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“Not Worth It - Uncomfortable Accomodation, Absurdly Expensive Diving”

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Pandan Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Pandan Island
Manila, Philippines
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Not Worth It - Uncomfortable Accomodation, Absurdly Expensive Diving”
Reviewed June 23, 2010

My fiancee and I were looking forward to staying on Pandan for 4 nights to go diving offshore at the famous Apo Reef, but our trip turned sour as soon as we arrived. After staying just one night and day, we cut our trip completely and moved on to something much better. These were our areas of disappointment:

- The hotel sent us a van to pick us up from the airport for a whopping Php 4,000. That steep price would have only been justified by a really nice vehicle, not the ripped-up, raggedy, van they sent us with no air-conditioning when it was 95-degrees outside
- The drive from the airport to the resort in the above-described vehicle takes 2 1/2 hours drive over a very poor, rocky dirt road
- The staff at the resort was unprofessional. It was hard to locate them on the island whenever we needed something, i.e. food service, boat service, etc
- The water from the tap and the shower is salt water, and did not even work half of the time. The staff didn't seem to mind to fix it when we requested so.
- There is no electricity on the island except for a few solar-powered light bulbs.
- There are no fans in any of the rooms. This makes it impossible to sleep. It felt like 100+ degrees in our room all night, and we only fell asleep as the sun was coming up.
- The mosquitoes on the island are everywhere (I don't know what the other review is talking about). Expect a lot of bites, at least if you go in the summertime.
- The buffet dinner was actually pretty good. No complaints. Watch out for inconsistencies in listed prices vs. charged menu prices upon check-out.
- The Dive Shop requests an absurd amount of money to go diving to Apo Reef, compared to any other dive shop in the 15+ places we've been diving around the Philippines. They charge a shady "Environmental Fee" of Php 1,450 PER PERSON PER DAY, plus Php 1,500 per person per dive, plus Php 8,000 for the boat! We flat out refused to go after we learned of the crazy-expensive "environmental fee". That was pretty much the last straw, and we checked out soon after. We've never paid more than Php 100-200 for an environmental fee anywhere in the Philippines, and the fee is always good for the duration of your vacation at the island.

We give this resort two thumbs down. Don't waste your time or money. If you want to dive Apo Reef, consider going from a Live Aboard out of Coron, Busuanga instead. Be sure to ask about any "environmental fees". Happy trails!

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
8 Thank FunAndSun088
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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136 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (23)
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English first
London, UK
Level Contributor
27 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed June 4, 2010

my girlfriend and I stayed in pandan island resort for two nights and had an amazing time.

there is only one resort on the island and it has an information office in sablayan that arranges a bangka boat to get there. its a bit tricky to get to as the transport on mindoro island isn't that great. we came from boracay and it took 1.5 days (with a stopover in san jose) to get there. this included a boat, taxi, bus and another boat. from pandan to manila we had to get a boat, bus, boat bus and then a taxi.

i had reserved a hut and were warmly welcomed when we arrived. there isn't a reception so everything is arranged through the bar. a member of staff explained the layout of the island including the restaurant, bar, dive shop and tours. later that night we met Dominic who is the manager of the resort. he was very friendly and provided lots of information and advice about philippines. he arranged our bus to manila when we left and we had pleasant conversations with him every night.

the island itself is wonderful, the sand is white and soft and there is amazing snorkeling around 30m from the beach. as there is only one resort there weren't that many people. this gave the island a very tropical castaway feel to it.

there are some resident turtles and a dive instructor told us where to find them. we snorkeled out for a few minutes before seeing our first one. we were surprised at how big it was, just under a metre in length. it was on the sea bed munching on the sea grass. it was a great experience and every now and then it would swim up to the surface for a couple of breaths of air. we spent hours and hours swimming with them. most are very comfortable around humans and didn't mind hanging out with us. we took many pictures of which a few are attached to this review.

the huts are very basic but this adds to the whole feel of the island. there is no electricity supply so the lights are very dim and powered by solar panel. this means there isn't a fan and it was very hot at night. by the second night however we got used to the heat and found it easier to sleep. the huts don't have locks so we left all our valuables in the managers safe. as there aren't many people on the island it felt very safe and sometimes we didn't even bother to close the door. the mosquito nets provided kept out all the bugs at night and there were plenty to go around. the huts have lots of vents, windows and gaps that let in spiders, bees etc. again this just adds to the castaway feel of the island. all the huts have balconies and hammocks outside, perfect for relaxing in the cool evening breeze.

there are plenty of power sockets behind the bar to charge cameras etc and the resort has internet connection and wifi at a cost.

the showers and taps are saltwater which we were concerned about. however every day a big bucket of fresh water is provided in the bathroom and there is a jug near the sink for rinsing your teeth. showering in salt water isn't as bad as we thought, afterward we rinsed off with the fresh water and couldn't tell the difference.

the cost of the huts are very competitive compared to the other beaches and island in philippines. the only real issue is that each guest must have the buffet dinner at night which is 400 pesos a piece. the dinner was wonderful and you feel that its worth the money. the prices at the bar were very reasonable, not much more than a minimart. the kitchen gave us boiling water so we could eat some pot noodles we brought over for lunch.

all in all its a fantastic set up and we hope that it never changes.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank Shez_London
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
17 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed February 28, 2010

We stayed after travelling ten days in Japan and the contrast couldn't have been bigger. Pandan was simply relaxing, with a nice beach, beautiful vegetation and spacious yet rather rustic rooms. Diving was outstanding!
I loved the fact that there were absolutely no mosquitoes around, a first time experience within the tropics, but still though I was missing showering with fresh water after a couple of days...

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
2 Thank Rikilee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed June 13, 2009

The beach is great for swimming, snorkelling, diving and relaxing, which was the strength of this place. We went in the shoulder season, i.e. end of October. From what we hear, it's a well run resort in the high season, i.e. from November to May, but when we were there the service was poor. Just before we got there, the business manager had quit. The chef when we were there was a substitute who had worked four weeks straight, with minimal support, and he even apologized to us for being so bitter. Dinner buffets were good, breakfasts were a la carte and okay, lunch was weak. I had a friend who went at the end of September and he was the only guest, thus all meals were a la carte and they didn't have most of what he wanted and for him the food was not good at all. In the high season there are buffets for 2-3 meals per day which are supposed to be great. The owner of this resort has something like three years left on his lease of the property and after that will probably lose it, and thus wasn't putting much into the resort. He appeared quite disinterested in whether we were enjoying ourselves or not. There are no fans in the room and if there is no breeze then they are quite sweaty. Our friends were in another room, and when they arrived they weren't given mosquito nets despite the abundance of stuff that falls from the Nipa roofs. So they arrived to Nipa crud all over their beds. We were fortunate to have a mosquito net so we didn't have this experience. In short, beware of going between June and October. At other times, realize that the rooms and service could be lacking. If you don't mind rustic rooms and potentially weak food/service, and like a great beach then this is the place for you!

  • Stayed October 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank puppy77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
paris
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed June 11, 2009

very relax place, with friendly staff, a nice spot for diving and getting around

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank spectro11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
brussels
Level Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2009

Pandan is really worth staying in. It's a beautiful place with a still almost intact coral reef and a turtle garden with turtles swimming around. There is only one resort on the island run by a very kind french man with a philipino wife. I stayed in one of the bungalows for 1400 pesos per night. Food was very good. I had lunch and dinner for 700 pesos per day, which is also reasonable, as it is a buffet with wide choice and tasty meals.
It's also easy to get on the island and boats have a fixed price per passenger.
They also have a scuba diving center.
Certainly worth a stay.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Mihael R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pandan Island Resort

Property: Pandan Island Resort
Address: Pandan Island, Pandan Island, Mindoro 5104, Philippines
Location: Philippines > Mindoro > Occidental Mindoro Province > Pandan Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Pandan Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Pandan Island is a private island with a small resort on the West coast of Occidental Mindoro, Central Philippines.Since the island was 'discovered' and the resort established in 1986 by a French adventurer, this tropical island retreat has been voted time and again as one of the top resorts in the Philippines, not in terms of luxury (we do not have air-conditioned rooms, room service or cable television networks on the island) but for it's life close to nature and it's personalized atmosphere. Pandan Island is for people who like to spend time in tropical surroundings where you are woken up by the singing of colorful birds, where there is only a palm tree between you and the sea, where you still know your neighbors.All bungalows are built in native materials, like coconut lumber, bamboo, sawali, cogon grass to let them blend easily into their tropical surroundings. Care has been taken to provide a simple yet comfortable atmosphere with a maximum of privacy for all who need to get away from hectic life. Since all the electricity on the island is provide by a solar system our bungalows do not have air-con or fans.T he bungalows are built directly by the sea separated from the beach only by palm trees and / or bougainvillea bushes with the breeze from the sea providing for ventilation.Each house has its private gecko (lat. gecko gecko) that is believed to bring good luck to the house it inhabits.Besides spending your day in a hammock or exploring the few secluded beaches, we offer a wide range of activities to choose from. Scuba Diving in the coral gardens around Pandan or around the nearby Apo Reef is the most popular and exciting activity to engage in but we also offer you the possibility to explore the jungle rivers of nearby Mindoro by kayak or visit the small coastal town of Sablayan and meet its friendly inhabitants.However you choose to spend your vacation, our staff will do their utmost to make your stay on Pandan Island a relaxing or adventurous experience. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Pandan Island Hotel Pandan Island

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