The Lonely Planet guidebook claims that Dumaguete is worth ‘more than a day of your time’, but my newfound travelling companions Sean & Jess agreed with me: I am not sure they actually visited – because really? It isn’t. Sure, the boardwalk is pretty and the city is fairly clean and full of college students. But we found the people to be standoffish and curt and wholeheartedly unhelpful and the entire place lacking in any ambiance whatsoever. After a few nights at the Twilight Zone’y Harold’s Mansion (power flickering on and off – only there and nowhere else – throughout the day, lethargic, angry staff, a systematic refusal to provide me with a topsheet – despite the fact that everyone else got one, etc) and a memorable trip to Apo Island we were done with Dumaguete and embarked upon The Greatest Travel Day of All Time.
Destination: Sugar Beach, a stretch of pristine white sand jutting out from the small, bustling fishing town of Sipalay on the Southwest edge of Negros Island.
To travel to Sipalay and Sugar Beach
We had to do the following:
-Tricycle to the bus station
-Jeepney to the v-hire station
-V-hire van to Bayawan (3 hours)
-Bus from Bayawan to Hinoba-an (2 hours)
-Bus from Hinoba-an to Sipalay (2 hours – and in the pouring rain)
-Boat from Sipalay to Sugar Beach
Why head to Sugar Beach?
Surrounded by limestone, hard to get to, but beautiful, Sugar Beach was itself both a challenge and a blessing. With a lot of the scenery I would next see in Palawan, the travel day was well worth it upon arrival.
We had made a reservation at Driftwood Village, a lovely resort run by Daisy (a luminous Filipina with dark hair down to her waist and a permanent smile) and her husband Peter (a gruff, seen-and-done it all Swiss guy, the perfect foil to Daisy’s enthusiasm).
With a jumbled mishmash of nipa huts ranging from 400-1200 pesos, there was plenty of variety to choose from and a big book exchange to attack during the lazy days on the beach. I ended up staying there longer than anticipated, bidding adieu to Jess and Sean who were making their way to Leyte and then down to Borneo and enjoying the sunsets, waves and evenings playing foozball and pool.
Sunset on the remote Sugar Beach, Sipalay:
Daytime on Sipalay:
From Sugar Beach, I embarked upon a hilarious and unforgettable trip to the stunning province of Palawan – but more to come on that later.