Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bacolod: Sipalay's Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach, Sipalay City, Negros Occidental

Many people know not of the beauty of the beaches of Negros Island. I hope this blog post about Sugar Beach in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental shows people that Negros is not only known for endless rows of sweet sugarcane, but it can also be known for the virgin and saccharine beaches that call this island home. During this trip to paradise, we stayed in Punta Bulata Beach Resort which was a safe and relaxing haven for would be adventurers because of its first class accommodations and soothing spas. 

Sugar Beach, Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Did I ever tell you guys that I lived in paradise? Well, here are the pictures to prove it.

Many people think that all there is to see in Negros are just field after field after field that are filled with sugarcane. What most of them don't know is that we have some pretty awesome beaches too. You just have to know where to look. Oh, and having a car to drive you out about 160 kilometers should do the trick too. 


Ladies and Gents, allow me to present to you, the beaches of Sipalay (link). Sipalay City is actually a small town south of Bacolod that lies right in front of the Sulu Sea. Its around a 4 hour drive from the city that takes you through the scenic sugarcane plantations of northern Negros and also the vast rice paddies of southern Negros. It's famous for its pristine white sand beaches, diving spots, and natural island reserves located just a bit off its coast. 

If the pictures aren't enough and you guys still need help imagining what the place looks like, think Boracay without the malls, development, people and green algae floating in the water. Sipalay is as natural as you can get with clean surroundings, not that much people, and shy but friendly locals.   

My girlfriend and I visited Sipalay together with some friends recently. It was their first time in Negros so I decided to bring them to the best beach that I could think of. They were not disappointed. 

The last time I visited Sipalay was around 6 years ago, we stayed in a quaint little beach resort back then. I decided to book at that resort for this trip and boy was I surprised. The resort has completely evolved into something so much better. We stayed in Punta Bulata Beach Resort (link) which has now been converted from a quiet little resort with 3 beach huts and a mess hall into a grand villa facing the ocean with an infinity pool, a plethora of modern beach houses and a fully functional spa. (Note: Punta Bulata is actually located in the city of Cauayan which is just beside Sipalay City. For purposes of this blog though, I shall refer to the beaches mentioned as those of 'Sipalay' since it is my personal opinion that most people from Negros refer to 'Sipalay' as the location for the best beaches in the province.) 

We enjoyed exploring the almost empty beach (we were there during off season), watching a magnificent beach sunset, eating great food and even being treated to a complimentary after-dinner spa massage in a tree top house. The massage was one of the best I've ever had because aside from the masseuse being talented, they actually conducted the massages in a tree top room where you could hear the crickets chirping in the darkness as well as hear the waves hit the shores of the nearby beach.

More details on how to get to Sugar Beach and Punta Bulata Beach Resort below!


Punta Bulata Beach Resort:





Punta Bulata Beach Resort Contact Details:

Address: Punta Bulata Resort & Spa, Brgy. Bulata, Municipality of Cauayan, Negros Occidental

Address Notes: From Bacolod, Punta Bulata and Sugar Beach is way down south. But it is basically one giant straight all the way down to the municipality of Cauayan (this municipality shares the Sugar Beach of Sipalay). From Bacolod you will pass the towns of Bago, La Carlota, Hinigaran, Himamaylan, Kabankalan and then finally Cauayan. Before you reach the town proper of Sipalay, look to your right as there should be a side road with a sign that says 'Punta Bulata'. The side road is unpaved road that will take you on a 10 minute ride through the hills and will get you to the resort.

Telephone: (034) 4335160 & (034) 4730235

Website: http://puntabulata.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Punta-Bulata-White-Beach-Resort-Spa/674951685869906

Facebook Account (Personal)https://www.facebook.com/punta.bulata.9

Map to Punta Bulata:


Rates:


  • The resort is a bit pricey but you get what you pay for. They have a limited number of rooms that adds to the exclusivity of the place. They have different cottages and beach houses for rent around the property but they also have a breezy three storey main building which contains the newer rooms. Prices usually range from Php 4,000 to Php 7,000 for a one night stay at a single room. But you get what you pay for as the rooms have top quality amenities (large bathrooms, flat screen TVs, split type aircon, etc.)
  • Food at the resort is also a bit pricey at around Php 250 to Php 350 per meal but it is good home cooked food that is average in size and quantity. It is nothing special and a bit ordinary but it is by no means low quality. It is not some cooked hotdogs and such, but is quality ingredients prepared in a home cooked manner served with a little styling.
  • Check their website out in the link above for more details.

Punta Bulata Resort Notes:


  • This resort can be a bit far from any convenience stores or from the city proper. If you need anything urgent, it can be a bit hard to acquire.
  • There are no accommodations for drivers. Be prepared to accommodate your driver in some sort of set up if you bring one.
  • During off-season, they bundle a free spa treatment for every person in your group. (At least they did in our case.)


Panorama of the beach and Turtle Island (?) in the background.





Lots of little hermit crabs (below) dot the beach. You can see them scurrying towards the water every sunset. One sign of a healthy beach is the presence of these little critters. It means the ecosystem is thriving. I doubt you can see these guys in large numbers in Boracay or some other 'party beach'. 
The place is also perfect for astrophotography (below). No light pollution leaves you a front row seat to the light show that the milky way has in store for you on the beach. When shooting astrophotography, don't forget your tripod and prime lens with a large aperture!
My only regret is that we didn't stay longer since we could have explored a nearby island marine reserve that was home exotic animals from eagles to whale sharks. Anyway, if you guys are planning to visit Sipalay anytime soon, you can check out these two places. 

1. Danjugan Island (link)  - this is the island marine reserve that I was talking about. This gem of an island is a short ride away from the beaches of Sipalay and boasts of a vast marine and wildlife ecosystem that surrounds the island. Danjugan is a center for eco-conservation here in Negros and even hosts a Summer Camp targeted at kids in hopes of exposing the children to the importance of conservation by actually having them live on the island and learn how to nurture the ecosystem. My uncle's family actually own and manage the island and I can attest to their staunch conservation efforts. 

2. Easy Diving Resort (link) - diving is also very popular in Sipalay because of the well preserved reefs and ship wrecks that dot the nearby coast. Based on their website, Easy Diving boasts 45 dive spots that they can take you too. Easy Diving Resort is actually managed by a Swiss national who also happens to be a certified diving instructor. I've had some friends who have learned to Scuba dive here and they have no regrets. 

The coastline of southern Negros.