July 22, 2012

Bellarocca - Marinduque's Beautiful Rock

April 7-9, 2012. I've always wanted to go to Bellarocca ever since I've first read about it in a magazine years ago. I got intrigued by it's charming Santorini-inspired architecture and picturesque landscape. Seems like paradise to me and I wanted a taste of it.

So come morning, we woke up bright and early and super excited to go to to the resort. It was about an hour drive from our hotel in Boac to Lipata Port in the town of Buenavista. We didn't really have clear directions as to how to get there, aside from the very helpful advise from the resort's reservations staff to just follow the road and if need be, ask the locals for directions. Fortunately, there really is just one major road you have to follow and luckily my husband recognized the gated port even though there were no signs whatsoever (he said that the guard was a giveaway since it was very unlikely in the area).

From the jetty, it was a quick 5-minute speed boat ride to the island. It was so close I actually think it's possible to swim to the resort from the jetty, that is if you're a triathlete or an Iron-Man sort of person.

View from the jetty. It's actually so close it was tempting to jump in the water and swim to the island.

Upon arriving at the resort, we were greeted with leis and a welcome song. The main pavilion is located at the top so we have to wait for a golf cart to bring us there. It was a steep and long climb, not something you'd want to do on foot trust me. But if you're up to the challenge, it would actually make a hell of a hill training!

At the pavilion, we were served pandan iced tea while we register. There were a lot of people registering/checking-in that day and since our Terraza room was not ready yet, we were given a deluxe room where we can stay and park our things temporarily. Not to waste time, we suited up, went straight to the buffet lunch and hit the pool.

We are a big group and we got three two-bedroom-Terrazas wherein each one can accommodate 4 adults and two kids. Luckily, you get really good rates if you are a BDO Platinum or Titanium cardholder.

Huge two-bedroom Terraza
The 3 days and 2 nights we spent went by so quickly with packed activities. Here's what got us occupied at the resort:

1. Soaking up some sun in their super comfy loungers while admiring Mt. Malindig across the infinity pool. Just don't forget to apply and re-apply sunscreen to avoid getting fried like we did.

2. Flying a kite. This is actually the first time the kids got to do this and they spent a good amount of time under the scorching sun until the only thing left was tangled thread.

3. Going on a kayak race. It's comforting to know that their trusty lifeguards follow and stay close to you when you do this. Especially helpful when my kids' kayak capsized and they immediately came to the rescue. We even saw other guests who took their kayaks all the way to the jetty port in Lipata.

4. Jumping off at the Marina Bridge. Adults jumped from the ledge (where Derek Ramsey supposedly likes to jump to) while the kids jumped from the bridge. Well as for me, I've tried both. The jump from the bridge was ok (though it took twenty minutes of coaxing before I finally took the plunge) and the one from the ledge is more intense where you can really feel the sensation in your gut. Note though that you can only do this during high tide, so best schedule this in the morning.

You're not allowed to wear a life vest when you do this, so we have to ask their lifeguard to catch the kids when they hit the water and give them their vest. As expected, it took quite a while of sweet-talking, cheering, cajoling and a lot of bribing before my son finally leaped into the water. When he came up for air, we were greeted with a "THAT WAS SO COOOOOLLL!" remark and then went my daughter next. They jumped a couple more times after. Needless to say, the kids had a blast and we are super thankful to Bellarocca's patient staff who tirelessly waited in the water to catch my kids in their every jump. The experience was just priceless.

5. Snorkeling. You'll meet loads of fish and a few sea snakes (we saw one very, very near the shore, so be careful!). Again, you can ask their lifeguard to go with you and he can show you where to snorkel best. He'll even bring snacks to lure the fish to you.

6. Catching a puffer fish. Ok, so it wasn't really us who caught it, but just the same, it was such a delight to hold it and see it float in the ocean until it shrinks to its normal size.

Who wants to play throw and catch the puffer fish?

7. Participating in the art activities at the lunch pavilion. While us adults are busy stuffing ourselves with food, the kids on the other hand, got busy painting and drawing.

Not exactly Louvre-material, but a labor of love nonetheless.

8. Playing Foosball and billiards at the game room. The kids had fun playing boardgames as well. There's just something about playing Chess no-rules-style that really delights them. 

9. Enjoying the free cocktails while watching the sunset. This is actually a really nice way to cap off an afternoon of activities. There's an option for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink so kids can participate as well.

10. Exploring the resort and looking for more breathtaking views to capture.

It was a really enjoyable, relaxing and memorable stay. I would love to go back given we can arrange for a less stressful way of getting there (mental note to self: never ride the RORO on a Holy Week).

A few more things you should know:
  • There's no Sun signal at the island, Globe and Smart have good signals though. 
  • The restaurant offers buffet and a la carte food. Buffet prices are reasonable enough though choices are limited.
  • The resort offers free wired Internet in the rooms. 

Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa
Marinduque, Philippines
Tel: 8177290
Email: info@bellaroccaresorts.com

How to get there from Manila via Roro: Drive to Dalahican Port in Lucena, Quezon and board the RORO bound for Cawit Port. From there, drive to the town of Buenavista following the road close to the ocean. Watch out for the gated/guarded port which is Bellarocca's jetty.

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