Almost three years ago I first visited Sangat Island I was quite blown away, as it was so much better than I expected for being on an island. I wrote a constructive and lengthly review that you can read that review on the scroll below. The place looks great on the website and the Trip Advisor reviews are plentiful – scoring all Very Good and Excellent, which for me is all that matters.
Recently we returned to Sangat Island to the most wonderful surprises. The restaurant had been completely renovated encompassing the bar and pool-table games area… now rather like an open-air Grand Pavilion. We were received into a new area of the pavilion and seated for buku welcome drinks (Coconut milk in the shell) while our luggage was whisked away to our waiting Chalet.
But I couldn’t sit still… I wanted to explore more of the new improvements! The bathroom facilities have also been renovated and I would liken a trip to the comfort room like being in a five star resort on the mainland. I started looking around quickly finding what looked like inside was a new modern Galley with stainless steel cookers and appliances wall to wall. Anyone would think such modern organised facility would be found only in upper Manhattan, but remember we are on an island! Then a very nice surprise came my way as I was personally welcomed by the owner of the resort Mr Andy. He took me through a ’back-stage’ personal tour of the facilities from boat building workshop to power plant – The largest independent Solar Power plant in The Philippines to be precise.
Time to go to our room and changes await there too. The older structures had been removed and replaced with only the most modern Chalets. Now most of the Chalets are new or renovated.. every single one of them with a beautiful view of the turquoise ocean. The only difference was the choice of if we want to be absolute beachfront and enjoy the sound of waves lapping at our feet, or otherwise tucked back against a cliff or bush side still with sight of the ocean. Only with more seclusion and the option to sit on the balcony and spot native wildlife like exotic birds and monkeys. The other room options are the elevated mountainside Chalet, and The Villa. The Villa is a larger 3 bedroom suite around a short walk to a private beach. There is no other place in the world that feels quite the same to me, it is just magical.
Dinner time and I am excited to receive food from that world class kitchen and try the new restaurant. Perhaps a few games of snooker and drinks after it might be in order. The food was as great as it always was on our previous visit, but the improved presentation surpassed expectation. A new elevated buffet with a spread fit for a king. The new feeling of light and space in the pavilion was clear, a whole higher level of luxury on offer… I noticed even the serviettes are no longer paper, and instead quality cotton towels. Oh, now I see a new commercial coffee machine too, and start looking forward to breakfast. So much detail has been addressed to raise the experience to a new level of luxury. For now… off we stroll to The famous Rock Bar.
Looking around I keep seeing so many improvements in the details, and still the same offerings as before like water-sports and scuba diving. We sip from a large selection of drinks and socialise with new friends into the evening. Relaxed, knowing we are in good hands and still finding it difficult to believe one can bring so much of life qualities to a secluded island. So comfortable, so relaxing….. oh the charms of Sangat, we are off to bed with big smiles on our faces – What is in store for us on our first morning waking up on the island? So much to do….. everything, or nothing, yeah – nothing sounds wonderful.
Following touchdown at Buswanga airport, the transfer in the van to the boat was fairly seamless. It was only a short ride in a very nice vessel to the resort.
Where do I start….. Surprised I was when we arrived at Sangat Island dive resort. I had looked at the photos on the website, and as nice as they are they just didn’t prepare me for just how beautiful the place really is. I had wondered if all of the reviews were genuine because almost every one raved so much about the place, and I quickly got my answer. There are rave-reviews because the place is just awesome.
Upon arrival we were were served with tasty coconut drinks straight out the coconuts. I enjoyed that but really couldn’t wait to see the room. I was initially worried because I knew the rooms were not air-conditioned (and without realising the price included food), and I had first thought they were expensive. We first went into a beach-front chalet and oh it was charming, see the photo.
I wanted drinks on our balcony and had been fumbling around carrying ice and drinks from the restaurant not realising how well prepared the rooms were. I found a refrigerator full with a selection of cold beer oh yes! .. red and white wine, and even ice in the freezer compartment. We settled into absolute beachfront sun-down surrounded by palm trees, clean white sand, turquoise water and lovely breezes.
We headed to the restaurant for dinner and found a buffet with big crabs, a chicken and a fish dish… all delicious, and all included in the room price. After dinner I tried one of the many hammocks around the resort, and I uncharacteristically fell to sleep…! I am a very light sleeper, so the charm of Sangat had already begun to get a grasp on me. My fiancé found me and woke me up, back to the room and.. Sangat is also a very romantic place to be!
The beds are not sprung mattresses but foam, however surprisingly very comfortable. Nice firm pillows, fairly good sheets and very nice towels. The sheets smell clean unlike some other island-resorts like Dos Palmas make their own laundry detergent that leaves an unpleasant scent like canvas. We slept very well.. the breeze passed through the room and it was very cool and comfortable. You would be nuts to want to close windows and turn on air conditioning, no thanks!
Being primarily a scuba dive resort in the Philippines, Sangat seemed environmentally conscious and responsible. The water, including for drinking is Desalinated in the Solar Powered plant on the island. I wouldn’t say it tastes great .. it was fine cold, but not nice warm. There was also a filtered rainwater station in the restaurant and bottled water from the bar. All of the electricity is generated by solar panels on the roof of the main operations building. Everything appears to be completely sustainable. The fruit and vegetables are grown on the island, also the seafood is local. Apparently the meat is also farmed on the island, so it is very much organic food, three nice choices served three times a day. I think everything on the island is from the island, and not much has been taken away from there either. We did go Island Hopping, but didn’t find any better places. One day we spotted two Palawan Hornbill birds that are featured on the Sangat logo.
In the morning a breakfast buffet was served. We had the typical fruits, bacon, choice of eggs and a sausage casserole dish. We quickly became very fond if the food inclusion system because it removed the feeling of a business transaction altogether. It was so nice to not have to worry about carrying money or EFT cards, room-number for charging, no signing the slip for everything, or relentlessly deciding on a tip or service charge every morning noon and night. ‘The Rock Bar’ is fantastic in the evenings.. we head over after dinner each night and hit the cocktails or wine.
Divers are friendly. We all talk openly like a friends type environment, giving you the option of sitting up at one of the big tables for a chat about the dive you just did or want, or you can take one of the smaller tables if you want some privacy or just being with your own family or friends. You can leave your phone anywhere, computer… no one is worried about crime. The rooms don’t even have keys.. it is that kind of relaxed and friendly place.
After a couple of days we moved around into ‘The Villa’ that had became available for us. It is around the rocky point on a completely private beach. Wow, this place is like a cross between a mystical luxury tree-house and a cave. Like all of the buildings in the resort, it was very well constructed and maintained… not even a squeaky floorboard.
We now had our very own white sands full of a huge variety of coloured shells. We enjoyed collecting up the shells and admiring them, taking photos and then returning them to the beach for the next guests to enjoy. The beach had so many clam shells and coral laying everywhere. Items that would normally have been taken long ago by visitors as souvenirs. The fact that they were still there made it feel so un-spoilt. It felt like we were among the first people there. The staff sent around big white bean-bags that float in the in the ocean. It was super relaxing, the water goes right through them so we took them out and lay on them on the grass into the evening, then swung in hammocks drinking wine.
There was pro’s and cons about the Villa, it was quite a long walk around the point and back to the restaurant. It wouldn’t have mattered if there was some form of communication back to the reception or restaurant so we didn’t need to run all the way back for things we needed.
The dive shop I can see is highly organised and has all new equipment. None of the typical Asian dive shop ripped old wetsuits and clunky old regulars here. The Instructors and Dive-Masters are English, German, Filipino and American. My Fiancé Angie completed her Open Water Licence and we all went and dived some of the terrific wrecks just off the shores of Sangat. We also went jet skiing one day and that was fun of course.
The only negative I can note is the lack of internet was frustrating. I don’t want to be on-line all the way through my holiday, but I do need to be somewhat contactable, and check messages, transfer money etcetera occasionally.
There is only one bad review on Sangat. Whoever that person is complaining about bugs and stupid things, I feel sorry for him. He would be someone who is unable to find happiness anywhere. I inspected that persons own profile and confirmed so many of his reviews are similarly negative. A reflection of a miserable person.
Sangat is not just for divers, It is for anyone that likes quality accomodation, adventure and relaxation, sustainably interwoven with nature. From beach bums to billionaires, I think almost everyone would love this place. There were some very wealthy people among us staying in the resort who were not obvious at all, they interacted so comfortably with other divers who may have saved-up money all year for the holiday. I liked the resort so much I didn’t really mind if we didn’t go diving very often.
Source: New Word