July 29, 2014

Surfing in Catanduanes

July 06 2014. From Tugawe Cove Resort in Caramoan, we arrive at Codon Port in Virac, Catanduanes. We headed straight to Catanduanes Midtown Inn to check in for the night. 

The small hotel is near the airport and very close to a mall and a few fastfood restos. Our room was clean, comfortable and the bathroom looks newly renovated. For as low as Php985 a night, you get complimentary transfers to the airport. Plus, they have a genset, which proves to be really important as blackouts are very normal in the city.

Catanduanes is notorious for being frequented by super typhoons. Virac, it's capital town can be reached in less than an hour via plane from Manila. The province's claim to fame is the "majestic" surfing waves in Puraran Beach. The long, magnificent and barrelling swells draw surfers -- beginners and advance all the same, from all over the world.

Ok, so it wasn't actually a planned activity. But on our way up to our room, hubby saw a photo of someone surfing. When we asked the receptionist, she said that it was taken in Puraran Beach and it can be reached in an hour via tricycle. 

So not to waste any time, we dropped off our bags and packed our swimming stuff. We took a tricycle from the hotel to Puraran Beach and to be honest, an hour is too long to be in a tricycle especially when there's four of us cramped inside. We should have probably taken a cab or hired a van.

When we got there, we saw a lot of surfers (mostly, if not all, Pros). They were far out in the ocean and clearly enjoying the HUGE waves. We actually felt a little bad for the four of them who'll be called back to shore to give us lessons.

We immediately noticed the difference in the size of the waves compared to San Juan, La Union. The waves here are way bigger! Also, unlike in San Juan where you just paddle a little farther from the shore, we have to go all the way out because there are sharp corals near the shoreline. For us beginners, there's a separate area where the waves are not as intimidating (and dangerous!). But the good thing is it's not crowded. Actually, we are the only beginners who'll be surfing that time.

We were asked if we've tried surfing before and we said yes. Then we did away with the orientation and headed straight to the water. It was already late afternoon and the low tide is coming.

Surfing into the sunset.

We all had a hard time adjusting at first. It's harder to get your balance with the bigger and faster waves. But after a few tries, we were able to stand on our boards! Too bad we were not able to take pictures using our DSLR because we are too far from the shore. We just have to rely on what we can capture on our GoPro. 

I noticed a chipped off part at the front of my surfboard and I was told that, it was from a GoPro mount. Unfortunately, the waves washed out the mount (yes, including the GoPro). Apparently, a few GoPros have already been lost due to the waves. Too bad, we didn't find any floating around. Haha!

Best time to go if you're a beginner is from March to August. September to October is for the advance surfers. Rate is at Php400 per person inclusive of 1-hr lesson, use of surfboard and use of rashguard.

Time does fly super fast when your having fun. Before we know it, it was time to head back to shore (the water's becoming dangerously low). It was another surfing experience for the books!

Puraran Surf Camp
Puraran, Baras, Catanduanes
Mobile: +63 977 1827537
Email: info@puraransurf.com
Website: www.puraran.com

Catanduanes Midtown Inn
San Jose, Virac, Catanduanes
Website: www.catmidinn.com
Mobile: +63 947 5638165 / +63 915 7218262
Email: info@catmidinn.com

Thunderbird Resort Poro Point

June 6-8, 2014. Thunderbird Resort Poro Point is a Mediterranean-inspired resort in La Union. It has Santorini's signature white-wash architecture dotted with blue accents. It's a five-hour drive away from Manila and could soon be shorter when TPLEX gets completed. Just perfect for a quick spur-of-the-moment weekend getaway.

We arrived at the resort shortly after lunch. So after a quick check-in, we headed straight to our first activity - Water Gun Fight.

They have this huge "battle arena" complete with obstacle course. The mere sight of it made the kids so psyched. For Php200 per person per hour, you'll be provided with a big-a$$ water gun and of course safety goggles. You might think an hour is too short but once you're holding the heavy (as hell) water gun under the scorching sun, it'll be a miracle if you last for even half of the allotted time.

Having a blast.

The game is simple -- get your opponent's flag without getting hit during the process. Of course, you're free to have your own rules, or simply discard the rules altogether and hit each other until you turn blue or orange or whatever color of water ammunition you have.

The water they use is tinted (different color for each team) so you know if you get hit. It's totally safe -- washable and we did not get any allergies, whatsoever. We were totally drenched from head to foot with colored water.

We got to play two rounds, after which we were just plain exhausted from running and carrying the heavy water guns around. We probably was just able to play for fifteen minutes, though it felt as if we've worked out for an hour. It was awesome, and needless to say we all had a great time. 

Now it's time to shower, hit the pool, visit the beach and eat!

Special order -- Hawaiian Pizza.

Their pool bar serves delicious snacks and if you have something in mind that doesn't appear in the menu, simply ask and they can probably whip it up for you.

The beach is ok though their pool is a little small. Nonetheless, the kids had a blast swimming and playing.

For dinner, we decided to try the Chinese buffet at Vegas Restaurant. It's near their casino and there's a free shuttle that can take you there from the resort. It's separate from the main casino so kids are ok to go.

The buffet price is really cheap so I guess I should not have expected so much. I mean, I get what I pay for. The food is ok at best and there's a very limited spread. Imagine my disappointment when there was not a single dim sum, and it's a Chinese buffet!

View from Olives Restaurant

Luckily, the breakfast the next day at Olives restaurant made up for the disappointing dinner the previous night. The spread is ample, the food is delicious and the view of the pool and the beach from the veranda is gorgeous. 

Driving range at The Cliffs Golf and Beach Club.

Activity for the day: try the driving range. At Php125 per bucket of 50 balls, I guess it's not bad. It's the kids' first time to try the sport and they didn't like it that much. They both had a hard time making their balls fly and they both complained about how heavy the clubs are (no kid's club available). Amidst the complaints, they kept on hitting until they finish their own buckets.

Our last stop was the Lighthouse, just a short ten-minute drive from the resort. Nothing really special here, just a lighthouse and a museum. We snapped a few photos and headed back. 

Overall, the resort is beautiful and their room is clean and spacious (though it already shows signs of aging). The staff, especially the person in charge of their activities, is courteous and knowleadgeable. I've read a few not so good reviews online and it's probably because the amount the resort charges doesn't quite live up to the expectations. You can book a better room from a better resort for the same price. It's definitely far from Bellarocca Resort which really has luxurious rooms and amenities. 

Thunderbird Resort Poro Point 

Poro Point Freeport Zone
San Fernando City, La Union
Website: http://www.thunderbirdresortslaunion.com 
Tel: +63 72 888 7777
Mobile: +63 908 815 8984
Email: pororeservations@thunderbird-asia.com