If you’ve been aching for sun, sea, and sand, but you’re still quite wary of sharing space with others, there’s one way you can do that: Book a room on a private island. The catch? You might need to spend some serious cash.
If you have some to spare, though, then these elite private hideaways would be more than happy to receive you. The best part? The Department of Tourism (DOT) have given them all the green light – and a certificate of authority to operate (COA) to boot – to allow any visitor who can show a negative RT-PCR test result taken 72 hours prior to the trip. You will also be jetted off via private charters to the islands, which will be arranged by the resorts during booking, so you can breathe easy.
Check out these luxurious island retreats below.
Said to be the king of luxury resorts in the Philippines, Amanpulo in Palawan is part of the global Aman Resorts chain renowned for their upmarket, ultra-private resorts. Set in an isolated 89-hectare pearl-white island surrounded by the rich waters of the Sulu Sea, Amanpulo is noted for hosting the insanely rich and famous and showering them with complimentary perks like champagne and anniversary and birthday setups, and more. If you want to be pampered like a deity, enjoy your own personal butler and chef while basking in your villa’s private pool, this Aman facility might just be for you.
Guests can choose from casitas or villas. Casitas offer direct beach access and are situated directly on the beach, near treetops, or a hillside. Casitas have their own decks and hammocks.
For bigger groups, there are one, two, three, or four-bedroom villas to luxuriate in. All villas have their own private pools, lounge, dining areas and a clubcar, and come with a dedicated private chef and butler.
There are a total of five restaurants on site, including one that specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, and another for Japanese fine dining. A clubhouse resto serves snacks and meals by the pool. For those who would like casual beach dining, there’s The Picnic Grove and Windsurf Hut.
For starters, you can get a massage at the hilltop Aman Spa or get some nail or hair pampering at the salon. There are also pavilions for holisticactivitis including Pilates, yoga, workout, hydrotherapy, and even an outdoor relaxation area.
For those who’d like to venture out to explore, electric buggies and bicycles are provided upon request. The forests surrounding the island are home to bird species.
However, nothing tops Amanpulo beautiful beach which is home to hawksbills and green turtles, which you can enjoy even better with water sports activities like snorkeling, kite surfing, scuba diving, and kayaking. On shore, you can play tennis or tennis, do a jungle obstacle course.
Prepare to pay anywhere between $1,150 and $1,650 for a night (approximately P55,000 to P80,000), inclusive of breakfast and welcome drinks, and use of facilities. On peak/ holidays like Christmas, the price even goes as high as $3,000+ USD. At that price, you can expect to see just a few wandering souls during your stay.
How to get there
Private charters are available from the Manila International Airport in Manila to the resorts hangar on Pamalican Island. Roundtrip flights (one hour per way) are priced at $495 per adult and $295 per child ages 2 to 11. Kids below 2 are free.
Known for hosting high-profile weddings like Heart Evangelista and Chiz Escudero’s, this 500-hectare island off the coast of Polillo Island in Quezon makes you feel like a VIP from hangar to island and back. Right off the bat, you’ll be served free-flowing refreshments and coffee prior to takeoff, then welcomed like royalty when you arrive.
This members-only single-resort development – the Philippines’ largest and most expensive to date – boasts 7 unique, internationally themed villages. Each village has its own pool, jacuzzis, and dining facilities, all designed with sustainability at the fore by Miami-based masterplanners EcoPlan.
For those who prefer the rustic charm of Asian villages, consider staying at the Bali Village or Phuket Village. Meanwhile, the villages of Mykonos, St. Tropez, Costa del Sol, and Toscana transport one to Europe with their structures inspired by Greece, France, Spain, and Italy, respectively.
If you like keeping it local, Balesin Village, which is said to have the best beachfront, easily feels like home.
Balesin features seven world-class restaurants – one for each village. Balesin Village has Balesin Sala for traditional Filipino cuisine. Bali Village houses The Warung, while Phuket Village has The Salathip. Thanassis Taverna at Mykonos Village offers Greek and Mediterranean Dishes. For Japanese delicacies, head over to Sakura Japanese Restaurant; or Han-Gang Korean Restaurant for authentic Korean cuisine. The main clubhouse is home to Mark’s Steakhouse.
For drinks on water while watching the sunset, go to the Nusa Dua Bar. If you prefer sangria and Tapas, check out Casa Grande.
When you have a 500-some hectare island as your playground, chances are, you won’t run out of things to do. Engage in water activities like diving,snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
On land, you can play tennis, basketball, or badminton at an extensive sports center. For explorations, y9ou can either ride a horse or go cycling.
After a tiring day, head to the Balesin Spa or the Aegle Wellness Center for their signature thalassotherapy – the only service treatment of its kind in the country.
To get in, you can apply for membership (a whopping 3 million), own a beach house (7 to 15 million on the average), or have your stay sponsored by a member. Members can facilitate bookings for you. Most charge around P20,000 a night per room, regardless of how many guests.
How to get there
Balesin Island is accessible via Alphaland’s private hangar in Clark (Clark International Airport) and Manila (CAAP, Airport Road). The trip takes only 25 minutes. Fare is P6,720 for members and P8,960 for guests on weekdays, and P7,840 for members and PP8,960 for guests on weekends. Excess baggage is at P100 per kilogram.
The rise of Palawan has seen entire estates, small villages, and islands transformed into idyllic getaways for weary travelers. One of them is Miniloc Island, one of four in El Nido owned by the Ayala’s Ten Knots Group.
As El Nido Resorts’ “eco-discovery island resort”, Miniloc is ideal for adventurers and those who prefer the laidback, back-to-basics vibe of a Filipino coastal village. While it doesn’t have the same opulent facilities that resorts of its class offer, a Miniloc stay means your itinerary will be fully packed with nature-based activities. The island is surrounded by sky-high limestone walls, lush hiking trails, and of course, an inviting beach on which water cottages are built. The resort offers guided eco tours, as well as their own house reef.
It’s also in the same vicinity as Secret Lagoon, Small Lagoon, and Big Lagoon, so you can easily access these sports via a private boat from the resort, or if you’re more agile, through kayaking.
Guests can choose from Garden Cottages, which rest on the beach, surrounded by foliage; Seaview Rooms, which are built on water; and Deluxe Seaview, which are also above water but are more elegant and spacious. All are equipped with air conditioning, comfortable beds, and a private balcony.
The resort features the native-themed Clubhouse Restaurant. For a nightcap, a beach bar rests just step away from the water. However, you can ask for your meals to be served by the pool or as a picnic by the beach, too. If you’re going on a tour, the resort can arrange for lunch to be consumed at Entalula Beach Club, which has its own private section for El Nido Resorts’ guests, specifically those staying in Lagen and Miniloc Islands.
Miniloc has its own house reef, which means you can swim with marine species, including a 1.5-meter jack fish, up close and within reach of your cottage. If you’re lucky you can even sea turtles, rays, and jacks just a few meters off shore!
Kayaking to nearby mangroves and Lagen Island (also owned by Ten Knots) is a popular activity here, as well as pedal boats. On shore, you can enjoy a game or two in the gaming area, or play volleyball and badminton. Miniloc is quite lush, with hiking trails and birdwatching sites that you can access via guided eco tours.
Traveling with kids? Bring them to the kids’ play center for fun and games.
To cap off your day, head to the massage cabana and soothe those tired muscles.
Depending on the season, nightly rates range from P22,000 to P35,000 per villa for two people, inclusive of full-board meals, use of non-motorized water equipment, and on-site facilities.
How to get there
The trip to the island starts at the Manila Domestic Airport Terminal 4, where an AirSwift aircraft (also owned by the Ayalas) will take you to Lio Airport. From there, you are welcomed by a resort representative and taken to the Jetty Lounge, where a private boat will take you straight to the island in just 30 to 45 minutes.
AirSwift also offers direct flights from Clark, Busuanga, Cebu, Panglao, and Boracay to El Nido. AirSwift flights cost around P5,000 to P7,000 per way.
Under the DOT guidelines, you can visit the island during scheduled three-day vacations twice monthly. Check with the resort directly to inquire about availability and the next scheduled trip.