beach cottages
Kayla's Column, Philippines

The Island That Can’t Be Named

In April 2017, we embarked on our very first beach camping trip in the Philippines. While camping in the outdoors isn’t new to us — we’re used to pine trees, mountains, lakes and campfires — camping among palm trees, sandy beaches, the open ocean, and sleeping in open-air, over-water cottages was a new experience. Our friends told us what to expect and raved about how beautiful and fun it would be, but we couldn’t have expected just how amazing it really was. It’s so well liked for being secluded, virtually untouched, and incredibly relaxing that we’ve promised not to share the name of the island for fear that it will become more well known to tourists — hence, “The Island That Can’t Be Named!”

The island that can't be named

It wasn’t difficult to get to. We drove for a while and then took a pump boat directly to the bamboo and wooden cottages that were built over the water. We packed food, water, ice, and things to sleep on. We brought a hammock and a yoga mat, and to Tyler’s delight, a couple inflatable rafts that would double as a fun water activity and something to sleep on at night (we learned that hammocks are the way to go, and thanks to our friends, we both got to sleep in one!).

taking a pump boat

We left Tacloban on a Saturday morning after a week full of rainy days. We knew it might rain all weekend, but we went anyway. As soon as we made it to the island the sun came out and stayed out! We spent the afternoon relaxing and playing in the water.

When the sun started to set, our friends started to prepare dinner. It was kind of like cooking over a campfire, but instead it was like a make-shift grill/stove that used coconut shells as charcoal. Pretty neat!

coconut charcoal

We spent the night eating, drinking, laughing, and playing games. The family that rents the cottages left the electricity on for us a little later than usual — the entire island uses no electricity during the day, and only a few hours of electricity at night that’s collected via solar panels.

The next morning we woke up and cooked breakfast. We watched the locals walk to church — there are no cars on the island and only a couple of motorbikes. Most people walk or ride bicycles along a small dirt path throughout the island.

Unable to resist the amazing weather, we stayed and played on the beach for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. Our friends taught us a game that Filipinos grew up playing on the beach — I don’t even know what it’s called — but it was a hit with the boys. Doesn’t matter how old you are, making balls out of wet sand and competing with each other is entertaining! 😉

All in all it was an awesome first experience camping on the beach and we can’t wait to plan our next island visit. We’re on the lookout for some new hammocks in the meantime!

island camping in the philippines

For our future selves and our friends, here’s what came in handy for our beach camping trip (and what I’ll be sure to bring next time):

What I’ll Pack Again:

  • Wireless speaker
  • Waterproof bag for my phone (not to put underwater, but to keep the sand off!)
  • Extra, dry clothes
  • Wet wipes
  • Nalgene water bottle

What I’ll Never Pack Again:

  • Leggings (seriously, what was I thinking!?)
  • Heavy cotton shirts

What I’ll Be Sure to Bring Next Time:

  • Baby powder (helps rub dry sand off your skin!)
  • Athletic shorts / tops (cool and quick drying)
  • Hammocks

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