If you happen to visit the sleepy small city of Dumaguete on the island of Negros in the Philippines, there’s a good chance you’ll be there to visit nearby Apo Island, located about a 45-minute boat ride off the coast, which is world famous for scuba diving. Coming in or out of Dumaguete (by plane, bus, or even ferry – often from Cebu), many people book one of the limited hotels within the city, which are really simple and not up to most tourist’s standards. But there are far better options for people who want the full island and nature experience, as long as they don’t mind being out in the quiet of the jungle, and that’s Dauin – and Sea Dreams is one of my favorites there.
Overview of the Sea Dreams Resort
Dauin is a town only two towns over from Dumaguete (about a 30-minute slow trike ride away), but you might as well be on another island, as there is nothing much else than one road going through it. On the ocean side of the road are a line up of resorts, bungalows, and other hotels that have sprung up over the last twenty years to serve the many scuba divers and laid back tourists that come through. I’ve checked out a few of them – whether for an overnight stay or just chilling there for the day – and I really don’t see a better bang for the buck than Sea Dreams.
First off, the price. I booked a stay for about $48 on Agoda.com if I remember correctly ($57 with taxes, fees, etc.) which is considerably lower than most of the other comparable resorts in this Dauin “lineup,” which easily range from $50-$150 a night. In fact, there are even a couple luxury resorts that charge $250 a night right in this same area!
But more than just a place to stay for a night, Sea Dreams is really an experience. From the moment you arrive, the warm, friendly, and extremely well-trained staff greet you like an old friend, but with the utmost professionalism. You relax in their welcome reception area amid cool fans, comfy white couches, and a cold iced tea. I mentioned that this is their welcome reception area because they have a different reception office for check outs, a system that works with the utmost efficiency and more hotels should use.
After leaving your bags for the staff to manage, from there, they take you on a personal tour of the hotel grounds. The big draw is the long rectangular pool, lined with gray slate and sitting among perfect landscaping. The pool also offers a terrific view of the ocean, as the whole grounds sit right by the water. On one side of the pool is a beautiful indoor-outdoor restaurant where the food is good but typically overpriced. There are plenty of walkways among the close cropped grass and manicured palm trees that light up at night. Down by the ocean, there is an ornamental fence and then the water below their sea wall.
However, if you’re looking for a nice beach, this isn’t the place, as it’s little more than rocky shore. The water here also tends to be choppy and windswept because it’s not protected by any bay. But you have a perfect view of Apo Island in the distance and a safe snorkeling area is buoyed off in the water.
My room wasn’t disappointing, either, as it was really big and looked even more spacious with clean white walls and décor and enormously high ceilings. I hardly needed more than the ceiling fan but the AC was crispy cold, the wi-fi worked great, and even the bathroom was big and well designed.
In all, this is a fantastic place for a night or two for a romantic couple or even the whole family.
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