Thursday, November 1, 2007

Grande Island Resort Getaway - Subic

A few months back, we visited a friend in Olongapo City and decided to revisit Grande Island which, some 10 years back, was just a patch of nipa huts with hardly any amenities to speak of. It was rustic, just basic facilities, although I remembered the wild blossom of fire trees and a sumptuous meal.

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.

Chiquita Island

Email - 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.


Anonymous said...

Parang ganda pla ng Olongapo ah at mura nga..Mapadpad nga dyan minsan when I get to Pinas! It's good, u were able to visit Maricel, parang ages ago kpa nya ini-invite...;>

eye in the sky said...

ganda no? actually di din sya matao, and easy to go to... wala pa hassle sa reservations na matrabaho, pwede pang balikan lang... is this girlie? di bale, pasyal tayo dun minsan.

Anonymous said...

Yep po, this iz Girlie in OZ!!at your service.. Cge, pasyal tau!!!

eye in the sky said...

oo ba, although syempre wala syang panama sa boracay adventures natin (complete with the payong on our way to the bat cave - hehehehe!!!). im just saying that it is a good option if someone wants a little adventure nearby without spending a lot of money... puwede na talaga. alam mo, i was able to speak with a british guy in Ha Long, who is now a Perth resident but will be moving soon to Hanoi (teaching postgrad english, etc.). i was shocked when he told me that sydney to perth IS a 5-hour plane ride!!!! ganun kalayo!!! he told me that it was a proverbial desert. that all the grass yards have to be watered every single day religiously coz during summers - december, january - these yards revert back to desert sand. it made me really wanna visit this darn place tuloy. hehehe... i am so intrigued. babaw no? ;->

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Perpetual Malcontent said...

Hey there.

Is the buggy rate you mentioned the "tourist" rate or are the "tourist" rate and the regular rate the same?

Nice blog BTW.

eye in the sky said...

Hey. It's the same rate for both local and foreign tourists - and kinda steep, dont you think? Thanks for visiting this site. :->

The Perpetual Malcontent said...

I emailed the resort and they sent me a list of their packages and rates.

The ATV buggy rate was P1,200 per head. That's way cheaper than the $200 (P8,000) you mentioned. I guess the former was the price for foreign visitors.

I've noticed that many resorts and hotels in the Philippines make use of this two-tiered pricing scheme: one for foreigners and another for locals.

Anyway, thanks for visiting my blog.

eye in the sky said...

Maybe it IS P1,200 but I didn't bother to ask coz $200 was quoted at the stall board, right where you rent the cart.

I wanted to rent one so I could bring my friend (who's physically handicapped) for the ride while navigating the island. There was hardly anybody there when I visited. :->

Anonymous said...

Mahal pa rin for a local rate - P1,200. But the place looks nice. Makapunta nga. Nice blogs.

eye in the sky said...

thanks, man. :->

Boracay Hotels said...

Wow ang ganda naman dyan. Sana makapunta din ako dyan. Kaso hindi ganon kaganda ung mga sands. Mas maganda parin sa Boracay, white sand talaga. Thanks for those photos.

Tanya Gemarin

eye in the sky said...

Thanks, Tanya. I think the gold standard on "best sand" is still Boracay. In terms of the finest, "whitest" sand, nothing beats Aklan's crown jewel. I often tell this even to my backpacking foreigner friends. Nothing compares to it, not even the sands of Bali (Indonesia). Thanks for dropping a note.