What’s It Like at Our Private Overnight Beach Camp?
Overnight camping, Palawan. Did you even know you could do that? The answer is yes, absolutely! Have you ever dreamt of waking up on your own private island, surrounded by white sand, crystal clear waters and cloudless blue skies? Worried that the reality won’t live up to the Instagram pictures? Well trust me, this is one trip that definitely won’t let you down! Not to give everything away but there’s sea turtles, waterfall hiking, campfires, stargazing and spending time with your new friends for life… and that’s only half of it!
Let me paint you a picture…
We started the day by leaving our traditional Filipino style bungalows on the beautiful, quiet beach of Port Barton and walked through the water to board the private One Life Adventures boat that would take us to our overnight camping spot. Some might even describe it as a rustic superyacht. No kidding, it’s a real Filipino bangka boat but with all the bells and whistles. With an onboard toilet, kitchen, sound system and even hammocks you can hang out in when the boat is at rest – you may not even want to get off!
Our first stop of the day was visiting a remote local community and school. Our local guides transported us from our boat to the island where the school is located. We visited during their recess and were able to bring along school supplies, playing equipment and other donations. It was an incredible experience teaching each other our languages and some games from all of our countries. We swiftly left them to go to their next lessons and wandered back to our boat. On with the rest of our Palawan adventure!
The plan for the rest of the day involved being as adventurous or chilled as you wanted to be. We stopped at a snorkel spot to get our first taste of the tropical marine life; we even saw Nemo! When I was done with snorkelling, I took part in something I like to call ‘nappy hour’… essentially an hour of floating in the ocean while sitting in an upside down life jacket… trust me, you have to try it one day! After everyone had had their fill of snorkelling the incredible reef down below, it was time to head to the next private island where we had a spot of lunch, went for a little hike to a beautiful viewpoint and even did as the locals do and climbed a coconut tree.
Next up, what we were all waiting for! The main feature of the Islander Experience… the overnight camping stay on our own private beach. The One Life Adventures boat moored up to the island and boy, was I not disappointed! The first thing I saw was the awesome rope swing hanging down from an amazing tree house that could’ve featured in the latest Tarzan movie. Our overnight accommodation consisted of comfy tents complete with mattresses, linen and pillows, all already pitched on the beach (talk about spoilt! This is no ordinary camping experience) therefore the rest of the afternoon was ours. We played ‘Filipino Survivor’ and learnt how to crack coconuts and build makeshift shelters like we were Tom Hanks in Castaway. We tested our volleyball skills against each other before and even organised some beach yoga while the sun was setting. Naturally, a few of us took some awesome photos on the rope swing for keepsakes… and to put on the ‘gram, of course.
As the sun started to set, we sat down to a delicious meal cooked by our local guides and it was probably one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten while travelling! We weren’t sure what we were in for being on an island with a tiny, makeshift kitchen but the food was incredible. Doesn’t food always taste better when it’s cooked fresh and outdoors? As a veggie, I was so surprised and impressed by the variety and deliciousness of the food that was available to me, and anyone else in our group that had a dietary requirement. No lettuce sandwiches around here!
After dinner, we were ready for a bit of camp buddy bonding over a few games! Luckily we didn’t have to worry about being too loud, after all, that is one of the perks of having your own private beach. After the games had died down, we spent the evening chilling out around the campfire, complete with star gazing before getting into our tents to be lulled to sleep by the gentle crashing of the waves. I couldn’t think of a better end to the perfect day. It was a truly magical experience.
Who needs an alarm to get up when you can wake up to the sounds of birds chirping? There was no rush this morning, everyone stirred at their own pace. However, for a real treat, I chose to get up early and watch the sunrise over the crystal blue water before taking a refreshing dip in the ocean to wash off my sandy feet. Nothing feels better than that at 8am, I promise.
THE REST OF THE DAY
It was time to grab a cup of coffee, some breakfast and take a few last moments to appreciate this beautiful experience. We grabbed our stuff and headed back to the boat, no fear though, the trip was far from over. Palawan island hopping is another level and we had much more to do. We headed to a new snorkelling spot where we found some turtles we were lucky enough to swim alongside before finding our way to the most epic, secluded waterfall to wash off all that salt and sand we’d accumulated from two days of island hopping. Another incredible lunch spot later (& a pit stop at a cool sandbank to see some giant starfish!), we headed home with full bellies and incredible memories that will last forever.
WRITTEN BY: Olivia Cameron