How to spend a week on a paradise island for under £400

First of all, a little disclaimer… this cost doesn’t include flights to Bohol in the Philippines. A little cheeky I know, but lets say you manage to snag a great flight deal, here’s how you can spend a week on a beautiful white beach, snorkelling with sea turtles, and watching the sunrise from the comfort of your bed with your significant other, all for under £400.

Where to stay

Pamilacan Island is a tiny island off the coast of Bohol. The island, once famous for whale hunting, now relies on fishing and dolphin and whale watching tours as it’s main source of income. But despite this, at the time of writing the island is not yet set up for tourism. You won’t find any hotels, just a few small cottages.

Getting to the island

Apparently there is a big boat that regularly goes to the island for 500php per person each way, but we never managed to figure it out. Instead we took a private boat there and back.

Return private boat = 3500 php = £46.25
Pamilacan island in the distance

We stayed at Chasen Cottage, a small cottage overlooking the sea on the Eastern side of the island. It’s nothing fancy but it has more or less everything you need. If you’re looking for the luxury of air conditioning and hot showers you won’t find it here – this island isn’t for you. Expect simplicity and some friendly cats, chickens and geckos. The owner also has another bigger cottage which looked beautiful.

You won’t really have any neighbours – just the housekeeper’s cottage next door who will cook your meals, arrange snorkelling trips and if you ask nicely, make sure your fridge is stocked up with beer.

Air BnB    @ £26 per night x 6 nights = £156 
Butler fee @ 150php        x 6 nights = £ 14
Beautiful gardens to relax in

Feeding

Whilst there are a few small eateries on the island, we never tried them, instead having our meals cooked for us by the housekeepers.

We opted for half board since we found with the heat and lack of activity we weren’t so hungry, but full board is included in calculations.

The meals are simple – eggs and bread for breakfast and fish, rice and veg for dinner. The housekeepers will take into account dietary preferences but fussy eaters might find it difficult. The fish are caught fresh daily just in front of the house.

Breakfast @ 150 php x 6 x 2 = 1300 php = £20
Lunch     @ 300 php x 6 x 2 = 3600 php = £40
Dinner    @ 300 php x 6 x 2 = 3600 php = £40

Snorkelling

Unfortunately you can’t really swim in the sea in front of the cottage, but it is still good for wading and seeing an abundance of sea creatures. If you want to swim or snorkel, you need to walk 20 minutes to the other side of the island.

We only went snorkelling once but there are three areas to explore, so lets say you explore them all with a guide and hire equipment.

Mask hire   @ 150php x 2  = 300 php = £4.70
Snorkelling @ 250php x 2  = 500 php = £7.70
Three times… = £37.20

The island is also famous for whale and dolphin watching. We didn’t do it so not sure on the price.

Necessities

You’re on holiday after all, so let’s throw a few holiday necessities into the mix;

Large San Miguel Beer @ 150php x 7 = 1050 php = £17
Massage on the beach  @ 500php x 2 = 1000 php = £15.50

Grand total?

Grand total, £385.95 for two adults to be fed, watered and massaged for a week on a paradise island. What more could you ask for?

Hundreds of starfish, sea anemones and sea urchins metres from shore

A few tips if you decide to stay at Chasen Cottage

  • Bring your own snorkelling gear to save having to rent it each time. The gear we rented wasn’t great.
  • Bring some rubber shoes for exploring the water outside the cottage – it’s not good for swimming but its good for wading and its teaming with life! You’ll see an incredible amount of starfish and sea urchins.
  • If you’re a coffee drinker, bring some ground coffee with you. The Filipino coffee on the island won’t cut it. There’s a French press there.
  • Bring a book or something to do that doesn’t involve the internet. Whilst you can get signal on local networks Smart and Globe, it’s the kind of place where you can, and should, disconnect from the world.
  • But if you do need the internet, we found the best way to get signal was to prop the phone up on the ledge above the bedroom window on the corner of the house near the wooden fish. From there it served as a great hotspot for our other devices.

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