I’m celebrating my one year work anniversary at Pure Shores Villa as the Content Manager/Copywriter/SMM-er this month. Working with the team behind the scenes gives me a sense of purpose at work, an appreciation of Bohol, and insights about luxury travel and tourism industries in and around Asia.
In this blog post, I want to share what I discovered during my stay last September 2017.
Dean and Marcelle, the villa owners, shared with me their dream and why they built their stunning private estate in Bohol. They’re both contagious and passionate about their vision.
When they invited me to visit the private villa, that was my second time to explore Bohol. What a surprise to see the other side and discover these things to do.
Travel tip: When traveling, never lose your sense of wonder even to the little things.
#1 The calming view of the sea from the Anda coastal road
The calming view made me appreciate more of nature and the rural life. The approximately 90-minute ride and the sceneries gave me a glimpse of our weeklong holiday. Away from Tagbilaran city and the touristy, noisy Panglao island, that was my first time to see the other side of Bohol – what a surprise to discover Anda’s hidden gems.
#2 A private, intimate place with a unique niche concept
The idea of renting out your luxury estate villa is a unique niche concept in the Philippine tourism market. (If you only knew how many gazillion inquiries we received since the website launch – visitors kept asking if they can rent a room, where in fact, we already have a page and information about the villa concept). But veteran luxury travelers, especially those who have been in Indonesia and Thailand, are familiar with the concept of villa rentals. I must say that renting the whole place is economical for groups such as family holidays, executive getaways, and destination weddings, allowing them to enjoy the amenities privately.
#3 Refreshing Guindulman Bay scenery
What a refreshing sight to behold when you just relax, do nothing or sit on these sun loungers, overlooking the pristine blue waters of Guindulman Bay. The stillness and solitude of the place gave me unspeakable contentment.
#4 Relaxing massage against the backdrop of a glorious sunset
What more could I ask for if my work involves chasing sunsets, taking photos of this view and then a relaxing massage against this backdrop? The photo I’ve taken doesn’t do it justice. You have to see it and experience it yourself. It’s beyond words to describe that moment.
#5 A wealth of marine species below the villa
There’s direct private access to a protected marine sanctuary below the villa. May, (the villa manager) assisted me, and we went down through the private staircase. I snorkeled and explored the wealth of species below. What an amazing experience to hang out with those colorful fishes and corals and the giant clams, which made my stay memorable. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a turtle. The staff provided me the snorkeling gears and life jacket to ensure my safety.
There’s an entrance fee at the marine sanctuary, plus an additional fee for your personal guide who will be with you.
#6 Andakidz Mangrove boardwalk and TAFIAS’ tasty products
We visited TAFIAS (Talisay Fisherman’s Association) and had a chance to explore their Andakidz mangrove boardwalk. The Andakidz project was turned over to TAFIAS management for development. TAFIAS is a non-profit organization that aims to empower local women from low or no-income families with children to build the income by helping them learn new skills.
But wait, there’s more!
TAFIAS also sells tasty local products, and I never thought there’s such thing called “Tilapia chips.” Food makes me excited. LOL! What’s more, they’re low-carb and available in different flavors. When you buy these local products, you are also supporting the women’s livelihood.
Other products you must try: Hot chili flavored ice cream
#7 Powder white sand beaches in and around Anda
My personal tour guide knows the hidden gems in Anda. He brought me to these powder white sand beaches scattered around the villa. They’re perfect for your morning walks and picnics.
#8 Beautiful rice terraces and waterfalls
If you’re a nature lover, you will definitely explore the other hidden gems around the villa such as the Cadapdapan rice terraces and Can-Umantad waterfalls. I enjoyed the lush views and the company of the residents and children frolicking around the waterfalls.
#9 Exploring Anda pool caves
Your trip won’t be complete without experiencing the pool caves in and around Anda. My tour guide and I went pool-cave hopping and took some photos of the kids and residents as they play and swim.
Don’t expect a luxurious cave pool. Anda is still an emerging tourist spot so there are no bath stalls where you can take a shower.
You may want to bring a bottle of sunblock, towels, toiletries, handy wet wipes and tons of water to keep you hydrated (and snacks). If you’re traveling with friends and family, better spend half or the whole day cave hopping or add nature trips around Anda.
#10 Hidden diving spots for the curious and adventurous
Another highlight that I should say took my breath away: explored some of the hidden diving spots.
I suggest you wear comfortable sandals because some places require a little bit of hike here and there. Check out the photo above. It’s worth it.
#11 The ancient Lamanok Island
The place was featured on “Biyahe ni Drew.” We had to get on board the “bangka” a small wooden boat to get to the island. Tour guides highly suggest visiting the place during mornings and low tides. Residents believe that the Lamanok Island is the “Cradle of Civilization.” It’s home to the famous red hematite paintings, which the residents claim as signs of early civilization.
It was a thrilling experience to be on board that little boat as we paddle from the dock to the island itself. Make sure you bring your hiking or comfy sandals with you as you explore the place. Photos of those petrographs, eerie skulls, and ancient coffins in your camera or smartphone will serve as souvenirs of your Anda trip.
#12 Century-old acacia tree
We passed by this century-old acacia tree. I’m not sure if you’ll be interested in it, but I just wanted to take a photo of that huge tree! Imagine, this tree stood the test of time! It’s planted near a public school, and only a few meters walk from the main road.
#13 SUP (Stand-Up Paddle) board along Loboc River to Busay falls
It was one of the most satisfying and relaxing activities in this trip as we – a certified SUP instructor and I – paddled up the famous Loboc River all the way to the Busay falls. I’m writing in the context that I’m physically active and I don’t mind paddling up a few hours across an 8KM-10KM stretch of calm waters for some upper body exercises.
#14 Serenity after a day’s worth of fun and adventure
Vacation at its core is all about rest, serenity, and enjoyment. I must say that the Southeast coast of Bohol offers a variety of options for all kinds of travelers. Aside from the sumptuous dinner prepared by the private chef and restaurant staff, I enjoyed the solitude at the villa on a starry night.
Disclaimer: This blog post was written in partnership with Pure Shores Villa. Photos are All Rights Reserved. For bookings, you can contact me directly for an exclusive discount. 🙂