While I was enjoying the peace and quiet of Alabang last Holy Week, taking in the stillness of the city and the absolute calm of the penthouse suite of the Vivere Hotel in Filinvest, it seemed that almost everyone on my Facebook feed had gone to Pico de Loro. People flocked to the little cove in Hamilo Coast from Maudy Thursday to Easter Sunday to take in the sights, bond with their family, and take albums and albums of photos on Facebook, documenting their stay. I was positively intrigued, and told myself to make the time to head up to Batangas when the cove wasn’t as crowded to see what the fuss was about.
As it turns out, an old high school buddy of Jericho and I owned a one-bedroom unit on Pico de Loro’s lagoon-front property, and since he would be going up there for a few days, we found it was as good an excuse as any to escape to (a now quiet and enchanting) paradise.
The drive up to Pico de Loro can be tedious if you don’t know where you’re going. You can always Waze it, but since the Wi-Fi can be a bit spotty in that part of Batangas, I’ve always been more comfortable having the directions written down somewhere.
From the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay, take Coastal Road and head for the CAVITEX exit. From there, go to Kawit going to Bacao Road and Tejero. Take the road from the Petron station going to the town of Tanza, pass by the town of Naic until you reach Ternate. Follow the main road leading to Puerto Azul and then turn left to access the Kaybiang tunnel. It’s a breeze from there, just follow the scenic view of Patungan Cove to your right until you finally reach Hamilo Coast’s main gate.
Hamilo Coast is a sprawling seaside sanctuary located near the southwestern tip of Luzon, one of the three main island groups of the Philippines. Bounded by the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) on the west and mountain peaks and thirteen coves, three of which are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Named after Mt. Pico de Loro, the highest point within Cavite and Batangas, Pico de Loro Cove is Hamilo Coast’s pioneering development and is home to eight low-impact, mid-rise residential condominiums, a saltwater lagoon, the Pico Sands Hotel, and the Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club.
The Pico Sands Hotel
I checked into the Pico Sands Hotel for the night, a seven storey, 154-room hotel offering spacious rooms equipped with modern amenities and captivating views of the lush mountains and tranquil lagoon. Checking in was a breeze – it was efficient, everyone was so accommodating, and the complimentary calamansi cooler was a welcome refresher from the summer heat after a tiring two-hour drive.
Rooms With a View
I had reservations booked for their Corner Deluxe Room, which like all of the other suites is furnished with natural materials in a soothing palette of seashell white and sandy cream, overlooking the calming green lagoon. The 39-square meter room had huge floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, as well as a spacious balcony that wrapped around the sides, offering breathtaking views of both the lush mountainside and the water. I spent most of the afternoon outside on the balcony with my friends, catching up and sharing stories of our high school shenanigans; It really is quite something to have friends to share decades of memories with.
My spacious suite was perfect, aside from the fact that I was expecting it to come with a tub for soaking in. But then again, I do have access to the beach, so a roomy shower really is more apt. The king-sized bed was huge for just myself – I really should come back here with a date the next time around.
For families of four or five that check in, a Penthouse Loft may be a more suitable option, if you don’t want to book two separate rooms with an adjoining door, with the large 65-square meter up and down suite having enough room to squeeze in an extra bed if need be. There is a small living room for the kids to hang out in and watch TV, while the adults can enjoy their quiet time and enjoy a kip upstairs.
They loft comes with a bathroom upstairs and a toilet downstairs, which is convenient for big families. No bathtub, but it does come with a big shower, which you realize is better than a tub when you see the amount of sand your seven-year-old drags in with them after a day at the beach.
The penthouse also comes with a cushy king-sized bed, which can comfortably fit two adults, or snugly fit two adults and two little humans. If you still need more room, there’s also a little sofa that you can convert into extra sleeping space.
The Beach Club
I came all the way to Pico de Loro with one thing in mind – to get a tan! Luckily, I was given access to the members only Pico de Loro Beach Club for the duration of my stay, and making the most of the sun, I made it a point to check out the more exclusive areas of the place, like the quieter members only swimming pool which also has The Beach and Pool Club Bar to one side – a little cocktail bar to the side that they open on weekends. I came by on a weekday, so no piña colada for me.
The member’s only swimming pool is definitely a lot more quieter than the one at the Pico de Loro Country Club, and I spent most of my second day on a sun lounger, taking a plunge by the pool every now and then to cool off.
The public and members only beach is separated with a cordoned off line, and with only a few members actually there when I visited, I almost had the beach all to myself! There’s a sign that warns guests to look out for jellyfish, although it’s usually just one or two small ones, but I was still extra careful when wading into the cool waters of the Verde strait.
Other beach activities include riding the banana boat, frisbee rentals, jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, wind surfing, and snorkeling.
If what you need is more of a thrill, one can always take a Discovery Scuba Diving course at the dive shop located inside the resort, a short walk from the beach. They also offer certification courses like Open Water, and with dive spots like Fortune Island, Twin Island, Calayo, Loren Island, and Punta Fuego, one is assured of an exciting underwater adventure every single time.
The activities that I was most excited to try was the Cove Tour, a private tour of the Hamilo Coast on speedboat, where you can snorkel above giant clams, and heading to Santelmo Private Beach where one can retreat to and maybe catch baby turtles hatch and waddle out to the water.
Fall in Love with Mother Nature
Wandering around the vast property of Pico de Loro, one really can’t help but fall in love with nature – the meticulously manicured lawns invite guests to take a stroll in the afternoon sun, the greenery perfect for a backdrop of a wedding or pre-nuptial photos, which I heard is very possible to do for members. Other fun outdoor activities include bird watching, hiking, park bike rentals, and pony rides!
Walking around with my friends, happily chatting away, we found ourselves at the foot of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Chapel, which is perched on a hill overlooking the coast. Designed by renowned architect Carlos Arnaiz, this was made specifically for the owner, Henry Sy, whose grandson got married at the simple yet elegant little church. The all glass chapel looked amazing at dusk, can fit up to 250 people, and has a wrap-around terrace that is ideal for cocktails. I don’t think it can get any more romantic than that!
The best thing about the chapel is definitely the view by the terrace. We waited patiently for the sunset, and got to chat with a nice Swedish lady about her Philippine adventure whilst the sun slowly sank down behind the mountains, its last rays of light fading away as we slowly headed back down to the hotel.
After a filling dinner of grilled seafood at Reef Bar, my friends and I all went our separate ways for the night, each to their own soft, comfortable bed. I walked out onto the balcony, a cup of tea in one hand, taking in the view of the lagoon at night before I retired to bed.
I finally understand why people flock to Pico de Loro when they have the opportunity – the place is absolutely gorgeous! Whether you just want to spend quality time with the family, escape the city for a day or two, or kick back, relax, and enjoy the sun, Pico de Loro certainly has enough activities and amenities to keep you entertained. I am definitely heading back to Pico de Loro soon, and I already have a checklist of things I want to do when I go back!
The Pico Sands Hotel is located at Pico de Loro Cove, Hamilo Coast, Barangay Papaya, Nasugbu, Batangas. For inquiries or to make a reservation, please call +63 2 464 7800.