It might seem as improbable as lightning striking the same family twice, but we find ourselves at a second Amanresort in less than three months. We are at Amanpulo on a private visit, by invitation of some wonderful hosts, so I will only provide snapshots of mostly sand, sea, sky and some food, and the leave the rest of our short visit to your imagination. The rainy season in the Philippines can be unpredictable, but while traditionally a less active period for resorts in the Northern Palawan area, I can tell you for sure that paradise at the height of the dry season is still very much paradise during the rainy season, and without the crowds.
An hour-long flight in a 19-seater Dornier turboprop from Manila to Pamalican island was flawless and the greeting upon arrival at Amanpulo as warm as ever.
Late afternoon tropical squalls formed on the horizon, and blew over the island on and off during the first day. I actually love to watch rainstorms advance and the beach is a superb vantage point, as long as you can get out of the way when it starts to get a bit stormy.
But just as quickly as the squalls form and pass, they also disappear, and neighboring islands such as Manamoc are clearly visible across the calm blue sea. A slight shower wasn’t going to keep us off the beach…
Some of the finest and widest sandy beaches I have ever experienced completely encircle the small island, and we were always in awe of the dozens of shades of blue that the sea puts forth based on the sunlight, clouds, and time of day.
With only 38 hotel casitas (and several villas) on the island, you almost never run into any other guests except while dining in the restaurants. So it definitely feels like your private island, and your wonderful beach, if only for the length of your stay.
Gentle waves crash over a very gradual slope of powdery sand that leads out to reefs surrounding the island, some 100-300 meters off shore.
Sometimes you do have to pinch yourself to make sure it is all quite real.
From the beach club, a classic photo that guests have surely snapped with their cameras for the last 16+ years since the resort opened for business. We were guests at Amanpulo just weeks after it had opened, and returned several times in the mid to late 1990’s until we decided to build a beach house in Batangas that reduced our trips to beach resorts.
The sun had come out in full force at this point and it was just spectacular. I have a photo taken from the same vantage point some 15 years ago (not on a digital camera) and it looks identical to this one…
Beach side casitas are set back several meters in lush greenery (particularly during the rainy season) and many have private hammocks and several areas to lounge or sunbathe on the deck.
A short pathway leads to your own private patch of beach…
…with chaises longues and a beach umbrella. Towels are constantly being refreshed and if desired, meals can be enjoyed right on the beach.
As usual, as with Amans anywhere, details, details, details as with these gumamela blooms floating in a pot of water and a coconut ladle so you can wash off sand when you return from the beach to your casita.
The resort has a fantastic pool as well, right near the main clubhouse. It is dramatically lit in the evening, and capiz lanterns with candles dot the public areas.
Our meals and snacks were just wonderful. Here an open-face vegetarian sandwich that the Teen ordered for breakfast one day… a nice slice of bread baked on the premises, hummus, arugula, avocados, oven roasted tomatoes and shreds of basil.
Tapas at lunch included a wonderful spicy and tasty dish of gambas, made with prawns rather than shrimps. A basket of freshly baked foccacia was the perfect tool to sop up the oil and garlic at the bottom of this dish!
Calamares served with a nice mayonnaise and some lemon wedges hit the spot with Mrs. MM, who ended up ordering it twice in two days.
The Teen wolfed down an order with three substantial chicken croquettes.
The resort has added several new dining outlets since we were last there a decade ago. A simple beach hut serves wonderful pizzas and salads. And another more formal setting offers a surprisingly varied Vietnamese menu. But the development that really excited me was the fact that there are several rows of organically grown vegetables, herbs and spices on the island now. A strong push to compost and create kitchen gardens shielded from the winds has yielded terrific produce. These arugula salads served with our pizzas were SUPERB.
Turns out the arugula is grown less than 20 meters from where we ate it, and it had been picked less than an hour before we crunched down on the leaves. A lot of arugula in Manila is almost too peppery and a bit grassy, but these arugula leaves were delicious. Served with roasted tomatoes, some parmesan and a balsamic vinaigrette, they were perfect with the pizzas. After we finished our salads, we noticed the cook head off to the arugula patch to pick a few more handfulls of the greens, washing them carefully and getting them ready for the next few diners. This is a photo of her in front of the wood fired pizza oven.
The margherita pizza was topped with the fresh chiffonade of basil, also grown a few steps from the restaurant.
A mushroom pizza was also very good.
A variety of drinks and coolers were on offer, but these simple yet refreshing lemon squashes (lemon, soda water, simple syrup and lots of ice) were a favorite.
For lunch today, I had a simple but WONDERFUL tuna fish, green olive and onion sandwich, served on one of the finest baguettes I have ever eaten at an island resort. I always assume keeping a nice crust on bread on a humid tropical island is impossible, but this baguette was delicious. We also had several wonderful Vietnamese and Filipino dishes at dinner, but candle lit dining and poor camera skills (or was I just hungry?) means no photos to share…
This is our fourth or fifth visit to Amanpulo (with a long, long break since the last one), but I can tell you it is as wonderful as ever. The service was impeccable, and as if by Aman magic, at the end of lunch today, perhaps with some help from the Teen who simply wanted to embarrass me in public (though I wouldn’t put it past them to have checked the files), a delicious chocolate cake with a single candle was presented for dessert. Complete with guitarists and singers wishing me a happy birthday. Life doesn’t get much better than that! Many thanks to our hosts and to the staff of Amanpulo who have made yet another memorable Aman experience. I am taking the next couple of days “off” from the blog to recharge batteries. Will be back soon. :)
Spectacular photos of the island resort on their website, below:
Cuyo Group of Islands