Travel

There's no need to travel far for a luxury short getaway when you live in Singapore

For some Instagram-inspiration-cum-reality, there’s no need to jet off to lands far far away. We have some of the most beautiful spots, officially classified as part of the New7Wonders of Nature, only a short plane ride away
 

Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

One of the many perks living in Singapore is the island’s placement to other surrounding stunning islands. When city life gets too much, which is does for all of us, a mini getaway for 4 or 5 days to brighter shores is just enough to refresh and recharge. With places such as Bali, Penang, Phuket and Phu Quoc so very close, there’s no excuse.

Having visited all of the above, I decided I wanted to test other waters, namely the Salu Sea bordering Palawan island, Philippines. Palawan island was voted ‘the best island in the world’ back in 2017 due to its abundance of natural beauty. From mountainous terrain (perfect backdrop for your Instagram images), crystal clear warm oceans on white beaches to the five-mile long underground river in Puerto Princesa, which has been named one of the New7Wonders of Nature, it holds it all. Coincidentally, the majority of the 7 wonders of nature are based in Asia: Halong Bay in Vietnam, Jeju island in South Korea and Komodo island, Indonesia.

Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

For now, I’ll start the bucket list with the natural underground river.

Flying to Philippines has never been easier, especially with Cebu Pacific Air. Contrary to my previous misconception that it’s going to be one huge stress, it was relatively pain-free. Cebu Pacific air cover both international and domestic (Philippines) flights, so I was able to book in one go online from Singapore to Manila, followed by a short run into Puerto Princesa, Palawan island, saving me a lot of time and stress that I don’t have to spare. Aboard the flight was various meals and drink options - I had pre ordered mine to ensure I got hot food. I need hot food at 3am! Landing safe and sound, it was a 90 minute taxi ride to the resort.

Photo:Agoda

In my quest for breathtaking backdrops, I wanted to find a resort that was easy to get to said river but also had a beautiful pool and white beach for the ultimate tropical mini vacay. Enter, Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa. This 4 star resort is situated just around the corner in Sabang bay from the iconic underground river, making it an easy and excellent choice for those wishing to do some natural sightseeing as well as chill on their mini vacation.

Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

Staying in their premiere suite as pictured above, I had glorious views of the swimming pool which is nestled just behind the beach. The hotel is situated in the Sabang bay, giving you immediate and unlimited access to the white shores. Their one restaurant is positioned by both the pool and the beach with a very relaxed attitude on whether you come in straight from the ocean for a cocktail in your swimsuit, or dress up nicely for some shaded lunch. The food was cooked fresh and so very tasty, and a reasonable price point too. I must recommend their G&Ts with a couple of limes. Went down a little too easily, truth be told. Particularly after three - but that’s another story.

Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

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Given the typical tropical weather we’re all used to, there were intense sunny spells where we bathed in the ocean (which was so warm!) and read our books on the beach, and then when the storms came - we’d simply go inside into the bar for some food or beverages, or head over to the games site to play pool and table tennis. There’s no ‘club’ on site for evening activities but the restaurant does have a bar that serves as many varieties of alcohol as you wish, accompanied by fire dancers and a band who perform live nightly too.

Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

The resort itself also arrange excursions so you can explore the surrounding areas or even travel further afield if you like to explore and keep active on your vacation. We picked the underground river, (obviously), along with the Sheridan organic farm tour.

Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

An early start, the river tour meets the guests at the hotel (still had time for my essential morning coffee) before taking us to the harbour area where boats are boarded. We’re then ferried around the bay, takes as little as 15 minutes, before disembarking right at the edge of where the river begins. Even the cliffs and the bright turquoise waters here were breathtaking. Handed our electronic guide packs to listen to for the tour, we climb into our second boat and head into the darkness.

It was truly just awe inspiring. As bats and birds flitter around your head, you travel deep into a cave, all the while listening to your packs as the voice talks you through how, when, why and even points out all the prominent stalagmites and stalactites. It’s breathtaking. I was lucky enough to sit in the front of the boat and had open views of this seven wonders of nature cave. It was absolutely worth the 6am alarm call on my vacation.

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Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

It only takes around two hours in total, so after being safely taken back to our hotel, we then jumped into the Sheridan taxi service to go to the organic farm for a tour and some lunch made on site. I had little expectations of this particular tour but it turned out to be as much of a highlight for me as the river. The farmer who received us was incredible - spoken with perfect English he talked and walked us through what the organic farm does, how the land is farmed, where the food goes to (which is directly to the Sheridan resort itself, so you know the food you’re eating is nothing short of the best money can buy) and we even got to feed the ostrich and the turkeys. It was a glorious insight into the background to our food - things you don’t even consider, like how long it takes for just one cashew nut to grow on a tree before it can be harvested properly and added to a bag for your office snack.

Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

My favourite part had to be lunch though. A true experience of farm to table, we were served organic vegetable based dishes that were so delicious we kept asking for more servings. Including a salad, vegetable broth, black rice and root vegetable cooked in coconut milk and garlic, it was a taste sensation from start to finish. It actually inspired me to continue down the path of becoming vegetarian and made me want to strip back what I consume and rethink my attitude to my food choices. If you're interested in farm to table dining, here's 14 restuarants in Singapore to offer you just that. 

Photo: HerWorld/NicolaWatson

I was after a secluded and relaxed break where I could just unwind, and the Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa offered me just that. If you’re in need of some chill time with a dash of exploration, it comes highly recommended.

 

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