Sanctuary Garden Resort
Despite many of our own countrymen not recognizing the name, Romblon’s Sibuyan Island has been called the “Galapagos of Asia”. This goes back to Charles Darwin and the famous discoveries he made about biology and evolution, all done on Ecuador’s Galapagos Island. With Sibuyan’s own biodiversity, Darwin could have done all his observations there instead.
Naturally, when trekking such a place, one would wish to camp out in a place that combines the rawness of nature and the comforts of city-living. Nowhere is this better embodied than in Sanctuary Garden Resort, a 30-hectare property that puts you right amidst a mountain, forest greens, and the ocean!
Camp out in Nature’s arms
Spending the night in Sanctuary Garden feels more like resting in a camp before charging at the wonders of nature the following day. The place is in Barangay Tampayan, located just 10 minutes away from Magdiwang Port, and 15 minutes away from Ambulong Port. Tricycle fare is only around Php 45 (about USD 1).
But that doesn’t take you to your rooms just yet. Sanctuary Garden is like a collection of nipa huts with various amenities. Getting to one means taking a short hike! Definitely a challenge when you’ve been spent exploring the island during the day.
But once you’re settled, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view. Aside from the rolling greens (which seem to be everywhere here in Romblon), the resort is also located in a valley that offers an unobstructed view of Mount Guiting-Guiting — a mountaineering favorite and one of the reasons this place is visited. Legend has it that whoever ascends its peaks will be blessed with a spouse before long. It’s such a happy feeling staring out the window and watching the sunrise peeking from behind the mountain! Aside from that, you also get a complete view of the surrounding sea and even the surrounding islands! This was our base during our explorations of Cresta De Gallo, one of my favorite Philippine Beaches.
And this is just the start of a list of things to love about Sanctuary. Here are some more:
Clean rooms, great Filipino design.
Try hard to spot any litter, or any dusty portion in these charming rooms! Aside from aesthetics, cleanliness is also held at a premium here. Even the closet space is very nice!
There are various room types with different amenities:
Hibiscus (1-5). These have air conditioning, a TV, and shower. Hibiscus 1, 2, and 5 further have hot and cold water, as well as a fridge. They’re at Php 1,500 (USD 30) each, while Hibiscus 3 and 4 are rented at Php 1,200 (USD 24). The difference being, the cheaper having no hot water.
Sampaguita 1. This one is a dorm-type room at Php 250 (USD 5) per head. Air conditioning is also available, but the rate rises to Php 350 (USD 7) per head.
Sampaguita 2. This is a private cottage, equipped with air conditioning and a shower, at Php 800 (USD 16) per head.
Sampaguita 3. This is at Php 350 (USD 7) per head, and contains air conditioning plus a private bathroom. The room is good for a maximum of 6 people.
The only thing here is that not all rooms have heaters. Only 4 of them have one, in fact, and we were lodged in one that doesn’t. So if you have trouble taking a bath in cold water (like I did), be warned! Despite that, the bathroom was big, spacious, and clean like the rooms.
Another tip: if you’re expecting to lie awake at night checking your Facebook feed, don’t. WiFi is only available as far as the lobby, and it’s very weak. Internet signal is generally spotty in Romblon, so you will have trouble even if you’re on data.
Instead, feel the night lulling you away as you experience what it’s like to sleep in a traditional nipa hut structure. Sanctuary definitely gets plus points for getting the Filipino flavor just right!
You can go kayaking at the river.
The resort has a river just behind it, where you can go kayaking! The Pawala River is very fresh and clean, and also serves as the picnic area and swimming pool for those so inclined.
Aside from this, there are also
little treasures of nature to be observed such as nearby waterfalls, and even hiking trails on the hills. Of course, the looming challenge to anyone is to scale the nearby Mt. Guiting-Guiting!
It is also a great staging point for visiting other spots in the island. From here, we went to Cresta de Gallo and Cantingas river.
The resort menu is wide and varied, and everything is freshly cooked. The taste is awesome, too! They have everything from traditional Filipino fare to desserts, and of course they have the famous halo-halo.
The restaurant was located at the left side of the resort, so you can’t miss it. You might be spending a little more time here than you intend to!
Note: Breakfast is not included in your room price, so it’s additional cost.
Meet the monkeys!
We’ve mentioned how Sibuyan compares to Galapagos, and Sanctuary would be amiss if they can’t prove this in their grounds. So they have a great selection of flora here, for all those who love taking those macro pictures of flowers. You can also have a little meet-and-greet with their two Philippine Macaques, complete with DENR permits!
Overall, Sanctuary Garden Resort is a haven for those who want to be much closer to pristine nature. It’s the place to be in Sibuyan! Make sure to charge your phones and power banks to prepare for the endless photo sessions, then contact Karen at 09285504531 for any inquiries or reservations!
Sanctuary Garden Resort