My girlfriend and I have just spent 5 nights at Action Geckos and I would quite happily have stayed there twice as long. The resort has so much to recommend it that I'm not really sure I can do it justice in a short review.
To start with, I should point out that from a dietary perspective I'm not easy to cater for, as for medical reasons I'm really restricted as to what I can eat. Consequently it's not easy for me to find a dish I can eat in a restaurant here in Manila, never mind down south on a tropical island in Mindanao. I needn't have worried though. After emailing Michele in advance to let her know what my dietary requirements are, I got an instant reply to reassure me that they would cook the food exactly how I wanted it.
To be honest that was an understatement. I ate 3 meals a day at their outdoor restaurant the whole time I was there and each time they asked me what ingredients I wanted left out or added and how I'd like it cooked. In addition every meal was absolutely delicious. I'm a fussy eater and I really enjoy my food, so satisfying my appetite given the restrictions I've got was quite an achievement. They have undoubtedly got a very talented chef in their kitchen.
Furthermore, the accommodation itself was great. We stayed in Bungalow 4 which is the furthest of the four from the beach, but it still boasts a great location and view. It simply meant that instead of sitting on our veranda with the waves almost on our doorstep, (as is the case with Bungalow 1), we were about 30 metres away from the shoreline. It didn't make any difference to us. The bungalows are staggered in such a way that you are looking out onto the sea and palm trees, irrespective of which cottage you stay in. Sitting reading on our porch whilst swaying gently in my rocking chair with the sound of the waves lapping against the rocks was an incredibly relaxing way to chill out.
The bungalow itself was rustic and tastefully decorated and the large King size bed was extremely comfortable. The small geckos that crawl across the ceiling are really cute and they obviously do a great job of eating the mosquitoes. We had a net draped over the bed to protect us but we never needed to use it.
Another huge selling point is the customer care you receive at the resort. I found the service to be pretty much exceptional, whether it was corresponding by email in advance or arranging trips, booking transport or ordering food after our arrival there. Everything ran as smooth as clockwork. Michele was frequently on hand with a friendly smile, asking whether we needed anything and she is evidently extremely efficient at managing her staff, all of whom were courteous and hard-working. The resort itself had a really good vibe about it from the moment we arrived and given that 20 local Pinoys are employed there, it's clearly putting money back into the local economy. In addition, it also means that there's always someone ready to attend to you.
Indeed, given that the entire staff and management were so friendly, I found it intriguing that I chanced upon a review by a Filipino family who stayed at Geckos last month and complained bitterly about everything they could think of. Having stayed there myself now for almost a week, I found their criticism laughable. Geckos isn't a resort that is particularly suited to a family vacation and it isn't advertised as such. Instead it is a place where couples and groups of friends stay in order to find time to relax together in an extremely pleasant atmosphere. As for the family's claim that the foreign managers show nothing but indifference to locals, you only have to spend an evening there to see that everyone is treated with the utmost respect. Michele is also really proficient at languages and she even speaks the local Visayan dialect, in addition to French, German and English. Europeans and Pinoys alike couldn't ask for a more welcoming host. My Filipino partner enjoyed our stay at Geckos just as much as I did, and I've no doubt that we'll be going back there for another holiday in the future.
It is worth noting that electricity can be an issue at times on the island as a whole. However, I was grateful that we had only the one brownout during our 5-day stay and even then the electricity was back on within a couple of hours. To put that into perspective, the resort I stayed at in El Nido on Palawan automatically turned off the electricity for 8 hours every single day from 6am-2pm. The one power interruption we experienced at Geckos was nothing in comparison.
There are numerous trips that you can do on Camiguin and if it's golden sand you're looking for, White Island is only a ten-minute boat trip away. We asked Michele and Uli to arrange all of our trips for us and we were really happy with every one of them. During our island tour, Michele even took the trouble to phone ahead to the restaurant where we were booked to have lunch, so that they would cook the food exactly as I needed them to. She also purchased a 5 kilo basket of lanzones fruits from the local market for us on the last day and had it waiting for us as we prepared to leave. The price per kilo was a quarter of what we pay here in Manila. In addition, she organized our ferry tickets back to Cagayan, as well as our pick up on the mainland and transport back to the airport. Nothing was too much trouble for her and customer service simply doesn't get any better than that.
To sum up, Camiguin is probably not to everybody's taste. It's very laid back and the nightlife is non-existent, so if it's action, noise and the in-crowd you're looking for, you're better off going to Boracay. Personally, I much prefer somewhere far more natural and as yet uncommercialized and both Camiguin and Geckos exceeded my expectations in every respect. I will definitely be going back to both as soon as I get the chance.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Camiguin is one of those best-kept secrets that attracts divers and those "in the know". Diving is not 'my thing' but in this jewel of an island - still relatively unspoilt in comparison to Panglao Island - Camiguin Action Geckos is definitely the best. Why? Simply because of the foreign (European) hands-on management that look after your every need. The personal touches from the attentive staff are worth the money alone. Trips up the volcano etc are easily arranged, the rooms are clean and the beach bungalows/cottages excellent. Food is international and the beach BBQ a great way of meeting the other guests. Go - but don't tell too many friends."Every island on the Philippines should have a place like this." - LonelyPlanet Sightseeing/Attractions Tip: No swimming pool, but with Ardent Hot Springs only 3 km away, who needs one? Avoid Ardent Hot Springs at weekends unless you want to share one of the pools with 30 others. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Camiguin Action Geckos Dive And Adventure Resort
- Camiguin Action Geckos Dive & Adventure Hotel Mambajao
- Camiguin Action Geckos Dive & Adventure Resort Mambajao