Huni Sicogon is Ayala Land’s latest venture in Western Visayas. Just opened this July 2018, it is a 52-key, 2-storey boutique resort located at Sicogon Tourism Estate.

Sicogon Island is located on the northernmost part of Iloilo, under the municipality of Carles. This island has remained under the radar for the past few years, especially after Yolanda hit and brought casualty to the locals and their livelihood. Ayala is set to turn the island into a tourism estate, much like Lio El Nido.

I had the privilege to be one of the first few to visit the resort in its first week. Here’s what you can expect at Huni:

Huni Sicogon
Brgy. San Fernando, Sicogon Island, Carles, Iloilo, Philippines 5019
Tel: +63 917 827 0445
Facebook: Huni Sicogon Resort
Instagram: @hunisicogon
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.huniresorts.com/

Check out low Huni Sicogon rates and availability from Booking and Agoda.

GETTING THERE

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1. Fly from any domestic city into Roxas City or Iloilo City Airport via commercial flights.

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2. Take a private van or the public bus from Roxas or Iloilo City to Estancia (PPA Port). Estimated travel time from Roxas City is 1.5 hours. From Iloilo City is 2.5 hours.

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3. Take the designated outrigger boats from PPA Port, Estancia to Sicogon Island. Estimated travel time is 45 minutes to 1 hour.

You can arrange van and boat transfers directly with Huni Sicogon.

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Boats can dock directly at the beachfront if the tide is ideal. Otherwise, you have to take a quick 3-minute habal-habal ride from the jetty.

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This can be a deal breaker if you’re bringing kids with you or if you’re just not used to riding motorcycles in general, but I personally loved it.

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The once-defunct Sicogon Airport is currently under construction. Direct flights to the island will be available via AirSwift by early next year.


THE RESORT

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Huni Sicogon has just two storeys giving the resort a more intimate feel. At the moment, only 19 rooms are available for occupancy. The resort is slated to have 52 rooms upon completion.

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There’s a thriving garden enclosed in the property.

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The rooms are sleek and minimalist in design, and pleasantly scented too. Rooms with good scents always make me want to stay in.

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I stayed in Room 202, a Deluxe Queen, which has a view of Mt. Opao.

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The bathroom has standard furnishings, with the toiletries available upon request. However, there’s no bidet.

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There’s also a small table at the corner of the room which can double as a workspace and coffee table.

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I don’t like staying on the bed when I’m in my outside clothes so most of my time was spent in the couch.

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Reception on the island is difficult to come by so Wi-Fi is not yet available, but there’s a Cable TV for in-room entertainment. The rooms are not fully soundproof though. I could hear the boys’ yells from the other room when they were watching the World Cup late at night.

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I tried to get some work done in the night, but the bed was too comfortable I just ended up sleeping.

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There are several lounging areas scattered around the resort if you’re looking to get out of the room for some fresh air.

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Huni’s furniture choices really caught my eye.

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Or you could also take a dip in their infinity pool. The deepest end is less than five feet, so there’s no room for diving – just short laps.

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I spent my first afternoon just lounging by the poolside with a beer in hand and reading a book while waiting for the night to come.

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Relaxing view of the beach from where I was sitting.

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The pool looks even more peaceful at night.


The Beach

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The San Fernando Beach is still pristine and unspoilt – the crystal clear waters and the fine sand has its own allure.

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The local government also discourages the uprooting of trees and grass by the beach, so there’s plenty of shade to go around.

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Photo by Art Enriquez for XCaliber

Some parts of the shore are rocky, and you have to walk far if you want to take a dip when the tide is low.

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There are no lights by the beach yet so I was able to spot the Milky Way again on the first night.


Food

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Right beside the pool is the all-day dining area.
Menu: All-day Dining / Pool Bar Chow / Breakfast

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Again, I love their choice of furniture!

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The restaurant offers a small variety of Asian dishes.

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Sauteed Island Scallop (₱ 220) • with Ginger Butter Garlic Sauce and Onion Leeks

Carles is teeming with scallops, so definitely don’t miss out on this one. Don’t expect the scallops to be as big as the ones in fine dining restaurants.

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Chicken Teriyaki (₱ 280) • Grilled Chicken Thigh, Pickled Vegetables with Teriyaki Sauce

Their teriyaki borders on the sweet rather than salty side, and lucky for me, it’s exactly how I prefer my teriyaki to be.

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Ebi Tempura (₱ 350) • Deep fried prawns served with tempura sauce

Seafood really does taste better when it’s fresh!

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Coconut Roll (₱ 80) • Ilonggo’s traditional shredded young coconut slow cooked in sugar

Must try! Not something I would usually order off the menu, but Huni’s version is really good.

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Breakfast options include plated meals of danggit, pork tocino, or bacon, among others.

Our meals were served buffet style during the simulation as it was an exclusive trip, but the food is normally served ala carte.

I hope they add more Ilonggo items like Laswa, KBL, and Tambo in the future. 


WHAT TO DO

Hike Mt. Opao

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Mt. Opao is the only mountain on the island, and its peak reaches 712m.

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We took a habal-habal to the base of the trail and started our hike at around 6 in the morning. The habal-habal ride costs ₱ 150 from the resort to the base of the trail and back. The road in Sicogon is too narrow for cars, so you can only get around by motorcycles.

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The hike took just less than an hour with a few stops along the way. There is one assigned guide for every 4 people. We paid Php 250 per guide.

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The trail is lined with cogon grass, which is what Sicogon is named after.

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It was cold at the peak, so it’s best to wear something that can combat the change in temperature. I had a scarf, but it didn’t offer much help.

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The peak offers a great, unobstructed view of the other islands surrounding Sicogon.  To the north are the Islas de Gigantes 

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barely visible on the Eastern side is Bantayan Island (where the yellow light is), 

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and the West: Panay Island.

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I also had a bird’s eye view of the airport’s construction progress.


Islas de Gigantes Island Hopping

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If you’re not keen on doing something as daunting, you can always opt for island hopping. An hour away from Sicogon is the Islas de Gigantes.

Cabugao Gamay

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The first island on the list is Cabugao Gamay, which is the most photographed island in the group. 

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Entrance to the island is ₱ 50 for adults, and ₱ 20 for children (ages 7-10).

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Cabugao Gamay is known for its vantage point that gives photos in the island their signature backdrop. You have to climb a short flight of stairs to reach the peak.

Trivia: Cabugao is the Hiligaynon term for pomelo.

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I’m relieved to see that there’s finally a barrier at the top. With its rising popularity, it’s good that they’re adding measures to ensure the safety of tourists.

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I’m glad that the waters remain unchanged and the shore is still littered with shells, not trash.

Antonia Island

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There is an entrance fee of ₱ 40 per head at Antonia Island. Time your trip well so you get to Antonia by lunchtime. Why? Because Gigantes’ famous 1-peso scallops are here.

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This whole basket will set you back just 100 pesos. What a steal, right?

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Also get an order of the Wasay-wasay. Its texture is closer to an oyster and the taste is similar to a clam. One basket of around 50 pieces is ₱ 200.

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Best dipped in vinegar and paired with a glass of cold Coke.

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I lost count of how many scallops I ate, but here’s a visual representation of how much I consumed. Tip: don’t eat rice if you want to eat a lot of scallops.

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You can ride jet skis in the island too. It’s ₱ 3500 for 1 hour, and ₱ 2500 for 30 minutes.

Due to the worsening weather and rising tides, we weren’t able to go to two more islands this time around: the Tangke Lagoon and Bantigue Island. However, I was able to visit Tangke Lagoon on my visit last year.

Tangke Lagoon

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Tangke is a saltwater pool surrounded by rock formations. Depending on the time of your visit, the water may be high enough for a swim or low enough to walk through. The entrance fee to Tangke is ₱ 25.

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Also, behind the towering rock formations of Tangke Lagoon is Pawikan Cave, where the locals sought refuge during Yolanda. This was also part of my itinerary last year – it was simply an insider tip given by our boatmen and not usually part of the Gigantes itinerary.

Back at the Resort

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If you prefer to just stay at the resort, they have stand up paddle boards available. Chino was about to get off the board when I saw him, but he was such a sport and paddled another round so I can take photos. Kayaking will be available soon.


FINAL THOUGHTS

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My stay at Huni Sicogon happened right before my birthday. It came at the most opportune time and gave me the chance to disconnect and ruminate. I didn’t feel the need to keep updating people online of my whereabouts or activities. Nor did I feel like I was missing out, not knowing what everyone else was up to. The place was serene and the activities kept me occupied.

Some tips:

  • Don’t worry about the weight gain. Always make room for good food!
  • Slather on the sunblock.
  • Bring shoes and mosquito repellent for hiking.
  • It gets chilly at night, bring a light cardigan if you wish to walk around the resort.
  • Get ready to ride the habal-habal if you want to go around the island.

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If you’re looking to for a new island to explore, and to disconnect without sacrificing comfort, visit Huni Sicogon. Book directly through their website or through Booking.com

Huni Sicogon
Brgy. San Fernando, Sicogon Island, Carles, Iloilo, Philippines 5019
Tel: +63 917 827 0445
Facebook: Huni Sicogon Resort
Instagram: @hunisicogon
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.huniresorts.com/

Check out low Huni Sicogon rates and availability from Booking and Agoda.

 

Live an Awesome Life,

Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: Our trip was courtesy of Huni Sicogon. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

P.S. Signal towers are being installed so fret not about the lack of reception; They should be operational before the year ends. But really, with a place this beautiful, give your phone a breather (or maybe put it on airplane mode so you can still take photos), and connect with nature.