It’s just me and ma’ Beaches

December 17, 2018 Off By resignatedsurvivors

Picture this – tiny, untouched paradise islands scattered liberally across a calm emerald sea, the only sounds being of the soft waves landing on the island shore and tiny birds calling from the very tops of the trees above. There is no electricity or hot water, no mobile phone signal, and barely a hint of modern-day conveniences, making you feel like you could be living in the stone-age with only a couple of faithful island dogs for company. No, this isn’t a plot line for the next “Castaway” movie, but rather a brief description of our past week living the island life in the beautiful Philippines. 

Nacpan Beach in El Nido

We have had one of our most incredible weeks this week, with a special thanks to the TAO Philippines expedition guys, who made it one of the most memorable of the RSBA so far. We joined an expedition group of around twenty other like-minded travellers for a trip of a lifetime. We were to be spending three days island-hopping around some of the most remote islands north of El Nido, discovering untouched beaches, snorkling alongside some rare and colourful sea life, eating delicious fresh seafood and generally putting to the backs of our minds all the stresses and conveniences of our world to go back to basics. A smaller group of us were then to spend two days relaxing on a remote island camp, with not a single other soul around for miles. We absolutely couldn’t wait.

One of the many beautiful islands

For those of you that know us, you must know how difficult it must have been for us to say goodbye to our phones for five days, sending our families a quick message the night before telling them not to worry and that we’d be out of contact for the duration of the week. No social media, no Skype, no BBC News updates – the world as we knew it could be crumbling around us and we would be none the wiser. It’s actually quite difficult to find yourself in such situations nowadays so we were quite excited to get going! Upon meeting our group, we were relieved to find that they were a fun, eclectic and interesting bunch, and it was shaping up to be a great experience. Our crew on board the boat (including the very important guides who’d be looking after us for the next few days and making sure we didn’t get lost at sea, stranded alone in the middle of nowhere, or be attacked by sharks and stonefish) were a fun bunch of hard-working, talented and downright hilarious guys who made every bit of our experience all the more unforgettable. 

Our Tao Dream Team (photo credit: one of the Tao staff)
Our commute to our home for the night. Yes, one of those huts!
Our beachfront home

Evenings were a particular highlight, having settled at our base camp on whichever that night’s island was to be, we gathered on the beach to watch the fiery sunsets, enjoy a glass or two of “Jungle Juice”, enjoyed conversation like it used to be with no phones in sight, and appreciate the sheer beauty of our natural surroundings. After dinner (more on the food situation below), instead of blasting music, settling down to watch Netflix, or anything else involving technology, we drank beers and played card games, listened to jokes and watched magic tricks, shared stories and banter and most importantly laughed the hardest we had ever done before. This part was refreshing, revitalising and put into perspective our reliance on phones and modern technology in our everyday lives. We then retired to our bungalows (which really was nothing more than a simple open-air bamboo shack containing a couple of thin mattresses and a mosquito net to ward off the many creatures lurking around), to fall asleep listening to the soothing sound of the waves and the wildlife.

Our base camp for the last two nights, Camp Ngey! Ngey!
Tagay (Cheers)! Jungle juice just before sunset.
Another private island
Sunset 1 of 2
Sunset 2 of 2

Overall our experience has taught us that beyond all material wealth, five-star hotels and luxurious holiday resorts, the best times of our lives can be had with only the most basic of facilities (yes, ok so we were on a paradise island in the most stunning of natural surroundings!) but with fun people with whom we have made great friends. In the words of Paolo, our guide on the desert island (who once spent one month completely alone on the island, and whose catchy tagline was “Oh Wow!” at every possible opportunity), never stop being amazed.

Much Love,

The Resignated Survivors


Highlight of the week: This entire week has been a highlight in itself but a special mention MUST go to the delicious food we ate whilst cruising around the islands and staying on the island paradise. For each of breakfast, lunch and dinner, the amazing TAO chefs cooked us up a feast, using whatever fresh ingredients they could get their hands on that day (remember, there was no electricity on the islands so no fridges/freezers to preserve food). Breakfasts consisted of sweet fresh mangoes, pineapples and watermelons, traditional Filipino egg and vegetable dishes and delicious porridge served straight from a coconut. Lunches and dinners were the catch of the day, from fresh prawns, squid and red snapper fish, with freshly made noodles, colourful stir-fried vegetables and salads and of course, rice (which our guides aptly named “Filipino Power!”). 

From left to right: Filipino Power (rice), Salad, Squid Adobo, Sweet and Sour Red Snapper, Calamari
Meet Max, he was absolutely massive. This hunk of a dog was a true gentle beast. He and I watched the sunrise from 5 am to 7.30 am.

Other notable things: The sky at night was simply stunning. We lay on the beach on rickety old fishing boats, looking up into infinity, and bore witness to so many shooting stars (in fact the first shooting stars I had ever seen). Absolutely magical.


Lessons learnt: It is in fact possible to survive without internet/social media for five days without the world imploding. We urge you to try it one day. 

When it's 5.30 am and you're the only person awake on an island, what do you do? Photography of course.
Being the only one awake on an island has it's benefits. I must have looked like a weirdo but thankfully nobody was around to see it! Playing with long exposure light painting!

Timelapse of the sunrise may take a few moments to load, but it’s worth it.