What is 'Buhay Isla'?
'Buhay Isla' is a Tagalog phrase meaning 'island life'. With 'buhay', meaning life, and 'isla' for island. Hence, it is 'island life'.
Our goal is to give our guests a glimpse of what it's like to live a life like a Philippine islander, away from the noise that surrounds the fast-paced modern world. Like the native tribes of Palawan, we will guide you as you explore remote beaches and caves to witness the natural beauty of Northern Palawan, Philippines (El Nido and Coron areas). As we journey through the rock limestone mountain formations, there will be 'no agendas nor timetables'. You can lay on the sand, on the boat, on a tent, on a hut, and even on a breezy bamboo floor, whichever you prefer, as you stare at the beautiful night skies and listen to the crashing waves lull you to sleep.
We will provide you with everything you need for a safe trip to enjoy picturesque sunrise and sunsets, snorkel/kayak/paddle to nearby villages, and even catch fresh fish and pick organic vegetables and fruits from our garden. We do this in the hopes that during your island exploration or boat journey, you could be part of a culture that we may never see again in the next decades as we progress to modernization. Your participation helps in giving alternative jobs through tourism to islanders who may be tempted to partake in dynamite fishing or illegal cutting of lumber as means for survival.
This trip is exactly how we wanted to experience the Philippines. We are very lucky. Very memorable experience, we will never forget. Loved the camping, snorkeling, exploring + discovering. Rome and her crew were all very lovely to have as company, very friendly and welcoming. If you want to get off the beaten track, this is how you do it!! Thanks for everything :) We've never been so spoilt!! Rome had us at "hello" :) Her smile and kind nature told us we were in the best hands. We fell in love with the crew (Bayboat, Rvin (Ben), Madis, Maybell, and Lee). Bayboat (spelling) has the BEST smile, Madis - never stops, he really impresses us! and Rvin's kind shy nature made us feel so well taken care of. Higlights = going to places NO one else is, knowing even at the strongest winds were were in good hands. What a captain!
Words literally can't explain the food - boat is rocking and Rome literally makes the most amazing dishes (many dishes!) We will never be able to go back to our normal camping back in Aussie after this. Once in a lifetime experience, to say the least. Waking up to the waves and white sand, relaxing in secluded beaches. Everyday was special in its own way. Having all this local knowledge made this trip one of the best we've ever taken. We are going to miss everyone sooo much! Special thanks to Madis for our double bonfire on the last night - very special. That man never stops working and always with a warm smile!!! We will miss our little Philippino family. So lucky to have had this time with you all and all the best in getting this company to where you want! It's a GEM!
Where to begin! From orientation through to the very end, the staff of Buhay Isla have been extremely kind, courteous, and caring. The island stops over were extremely beautiful, and sceneries breathtaking. What an adventure this excursion has been! We truly enjoyed this experience and would recommend to anyone looking for a unique experience.
You pack up your belongings from home, hire a cab to the airport and board a plane to fly you thousands of miles away. What do you expect? What experiences do you seek out?
This trip along Palawan's archipelago has been the reason for traveling thousands of miles to see how life elsewhere is. Fishing villages, fiestas, local cuisine, and customs. It has been an awesome experience, I won't soon forget.
A heartfelt thank you to the whole crew for their hours of work! Their dedication allowed us to slow down and take it all in.
BTW, here are some takeaways from the trip:
The boat may seem small, but the crew manages to walk around it with no problem. I'm sure New Yorkers could learn a thing or two!
Sunrise or Sunset? Do BOTH!
Suncreen or Sunglasses? Again, do BOTH!
Hut or Tent? Definitely a HUT!
There's plenty of fish int he the sea! But there's no guarantee that you'll catch one! :)
From all the trips I had, I have to say that Buhay Isla Expedition will be the one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. To say that it was an experience to remember would be an understatement… It was not just about exploring the remote islands between El Nido and Coron ; it was not just about discovering the pink sand beaches of Brother and Takling Island.It was not just about conquering the treacherous Linapacan Strait in our regular-sized boat; It wasn’t just about the deliciously fresh seafood meals every day. It was about connecting with the raw beauty of island life; it was about being part of a culture that we may never see again in the next decades. It was about letting our fear of the unknown evaporate; it was about entrusting our lives to someone’s navigation skills. It was being looked after like a family by people whom we just met for a couple of days. It was indeed a life-changing experience – an experience that made me a richer person. Thank you Buhay Isla. Till we meet again <3
Thanks for a lovely trip, with a lot of adventure and relaxing time.
Thanks for showing us your wonderful country — the small islands, the crystal clear water and the corals
Thank you everyone for such a great trip — all the men, Rom, and Lee were perfectly attentive — Letting us relax or letting us know when it was time to eat. A great pace. I felt I was dreaming while sitting on the beach I was approached by Rom with a tray with coffee + milk. Fantastic! Thank you.
It was a great trip and a great experience :) All the staff were very lovely and helpful, especially Rom! We have had amazing places for snorkeling, relaxing, and sleeping. The food was delicious! We were happy to join the first trip to Coron and help start a successful business!
Good luck Rom and Lee!
What a journey! We are glad we didn't take a regular boat from El Nido to Coron. The 3 days/2 nights trip with Buhay Isla is the right way to do it. Extremely lovely staff who are doing whatever it takes to make the trip a memorable one. Romelyn is the best cook ever on the Philippines! Be it out in the wild with limited facilities or behind a real kitchen. Thank you very much for this unique experience! We wish Romelyn and Lee and the whole Buhay Isla family all the best for their starting business!
It was great and unforgettable experience to be in this fantastic place. It's hard to imagine better conditions to relax and forget about the rest of the world. Those few days spent on this beautiful beach will stay in my memories forever, especially that my future husband proposed to me there. Everything up there was more than perfect! delicious local food, friendly people who make you feel safe like with family, wonderful sunrise that we could enjoy through our window... and many more. It was a nice escape from modern, noisy world.
I absolutely enjoyed my time at Buhay Isla camp! It was a wonderful experience in every way - the place is beautifully located with an amazing view (gorgeous sunrise!!!),so peaceful and secluded that you can forget all about reality :) Food was great - all fresh, organic and absolutely delicious!!! People who work there are very friendly and welcoming,it's almost like being with a family! Thank you all for a wonderful and unforgettable stay and I really hope to be back!! Definitely a highlight,not only of my philippine trip but of all my trips - ever!!
Those 2 days will stay in my memory forever. We had a chance to see a little bit how it is to live in such a beautiful place of the world. I'm happy that I could experience all the things like great food, diving, swimming with famous dog "Zorro". I tried my first sea urchin -- delicious.
Flordelis "Lee" DimaanoHead of Operations
Born in the farmlands of Bulacan, Philippines, educated in United States as a computer programmer and living in Canada, Lee is a seasonal expedition leader during our January to April months. Lee is passionate about showing you the Filipino way of life in hopes of shedding light/understanding on the cultural gap our multicultural guests may experience during their journey.
Romelyn CasumpangBasecamp Manager and Expedition Leader Expert
One of our veteran expedition leaders who is born and raised in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines, and know the ins and outs of the island life and culture. She has worked for many years in Tao Philippines and ran her own island hopping business. She manages the Buhay Isla basecamp and is an unstoppable and energetic island guide who cooks amazing authentic filipino dishes, be it on a boat, in the wilderness, or even in a full kitchen!
Roel GuarenBoat Captain and Assistant Manager
Roel has been working with boats for over 20 years. Even commanding 30 other sailors in large barge fishing vessels that bring massive quantities of fish to the capital of the Philippines, in Manila. He is often quiet but is very knowledgeable about navigating the rough seas, and we are lucky to have him in our travels.
Mabel AguilarBasecamp Manager's Assistant
Mabel is born and raised in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines, with part of her family being one of the original inhabitants of the El Nido indigenous peoples. She aids in managing the Buhay Isla basecamp with Romelyn and always ready to help guests and make them feel welcome.
Seasonal Crew and Island GuidesEfren, Diomedes, Jeffrey, Jan-Jan, Arvin, and Captain Bebot
Our seasonal guides help in making sure the boat stays out of trouble and your luggages stay dry as we traverse calm and rough waters. They are great resources for fishing and anything ocean related as most of them are from fishing villages and have been surrounded by water all their lives.
El Nido Address
- San Joaquin Street, Brgy Buena Suerte, El Nido Town Proper, Palawan 5313, Philippines
Landmark: Our office is across from Jammer's Pension (San Joaquin St is the street between Midtown Bakery and El Nido Skyline Grill)
NOTE: Our office is usually only open during reserved briefing hours before a trip
- National Highway, Barangay 1 Poblacion, Coron, Palawan 5316, Philippines
Landmark: Our office is towards "Sinamay" in "Barangay 1" and across from the lime-green building that is "Bunso Ticketing Office"
NOTE: Our office is usually only open during reserved briefing hours before a trip
Email and Phone
- firstname.lastname@example.org (best way to reach us!)
- +63 (917) 158-4122 or (0917) 158-4122 locally