Finding the Dream Island

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About a year before I made this page, when helping a woman with her resort in Borneo, Malaysia and having seen how she mismanaged her operations, the first seeds of thought were planted that I could run my own resort. My quest for the perfect beach island thus began.


My first prospect appeared about half a year later on the beautiful Perhentian Islands off the coast of northeast Malaysia. Getting tired of expensive beer and other matters in Muslim Asia, I soon found myself in the Philippines, where I instantly fell in love with the people, the more than 7,000 paradise beach islands, and abundant and inexpensive beer.


Have done some island hopping and tons of these undeveloped beaches everywhere.

In my quest for an undeveloped paradise island, it occurred to me to make these pages, to help like-minded travelers island hop their way through this beautiful country. Not only could this turn into a future source of income, but it would further motivate me to explore the islands, where I could inquire into the purchase of a small boat, build up my network of island hopping homestays, and search for a property owner with whom I could work out a profit sharing plan.


Having purchased three portable solar panels and other gadgets to make my island excursions possible (they usually have very limited times when they run their power generators), I was ready to embark on my journeys from the island launching pad where I had nestled for the previous two months. First destination, island no. 1, a quiet fishing village from where I hoped to migrate to the second village on the island – my first new exploration.

I was staying at the Captain’s house (each village has a mayor, governor, captain and so on), who was responsible for collecting all the fish caught in the area to sell on the streets of Manila. He said he had some government business to do in the regional hub and suggested I join him on his mission. I soon found myself in San Miguel.

This small village lies on a larger island about half way between El Nido and Coron, two popular tourist destinations, while the main ferry stops there between the two. Because this region is in general a very popular tourist destination, a stable and clean area of the country, and because the Philippines is destined to become a major tourist destination, this stopping point has excellent potential. Entire islands in the immediate area have already been bought up by the French, Chinese and British, who are now busy building their high end resorts.


At the captain’s house, helping them peel freshly picked cashews.

As I strolled my way through the friendly streets of this San Miguel, one older gentleman bolsters, “Where are you from?” We quickly became friends, he loved my idea of building an eco-resort with a profit-sharing plan, and soon enough was introducing me to his six siblings, with whom he owns an entire island of 100 hectares.


Stilt town extension of the village of San Miguel.

But before we could all go together to scope out his island, he took me to his father-in-law’s plot of land, which I aimed to call Patoyo Paradise, 18 hectares on an island only 20 minutes away by boat. 1km stretch of beach glory, his father agreeing to let me start building as soon as I obtain a permit from the government. They seem to like my idea and agree that it is better to develop and hold onto their treasure islands rather than sell out for short term gain, but leave nothing for their descendants. My spiel and charm are working!


Plenty of room to develop on his 1km stretch of pristine beach.

island-hopping-philippines-other-island-310320152643A week later we check out his own island. Three big boats show up carrying a family of around 40 people, there to celebrate the departure of one of their clan, who is set to find work as a nurse in Saskatchewan, Canada. I was accepted heartily by everyone and immediately felt like a part of the family.

In about a month I expect two paychecks to come in and when I should go to the big city for my next two-month visa extension. It is at this town that I will apply for the permit, withdraw enough cash from the entire area’s only ATM machines, and stock up on solar panels, power tools and other important supplies before heading back to paradise and start building. I shall keep you informed!


Well, it was only a day later, but I received a text message from the wife of Henry that I should call his sister, and was provided with a very long number. I asked if the number was in the Philippines and she said “No, Japan. Wait, I will find out when you should call.” In about an hour I was informed that I should call at 11am. But I had already made arrangements, and besides, I explained that by around 10am every morning my batteries run dead and I cannot call until after noon, when they turn on the local diesel generator.

We got back from our exploration and I wrote that I am ready to call, asking when is a good time. Again I was told 11am, and again I explained why that time is not good for me to make a Skype call.

The next day Henry shows up and sadly says that there was a dispute and the deal is off. Apparently this woman feels the world revolves around her and is disgruntled that I did not fall down to my knees and jump at her every beck and call. Women are empathic creatures, designed to nurture their children with life-giving milk from their breast, but can otherwise be suspicious, vindictive and spiteful, their decision-making based on emotion and shouldn’t mingle with the men’s world of simple business logic. Everyone else in the family is keen on the plan.

Anyway, the owner of the hotel I’m staying at mentioned he owns an island and that he too might be interested. We went to check it out and it was even more beautiful (pictures at the bottom), also with full mobile signal. The previous mayor of the town, he managed to accumulate enough funds to purchase the entire island for 75 million pesos (about 1.5 million USD). Maybe not to be the most trusted, but he sounded nice on the phone, and at least this way no woman can meddle in our simple business dealings. Will keep you informed!

[Good news! For additional update, refer to first comment below.]


Friendly people in stilt town, San Miguel


Basketball court next to stilt town at low tide.


Village at Captain’s house.


Henry who introduced me to everyone.


Five hut village next to our property where I can buy fish from the locals.

island-hopping-philippines-san-miguel-caves-240320152595 island-hopping-philippines-san-miguel-caves-240320152591

Some caves around San Miguel.



The property that is now a no-go, but apparently the property next to it is a possibility.


island-hopping-philippines-jungle-huts-281020142013 island-hopping-philippines-jungle-huts-281020142031

Some jungle huts I stayed at in Indonesia for inspiration.

Following, pictures of Henry’s island, 100 hectares and completely owned by the family. They all seem to like me, but one hour boat ride from San Miguel and no mobile signal, which will require a larger initial investment for satellite. At least a backup plan, or later project.



The island’s full-time guardian and his hut. All these islands seem to have such free dwellers.


Our latest prospect, the 75 million pesos island (click top picture to zoom in):





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Home » Palawan » Patoyo » Finding the Dream Island

05:51 03 Apr 24
I give 5 stars because they actually helped me to arrange the tour to Balabac in last minute. However, because the money wired through the local bank in my country took time to be processed, so i missed the boat due to peak season as many people paid before my money was received by the tour guide.As most of people usually feel, once your money has been transferred out to someone you do not know, you probably frustrated that your money would not be able to be refunded.But not in my experience. I dont need to be worry, the owner refunded me the money he has received (minus the bank fees). He promised to refund me and he did it. It was around 18.700 Pesos.So, eventhough i didn't manage to go with the tour, but i am really satisfied with their legitimate and great business practice. Hopefully, people will try their services and not worry about their legit business!Thanks a lot!
Chloe BlanchardChloe Blanchard
13:38 27 Mar 24
The most wonderful experience from booking to beach! Karel and Mel were so fast and responsive to my very last minute trip over the holidays. We booked a private boat for two and could not have been happier with our four day trip! We didn’t think about anything other than snorkeling the entire time. Linda, our captain, cooked wonderful meals and took us to totally empty beautiful beaches. We loved staying the night in Pical especially! Wonderful to experience the Philippines this way! Will come back again and would recommend to anyone!
hotel luci del farohotel luci del faro
08:13 31 Jan 24
We booked the 3 day 2 night expedition, from Coron to Sibaltan.First of all the booking part was really simple. I organized this trip to the Philippines last minute for my family (my parents and my uncles) but Karel answered all my questions very quickly and really made everything easier for me. It was an incredible experience. Albert, our tour leader, is a wonderful guy, always smiling and ready to help us. They assisted us in everything and really took care of making everything go smoothly. The accommodation on the islands is as spartan as you expect but the location of each hut alone is worth the trip. The wonder of nature was then added to the goodness of cuisine. It's really difficult to argue how you can cook all that goodness on a boat.If you are looking for an authentic experience, in contact with nature, off the beaten track, this company's private expedition is certainly for you.
Kate BrownKate Brown
00:22 27 Oct 23
What an unforgettable experience! We did a two night (3 day) island hopping tour from Sibaltan to Coron. Everything was so well organized and the boat crew were amazing and really made sure we had a great time. The accommodation was rustic, but added to the authentic experience of the Philippines. Karel always responded to any queries we had promptly. Our boatman, Albert, was the most amazing chef and we enjoyed every meal. The crew taught the kids how to fish with a line which was their highlight of the trip. They took us to the most unbelievable snorkelling spots along the way. Would highly recommend this trip.
Ian PascualIan Pascual
02:43 10 Aug 23
One of the most amazing, unforgettable things you can do in your life
Lou PrataliLou Pratali
11:04 25 Jul 23
This is a must to do!!Super ultimate tour is the best with Kayangan and barracuda lake, twin lagoons (my favorite), coral garden (blue fabulous coral) were the best. It’s really worth it to pay for private tour (3500 to 4000 PHP). You will also have to pay for entrance fees (150 to 200PHP by location) and eventually shopping at the market - must do (count 300 for 2 for fish, pork, fruits and vegetables, water).
16:11 07 Feb 23
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the stunning Bacuit Gulf.Based on the comments, I contacted Mel.Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization.The on-board staff were very friendly and very helpful.And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel.In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I cannot recommend Mel and his team highly enough.A big thank-you.
Alyse TarbottonAlyse Tarbotton
23:48 30 Aug 22
This tour went well above all our expectations! I couldn't recommend this enough! The boat crew, captain and tour guide were nothing but amazing, everyone was so kind, helpful and friendly. The crew knew the best spots to visit that weren't overcrowded with tourists, 3 times we were lucky enough to have whole islands to ourselves! It was my partner's birthday while away and everything went above and beyond, bonfire, cake, birthday card, singing and celebrating with us.If you love camping this is definitely a tout you should do, it has been the highlight of our trip!!
Danish KayaniDanish Kayani
10:24 31 Oct 19
Coron is the best place i have ever seen.. picturesque. Beautiful. Peaceful
We booked a 4 days/3 nights private boat trip from Coron to Sibaltan. The organization went very well from the beginning, the owner answered to all my questions, and we were able to choose which islands to visit and where to sleep. The first night we slept in a bungalow in Banana Island, the second we camped in Araw beach and the last we slept in a seafront bungalow builded on a tree in Pical on Iloc Island.The islands in that area are the most beautiful islands I have ever seen, with clear water, lots of coral reef and fishes to see, white sand and almost deserted. The crew was very friendly and polite and they organize every single meal and for camping they give you a tent which was just perfect! This was our highlight in our 2 weeks in the Philippines and I wish I had booked a longer trip. A private trip gives you the freedom to decide where and when to go.
Gérard Benoit
Gérard Benoit
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the beautiful bay of Bacuit. Seeing the comments, I contacted Mel. Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization. The crew were very friendly and very helpful. And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel. In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I can recommend Mel and his team highly enough. A big thank-you.
André Mardoñal
André Mardoñal
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The island world of Linapacan between Coron and El Nido with the clearest waters in the world is truly a dream for itself! Without a boat you won't be able to see it! But what this boat trips makes so amazing is the crew! Once you come on board they might be shy in the beginning but will make you feel welcome and home from the first moment. Not only that they are looking that you sit comfortable all the time, they will prepare fresh and delicious food what the buy from local markets. They know the best spots and most beautiful islands and will bring you to places where you get this "Robinson Cruisoe feeling". Every day you visit 3 to 5 spots for snorkeling, enjoying a beach or exploring a little island. The accommodation we had was good and simple. We slept in bungalows and tents right at the beach. Sheets and towels were always provided and sometimes towels. After a while you feel like a family on board. We loved living the boat life didn't wanna leave! If you doubt take a longer than shorter trip! For any questions please message me.
Sarah Uhan
Sarah Uhan
All in all it was a really great experience. It's a once in a lifetime thing to do and you won't get more authentic and basic Philippino experiences anywhere else. We were not so lucky with the wind and waves so we couldn't do all the stops we wanted to unfortunately. So be aware that especially the months from January to May can be very rough on water. But we still saw some great places Benji took us. Benji and his family was very nice and they did everything they could. The food was amazing - always freshly made in authentic Philippino style and way too much for the 2 of us. Make sure to bring enough cash - many of the islands cost extra (entrance fee) and be aware that any kind of accommodation and food (200php per meal) is not included in the boat fee. Also the deposit and commission fee for the agency are a little over the top, especially since the crew does not get any of it. The costs all in all are rather high for phillipino circumstances especially given the basicness of it all. However if you think about that all 5 boat people (in our case) live off of the boat fee alone, you spent the money willingly. Be aware though that accommodation and sanataries are very basic if even existant. So you gotta have the right mindset. Bring tissue, sanatiszer and earplugs to get some better sleep. Another feedback I have concerning the size of the boat. I don't think it is sufficient for more than 4 people. If the weather is like it was these days, you always have to sit on top and it was already a little squeezy with us 2 and 5 boat people. So I guess 4 guests can be fine but more than that won't have the space. There is different boat sizes but make sure to talk about that with Karel in advance. Other than that it was really worth it and we got to see so many great beaches and reefs which we could have never been able to visit without the tour.
Eric Liu
Eric Liu
It was scary to book a 5 day trip with no places to stay confirmed or a strong itinerary. And in the Philippines, communication is difficult. But that is part of changing mindsets to a rural island mindset. In the end, everything worked out. We had some tough moments with bugs. But we also had some amazingly beautiful secluded beaches, the best snorkeling in the world, relaxing on the beach, and freshly made food on the boat while docked at beautiful places (better than being on land). Note, we went with Benji. Recommendations: - you must get a local SIM when you arrive to make sure pickup and everything works out - some islands have bugs - use bug spray! Pros: - a fraction of the cost - away from the crowds - can customize what you want - just ask! - a truly local experience - saw a REAL rural town Cons: - locals aren't really polished tour guides - if you don't ask for it, you won't get it, need to be pretty proactive - pretty simple "activities" - no frills like bathrooms or kayaks etc.
Ángela Deand
Ángela Deand
We can't be more grateful to have had the opportunity of experience the peace in Patoyo Kitesurfing Camping! Spending two weeks in Dimancal Island, gave us the chance to experiment the rural and traditional way of life, in touch with the nature and people. We have learnt how to cook with fire, how to open a coconut and how to survive in an environment where for a time we forget about unnecessary needs, just to focus on enjoy the small details and pleasures of life. Mentioning too the amazing snorkeling and beautiful islands around this place, which make it unique​ and special. It is a lovely option if you are running away from tourists and overcrowded places in the Philippines. You will find yourself in the middle of virgin beaches and nature, surrounding​ by charming people. We will definitely come back!
Caroline Danielle
Caroline Danielle
We haven't done a Tao tour, but I would suspect that this is a cheaper version of the same thing. Our boat operator (Benji) and the entire crew were were fun, friendly and made an effort to ensure we had a good time. If you get a large group of people together it can be a really inexpensive alternative to other Coron-El Nino and vice versa island hopping tours. The food was good, but more expensive than as advertised by Karl. The price quote we got was 100 php a meal, but the boat charged us 200. Since the food was good we didn't mind the extra expense, but it is important to keep in mind if you're on a budget. Definitely plan for some incidental spending. Our boat did have some mechanical issues and as a result we ended up being stuck in the same place for longer than we wanted to be. That being said, little could have been done about it and the trip was fun nonetheless.
Hauk Are Fjeld
Hauk Are Fjeld
If you believe that doing the touristic tours in El Nido and going to "The hidden beach" takes you off the beaten path, you are wrong. There are lots of beautiful places in Palawan, but few of these places are without any other tourists. If you want to spend some extra effort on getting away from the tourist places, and don't mind a little "primitive" living, Island Hopping in the Philippines is definitely something you should check out
Arnold Cabiguen
Arnold Cabiguen
The snorkeling in this area is phenomenal. Clearest waters in the world. I guess it's because there is relatively such lower tourist traffic through here, and the locals really protect the reefs!
Karel Kosman
Karel Kosman
Love it so much, just had to say it twice!

We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the country, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all.

5 thoughts on “Finding the Dream Island”

  1. You can choose among PAL, Seair, Airphil and Cebu Pacific. If you trveal by boat, there’s no direct route from Clark. So you have to trveal via Manila port.

  2. Hi. I’m one of the grand daughter of Basilio and Mamerta Castolo whom you mentioned the owner off your 1st prospect island (Patoyo). I did asked my mom and my lolo Basilio (grandfather) and it was like a misscommunication on our family’s side and also error from my lolo. The woman in Japan (my aunt) is so busy working and wasn’t able to communicate and deal with you well during that time. And I personally, apologize for what happened. And still, the island in patoyo is open for selling for those individuals who has a heart for an ocean and eco.
    Thank you so much.
    Hope to see you soon when we have our vacation in Linapacan, Palawan.
    Especifically in Patoyo whom we treasure and love so much.

    Also, uncle Henry – my aunt’s husband.

    • Cool. I’m developing Ben’s property on the other side of the island, but my wish is actually to develop many beaches, because I think it is a shame for Filipinos to sell out. One generation will have a nice house, car and big lcd panel in their living room, but then their grandchildren will have nothing. But if I develop it with profit sharing, they will have some income, which over ten years might add up to what they would sell it for now, and they could keep it. Or sell it anyway. If they sell it after I develop it some, they might get a better offer. But I encourage all not to sell. Eventually I’d like to put a construction team together and develop many islands in a natural way. Once people see how I build, I think more will be interested. It would be such a shame if this beautiful area turned into the trash of El Nido and Coron, and a shame to sell out to foreigners, because you will forever stay poor this way. This is a very unique area and you all should keep some faith and gain greater fruits in the future.

      • Nice to know your good and pure intention to a foreign land. But with ours, the family really decided to pursue selling the area. But still hoping one of these days, they’ll suddenly change their mind. Thank you for these. I just saw earlier this ad/blog when i was searching for different things to do while staying in Patoyo this mid year. Looking forward to visit Mang Ben’s area when it’s developed already.
        Thank you and God bless.

        • Will be nice to meet you too. Hopefully by the time you come I’ll have at least one kitesurfing board!


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