“Outing naman tayo!” my sis nagged at me in one family dinner. Hearing the clamoring giggles and expecting faces of my nieces and nephews, I replied in jest “Sige, pero kayo bahala sa food and accommodations nyo ha!”. On a tight budget and with no occasion to celebrate, family outing like this is a “pocket buster”. But I can’t stand my extended family’s nagging wish.
My outdoor adventures is no secret to my kin, no thanks to internet. Every time they see my pictures in some outdoor spots, the bold ones among my nephews kid me with “tito kelan mo kami dalhin dito?” .
I wish I can bring my extended family whenever I hop places. But their fitness level and outdoor survival skills a bit wanting for most extreme outdoor adventures. Hence, our family outing “land” in places that are good enough for relaxing, but not bad enough to drain their energy. The balance between this two is incrementally tipped either way depending on how much fun they wanted and how determined they can be.
I brought them once to Gumasa beach in Saranggani before. Now, I’m bringing them somewhere farther from our place, a relatively longer travel time and a ferry ride. The place is however not just your usual junkie beach (Read my bang for the buck beach list here) . Isla Reta in Talikud Islands Samal is know for its calm, clear blue waters and relaxing atmosphere. Most of all, we’re not going to wrestle for beach spots with some drunk, videoke frustrated guys in those crowded so-so beaches.
Mind you, I’m an incessant outdoor traveler. But bringing along 7 howling adolescents, 3 raucous kids and a number of consenting adults is, a different story. Bringing along the closest 20 people in your life to one outdoor place is as exciting as the responsibility your taking. So if you are like me in your clan, here’s my unsolicited advice before you load them all in your truck and head on to Isla Reta.
Take the responsibility but delegate tasks
Going outdoors with your whole clan is insanely different from traveling alone or with a few friends. The risk exponentially multiplies and the considerations goes nuts. I was planning the trip itinerary and transport but I gave the food and camping equipment to other family members. Make sure this was well prepared before the camping day itself. Supervision may be necessary but give them room to innovate. Just don’t let your guard off for potential risks.
Plan before you go.
You cannot just go to Isla Reta without planning. especially when you’re on tight budget. The internet is teaming with experiences of people who went to this place earlier than you. Make use of them. Isla Reta is 3 hours ride from our place plus another 45 minutes boat ride from Davao city. Making sure your transport is safe should be close to obsession. And when you’re in the islands, be ready to pull out somewhere someplace things like Diatabs or a band aid strip. What about the diapers of a& 2 year old kid? or the pulutan of clamoring adults?Things like meals, cooking ingredients, utensils, camping equipment and the likes should be well checked before even jumping on the idea.
Of course everyone dreams of going to the islands in style-like a yacht perhaps. But going outdoors by the numbers with kids and adults is a potential expense nightmare. Especially with a 100 php per hour jet ski lying around. or a banana boat ride that looks so enticing.. The per head entrance, the cottage rates, the tent, overnight rates and corkage add up to the dollar you save for the fun you get. You can also plan your meals earlier so you can buy food or cooking ingredients in the city. There is a market in Talikud islands but consumer goods are also marked up. Why spend more on the same level of fun when you can save some pesos with just planning ahead?
Safety first…and second.
When the boat going to and from the island is overloaded you’re simply inviting disasters for your family. On peak days and holidays in Talikud (and wharf), this is a common sight. When my family rode that ferry back to Sta Ana Wharf, it was overloaded by somewhere close to 50 passengers. I don’t know if cargoes like motorcycles and pedicabs were counted also in the maximum capacity of that boat. Needles to say, the life vest were nowhere to be seen and obviously not enough for all passengers. I hope the coast guard will correct these ferry overloading. It scared the wits out of my family. It was that same fateful day, the a similar overloaded ferry sank off coast of Mindoro, killing some 100 people.
The shallow, clear and calm waters of Isla Reta offers some safe assurance but make sure you keep everyone, especially the kids in sight. If you camp somewhere under the coconut canopy, watch out for falling debris! You might just get a head injury.
Check your equipments and utensils.
Electricity goes off at 6am and resumes almost nighttime. If you’re not planning to have your food cooked by the chef of the place, you might as well bring your own cooking utensils. The market and tiangge some few meters outside the resort may help you for your supplies but hey have marked up prices and they close early at night. If you plan to bring some electronic items, charge them before hand or at nigh time.
Bring in loads of fun!
In the future, I would rather that the family have some form of family building or activity at nigh time.This may sound so boring and mushy but then again, this is a lot better than a bonfire that burns nothing but wits and lost time.
Some more tips for family campers:
- Bring in your own potable drinker water. Its a lot cheaper than buying a per liter in the islands.
- Bring your own cooking and burning fuel. Its ok to grill with charcoal but you don’t want to cook with charcoal right?
- A family tent will be handy if you don’t want to stay on their cottages (which is located a distance from the beach itself)
- Always ask the resort manager about the correct docking time and place of the ferry ride back home. Changes in schedule and place is often a a leading cause for you all standing in the isle of the ferry. Pack an hour early of the boarding time.
That’s all I can advice for now. I hope this guide helps those would be family campers and those tasked (or shall we say, cursed?) to makeit happen.