Time to head to the sunlight

THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee - The Philippine Star
Time to head to the sunlight
Sirakan villas
Photos by Pepper Teehankee on a Leica C Digital Camera

Sunlight Air CEO Ryna Brito said that Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort (SETIR) was a labor of love from her family. They started building this beautiful resort around 12 years ago and she remembers her family staying in tents from day one to oversee its building. She describes the island as “magical” and I certainly can attest to that.

I said yes to this much-needed break to Culion, Palawan, when Jaison Yang of Travel Warehouse informed me that this trip (co-sponsored by the Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotions Board Philippines) was a travel-bubble, point-to-point trip on a chartered airline (Sunlight Air, the sister company of the resort). That gave me the courage to go on a trip after 18 months of not traveling in the time of corona. We got to the resort and stayed there, as no one was allowed to leave and visit other places.

White sand beaches and clear blue waters greeted us after an hour’s plane trip and half an hour ride each for a van and a boat.

A major highlight was my stay in one of the nine Sirakan villas, clustered in a semi-secluded portion of the 18-hectare island. These nine 65-square-meter villas all have glass-bottom floors in the bedroom extending all the way to the balcony (which has a Jacuzzi), giving us amazing views of marine life and corals on the ocean floor. This sight is spectacular day or night (illuminated with lights under the villa). “Sirakan” is a Cuyunon term for “sunrise” and is the new name for SETIR’s former Honeymoon Villas.

All villas on the island are built on water. Families of four to six would be perfect in SETIR’s 135-square-meter, two-bedroom villas, which share a lounge area and balcony. The 90-square-meter duplex villa is great for four persons with its parted rooms and ocean-view balcony.

A group of friends can stay at their 88-square-meter cluster villa offering space for three to four persons. These rooms can be booked beside each other and the partition of the balcony overlooking the ocean can be removed to create a big lounge space for big groups.

Even with the travel bubble, strict health protocols were observed. I still couldn’t get used to not getting my own food from a buffet, the first time I had it during the pandemic. Masked servers gave us the food we wanted behind sanitized glass barriers.

Seafood here is a must. SETIR has their own shrimp, oyster, and crab farm. Palawan oysters are both creamy and briny and are bigger than the size of your palm. Do try saang or spider shell, something I had not tried before and am now constantly looking for. Also try Palawan delicacy lamayo, a partially sun-dried fish marinated with vinegar, herbs, and spices. This is fried to a crisp and usually served for breakfast

I actually brought a book and downloaded several shows on Netflix anticipating slow Wi-Fi on the island (I was so wrong). I never even opened my book or watched a single episode because there was so much to do! A sunset cruise can be enjoyed on a yacht that can be rented by guests. The yacht can accommodate up to 40 guests for a cruise around the islands. They have a pool, which has a bar that makes drinks. The resort is also equipped with a spa for indoor or outdoor treatments, a gym overlooking the ocean, and a karaoke spot with four huge rooms!

People who know me know that I am not a lover of the ocean or the beach. I still am not, though snorkeling over a coral garden and a sunken World War II Japanese wreck or just staring at the sea on my balcony or the ocean floor inside my villa for hours are things I found soothing! I even sunbathed and swam in the ocean and had a great time! That, for me, is really is magical.


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Visit www.sunlighthotelsandresorts.com to check out the special rates for Sunlight Resort’s 4D/3N packages inclusive of airfare from Travel Warehouse, Inc. Message their director of sales Otep Pelagio at [email protected] or call (0932) 882-1708 or (0917) 313-1217 for inquiries.

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Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.

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