Camping is definitely not for everyone. Glamping, on the other hand, seems to attract a wider audience probably due to its novelty. I’ve seen quite a number of resorts offering the glamping experience but wasn’t too sold because it was either too expensive or what they were offering wasn’t special enough. My schedule was free and I’ve been itching to leave the city. So the very moment I found out about Sand and Stars, I quickly reserved a tent.
I wanted the shortest possible bus ride to Baler which is why I chose Joy Bus over the normal Genesis bus. We arrived at the Genesis bus station at 12:15 am but was only able to get seats for the 1:30am bus. I slept most of the way and the next thing I knew, we were already in Baler before 6am. It’s a quick tricycle ride going to the Baler Central terminal where we rode a local bus that will pass through Dinadiawan. The bus will leave as early as 6:30 am, if you miss it, you will have to wait for the van or hire a tricycle to take you all the way to the resort.
I turned on waze to make sure we won’t miss our stop and to give me an idea on how far or close we were from reaching the Sand and Stars resort. The bus is slower than I expected, making a number of stops to load more passengers. Vans and private vehicles could reach the resort in an hour but our trip took almost 2 hours. I can’t complain though, it was far cheaper than hiring a tricycle or riding the public van (which doesn’t leave before 9am).
By 9am we were already at the resort, check-in time isn’t until 1pm but the tent assigned to us was already available so they let us stay in our tent. The other guests however, had to wait for the previous guests to checkout and waited in one of the kubos. The very moment we saw our tent, our faces lit up. I am used to sleeping in a much smaller tent, so theirs felt like sheer luxury . The tent was so well designed, so cozy and just plain pretty. I quickly took photos and sent some to my friends and as expected, everyone was clamoring for more.
We didn’t bring any supplies apart from water and a few snacks leaving us with no choice but to head to the town’s market. We walked along the road for 15 minutes. It’s a straightforward path going to the market but we still asked a few locals to confirm that we’re heading towards the right direction. At the market, we bough some meat, fish, vegetables and drinks. Prices here are relatively more expensive compared to Baler so in order to save some time and money, buy your supplies from either Baler or Manila. There are also a few restaurants within the market where you can grab lunch or dinner. Kuya Jo’s restaurant is offering food deliveries for a fee. This may be a cheaper and more convenient option for smaller groups.
There isn’t really much to do at the resort so if you’re more concerned about activities, you’re better off staying somewhere else. As for me, I was mainly there to relax so the change of scenery coupled with the glamping experience, were more than enough to serve my purpose. The local kids told us that there’s a waterfall nearby but we didn’t bother asking how far. During the afternoon, staying inside the tent may be too hot so make sure you open the sides of the tent to let some air in. If you want to stay outside, there are two areas with beanbags and hammocks. The beanbags were so comfortable, I had to fight the urge to nap.
At night, the resort places torches in front of the tents but apart from those, there won’t be any other light sources so bring some headlamps and flashlights. Gadgets can be charged at either of the two kubos but don’t leave them there overnight. We left our powerbank to charge overnight and unfortunately, it got stolen. If you really need to leave your gadgets to charge, it will be safer to leave them at Nanay’s kubo.
We were there during the second week of March and didn’t expect a chilly night, good thing we brought jackets because the blankets were too thin to keep us warm. Apart from getting my powerbank stolen, it was a pretty comfortable experience overall. I wish the toilet and shower rooms were closer to the tent area but at least they were kept very clean. At the end of the day, glamping is still camping and anyone seeking their first glamping experience should set their expectations accordingly.
How to get to Sand and Stars Resort from Manila
- Ride a bus from the Genesis Cubao Terminal
- Joy Bus – no stops, a bit more expensive, limited seats – Php 730
- Genesis Bus – with stops, cheaper, more seating capacity – Php 450-500
- Trike to Baler Central Terminal – Php 12 per person
- Ride bus or van going to Casiguran
- Bus – leaves at 6:30 am – Php 85
- Van – leaves at 9:00 am – Php 200
- Hire tricycle from Baler – roughly Php 700
- Buy from Baler or Manila (if bringing a car)
- Buy from Dinadiawan Public Market
- Prices here tend to be more expensive
- It’s a 15 minute walk from the resort
- OR a short tricycle ride which will cost Php 40-50
- Eat at any of the restaurants at the market
- Have food delivered to the resort
- Food delivery fee Php 50
- Kuya Jo’s Restaurant Contact number 09126726921
- ** If you cook your meals at the resort, you will have to pay a Php 200 cooking fee
- Going back to Baler via commute is a bit trickier. The bus/vans only travel early in the morning (before 9am) or late in the afternoon. You can either hire a tricycle to take you all the way to baler for Php700 (contact Kuya Jo restaurant) or ask the resort if there are other guests traveling to Baler so you can all pitch in for the van rental which will cost around Php 1,500.
- Make sure to reserve seats if you’re traveling via Joy bus especially on weekends.
- Bring headlamps or flashlights and rechargeable mini fans
- Don’t forget to buy ice, some tents have coolers
- They have cold bottles of san mig light and san mig apple for sale at the resort
- Globe users may experience slower data speeds. Smart was so much more reliable and faster within this area.
- On your way back to Baler, if you have your own transportation, stop by Ampere Beach
- If you have some free time, stay in Baler for at least a night before heading back to manila and visit Dicasalarin Cove.
Our Expenses – (Php 3,200 per person) – From March 2017
- Transportation around Php 1,800 per person
- Sand and Stars Glamping Php 750 per person (Php 1.5k for two)
- Glamping is now Php 1,600 for two persons (Php 100 increase since we last visited)
- Cooking fee at resort Php 100 per person (Php 200 per group)
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Lunch (4 meals) Php 550
- Breakfast second day FREE at resort if glamping
You can minimize expenses by
- Bringing your own car if you’re part of bigger group so you can split gas and toll fees
- riding the normal Genesis bus to baler (save at least Php 500 per person)
- planning your meals ahead of time and bringing some supplies from Manila/Baler
To Book Just go to their booking page:
- Sand and Stars Reservation Page: https://goo.gl/FiQ6X8
Sand and Stars Contact Information
- Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/sandandstarsdinadiawan/
- Mobile Numbers