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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ocean Jet: The Fastest Ferry

Well my title on this blog may be biased as I haven't really tried all the ferries here in the Philippines.  I'm more referring to our experience in riding a ferry boat to and from Dumaguete/Siquijor.  We arranged our ferry transfer care of Coco Grove Beach Resort, as initially instructed to them, I told them we prefer a ferry boat that is the fastest going to Siquijor from Dumaguete.  Since I do not have any idea on the various ferry boats available and its schedule, I let Coco Grove decide.  You can check my previous blog on the ferry schedules they have provided me.

From the schedule they provided, it seems that GL Express is the next ferry that could take us to Siquijor for just an hour.  We will be arriving in Dumaguete at around 8:30am so their 10am schedule is just right.  Ocean Jet is listed but their schedule is 1pm, already too late.  When we came back here in Manila, I read from Girltalk forum that Ocean Jet have early schedules, like 9am, from Dumaguete to Siquijor but the port will be at Lorena, which is quite far from Coco Grove Beach Resort.  But there was no such schedule indicated in Ocean Jet's website so I'm not sure if that's true.

Dumaguete Port
Jay Lann Jeziel
As mentioned in my review on Coco Grove resort, they bought ferry tickets from Jay Lann, with an hour and 15 minutes travel time.  But in reality, it took us 1 hour and 30 minutes! I am used to long ferry travels like going to Camiguin from CDO, to Caramoan from Naga and to Calaguas from Daet.  But maybe I expect a short travel time to Siquijor that I really got bored and almost pissed.

So by the time we asked again Coco Grove to book us a ticket in going back to Dumaguete, I make it clear to them that we wanted the fastest ferry, whatever the its cost is, and they offered Ocean Jet.  That time, I'm not really familiar again with the various shipping lines but I told the receptionist that we do not want to ride Jay Lann again.  Our schedule was at 2pm so we settled at the lobby area before 1pm.  Coco Grove's jeepney service will drive us to the port.

Siquijor port going to Ocean Jet

This is the Ocean Jet

Seeing the Ocean Jet, we were quite relieve as it is bigger and air conditioned!  We thought even if the travel time will be again longer, at least we will be relaxed with its quite comfy seating and of course the air conditioned ferry.  But to our surprise, it took us only less than 1 hour to arrive in Dumaguete port.  That was fast!  With that, we learn to love Ocean Jet!

Picture before boarding
I wasn't able to take a lot of pictures inside the ferry but aside from it has air con, comfortable seats, it also have LCD TV and rest rooms.  I wasn't able to check if the rest room is clean.  The ferry was quite big and life vest was already provided under the seat.  The ride was smooth sailing, you wouldn't even feel the waves, if there was any or maybe because it wasn't strong at that time (it was summer!).

Inside Ocean Jet
Ocean Jet operates mainly in Visayas and a few routes in Mindanao (Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin - I didn't know this before).  They offer various class to suit the passengers' preference and budget.  With their motto: "taking you there fast and easy", with our experience, it was indeed a fast travel, convenient, safe and easy.  I will surely take note of this the next time I needed to travel by sea in the Visayas region.  Check their website for the schedules and rates.

Enjoy traveling!

Review: Coco Grove Beach Resort

If you've been reading and following my blog posts about Siquijor, its this famous resort, Coco Grove Beach Resort that made us stay longer and extend for another night in Siquijor.  I maybe exaggerating but arriving at Coco Grove mad us feel at home with its relaxing by the beach ambiance.  The scenery and long stretch of white beach captures our hearts together with its friendly staff that made us decide to stay longer.

mini cottages

relaxing at their hammock

As mentioned in my previous blog, our initial plan was just to stay overnight since according to my research, Siquijor can be explored in half to one day.  Our plan was to tour Siquijor after having lunch at the resort (we expect to be arriving at the resort by lunch time) then swimming the following morning at the resort.  But maybe because of the long and quite exhausting travel from Dumaguete port to Siquijor (about 2 hrs including waiting time) and the beauty of the beach, we decided to just relax on our 1st day.

We availed Coco Grove's transfer service from pick up at Sibulan Airport in Dumaguete, getting ferry tickets bound to Siquijor port and going to their resort.  If you prefer DIY, Sibulan Airport to Dumaguete port is just about 15 minutes travel time via tricycle, which are easily available outside the airport.  From the port, several ticket booths for ferry boats are available.  You may refer to my previous blog on various ferry boat schedule.

Upon arriving at Sibulan Airport, we easily spotted Coco Grove's van to take us to Dumaguete port.  It was care of Coco Grande Hotel, Coco Grove's sister company.  Arriving at Dumaguete port, we waited a little while in the van while the driver bought us ferry tickets.  During my inquiry with Coco Grove, I specifically requested for a ferry boat that will not take more than an hour travel time to Siquijor.  The ticket we had was for Jay Lann Jaziel.  The travel time took us 1 hour and 30 minutes! But nevertheless, the staff of Coco Grove Beach Resort greeted us upon arrival at Siquijor port with refreshing wet towels and bottled water.

Aboard their improvised jeepney, the lady staff briefed us a short background of Siquijor as well as features of Coco Grove Beach Resort.  We passed by some tourist spots along the way which the lady staff also briefed its history.
Capilay Spring Park

St. Francis of Assisi Church

About 15 minutes, we finally arrived at the Coco Grove Beach Resort.  Refreshing drinks were again served and the front desk staff quickly assist us in our check in reservations.  There were tour offerings posted at the reception area, including Apo Island tour and Siquijor tour.  Similar to their website, their tour offerings have minimum number of pax required.  That's why I just ignored it during the time I was researching about Apo Island tours.  But what's attractive to Coco Grove's tour is that they are the ones who will be completing the number of pax required for every tour.  They do this by inviting every guests if they would like to avail the tour.  This is another reason why we decided to extend our stay for another night at Coco Grove.  Since we do have plans of going to Apo Island once we get back to Dumaguete, we thought it will be more convenient for us to avail Coco Grove's tour to Apo Island at Php 1,600 per pax all in.  This already includes lunch and snorkeling gears.  The tour will take up 1 whole day.  Quite expensive than DIY but it is very convenient.  Read about our snorkeling experience here.

We reserved for a Deluxe room at Php 3,100.  I initially requested for either Frangipani or Sunset Villa (you may check here the location of the rooms at various rates) but they told me that the room availability is dependent upon our arrival at the resort.  But we were surprised that they upgraded our room to Executive room and still at Deluxe price!  That's another attractive point in this resort that we were more eager to extend another night.

We stayed at Plantation 4, room #37.  It was a very spacious room.  Our only concern is that, signal for phone and wifi is very weak inside the room and a slight signal at the veranda.  See below for pictures of our room.

The bed with mini ref

Quite big room

View of veranda

Garden view from veranda

The toilet

Separate toilet and shower
I like their bathroom with separate toilet and shower.  It is also very spacious!  Being only a 3-star hotel, no other toiletries were provided except for toilet tissue.  But that wasn't really a big deal for us as we always brought our own toiletries.

The coffee table; Far right on the picture is their bamboo closet

Our comfy and clean bed

The way to our room

The Plantation Rooms

Stairs going to our room

Free books to read.  Our room on the left with bf peeking

Like in any hotels, keys have magnetic cards attached to it where you need to place it near the switches inside your room to turn on/off the air conditioning unit.  Since it was summer, we wanted our aircon to be running all the time but unfortunately, we cannot separate the card to the key.  But nonetheless, even if it is summer, the aircon is functioning well.

Coco Grove's location reminds me of our stay in Pimalai Resort in Krabi, Thailand (haven't finished my blog about this).  The vast area has several rooms along the way with lush greens in the surroundings which makes it a nice sight seeing adventure while you are walking to or from your room.  You will also pass by several pools, restaurants and even souvenir shops.

This is one of their pools with mini bar

This is near the pool, i'm not sure if its also a bar

The resort have 2 main restaurant: Sunset Restaurant and Salamandas Restaurant.  The pool also have a mini bar though I'm not sure if they are serving foods and drinks there since we didn't try it.

The mini bar at the pool

Sunset Restaurant

Salamandas Restaurant

The resort is also expanding.  I believe come December, new buildings and hotel will already be operational.

And because we had a very relaxing stay at Coco Grove Beach Resort, we were not able to tour Siquior as planned.  Also, as mentioned, we availed the resort's Apo Island Tour package.  You can check my blog about our snorkeling experience here.  We also ask the resort's assistance to book ferry tickets for us back to Dumaguete on our 3rd day.  This time, I clearly told them that we want a faster ferry going back.  They book our ticket from Ocean Jet.  You may check my blog about our experience with Ocean Jet here.

Overall, I recommend staying at Coco Grove Beach Resort if you are in Siquijor.  Just staying here is already relaxing: A blissful vacation away from the hustle and bustle of stressful Manila.