Perhaps the most common word to describe the people of Negros Occidental is “hospitable.”Negrenses are known to be friendly and accommodating. Bacoleños, or people of Bacolod, in particular, traditionally welcome visitors with a generous display of food. Restaurants and pastry shops are abundant in the region and eating as an activity is commonplace.
But what else can visitors of Bacolod do besides enjoying its culinary delights? Relax, learn, sunbathe, swim, dive, and trek
. All these can be done 150 kilometers south of Bacolod at Punta Bulata Resort & Spa
and Danjugan Island
. Located in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, both destinations face the Sulu Sea, giving travelers picturesque views of the ocean.
Punta Bulata Resort & Spa
The relaxing view of the sea at Punta Bulata. (Photo courtesy of Punta Bulata Resort & Spa)
Punta Bulata Resort & Spa is nestled at the end of a stretch of white sand beach. Spectacular sunsets are common here. As guests arrive, they are treated to a refreshing drink after a long drive through the countryside of old towns and sugarcane fields. The last two kilometers of the drive takes one through unpaved roads adjacent to fantastic views of the sea and nearby islands one can practically swim to.
The inviting blue waters at Punta Bulata (Photo courtesy of Punta Bulata Resort & Spa)
The first sighting of the sea is much anticipated. For the first time since landing in Negros, you finally get the visual of being in an island setting. This area is the start of the prime beach scene in southern Negros. Once you arrive in Punta, you are immediately transported to a relaxed tropical setting away from the clichéd bustle of city life.
Guests enjoy a beachside massage at Punta Bulata. (Photo courtesy of Punta Bulata Resort & Spa)
A welcome drink awaits you. A massage therapist is on call. You are settled in your room and look around the facility and amenities of the resort. At the beachside restaurant, you grab another drink, for which the calamansi (calamondin) slush is highly recommended. You may also want to add to your drink a shot of Don Papa rum, a small batch of rum distilled at the foothills of Mount Kanlaon, Negros.
Depending on what time of the day you arrive, the tide is either high or low, and the sea may be inviting you to soak in. If not, the pool is always an option, rain or shine. Either way, you will see waiting for you at the beach the iconic swing of Punta Bulata, hanging poetically on a bent-over coconut tree unto the white sand. You are in a tropical paradise zone.
The pool is another option for taking a dip at Punta Bulata.
Nature-inspired amenities at Punta Bulata (Photos courtesy of Punta Bulata Resort & Spa)
When Punta Bulata was first introduced, it was a getaway for family and friends. Today, it has over 30 rooms of varying styles of accommodation.
There are rooms by the spa that are ideal for couples with its bathroom set up like an arboretum, complete with waterfalls. There are the Cabana rooms by the garden, which is great for families with children. It is situated near the dining area amid grassy lawns fronting the beach. For even bigger groups, they have the Beachside and Hillside Casita, which are detached two-bedroom structures a short distance away from the main resort. Each casita ha sa kitchen and dining room, making it ideal for longer visits. Being a short distance away from the main resort, their casita gives you that sense of privacy and living in your own beach house.
Lastly, there is what they call the mud huts, or structures made of compressed and hardened mud painted over white and covered with cogon (Japanese blood grass) roofs. These huts have outdoor baths that enable one to see the stars while bathing. Campers in tents are also welcome in this area, to accommodate revelers such as those attending the annual Sulu Sound summer music festival hosted by the resort.
Rich marine life can be found underwater just 20 minutes away from the shores of Punta Bulata. (Photo courtesy of Punta Bulata Resort & Spa)
Activities ranging from scuba diving, jet skiing, day and sunset cruise boating, among others, are offered at the resort. Horseback riding and hiking are also available for the adventurous and tranquil in spirit, respectively.
Social functions can be held with nature as a backdrop at Punta Bulata. (Photo courtesy of Punta Bulata Resort & Spa)
A short hike from the resort up a small hill overlooking the sea leads to a small outdoor chapel. Here, visitors can spend some quiet time with nature and God. It is one of the most picturesque locations for meditation, hearing mass, or attending a wedding ceremony, as birds of varying species come swooping in, welcoming you into their natural world.
The lush forests of Danjugan Island as seen from above (Photo courtesy of Danjugan Island)
From Punta Bulata Resort & Spa, more adventure awaits you at Danjugan Island. A 20-minute boat ride away from the resort, Danjugan is a 43-hectare island with five lagoons, mangrove forests, a bat cave, a turtle nesting beach, and fringing coral reefs you can’t see anywhere else south of Bacolod. The island is a haven for diving enthusiasts, bird watchers, and nature lovers. It is also a living classroom for environmental conservationists.
Danjugan Island is home to 244 hard coral species, including this massive table coral.
You can find Nemo, or rather real life clown fishes, at the coral reefs of Danjugan Island.
One of the open-air eco cabanas at Danjugan Island (Photos courtesy of Danjugan Island)
Overnight, daytrip, and short visits are available to island guests.
One of the recommended activities for a visit is kayaking early in the morning to First Lagoon from Typhoon Beach. The entrance is riddled with sharp rocks, plants, and overhanging trees that majestically open up to a lagoon so serene and secluded. Birds abound in this area.
Mud houses at Danjugan Island lend rustic charm to the area. (Photo courtesy of Danjugan Island)
Another activity is kayaking towards Turtle Beach, where hawksbill turtles regularly return to hatch eggs. In the shallow waters of this beach, there are juvenile blacktip reef sharks darting under kayaks, which can number up to 40 or more at a time. In this flurry of animal activity and nature prevalent in the island, the Philippine Reef & Rainforest Conservation Foundation (PRRCFI) has taken the lead in its preservation by spreading educational awareness to visitors.
With no mobile phone reception, it’s back to basics at the Typhoon Beach mud house. (Photo courtesy of Danjugan Island)
Punta Bulata and Danjugan Island are proof that there are other activities besides eating in Negros. These two locations offer both the extremes of relaxing and actively participating in nature within a pristine setting.