Late in August we visited Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa, Palawan, with good expectations of a beach resort and spa close to the Puerto Princesa underground river. What we found made the name “Beach Resort and Spa” seem very inadequate for a truly authentic Palawan experience neither of us will forget in a very long time.
The first thing we learned is that the Puerto Princesa address of Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa is much less an address than an administrative convenience. The resort is a fascinating 90 minute ride through the world in which filipinos outside of Metro Manila live to the stunning location of the resort facing Sabang Beach.
We arrived to be welcomed by Mike, the Resident Manager, and some of his team with welcome drinks and cold towels and were taken to our rooms, which were significantly larger than they appeared in photos and very well equipped with everything we needed.and more. By this time we had already learned something else: electricity does not reach to this part of Palawan, which is protected from development, and the resort makes its own with wind power and vast solar panels on the resort roofs, backed up by generator. The mountains behind the resort make wifi ‘a little spotty’ to coin Sheridan’s phrase.
Our schedule started with the underground river tour. This is one of the 7 New Wonders of Nature and something just not to be missed. It is no more than a 5 minute walk along the gorgeous beach to the jump off point where seemingly hundreds of colourful boats had gathered to ferry us to a smaller beach and smaller boats to enter the underground river. We were fortunate to get a comedian of a boatman/guide who made touring this stunning cavern even less forgettable.
Returning along the beach from the jetty brought home to us that on both sides of Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa‘s beachfront are bamboo built houses, cafes and bars, giving the beachfront an authentic atmosphere that more famous Boracay lost a long time ago. In the afternoon we experienced the challenges of riding ATV’s through a prepared dense jungle trail, returning to our rooms covered in mud from head to toe and wound up the day with a Boodle Fight dinner at the Coco Bar by the beach – a traditional filipino serving of a wide range of dishes laid out on banana leaves and eaten with hands.
We were already very impressed but the best was still to come: the following day, we were taken to Sheridan’s Organic Farm – a vast area 7km from the resort which provides 80% of the resort’s food. We enjoyed a superb lunch at the farm with the farm manager and then went on a tour, seeing rice paddies being ploughed and a range of animals running free, including some ostriches, which we were allowed to feed. This tour is already available to resort guests, who will very soon be able to stay in peace and serenity at the farm for a day or two and take part in farm activities, including planting rice in the traditional way or planting a tree with their name on, with the farm sending a card every year to show how the tree has grown. It’s hard to convey in words the impression the Organic Farm made on us.
That afternoon, we were treated to a Mangrove Paddle Boat tour. This is an exceptional way to experience a small part of Palawan’s extensive mangrove and the tour is entirely community based, adding further to the outstanding sustainable tourism being practiced in this island paradise. In the quiet of the mangrove, snakes sleep in trees and monitor lizards can be seen. Reportedly monkeys abound but they clearly were not interested in us. Then Joaquin braved the 800m zipline across a stunning neighbouring beach. The day wound up with a massage followed by dinner on the beach with Mike and Joey Osmena, Corporate Marketing Manager, who had so kindly given up 3 days of her busy schedule to be with us throughout our stay. We dined long after most guests had gone to bed, on the beach, under the stars, deep in enjoyable conversation learning more about Palawan.
Despite a very busy 3 days, which included several meetings, we left the next day awed by our experience and knowing that we had seen only a proportion of the activities available in this beautiful part of Palawan. Mountain waterfalls and the jungle trail were just two of the options we had missed and it becomes easy to overlook that the resort has the largest infinity pool on Palawan.
Sabang Beach is a beautiful beach but if you want a sun soaked holiday stretched out on the beach, updating your Facebook at every turn, this is probably not the place to come. If you long for an authentic Palawan experience in this unspoilt area then you will be entirely satisfied by the activities that a stay at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa open up for you. We know of no equally unspoilt, adventurous, sustainable experience to a stay here on the “World’s Best Island” (Conde Nast Traveler), enjoying full service creature comforts at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa amongst a truly authentic Palawan experience.