What Mia Branellec and Cat Juan Ledesma Love About Their Local Trip To Spectacular Islands

Every avid traveler returns home with a favorite memory from the trip—here’s what Mia Arcenas-Branellec and Cat Juan de Ledesma love.

From the warmth of the sun, the beautiful shimmering blue waters, the soft sand beneath your feet, to the glass of fresh juice on your hand, any trip to the beach is almost always unforgettable. Whether you are staying in a luxury resort or renting out a cozy cottage, you are bound to have a favorite activity or experience. On their recent trips to the beach, Mia Arcenas-Branellec and Cat Juan Ledesma share what they love about the island. Be it the solitude or the sweeping view of the ocean, the beach trip offered a much-needed break from the bustle of city life.

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Cat Juan Ledesma in Danjugan Island.
Danjugan Island has few cottages so tourists can enjoy days and nights of tranquility.

Amid a sanctuary

“My family’s favorite beach escape would have to be Danjugan Island,” says Cat. Nestled in Negros Occidental, the island stretches to a lush rainforest in the midst of a marine sanctuary. It is a diving paradise where tourists can snorkel and witness right away the healthy coral reefs, seagrass, and breathtaking marine lifeforms. Cat shares there are only cottages and simple rooms to stay in on the island. Thus, it is necessary to book reservations beforehand.

“We love that there is very limited phone signal on the island and you actually have to trek through a forest to just get a bar or two,” Cat continues. The island is solar-powered so there is limited electricity. There is no running water either but the management delivers it from the mainland. While this may typically concern tourists, Cat is in fact, glad for this. “I also personally love that it teaches my kids to move away from their creature comforts like air-conditioned rooms and hot showers, both of which can’t be found on the island,” she explains.

The 43-hectare island boasts of a “back to basics” lifestyle with solar-powered electricity.

Since there are limited rooms, she and her family can have an entire cove of the island to themselves. The solitariness offer serenity, allowing the family to bond with nature and among themselves. “We love snorkeling or beachcombing and often hope to catch baby turtles hatching, which is a common sight on Danjugan’s main beach,” Cat adds.

Staying on the island doesn’t offer the luxury typically found in well-known resorts. Yet its tranquility is its main charm that tourists fall for (and reason to return) in Danjugan Island.

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Mia Arcenas-Branellec and husband Jacques at The Flower Island Resort.

A hidden retreat

As a self-proclaimed “island girl at heart,” Mia Arcenas-Branellec shares how much she enjoyed her trip to Flower Island Resort in Palawan. An exclusive haven where an abundance of flora and fauna dwells, the resort boasts of cottages, bungalows, and rooms with views of natural landscapes. “Every villa comes with an amazing view of the ocean—they’re all beachfront,” Mia shares with enthusiasm.

The resort’s staff and the service made her and her family feel comfortable, right at home. From the cozy clubhouse featuring a variety of cuisines, the spa that renews the mind and body to the delightful indoor and outdoor activities, staying here proved perfect for Mia. She admits, “I can literally live by the sea all year round even if there’s no WiFi or signal—I don’t mind at all.” So, the hammocks in the villas and the beautiful sand beaches offer an additional stillness and connection with nature for Mia.

The Flower Island Resort and its pristine azure waters and lush coconut palms.
A suite in The Flower Island Resort.

“I also love how my son responds to being near the sea,” she continues, “he doesn’t need too many material things. He is happy to discover something new every day like playing with sand and seashells, splashing in the sea, seeing all the animals in his storybooks, [and] interacting with different people.” Since her son easily engages with nature, he is able to sleep well at night—much to Mia and her husband’s delight.

An escape to the sea is what they need these difficult times. Of course, safety measures are always followed, turning their visit to the island into another unforgettable trip.

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