What does it feel like to own a private island? Go to Arena Island to find out.
I traveled to Arena Island Resort at the end of March 2017 and stayed there for 5 days, 4 nights. Arena Island Resort is a private island that is designed specifically for you to disconnect, relax, and recharge. It is a safe, beautiful island with plenty to do.
The design of the island was to feature the island itself with clean, simple accommodations. It also acts as a sea turtle sanctuary where the island's owner has reached out to the government to get further support for their sea turtle protection efforts. In going to the island, you will be able to see baby sea turtles every day if you wish and if you are lucky, watch a mother sea turtle lay her eggs on the beach.
The island is very difficult to show through only pictures because it does not capture the 'essence' or 'spirit' of the island. It takes approximately 30 minutes to walk completely around the island in a slow leisurely stroll. There are various locations on the island where you can choose to have your meals. Whether it is in any of the two tree houses, pagodas scattered around the island with unobstructed ocean views, indoor in your room, or on the balcony of your room, you can be anywhere, anytime.
There is a "floating house" located approximately 50 meters from the shore that has diving boards and room to seat 20 adults for your meals and snacks if you choose. You can do activities such as swimming, snorkeling or kayaking around the floating house as it floats above coral. It is also perfect for watching the sunset.
There are approximately two dozen hammocks scattered around the island where you can find one to doze off to the sound of the ocean or find a new reading spot.
Also on the island are wild chickens and peacocks. You will see them walking around the island and up on your porch/balcony on some mornings. You will most definitely hear the roosters throughout the day (and early mornings).
Getting to the island takes approximately 3 hours. 2 hours from the airport to the Parra Pier and then about an hour boat ride to the island. The car that picked us up was an early model Ford SUV which could easily seat 4 passengers comfortably. The boat can seat 28 people to/from the island.
The highlight of the island is the service and care you receive. Though a cliche, it is true that they "treat you like family." From the moment you arrive on the island, you are treated like you own the island. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. The only limitations are safety concerns like not being able to kayak due to strong winds. Our butler, Jenn, was exceptional in every way. When we arrived, she gave us a cell phone where she could be contacted anytime during the day or we would receive calls to confirm meal times and locations. Arena Island Resort is worth going just for the service alone.
Food was fantastic. Every meal (except breakfast) there is a vegetable dish, meat dish (pork or chicken), and a seafood dish (prawns, mussels, fish) with a fruit to finish as dessert (mangoes, grapes). Particular favorites of mine were the fried chicken, BBQ pork, and prawns. Be sure to let the island staff know well in advance of your dietary needs as you do not order off a menu. The chef goes to the market on the main island to get the ingredients fresh. Snacks included fried plantains, pan-fried yams, and sandwiches (ham & cheese). Each snack also included a pitcher of mixed-papaya juice that was delicious as it was refreshing. Portions were generous as I did not feel hungry ever during my stay on the island.
There are a total of 4 casitas (rooms) on the island, each with the same design for all I can tell. There is enough sleeping space for a family of 4 and the bathroom is large with two sinks. The rooms are cleaned daily and the floor is swept clean of sand (there will almost definitely be sand in the room as the casita is right on the beach). Each room is approximately 30 feet from the water's edge. With the doors open, you can hear the waves 24-hours a day. Each room is also equipped with a safe and plenty of storage space for your clothes and luggage. In our room, there was a deck of cards and a chess set. These proved to be invaluable as evening entertainment and bonding.
Kitesurfing (to be introduced in the future. We saw the staff getting trained in kitesurfing and my understanding is that they will offer this as a free service in the future)
Everything I mentioned above.
All-inclusive. 3-meals a day, 2 snacks a day, round trip to/from airport, all on-island activities. Absolutely no hidden charges or surcharges.
No wifi (I put this as a pro because being on your phone takes away the experience of being on a private island)
Island life includes things out of the staff's control like...
mosquitos (wasn't bad at all for my stay)
blazing sun (plenty of sunscreen)
low water pressure (to be expected)
You want to experience what it is to own a private island. If you want to hear waves 24-hours a day, have plenty of delicious Filipino food, walk outside of your room and within 5 steps be on pristine beach. This is a place where you disconnect, relax, and recharge.
The island looked extremely safe for families with young children (ages 6+) as there was plenty to do and the water was calm.
Don't go if...
You hate nature and are looking for 5-star accommodations like having a Jacuzzi or spa. The service at Arena is 5-star, but if you are looking for city-like 5-star hotel accommodation, Arena Island Resort is not for you.
Couples - Apr 1, 2017