentleman and I decided to keep our feet firmly on the ground, as the waves smashed into the rocks below.
We explored the island instead, clucking at the chickens and making use of the DIY swings hanging from the trees.
Once again we returned to our ship and set sail, following the course of our grumbling stomachs and navigating towards an epic lunch.
Arriving at another island, we managed to find ourselves with all the other tourists that we had so far managed to avoid on our route. Hundreds gathered to enjoy a feast of fresh fish, curries, vegetables and fruit followed by giant bottles of local beer and Coca Cola all placed on a gingham table cloth that could have come straight from the Great British Bake Off.
The camera battery decided to give up on us at the point, but we spent the rest of the afternoon snorkelling in those beautifully clear waters before heading back to White Beach to enjoy the last sunset on the island.
District had very kindly invited us to enjoy the Star Lounge Restaurant. We started, how we always do, with a glass of something fruity.
The rooftop was completely empty. It was almost as if it had been planned. The staff were completely ours for the evening, we couldn’t even take one sip of a water without the glass being automatically refilled. Our dishes had been chosen when we arrived at the hotel and we had pretty much forgotten what we ordered so it was a nice surprise when it all arrived.
A fresh salad for me and butternut squash soup for him.
Filipino food is delicious, but everything we had so far was cooked, so it was a gorgeous change to have some fresh lettuce leaves.
It lead us deliciously into our mains; chicken and rice and pork and mash. Both ridiculously simple dishes but sublimely good. The way they cook meat and marinade it is gorgeous.
The evening melted away in a few more cocktails and ice-cream eaten walking through the markets gawking at the price of estates (6 bedroom villa with staff, pool, outhouses and more for just £400k if you must know!) The holiday was passing far too quickly, but we had a long journey the next day to a completely different looking island and the tenth largest out of the 7000 other Philippine Islands.