Pearl Farm ( photo by Carlos H. Conde)

KAPUTIAN, Samal — Tucked in a cove on this island is the Pearl Farm Beach Resort, a former pearl farm that has been transformed into one of the countrys best, if largely unexplored, vacation havens.

Unlike most beach resorts, Pearl Farm harmonizes its clear, blue sea and its white sand with an impressive greenery that forms as a backdrop, at least on the main island. The standard cottages and suites are on the main resort while the villas are on a small island in front.

Pearl Farm ( photo by Carlos H. Conde)

The Muslim- and tribal-inspired houses, cottages and suites, made mainly of bamboo and wood, were designed by Roy Manosa, the countrys most popular architect. The villas and suites, even the standard cottages, are luxurious, the pure white linen matching perfectly with the shellacked varnish.

All sorts of water sports and recreation are available, from diving to jetski rides. Tours to the other islands nearby, on outrigger boats, can also be arranged.

The Maranao restaurant. ( photo by Carlos H. CondeOther attractions include a weaving house where a couple of tribal women make tribal dresses, costumes and jewelries. Pearls can be bought at the boutique. A massage at the spa can be had for less than $15 dollars.

Meals are served at a cavernous restaurant replete with tribal motifs. The menu is an assortment of culinary influences. Theres Spanish paella, Madras seafood curry, pasta, tempura, even Thailands tom yum soup. A must try are the sweet pomelo and other tropical fruits in the buffet.

Wi-fi Internet access is available for free at the restaurant, at the bar and waiting area. The signal extends to as far as the beach.

Because of the growing number of western tourists, the resort will be renovated soon, with additional rooms and cottages. The resort, according to the management, has seen an increase lately of American and other western tourists, reflecting a nationwide trend in the past few years.

Wifi access on the beach. ( photo by Carlos H. Conde)While visitors are concerned about security (there have been bombings in 2003 and last year in nearby Davao City, which is not on the island), Pearl Farm is attractive enough to consider, according to Nick Owen, a security consultant from London who is based in Singapore. I was aware of the security problems, particularly in the south, but this is worth checking out, he said.

Standard room starts at $110 per person per night. A four-bedroom village costs $670.

There are daily flights to Davao City from Manila. Pearl Farm can be reached via a 45-minute boat ride from Davao City.

Contact: +6382-2219970 (Davao) or +632-7501896 (Manila) for details and reservations. Or visit (Carlos Conde/

Some of the suites at Pearl Farm ( photo by Carlos H. Conde)

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