Want to know where the two best Negros Island beach resorts are? Zabrina and I happened to stay at both only last week.
Takutaka Lodge Beach and Dive Resort and Bugana Beach and Dive Resort are both close to Sipalay some 4 hours drive or so south from Bacolod City.
In my opinion they surpass any other resort on the island and have to be in the top ten in the whole of the 7,100 islands in the Philippines.
There is a connection between the two resorts. Let me call it the Swiss connection. Karl is the male half of the Takatuka team running that resort with his partner Cathy. Both are Swiss although I am led to believe Karl was born in Germany. Karl’s brother, Marc owns and runs Bugana along with his Filipina wife Rosie.
The common denominator between both resorts is excellent (and I mean excellent) food and great customer service. Both are perfect hideaways to do nothing but chill, swim, relax, eat good food and drink. Yet, if you are a keen water enthusiast, there is good diving at both resorts.
Both offer island hopping boat trips and Bugana has see-through kayaks to rent and a stand-on paddle board.
Whichever resort you choose, you will be swamped with friendliness. And don’t forget to take one essential item – a camera!
There are differences between the two best Negros Island beach resorts.
Not content with that boat trip, Jack and Susan, with Zabrina as a guide, walked the length of the beach to cross the river by using the local ferry. This is the same ferry used by all the locals including the school kids who travel for free. Once on the Sipalay side of the river, they rode a tricycle into Sipalay City to use an ATM (no ATM’s on Sugar Beach) and sample some fruits at the public market. Zabrina made sure they paid local fare and not the tourist price!
It also lays on the better beach, Sugar Beach; again in my opinion the best beach on Negros Island with a fine light brown sand. In contrast, Bugana is fronted by Campomanes Bay and has a gravelly, coral like beach.
The better place for swimming in the ocean is by far Takatuka. There are no rocks or pebbles in the water. You will find a few at Bugana but the water is clearer there than Sugar Beach.
The style and ambiance of both are different also. Takatuka is quirky, even kitsch with its wacky designs and color schemes not to mention the individual themed rooms. This time we stayed in the Treasure room at Takatuka, a kind of Treasure Island styled room with “jolly roger” flags and cutlasses – I half expected Johnny Depp to leap out and cry “shiver me timbers!”
On the other hand, at Bugana we stayed in one of the poolside deluxe rooms. It reminded me of a top class European or American hotel room. It was roomy and had all modern comforts with a mix of European chic and Asian touches such as the nippa ceiling decoration.
The large aluminum sliding door and window sections not only let in a lot of light but also had double glazed sealed units not often found in the Philippines especially in the provinces. They mean you can hear very little sound outside of your room, not that there is much noise anyway. The bathroom was roomy too and well appointed. These rooms come with a large balcony overlooking the pool.
By the end of April, Bugana hopes to have completed the addition of eight similar rooms above the second floor where we were, making a total of twelve deluxe rooms. That is in addition to the three cliff-side villas reached only by climbing a lot of stairs.
Bugana Room Images
I spoke to Marc, the owner, about the construction of Bugana and with the aid of a Bacolod architect, it was always the aim to maximize rooms on a minimum lot size. This has been achieved, or will be when completed, but not at the expense of the cozy luxury exuded at Bugana. It feels exclusive.
You, as a guest, feel pampered but by western standards it is inexpensive. Our 4 night stay with 3 meals per day plus plenty of drinks cost about $400 total – or $40 per day per head. The food bill also included lunch for our two guests, Jack Kregas and Susan, who stayed the full 6 nights at Takatuka. They loved it there and I’m sure will return.
And of course while Takatuka has the better beach, Bugana compensates with its beautiful infinity pool complete with separate jacuzzi. The pool is constantly filled with fresh water from the adjacent limestone cliff and its water course.
To sum up:
Takatuka plusses –
- Better beach
- Better ocean swimming
- Quirky and different
- Quiet owing to no road access
- Spectacular sunsets as it faces west
Bugana plusses –
- Luxury feel
- Quiet but not as quiet as Takatuka
- Free wi-fi
One other factor differentiating both resorts is the eco-friendly policies of the two. Takatuka gives an option to include AC and/or hot water at an additional cost. Bugana includes both AC and hot water in the room rate. However, when the new top floor is finished there will be a solar panel installation on the roof providing a sustainable source of electricity.
It really is a flip of the coin to decide between the two and ultimately, I guess, comes down to personal tastes. I, together with Zabrina, feel fortunate to have sampled both all in the space of one week.
The food is high quality with sumptuous servings at both resorts. Cathy at Takatuka already knows how much I love her food but … we were privileged at Bugana to be served a Rosie “special” not normally on the menu. She had prepped it for some Swiss guests and friends and asked us if we would like to try it. When she described it as a beef tenderloin with a special marinade, how could I refuse!
The dish is called Hanging Tarzan. It can be seen in the picture above. Curious about the name, I inquired to be met with a giggle from Rosie who told the tale of the name after seeing Marc walking out of the shower one day! Too much information 🙂
Bugana Food Images
No matter that image conjured up in my mind however fleetingly, I thoroughly enjoyed the culinary delight. The meat was succulent and well-flavored with Rosie’s secret marinade, plus the veggies are also wonderful including the rosti which I ordered. Needless to say, Zabrina had rice with hers.
That dish cannot be seen on the menu but I do hope Rosie introduces it as standard fayre. I must also mention Rosie’s curries. They are both delicious and addictive. It is said that the UK’s favorite dish is now curry. I have been a massive curry eater for many years now and reckon I know a good one from the not so good. I tried both the mixed seafood and the chicken curry. Both were excellent but the chicken version was not only authentic Indian cuisine but tasted like curry heaven.
The other British/Indian connection with Bugana was curious. On arrival, I spotted a cricket bat on the bar. I used to play a lot of cricket and couldn’t resist the urge to swing the bat again.
Marc explained that it was given to him by an Indian friend who lives in Bacolod. It’s present use? A “peacemaker!” 🙂
One of the other delights of Bugana was getting to meet Savannah, the delightful daughter of Marc and Rosie. Zabrina fell in love with her and I believe was sorely tempted to bring her home with us.
One final thought – the staff at both resorts are truly superb especially the local girls who serve you morning, noon and night. I’m a shocker for names but I do remember Jovelyn at Bugana, a hard working smiling pretty girl but so are the others including the two sisters at Takatuka.
Please don’t forget that camera – see my Amazon picks at the bottom of the page.
For a quote for transport from Bacolod City or Bacolod-Silay airport contact me at email@example.com – 2 12-seater minivans and one 8-seater Toyota Innova MPV available with a reliable and safe local driver. For collection and pick-up for both Takatuka and Bugana resorts.
Sipalay is approximately a 4-hour drive (by private car – longer by bus) from Bacolod City, the provincial capital of Negros Occidental. Bacolod-Silay airport is served by regular scheduled flights from both Manila and Cebu.
For more information including how to get there and rates for both resorts click the links below: