The highlight was the array of hills with fortifications just under its mounds. These were hiding cells and batteries used by the American and Filipino soldiers during the Japanese invasion. These days, the island has been transformed into a resort with a swimming pool, a fine-dining restaurant, a souvenir shop, several cottages, billiard hall, a coffee shop, and some diving facilities, among other things.
The first 3 sets of photos are from their website.
A day visit departs from the Subic port via a ferry (at 8 AM and 10AM respectively). Each person pays P750 (or thereabouts) which already includes sea transfer (air-conditioned boat), welcome drinks, lunch buffet, 2 free rounds of banana-boat ride pulled by a speedboat. For in-house guests, a cluster of chalets are situated at the right wing of the island – complete with verandas and an internet access. There are diving gears available and some Buggy Carts (see pic immediately below) and ATV’s are up for rent BUT the rate is rather steep - $200/ person which is good for 3 hours. Other activities available: snorkelling, parasailing, gyro, sumo, flying-fish, banana boats, jetskis, canoes, mambo duos and horseback riding.
Grande’s distance from Manila and the ease of reservations make this venue a cinch! Conveniently accessible and affordable!
Having no one else there, the place feels a little eerie at times. ;->
My personal favorite – solitary hiking up the nature trails around the island and visiting the nearby Chiquita Island, which can is a comfortable walk aduring low tide. You have to be on the lookout though for falling insects and creepy crawlies, one of which dropped right in front of my trail. And there is a lagoon in the middle of the island!!! This is an exciting sanctuary of sun and sand, island adventure; one more thing, there isn’t a crazy crowd populating the area – the perfect place for introspection.
And how is the beach? It has crystal clear blue waters with the mildest of waves – and teems with sea creatures; infact, we caught (and released) a seahorse! Moreover, there are plenty of deserted strips of beaches around the island.
At PhP 750, I have never had anything so cheap (dinner at several Greenbelt restaurants cost more), and it’s just a 2-hour car ride (or 3-hour bus) from Manila. Be sure though to be at the wharf at 7AM to purchase your ticket; or reserve your tickets via phone. For overnighters, the rate is on the pricey side – P8,000++ (single/double bed). For day visitors, it is cheap! For anyone who wants to get away from it all but with limited budget or time, Grande Island is highly recommended.
On a personal note, I was more grateful with the company of a dear friend Cel and the hospitality of her whole clan. I will always take delight remembering our midnight chat, talking about people, past and present experiences, catching up on stuff.
Email - email@example.com. Or call (632)6887300. I suggest the latter.
Blogger perpetual malcontent emailed for the rates and was told that the buggy carts cost P1,200 for locals. A friend who emailed from Antwerp said she found the shedless walk from the cottages to the pool cumbersome. She wrote that by the time you get back to your cottage from your swim, you're once again bathed in sweat. My take on this: Grande is still worth more than what it's charging us.
P.S. We would appreciate updates or feedback from your Grande Island visits, so that others might benefit from your insight. Thank you.