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As with many other destinations in The Philippines, the cost of pre-booking nice accommodation online was too high for a GRANDPAcking Budget.
Accommodation in The Philippines ‘known tourist destinations’ is, generally, a problem for GRANDPAckers … the accommodation is poor value for money. Everywhere. Anything less than PHP900 per night is likely to be backpacker rather than GRANDPAcker Standard.
PHP2400 / day is our total GRANDPAcking Daily Budget! As a rule, I try and keep accommodation costs to no more than 50% of our Budget; this is what a GRANDPAcking couple can afford (and still have enough money left to exist on). In The Philippines my target price is, therefore, BELOW PHP1,200 / night.
WHAT’S ON THE INTERNET / HOTEL SEARCH ENGINES:
Have a look for yourself. You will find that most of the cheap options are Dorms and / or in Backpacker Hostels:
Now and again, you will be able to get 50-70% discounts on (what look like) GRANDPAcking Standard rooms… but, make sure that you research the hotel and read the reviews.
If you couple one of these discounts with the information that I provide in this post … you should end up with a very good accommodation solution.
Please Note: On AGODA.COM, you usually have to pay a 12% Hotel Tax and 10% Service Charge IN ADDITION TO their published rate (i.e. an additional 22%). In The Philippines, this can happen on BOOKING.COM too but, generally, with BOOKING.COM what you see is what you get.
BLUE WATER RESORT:
I made my own way from Bantayan Island to Malapascua Island and I had done my ‘usual thing’ of pre-booking my Malapascua accommodation for my 1st night.
I planned to stay on Malapascua a further 10 nights … to do some SCUBA Diving.
I was in Malapascua in late May; this is the end of the season. The Tourist numbers were dropping and room rates were being discounted by many hotels. My room was listed at PHP1,500 / night … so at the discounted rate of PHP1,000 / night, I was still expecting something ‘reasonable’.
I was disappointed with the room … it was very basic.
The Blue Water was poor value for money: a barren room with a Double bed, a small fan on a little bedside cabinet, no wardrobe, a small ensuite with cracked tiles, no toilet seat, a cold water shower (with water that smelt ‘off’), and a small outside seating area.
No TV, no in-room-wifi …
It was not comfortable enough to spend the next 10 days – I needed to look around for something better …
AROUND THE ISLAND:
From the Blue Water I headed west …
At the western end of Bounty Beach you find the Blue Corals Resort. The Blue Corals straddles 2 beaches: Bounty Beach to its east and a secluded bay to its west. You can take some back steps down from the Blue Coral to get to this secluded beach. This is a nice place to go if you are staying nearby and want some peace and quiet … but the beach and swimming are average.
At the end of this secluded bay is the Tepanee Resort. The Tepanee is an up-market resort which is out of GRANDPAcker range.
You can walk through the Tepanee to the best beach on the island: where the Angelina Beach restaurant is. You can, also, get to this beach at an entry beside the Kokay Resort. The Kokay Resort is an up-market resort which is out of GRANDPAcker range.
This beach has the best sand, trees for shade, and sand underfoot for 20-30 metres if you want to go for a swim.
From here, you make your way through the main harbour. The beach is riddled with boats and there are no decent resorts.
The Moonlight Resort is not near a beach and is, fundamentally, Backpacker. They offered me a Deluxe Fan Room for a ‘discounted’ rate of PHP1,500 / night. But why would I want to be in the middle of nowhere paying that price?
Mangrove Bay Beach is ‘cute’ but the beach and swimming are average.
As you loop back inland heading for the north west tip you will find a remote resort on the pathway before you hit Lighthouse Beach. Lighthouse Beach is one of the best beaches on the island. But, there are no resorts there.
I didn’t stop to enquire about prices at the remote resort. It was too far away from everything.
The beach along the north coast is ‘OK’ and you finally reach the ruins of the Bantique Cove Resort. The small beach north east of the Batique was average.
The resorts here were destroyed in a typhoon.
Cutting back south you will find a number of bays.
I found the locals engrossed in cockfighting.
I think that they were surprised to see me there. I have no idea what the ‘bearing of bottoms’ is all about …
After cutting back inland, I made my way to the next bay.
It was average.
At low tide, you can walk around the rocks between bays.
Finally you reach the eastern tip of Bounty Beach.
This area is riddled with boats and is not good swimming.
The main resort area starts when you get to the Dano Beach Resort on the south coast.
A quick look around the backstreets of Bounty Beach revealed a number of Backpacker quality resorts. Some of the really cheap places (going for PHP500-600 / night for a Double Fan Room with cold water shower) are not listed on the internet – just ask the locals.
It is in these backstreets that you will find the cheapest restaurants (sometimes half the price of what you will pay on the beachfront).
THE BEST BEACH:
Bounty Beach and the north-western Lighthouse Beach are about the same and come second.
Almost all of the beachfront accommodation is too expensive for GRANDPAckers. The off-beachfront accommodation is Backpacker.
In High Season, the Hotels are full, you will not get decent discounts. I was lucky, I was here in May (at the end of the season), the Tourists were thinning out, and the hotels were dropping their prices by 33-50%.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION:
The Bounty Beach waterfront path is very sandy underfoot. In the heat of the day (which can feel like over 40 degrees c) you will find that walking it is very tiring and inconvenient. This puts me off suggesting the more remote resorts in the far south east.
I would suggest that you want to stay in the south west ‘Green Zone’. This will place you:
- Near the best beach (at Kokay’s)
- Near the Harbour Village (for shops)
- Near the cheap eateries
If you are happy with the longer walks, consider expanding your search to the Orange Zone.
WHEN TO COME:
Almost all of the beachfront resorts were quoting room rates of over PHP2,000 / night – even in Shoulder Season … but these rates were starting to come down by mid May.
I only found 2-3 resorts on the beach that were in GRANDPAcker price range. One was the Blue Water – which I do not recommend.
GRANDPAckers will need to come in Shoulder Season: Mid October – November and Mid May – June. Which means that you are only looking to come here for 1 month – maximum.
July to September is Rainy Season. Rainy Season brings the flies and the mosquitos. The beaches are not nice enough to warrant being here when it is raining (unlike, say, Boracay – which would still be worth a visit).
I would, usually tell you that discounts are available if you turn up with ‘folding cash in hand’ and put it on the table. I do not believe this to be true in Malapascua. The island is SCUBA Diver focused – and, almost always full in Peak Season. SCUBA Divers are prepared to pay. Do not bet on being able to get any Peak Season discounts.
I returned to the Blue Water to see what deal they could do. They offered my the same room that I already had for PHP700 / night (the ‘rack rate’ for this room was PHP1,500). The room was not good enough for me, so I asked to see a better room. They showed me another room nearer the beach discounted down from PHP2,000 to PHP1,000 (including breakfast). The room was small and, again, had no wardrobe to put your clothes. When you are staying for 10 nights … you need furniture!
I was offered a Nipa Hut in a resort in the Orange Zone. This was discounted from PHP2,500 to PHP1,200 excluding breakfast. The location was nice … and, the hut was on the beachfront … but the facilities were basic.
I chose to stay at the BLUE CORALS BEACH RESORT.
They offered me a clean and tidy ‘Penthouse’ Fan Double for PHP1,000 including breakfast.
The room had been discounted down from PHP1,500 / night.
The room came with furniture, a wardrobe, and hot water shower.
The ‘down side’ was that it was on the 3rd floor, so I had some steps to negotiate going to / from the room.