If you’re looking for a nice romantic getaway, you may want to check out Stilts in Calatagan for your next trip.
The most striking feature of the place is that the cottages are located on top of stilts over the water. You have a choice of swimming underneath each cottage, using a ladder to go up and down. Or you can use the connecting wood bridges to get to the white sanded beach.
The Prices of the rooms range from PhP4,000 to PhP14,000 per cottage. People beyond a certain number will need to pay PhP1,050 in addition to the cost of the cottage.
The place is under new management, having reopened in January of 2011.
And on a light day, it will take about three hours to get to Stilts from Manila, with easy driving.
- A Different Valentine’s Celebration
Instead of giving the usual roses and chocolates this year, I decided to take my wife out of town for the weekend.
I actually prefer going north because I love the good roads over there. But this time, I avoided that direction as I was worried the Hot Air Balloon Festival at Subic would jam the North Luzon Expressway with vehicles.
And having stayed at Canyon Cove in Nasugbu, I wanted to check out Calatagan this time around.
After several quick searches, I was rewarded with quite a few places. Unfortunately they were a bit on the pricey side, with prices ranging from P6,000 to P14,000.
And seeing that the prices didn’t get any lower as I continued with my online search, I began to think that maybe roses and chocolates were a better deal after all.
However when Friday came with nothing new to report, I was faced with the dreadful thought of having to rescheduling the trip. But after some thought, I decided to throw caution to the wind and push on.
So with our fingers crossed, my wife and I had a hearty dinner, packed our bags, and slept early.
On a light day, such as the one we had last Saturday, it just took us a little over three hours to get to Stilts from Metro Manila.
The South Luzon Expressway was smooth flowing with a bit of a bottleneck at the Santa Rosa exit.
The road up to Tagaytay was again free flowing with a bit of traffic at the Tagaytay market. But after that, the roads were relatively free all the way.
One things I need to mention is that since this is the province, you will need to watch out for crossing animals.
I usually maintain a nice leisurely pace when driving through the countryside. Keeping speeds at reasonable levels allows enough time to react to road conditions.
And sure enough within a few kilometers past the Calatagan arch, I was forced to hit the brakes before being jolted by a scream of "Livestock!"
Well, the bad news is that I think I was tone deaf for the rest of the trip. The good news is that a small flock of birds composed of four chicks and their mother hen avoided becoming fried chicken for another day.
And if you’re wondering why the chicken crossed the road, well it was to continue scratching and pecking for food on the other side.
The rest of the drive was unexciting. That is except for an incident involving a goat, but I’ll get to that later.
- The Beach
Perhaps the one thing that struck me about the beach was that the wind was strong when we arrived, yet the water remained as calm as that of a swimming pool.
When evening came, the wind got so strong we didn’t bother using the air-conditioner as it was cold. Yet with all that wind, I never saw or heard high waves crashing on to the shore. It’s really quite amazing.
After getting over my initial amazement, I noticed that the shore was composed of two main parts.
The first is a rocky part, on the both ends of the shoreline. The floating cottages are anchored to the left side, while the right side was devoid of any structure.
In the middle, of these two rocky areas was a nice stretch of white sand.
For a white beach, I was surprised to see a lot of sea grass so close to the shore. And while there were some patches of pure sand in the water, sea grass dominated most of the beach.
I will admit that I was slightly put off by it as I prefer pure, white sandy beaches like Boracay, but after wading the next morning, I found quite a few things to like.
First off, if you have ever walked around barefoot on blue grass, that's it how it felt. The sea grass was so soft, it felt like soft grass on a golf course or a like a shaggy carpet in a store.
It was so pleasant an experience that I decided to hand carry my aqua shoes for a few meters as I walked around. The only time I put them back on was when my imagination started to run wild.
However I wouldn’t recommend walking around the rocky parts without aqua shoes as I saw one Sea Urchin tucked in between a rock near the shore.
Secondly, the sea grass is teeming with life.
At seven in the morning, I found the biggest number of Starfish in just two inches of water. They were slowly crawling all over the place that I couldn’t help but take pictures and videos of them.
Small fish were also swimming in about four inches of water. And I spied an eel while walking in the sea grass under just a foot of water.
It was only during my stroll on the sea grass that I realized why the sea was calm so far out from the shore.
It turns out that the water was about a foot deep for quite a distance. I guess this long stretch of high sand makes it impossible for the waves to continue at full force to the shore.
According to the staff, it’s like this all the time, with the only exception being in the middle of a typhoon.
The most stunning thing about the place is that the cottages sit on stilts. Known as floating cottages, they sit a few meters above sea level.
A set of wooden bridges connect all of these cottages together, all of which are on stilts.
Each floating cottage has its own ladder going down to the ocean. This allows people the privacy to swim in their own areas.
And since the water isn’t too deep, taller people don’t have to dive too deep to touch the bottom.
For those that prefer their rooms on terra firma, there are four beach front cottages not too far away.
I understand that none of the rooms have any televisions, so you may want to bring that pocketbook you been putting off reading for the longest time.
And while its absence may be annoying to some, I like the idea as it forced me and my loved one to get out and enjoy the place.
Cell phone signals of certain providers are a bit spotty too, so I suggest turning off your phones to save on battery power.
But for those of you who need to have technology around, an area designated as the Multi-Purpose Pavilion has WiFi.
There are three sizes of floating cottages that are small, medium, and large. The number of people than can be accommodated are from three to twenty. The costs range from P7,000 for the small cottage to P14,000 for the large one.
The beach front cottages can hold anywhere between two to ten people and range from P4,000 for the two person house to the P7,000 than can fit a maximum of ten people.
Now before you hop in a car with all your friends, keep in mind that each room rate is based on its minimum number.
For example, a small floating cottage can house a minimum of three people. With that number, the rate is PhP7,000.
But since the same small cottage can hold a total of ten people, the remaining seven will need to pay PhP1,050 per person as an additional cost.
For those of you that don’t intent to sleep overnight, fret not. The place accepts day tours, with PhP350 charged per person.
For the day tours, different huts can be rented at varying degrees of cost. They range from P850 for huts that accommodate fifteen people to PhP1,500 for fifty people.
Food can be brought in and cooked on grillers provided by Stilts. However, all food and drinks are subject to corkage.
Though they do take credit cards, their system is sometimes down due to spotty cell site connections. So I suggest bringing enough cash to cover the amount, service charges, and VAT.
- Things to do
There is a billiard table that occupants can use for one hour for free. Anything in excess of that will cost PhP200 per hour.
The nice thing about the billiard table is that you get a view of the floating cottages and beach while playing.
Using the karaoke machine is likewise free for the first hour, with an additional rate of PhP300 per hour. You also have the option of having the karaoke machine brought out to the beach but that will cost P1,500 per day and P2,500 for overnight use.
If you’re not in to salt water, Stilts has a good sized pool to swim in. It’s surrounded by plants so you’ll find some shade during the afternoons.
As you walk around, you may want to check out the signs with wise sayings dotted all over the place. They do help if you happen to be in a contemplative mood.
On our way home, we tried going to the lighthouse at Punta de Santiago, which is about fifteen minutes away from Stilts. Unfortunately, the place was closed and we were unable to enter.
That was too bad, as the lighthouse is said to have been built in the 1890s and continues to be in use today.
The staff is very, very friendly and helpful.
The guards who took our names at the front gate were very courteous and provided us with a quick rundown of the place.
When we got to the main entrance, we were waved in to a vacant parking slot by another pleasant security guard.
As we got out of our vehicles, we were greeted by one of the staff who answered all our questions as he escorted us to the front desk.
At the front desk, it was the same story again as the people there provided answers to all our questions with a genuine smile.
They then offered to allow us to see the only remaining vacant room in the resort, which was the Bohol cottage down by the beach.
The prices of the food are typical for a tourist spot so we were not surprised by the menu.
What did surprise us were the portions and taste of the food as they were not small nor were they bland.
And while it may still be small when compared to some restaurants in Metro Manila, they have one of the bigger servings I have seen for a place in the province.
For merienda we had the tuna sandwich, which used very fresh lettuce and tomatoes. The chicken spread itself was moist and tasty.
Dinner later that evening was composed of two dishes and three scoops of rice.
The first was Shrimp in Aligue, which had about ten small pieces of shrimp cooked in Crab Roe.
Now I’m not a lover of shrimp, but this one made a believer out of me. My loved one enjoyed it so much that she polished off the eight pieces after giving me two as tokens.
The second dish we ordered was Inihaw na Pusit or Grilled Squid. The squid was quite tender and easy to cut. The ink sac was still intact, making it very juicy when I got to the tentacles.
Perhaps on a different day, I would have enjoyed the squid a lot more. But after biting the shrimp, nothing was good by comparison.
So if I were you, I suggest eating everything you order before taking on the Shrimp in Aligue. I also suggest that shrimp lovers order their own servings as fights may break out if they don’t get enough.
We ended our dinner with a small Leche Flan. It was a bit sweet for me, but according to my loved one was just right to take out the taste of the sea food.
Breakfast the next day was free as it was part of the room package.
I had the Tocino and my loved one had the Longganisa, with Mango juice and Iced Tea for drinks.
- The Goat Incident
Alright, this has been a long article but I hope it has given you some idea of what Stilts at Calatagan has to offer.
All that's left to do is talk about the goat incident.
Well, we had just come down from our unsuccessful visit to the lighthouse at Punta de Santiago and were headed home.
When we turned left towards Manila, we were met by three goats sitting in the middle of the street.
I have heard really mean stories in the past such as, "Somebody must have played a joke on goats because they are so ugly."
Well, if you happen to be in a staring competition with a goat that doesn’t want to budge from the middle of the road, you’d probably think there is some truth to that joke.
Not only was that the ugliest goat I have ever seen, but it had us hypnotized for what felt like an eternity.
We were so at a loss that both of us failed to take a picture of it staring us down. The only time we regained our composure was when the goat broke eye contact, and proceed up a hill.
But even then, we were still so mesmerized that we still did not take a picture as it stared down at us from the hill. Another failed opportunity.
It was evil, I tell you!
But seriously, it was a really funny experience as I have never, ever, been stared down by a goat. It makes me want to see that movie with George Clooney titled Men Who Stare at Goats.
- Final Thoughts
Now that we finally have the goat incident out of the way, I definitely recommend that you consider going to Stilts on your next trip.
It’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of life as there are no televisions and, to some extent, no phones to bother you.
There are lots of places you can call your own, with hammocks and seats scattered around. Plus the food is good and they don’t scrimp on the serving sizes.
And to top it all off, I'd say that it’s the perfect place to bond with your loved one.
|Service Type||Beach Hotel and Restaurant|
|Contact Numbers||+63(2)403-8419, +63(2)211-6464, +63(2)403-8419, +63(917)580-7653, or +63(908)866-2257|