Trip Date – June 2017
| 🇵🇭| The Philippines and its 7,104 Pacific Islands (or 7,107 at low tide) have played host to some of my greatest travel experiences. Having several of the planet’s most beautiful destinations in your back pocket certainly helps, but, more importantly, I’ve found Philippine hospitality to be among the best in the world.
The name ‘Balesin’ had come up in a number of business and casual conversations over the course of a few years, however, it never managed to really grab my attention. Maybe this was because it is a members only island and I figured that with so many incredible others to choose from, why should I spend time caring about this one. That changed in June 2017 when a close friend, who was a member, offered to take my brother, two other friends and me to Balesin by chopper for the day.
Just 60 nautical miles from Manila, it is an island of unmatched beauty and comfort with over seven kilometers (five miles) of white-sand beaches. The Club offers unique villas and amenities patterned after some of the most captivating places around the world. Obviously, we were pumped to visit. After arriving at the landing pad in Manila, we enjoyed taking some photos while the pilots sorted out the final paperwork for the flight.
By plane, the trip takes 25 minutes. By helicopter, it was about 45. After leaving the busy city streets behind, we passed over the mountains and provinces of eastern Luzon and out across the open Ocean. A few minutes later, Balesin came into sight and we landed off to the side of the runway.
Immediately following touchdown, that Philippine hospitality came into full force. Stepping off the chopper we were met by a representative of the island who greeted us with a Philippine lei and golf cart transportation service. We took a short drive from the airport to the main Clubhouse for a welcome drink and lunch near the beach.
Afterwards, we toured southern Balesin, visiting Costa Del Sol (Spain), Phuket Village (Thailand) and the Balesin Royal Villa (Greece, I believe). The latter was probably my favorite. It’s hard to imagine a better place to host a wedding or other special occasion. This thought has since been stored deep in the bank and I hope to revive it sometime in the future.
The golf cart diaries continued as we drove out to the edge of the main pier to hop into a small dingy. One of the members’ superyachts was anchored in the harbor and we had the opportunity to go check it out. We enjoyed chatting with the crew and relaxing outside on the deck. The surrounding water was perfect for snorkeling.
Unfortunately, we needed to get back to Manila that evening and couldn’t stay for the night. Balesin was a place I truly did not want to leave. Ironically, several of the other locations highest on that list are also in the Philippines, with El Nido’s Lagen Island leading the way. After one too many ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger get to da choppa impressions,’ we were back at the airport and en route to the city.
Flying in, we had nice view of Manila, although it wasn’t as clear and sunny as on the island. I couldn’t help but think about how this method of transportation compared to the traffic down on the street. So many cities in Asia have traffic issues – it can be a nightmare.
The trip to Balesin was top notch and a fantastic experience. I imagine spending days or weeks there would be about as relaxing as they come. Gorgeous scenery, A+ food, no crowds, five-star accommodations, 25 minute flight – does it get any better? I hope to be back soon!
Have you been to Balesin Island? What’s your favorite thing to do there?