After our first visit to Stilts, I planned to bring my family over so they can enjoy the clear blue waters and the soft green sea grass. Well, with the Holy Week being a five-day vacation, I finally got that chance and I was glad that to see that the place hardly changed much.
When my wife and I first visited Stilts over a year ago, it was off-peak so we practically had the place all to ourselves.
One of the things that stuck was the abundant sea grass growing just a few paces into the water. Normally, I’d be disgusted with having such a creepy feeling underfoot, but when I took off my Aqua Shoes and walked barefoot, I was pleasantly surprised to feel that it was as soft as wet Bermuda grass.
The food was great, the service superb, and the place was covered with plants that provided shade and flowers for people to enjoy. Signs with short quotes to help reinforce that feeling of relaxation and renewal also dotted the entire resort.
The only complaint I had with my first visit was that I didn’t have a better camera to capture the beauty of the place. And while trusty point and shoot camera did manage to get some pictures, they don’t compare to what my eyes perceived.
Last Minute Decision
For most of my adult life, it has been a tradition to spend Holy Week at home. Other than using the time to reflect and recharge, staying in Metro Manila meant we didn’t get tangled in traffic or get caught up in crowded beaches.
With April 9 being declared a holiday, this year’s Holy Week was a full five days instead of the usual four. And since this was quite rare, we made an equally rare decision to go out this time around.
Since this was a long holiday, I wanted to take full advantage of it by travelling as far as possible. I also wanted to avoid nearby areas because they tend to be more crowded, given their easy access.
The dilemma we faced by our late decision was that many of the Northern places were fully booked. This included Treasures of Bolinao, Putting Buhangin, and Potipot Island.
So with the far flung places out of the question we focused our search to the South. Since we had kids with us, Canyon Cove was a good choice but it was also fully booked. Besides that, the overnight rates had risen since our last visit, putting it out of our budget this time around.
That left us Stilts.
You’re probably wondering why Stilts was not at the top of my list, given the wonderful experience my wife and I had in the past. Well, that’s the thing; I wanted my return visit to be just as perfect and feared that coming during Holy Week, with all the people and noise, would taint the experience.
But when a call to Stilts revealed that there was still a cabaña available for a day tour, I guess one could say we were destined to return during the Holy Week. So after talking it over with my family, we booked a day and deposited half the rate in their bank account.
For those of you thinking of doing the same thing, a whole day’s rent of the cabaña was PhP 850. Entrance for each person was PhP 350, with kids four years and below being free. Since we brought a light lunch with us, we were charged an additional PhP 100 per adult.
We spent the night at a family friend’s place in Tagaytay on Wednesday night. Traffic going up from Manila to was surprisingly light. I expected it to be very heavy, especially since it was around eight in the evening when we left Manila.
The plan was to leave Tagaytay at five-thirty in the morning so we can be at Stilts in time for the eight o’clock check in. Unfortunately, the short work week was quite heavy for everyone so we ended up leaving at about seven, pushing our arrival time to nine in the morning.
Traffic was light up to the bridge that was being widened. It was bad because instead of lining up, some people saw fit to take up the left lane and blocking oncoming traffic. When our lane was given the go signal, these people would then forcibly cut in.
On past trips up North where several bridges were being constructed, we never had this problem. Vehicles lined up in an orderly fashion, no matter how long the line was. This is one of the reasons why I prefer travelling up North instead of down South.
When we finally got to Stilts, there were quite a bit of vehicles in the parking lot. And when I say vehicles, I mean that majority were either Sport Utility Vehicles, or SUVs, or vans. Not a good sign as large vehicles mean a large number of people.
After registering at the reception desk, we made our way to our cabaña down by the beach. Along the way, we passed the iconic rooms perched on stilts, the swimming pool filled with people, and the restaurant with several tables occupied.
When we got to our cabaña, it was no surprise that everything on the beach strip was fully occupied. Even the parking area behind a nearby wall was occupied with vehicles, meaning that the front parking area was not enough to fit everything.
The good thing about the beach was that it big enough for us to find our own little areas of privacy. So even if there were a ton of cars crowding the parking lots, we never felt like people were crowing the beach. This was possible because the water was so shallow; you could walk about half a kilometer out before the water even reached your chest.
Thankfully no one had any radios blaring during the day so the only sounds were the lapping waves, the rustling trees, and the laughter of swimmers.
The only time one of those boom boxes came alive was when the occupants of the room beside us arrived. Thankfully being the evening, it was time for us to leave so it didn’t bother us.
Still the Same
Other than the construction of a new reception area, I was glad to see that Stilts hardly changed. The number of rooms and cabañas were the same as when we last visited and the beach was still as clean as ever.
Service was still good, despite having to attend to a large number of guests. And everyone who assisted us still had a smile on their faces as they did their best to make their guests feel comfortable.
The cabaña assigned to us still had a thatched roof, two built-in benches, and a table in the center. A stainless steel sink was tucked in one of the corners and had running water and a drain that never clogged. This was great because clogging is a major problem many beaches face on account of all that sand.
So after haphazardly dropping our bags on the benches, we slathered on globs of sunblock, slid on our aqua shoes, outfitted the kids with their salbabidas, or inflatable lifesavers, and hit the beach with gusto.
It was just as I remembered to be. The temperature was as warm was it was, the water as clear as could be, and the sea grass as soft as possible.
This time, I didn’t waste a minute in looking for life and was rewarded to see quite a few active ones swimming about. Normally sea creatures come out at first light and hide when the sun is at its peak, but there was still a bit of activity in the noonday sun, much to my delight.
There were small schools of transparent fish zipping around. There were fish that were shaped and acted like sea grass. There was a worm-like creature that was the size of a banana. There were short-spine Sea Urchins that were colored red. And since it was summer, there were a bit more of the Jellyfish swimming about.
The kids enjoyed themselves so much they never wanted to leave the water. This became a running problem as we needed to apply sunblock regularly to keep them from burning.
We all enjoyed ourselves so much that we completely forgot to take pictures of the iconic rooms perched on stilts. In my case, I even forgot to take a picture of the golden sunset. By the time I realized the sun was going down, the horizon covered half of the sun already. And by the time I finally got to the camera, after running through meters of knee-high water, I missed it completely. Grrr!
At least my brother-in-law captured it on his camera. The pictures he took look stunning, with the colors and silhouettes. Double Grrr!
I was actually worried my family wouldn’t enjoy Stilts because of the traffic going there and the crowding once there, but it all worked out.
Despite being fully booked, we still had our own space in the sea because the water was low up to several meters out, allowing us to spread out nicely. It also helped that we had aqua shoes, giving us the opportunity to go where other swimmers feared to tread.
The water was clear and warm, making it just perfect to forget everything else. It was so good that I forgot to take a picture of the sunset. Triple Grrr!
I’d love to go back again, especially now that Holy Week is over. I understand that the next free weekends are in May because April is already fully booked, so we’ll see how things pan out.
Perhaps on my third visit, I will have my friends with me. And maybe this time, I’ll remember to take a picture of that darned sunset! Quadruple Grrr!
Till the next time, keep your camera batteries fully charged and your memory free because you may need them for the next place you visit! Especially that sunset! Quintuple Grrr!
|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|