Unlike most destinations in the country that initially take you on a rough ride you actually end up spending your entire holiday doing close to nothing as you marvel at the stunning vista around you, the one hour smooth ride from Legazpi airport to Cagraray Island is a relaxing moment that prepares you for the kind of luxurious adventure that abounds in Misibis Bay.
The scenic ride alone is a treat in itself. Mayon Volcano teases from afar with its world’s perfect cone while the calm beauty of Sula Channel that links Albay Gulf to the Pacific Ocean enchants.
But if you want to right away kick off your action-packed holiday with a touch of opulence that will be unparalleled in the years to come, consider the 10-minute helicopter ride from the airport or the one hour exciting speed boat trip to the resort.
Now, that is one grand entrance that is not just suave and sophisticated, it is extremely exhilarating as well.
Misibis Bay takes pride in being the only luxury island playground resort in the Philippines, and for good reasons. It is one of only three hotels in the country which is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and that tells a lot about the quality of service and indulgence that one gets to enjoy in this destination.
If enjoying a cup of warm cocoa and hot bread with a grand view of the majestic Mayon Volcano after your early ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) ride to catch the sunrise is not iconic of an amazing Misibis Bay holiday, I don’t know what is.
While I was not expecting that surprise breakfast at the Five Mountain View, a spot where the sweeping landscape includes a panorama of five mountains including Mayon, Mt. Bulusan, and Mt. Isarog, I understand the humble treat was actually part of a remarkable service that naturally comes from everyone at the resort – sweet and always exceeding my expectations.
That early morning reward jumpstarted a perfect day in Misibis.
When I got back to my impressively-appointed junior suite deluxe villa, which feather bed with a 300 thread count sheet appeared too inviting to be ignored, everything was neatly arranged again like I did not occupy it the night before. My supplies of bottled water were replenished even when I had an abundance of them.
When I took a dip in the pool that was just some steps away from my villa’s doorstep, a resort staff placed a beach towel on the sunbathing chair even without me requesting for it.
At Marina, where one can dive and snorkel, I spent an amazing time underwater. My dive master made sure I did not miss out on the myriad of colors and textures that flourish under the sea. Some one hundred giant clams thrive in Marina, they are definitely the scene-stealers here.
An hour after diving, I found myself in the middle of Albay Gulf, feeling the breeze on my face as I cruise on a Hobie Cat. The vastness of Pacific Ocean from afar is intriguing and calming at the same time while the mountain range that surrounds us captivates.
The windsurfing activity that followed was a challenging contrast to the relaxing Hobie Cat sail.
Windsurfers make gliding on the water appear like an easy ride but there is definitely more to it than just going against the wind to get it working. I had to constantly remind myself that yesterday, when I spent an hour maneuvering the Jet Ski and tried wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and stand up paddle boarding for the first time, I wasn’t complaining, so why give up now?
After almost an hour of stumbling and falling, I finally got the hang of it.
Sixty seconds of smooth windsurfing was all I needed to feel like a true victor. My enthusiastic guide who patiently taught me the tricks of windsurfing could only let out a big smile as a sign of satisfaction.
Later in the afternoon, I drove an ATV to the Ecopark where a charming amphitheater has a cove for its backdrop. You certainly never run out of nature’s beauty wherever you go in Misibis Bay, I strongly felt that when I rode the 400 and 200-meter zipline that afforded me with a breathtaking scenery. And when you admire such beauty while on an adventure that definitely gets your adrenaline rushing, the experience becomes mind-blowing.
The rough ATV ride to the hilltop that had me rip-roaring on every bumpy dip and turn as we catch the sunset was a fitting finale to an action-packed day.
The reward to all of these, of course, was the luxury that was waiting for me inside my villa.
I had enough reason to spend some more hours on the hot tub while listening to David Guetta’s songs that were playing on the iPod dock, one of the many modern amenities that make a Misibis Bay holiday truly entertaining and comfortable.
After that warm bath, it was time for a massage. The masseuse from the Essences Spa displayed an unmistakable expertise by ensuring pressures were exerted where they were badly needed. Her strokes were soothing and rejuvenating that when I woke up the next day, I was raring to live an adventure-filled holiday once again.
Misibis Bay, without a doubt, is a rarity. There is really no other luxury hotel in the country that pampers you like you are the world’s greatest boxer on his well-deserved vacation after a day of roughing it up in style. Whether it is an adventure under the sea or on top of the mountain, on the water and even up in the air, this luxury resort surely does not disappoint.
In one of those laidback afternoons I spent by the beach with the resort’s amiable watersports instructors after helping me out with kneeboarding, an aquatic sports that had me sitting on my knees while on a buoyant board towed by a jet ski, an obviously overjoyed Korean guest approached us and gave each of us one dollar bill while flashing his two thumbs up after he went wakeboarding.
Earlier that day, two Japanese ladies who were also lounging out by the beach in one of the resort’s native huts could not contain their surprise and happiness when, out of nowhere, a resort staff offered them with a mango-flavored ice candy.
The resort obviously has the guest’s supreme satisfaction in mind.
You feel that in their villa with their high ceiling and huge glass windows that render sophistication to your stay, but the well-groomed tropical landscaping and design ensures your privacy is highly valued as well. There is Sitio, a one-stop recreational hub that has a sauna, gym, billiard and foosball tables, dart boards, and a children’s playroom equipped with Wii 2.
If the island adventures are not enough for you, Misibis Bay can take you on a thrilling ATV ride to Mayon Volcano’s lava bed which is three kilometers from its crater, or on a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, in Donsol.
And of course there are the sumptuous and mouth-watering dishes at the Spice Market where Bicolano cuisine takes center stage.
The Bicol Express, the quintessential spicy Bicolano food made of pork and coconut milk, becomes all the more flavorful and luscious with the use of pineapple bits and cream. Even the fresh red snapper in coconut milk with just a little hint of spiciness is made more delectable with the infusion of cheese that leaves a lush taste in your mouth.
During my last night at the resort, young Hollywood actor Zac Efron arrived with his father for a vacation. I was confident he will have a great time at the resort. He later admitted during his interview on Ellen that his Philippine vacation was one of the best he had so far. The luxury resort definitely pulled all the stops they could to make Efron’s holiday truly memorable.
He was obviously not the only one raving about his Misibis Bay adventure.
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust! 😀
- All photographs taken in September 2012 with a Canon 550d.
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