Every once in a while, I go through the photos of the year and develop the most memorable ones. As I went through them, I saw some of our most recent vacation pictures, and couldn’t help but compare our current vacation concerns to when it was just me and my husband, Migs.
Back then, we used to choose destinations as exotic and exciting as possible—never mind if we had to take anti-malaria pills or travel in tiny planes. Adventure beckoned!
Nowadays, our destinations are chosen with different criteria. Traveling without children is always a guilt trip for us, so we rarely leave without them. Because of that, the photos in my hard drive are of family vacations in our farm, where we have everything that we need for them.
Recently, we decided to venture to a resort that we had long wanted to visit. We wanted a vacation that would allow the kids to enjoy and let us relax without worrying about how to entertain them. But at the same time, we wanted a little bit of excitement for ourselves.
And so, one clear summer day, we found ourselves on a plane bound for Legazpi City. Destination: Misibis Bay in Cagraray Island. We had heard so much about the resort amenities and, at the same time, we had been trying for years to find an opportunity to visit the whale sharks in Donsol, Sorsogon.
We arrived at the resort mid-afternoon and as soon as we checked in, the kids were off to the beach, which was right at our doorstep. It was Juanmi’s first trip to the beach, and he loved it! He spent all afternoon frolicking in the sand with his sister. Meanwhile, his ate kept herself busy building sand castles and searching for shells.
We spent all afternoon on the beach, until it was time for dinner. Mealtimes, I soon discovered, were a breeze! There was a full buffet to choose from and if by chance the kids really wanted something different, the local staff was more than happy to prepare kids’ favorites such as pizza, spaghetti, and macaroni and cheese.
The next great discovery of the weekend was the Kids’ Room. Padded and equipped with enough equipment to rival a Gymboree outlet, it was a dream come true for my rambunctious duo. There were also movies, Barney shows, play stations, and other computer games for older children, but my kids were happy enough with crayons and coloring books.
Meanwhile, Migs and I would challenge each other to table tennis tournaments, with Adriana cheering on the sides, while Juanmi tried to steal every ball that landed on the floor.
The next day, Migs and I took off for Donsol. We left right after breakfast and, after a two-hour nap, were welcomed by Arlie, the resort’s recreations manager, to the home of the world-renowned whale sharks or butanding.
We queued and filled up the necessary forms, watched a pretty impressive information video, and soon we were in a banca, prowling the seas for the gentle giant.
It wasn’t long before our guide signaled to us, and no more than five minutes after we jumped into the water, there it was! I froze as soon as I saw it. Gentle? Yes. Giant? No. Giant doesn’t even begin to cover how huge it was.
I recovered from my shock, and soon found myself swimming along as we followed from a safe distance. It was incredible! Several dives later, we realized we had already spent about two hours out at sea, and we were starving.
Like magic, Arlie produced delicious gourmet sandwiches from a cooler, packed and ready to eat, together with cold bottles of water and soda. A generous number of butanding sightings and food—what more could we ask for?
When we arrived back at Misibis, we found out that we weren’t the only ones who had had a great afternoon.
Our kids had made new friends with general manager Ian and Gay Varona’s daughters, Gianna and Cara, and together, they had spent the afternoon treating Misibis Bay like their own personal playground. My daughter gamely offered me a quick recap of their day, which included watching the “colorful” women in costumes dancing, feeding the fish, swimming in the baby pool, and making even more sand castles. Clearly, we were not missed.
The next day, we were all up bright and early. The kids were raring to hit the Kids’ Room with their barkada, while Migs and I looked forward to checking out the rest of the island on the All-Terrain Vehicles they had. Never again will I underestimate the advantages of a playroom in a resort. Now we had the freedom to go off without feeling guilty about the kids.
We took the ATVs and climbed over hills and went on undeveloped dirt tracks through the forests, and before we knew it, we were on top of the highest peak of the island, enjoying the magnificent views of unspoilt beauty and lush scenery. On the way back, we passed some of the other attractions of the island, such as the zip line and the gorgeous glass chapel overlooking the ocean. What a view!
That afternoon, just when we thought we had enjoyed everything Misibis had to offer, we were invited to join the sunset cruise. We gamely hopped on the boats, and together with Ian’s family, enjoyed the beautiful sunset while admiring the perfect cone of Mayon Volcano.
I couldn’t believe how quickly our vacation had gone by! Looking at the photos now, I am reminded of how much I miss waking up to the sound of the ocean waves gently caressing the shore.
Definitely, these pictures are going to be the first to be printed and, hopefully, I’ll have more pictures to print from future trips to Misibis Bay.