For years, I’ve been thinking that these two places named “Sipaway” and “Sipalay” (a popular destination where I came from) are one and the same. Well, earlier this year I found out, from a firsthand experience, that they’re actually… not. That was when I finally got a chance to visit the stunning Sipaway island.
About the Sipaway Island
Sipaway, or Refugio Island, as its geographic name goes, is an island which is located 15 minutes (more or less) away from the center of San Carlos City in Negros Occidental. You’ll probably be thrilled to discover that some breathtaking, white sand beaches mark its amazing coastline.
Moreover, this gem of an island is quite small – it’s only about 7 kilometers in length. So this actually means good news – you can explore the entire island in one day or less!
Start of the Journey
Upon learning of its existence, we planned a two days and one night trip to the Sipaway Island. Once we arrived there, we stayed at the Whispering Palms Island Resort.
When we first got to our hotel, a female “guard” saw us enter. I noticed that she was oddly white, but I was too excited about the adventurous possibilities ahead to mind.
First (and of course), we sat down to eat.
Then, we explored the place.
After walking around, we decided to rest for about an hour in our room.
Our suite number was – 10 Coral Fish.
Then, we hung out at the beach.
The Next Day
The next day, when we woke up at around 6:00 AM, it was raining heavily. I felt somewhat anxious about the possibility that we will have no choice but to spend the whole day locked up in our room. Fortunately, I was wrong.
A few minutes later, the rain began to diminish. After some time, it finally stopped. That moment, my heart grew full and happy because it meant that we could explore the marvelous Sipaway Island after all.
So, that was exactly our plan. Since it was Sunday, and because my companions were religious, we decided to visit the community’s church first.
We drove a trisikad to get there. We took turns driving a trisikad for the first time. Embarrassingly enough, a 5-minute drive took around 30 minutes. For the record – it was our first time driving a trisikad.
Along the way – just across the church, a beautiful sight caught our attention. It was a beach! So, we made a detour and decided to hang out there for a while.
We were so exhausted from driving the trisikad around, that we decided to stop and get some drinks. We had no cash on us then, but the man who was selling buko juice was very kind. He said that we could have the juice now and pay for it later.
When it was time to go, I was a bit sad. I realized that I was probably never going to visit that place again.
This was our final meal on the island.
Now, do you remember the lady “guard” that I mentioned earlier? Well, I had a second (and a much closer) look at her. It turned out that she wasn’t a guard at all. She wasn’t even an actual person. “A mannequin!”, I was laughing at myself.
Top Attractions & Activities
Apart from the above-mentioned activities, a ton of excitement awaits for you at the Sipaway Island! Such as all of these activities below (and more!):
- Jungle trail
- Archery range
- Kayak rental station
- Bike rental station
- Century-old balete tree
- Scuba diving site
- Lighthouse viewing
- Beach volleyball site
- Hammock or duyan
- Snorkeling site
- Tree house and bahay kubo accommodation
- Swimming pools
The Lifestyle of the Locals
Residents of the Sipaway Island have a somewhat laid-back lifestyle. They‘re satisfied and happy with their peaceful environment. They’re also friendly and accommodating.
On the island itself – bars, clubs, shopping malls, and other large shops and centers, that you’d normally find in a modern city are non-existent. On this island, you’re up for some old-fashioned fun with the nature!
– Travel Tips –
On getting to the island:
My companions and me were from Bacolod City. From Bacolod, we got to the Sipaway Island this way:
- First, we rode a bus – to be exact, we took a 2-hour bus ride from Bacolod City to San Carlos City.
- Next – from the San Carlos City’s bus terminal we took a trisikad to the Sipaway Island’s pier.
- Finally, from the Sipaway Island’s pier, we hired a bangka to take us to our destination.
There are alternate ways to get there, depending on your point of origin, of course. However, you still have to get to the Sipaway Island’s pier first, because the island is accessible ONLY by boat.
We stayed at the Whispering Palms Island Resort and I’m glad that we did. It’s a relatively high-end resort with its own set of facilities. According to the locals, it’s the only resort on the island that has the privilege of the 24/7 electricity, good water supply, amiable staff, and excellent security.
Apart from the Whispering Palms Island Resort, here are some other options:
- La Basilia White Sand Beach Resort
- Paraiso de Antonio
- Dulay Cottage Beach Resort
- Crystal Beach