Sanctuaria Treehouses: a unique eco-stay in Busuanga, Philippines

Sanctuaria Treehouses: a unique eco-stay in Busuanga, Philippines

The Sanctuaria Treehouses provide an adventurous escape into a world free of modern-day amenities and distractions. If you are someone who enjoys nature and the simple things in life, then you will fall in love with this jungle retreat.  Whether you choose to spend your night in a treehouse, hobbit home, or thatched teepee, you will feel whisked away into a magical Neverland where you are free to be a kid again.

How to get to Sanctuaria Treehouses

Sanctuaria Treehouses are located on the western coast of the island just off the main Coron-Busuanga road. It is approximately an hour’s drive from Coron town, the commercial center and tourism hub of Busuanga island. Thanks to a newly constructed road linking east and west Busuanga, the Sanctuaria Treehouses are only about 30 minutes from Francisco B. Reyes Airport.

Although you can take a tricycle to the treehouses, it is a long journey to be inhaling exhaust and dust from the dirt roads. We recommend taking private transportation to the treehouses. This can be arranged through Sanctuaria Treehouses or any other hotel where you may be staying.

First Impressions

It was already 8 pm and quite dark when we turned off the main road. The dirt path was bumpy and lined with towering bamboo on either side. Our driver dropped us off at the bottom of a stone staircase lit only by the headlights of the van. Gathering our backpacks, we hesitantly started walking up the steps wondering if we were in the right place.

We followed the sporadic green and blue lights reflecting off the canopy of trees above, subtly illuminating the dirt path. Not really knowing where to go, we just kept following the trail. We passed some sort of stone structure on the left and a thatched room on the right. I softly called out “hello?” into the darkness until a voice in the distance responded “mam Cecilia?” Phew. We were in the right place.

Grace greeted us on the path, welcoming us to Sanctuaria and asking if we were hungry. I later saw that the kitchen closes at 7 pm, it was now 8:30 pm so I appreciated this gesture of hospitality.  We had already eaten, so she offered to help with our backpacks and escorted us to our room for the night, a thatched roof bamboo treehouse with a simple loft. It was already dark outside so we decided to call it a night and leave the exploring for the next day.

We woke up and opened the windows allowing the sunlight to stream in. Walking out onto our private bamboo balcony, we had an elevated view of the river and jungle down below. This wild and undeveloped part of Busuanga was certainly a contrast against what we had seen during our previous three days in Coron Town.

Time to explore.

Sanctuaria Treehouses Eco-stay Busuanga Coron Philippines

Related Content: Top Things to do on Busuanga Island: Palawan’s Hidden Gem

The Sanctuaria Treehouses

Now that it was daylight we could make sense of all the winding paths and obscure structures we had seen the night before. Sanctuaria Treehouses is a wild and untamed property reminiscent of the Lost Boys home in Peter Pan’s Neverland. Dirt paths wind their way through bamboo treehouses, a stone community/game room, thatched teepees, and even a fanciful hobbit house.

There is a resident cat as well as a dog named Buhay. You may encounter them taking naps by the pool or nestled up between some flowers in the garden. Numerous unmarked paths trail off from the main walkway. There are few directional signs indicating where those paths might lead and honestly, this is one of the things I appreciate most about this property. There are few rules and instructions, just a world to explore and entertain your imagination.

Our Treehouse

No matter which treehouse you book, you will be immersed in nature with views of the jungle, river, or ocean. The treehouse where we stayed is located toward the far end of the property nestled among towering bamboo and trees. This room is characterized by modest furnishing: a digital clock, foam sofa, table, mirror, and a loft with two queen size beds. If you require Ritz Carlton plush bedding, an eco-friendly treehouse is probably not the best choice for you. The beds are simply a thin mattress placed atop a wooden platform. Each bed is provided with a mosquito net and rotating fan to keep you cool at night. 

We were one of the few occupants during our first night at Sanctuaria. This allowed us to embrace the dark stillness of the night and enjoy the sounds of nature. From our private balcony, we had a clear view of the stars above. A faint glow from Coron Town could be seen in the far distance. As we listened to the sounds of bamboo swaying in the wind, a loud and unfamiliar sound echoed around us. We later came to discover that the two-note croaking was the mating call of the small but rather loud Tokay Gecko, locally called Tuko. You’ll instantly recognize the sound when you visit.

There are two bathrooms on the property. Each is fully enclosed and lead to an open-air shower surrounded by bamboo walls.  Although the bathrooms are communal, they are well kept by the staff. In fact, they are much cleaner than most of the public bathrooms we encountered in Coron Town.

Pro tip: The treehouses are all different in size, appearance, and available views, however, they do not have names or identifiers. This can make the reservation process complicated if you have a specific treehouse in mind. We recommend contacting the hosts for assistance. They will gladly help to ensure that you book the room you have in mind.

On-site Amenities

Most travelers seek out the Sanctuaria Treehouses as a place to escape from the noise and distractions of the city. The location is therefore remote, yet equipped with a number of amenities to keep you entertained during your stay. Dip your toes into the pool for a refreshing break from the Philippine sun. If you really want to feel like a kid again, climb onto the trampoline and do some backflips.  The look-out point is a highlight of the property where you can enjoy a beverage at Buhay Bar while marveling at the scenery below.

If you are feeling adventurous, the property has kayaks and a few paddleboards for you to take out onto the water and explore the surrounding mangrove forests. Be sure to take one of their life vests with you just in case the kayak has a hole. Although the owner makes an effort to maintain their equipment, seasonal storms and harsh weather can often take a toll. It is always best to take proper precautions.

Central to the property is an open-air library and community room. It is stocked with books and American games like Exploding Kittens, Cards Against Humanity, and Scrabble. We spent the majority of our second night here with adventurers from England and Germany exchanging travel stories and shots of Tanduay rum.

Leisure

The Sanctuaria Treehouses are remote therefore, beyond exploring the mangrove forest there are few attractions within walking distance. One exception to this is Concepcion Falls, a nearby watering hole frequented by locals but practically unknown to tourists. At a height of around 3 to 4 meters, it is not the tallest waterfall in the Philippines, but it does flow into a beautiful green-blue waterhole which is perfect for swimming. The trailhead for Concepcion waterfalls is about a 20-minute walk from the treehouses. If you are timid about going alone, Sanctuaria does, in fact, have its own tour guide.

Buhay is the resident dog as well as go-to guide for all your nearby adventures. Just let a staff member know that you would like to go to the falls, and they will give the command for Buhay to lead the way. He is adorable and an excellent tour guide, but Buhay does not like to be touched. Try your best to refrain from cuddling him. It will be difficult.

Should you wish to journey further than Concepcion falls, we recommend renting a motorbike from Angel’s bike shop to tour the island. At about 600 pesos for a full day rental, it is an affordable method to discover all of Busuanga island’s hidden gems.

With a motorbike, it is possible to trek around the entirety of the island in 24 hours by following the Coron-Busuanga Road loop. We attempted this but found that there were too many things that we wanted to stop and explore. We made it as far north as New Busuanga before turning around.

For a full list of activities and destinations to explore in northern Busuanga, check out our article Top Things to do on Busuanga Island: Palawan’s Hidden Gem.

Dining

The team of local staff are not only incredibly warm and welcoming, but they are also excellent chefs. They offer locally sourced juices and a selection of daily specials to accommodate a range of dietary preferences. If it is not too hot, we highly recommend starting the day off with a ginger calamansi tea.

On-site dining and bar services are typically available from 7 am – 7 pm. They will sometimes extend bar hours upon request.

Sanctuaria Treehouses Final Thoughts

A visit to the Sanctuaria Treehouses will reconnect you with your childhood imagination as you revisit dreams of living out your favorite character in the Jungle Book, Tarzan, or Swiss Family Robinson. Come here with no expectations. Just submit yourself to the jungle around you. Let go of every day stresses to embrace simplicity and a renewed sense of adventure.

Things to do Busuanga Coron

Rating (1 to 5 Scale):

Amenities: 5
Cleanliness: 5
Comfort: 3 (Keep in mind we stayed in a treehouse. Of course it is not going to be the same level of comfort as a boutique hotel.)
Quietness: 5
Safety: 4
Service: 5
Internet Access: Complimentary Wifi

Pros:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Extremely friendly and hospitable staff
  • Delicious food
  • Truly a unique and memorable experience

Cons:

  • Because of its central and highly visible location, it is unclear whether the hammocks and ping pong table located on the tower treehouse is for exclusive use by those staying in that rental or if it is open for any guest to enjoy.
  • The pool seemed a bit murky during the time of our visit possibly due to a recent storm or an imbalance of pool chemicals.

Hotel WebsiteAirbnb Listing
Address: Kilometer 43 National Highway

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Cecilia is a bubbly Filipino-American with an affinity for constant change...that or a 10 second attention span. Refusing to sit still, she travels the world, in pursuit of adventure, excitement and meaningful experiences. She holds a Masters degree in International Development and Public Policy, and a BA in Business Management.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. This looks like the sort of detox I need right now and what a lovely experience it would have been for you especially having the clear view of the stars from your private balcony. The Treehouse equipment and the communal bathroom is basic but sufficient. It is great that there are onsite Kayaks and paddle boarding equipment too.
    To be honest, I have had just basis experience before but I can’t remember how it feels like, your post has definitely served me the reminder.
    Having a complete back to basis and the minimum is sufficient enough for living.

  2. hi
    I liked the concept of the treehouse, I had seen a similar property in India some years back. The USP o these places as per me are to escape the humdrum of the city life and hence these are as basic as they can be in terms of keeping a rustic theme to declutter the mind of the guests. However, i wish the washrooms were separate. this is one important aspect socially in today’s world where things are constantly changing

  3. Despite the cons I would still love to make a trip and stay in these Sancturia Treehouses.Being not too far from Coron town, the commercial center and tourism hub of Busuanga island, this experience would be so different. Apart from the amenities and the hospitality, loved the fact that there is a waterfall not too far where one can swim. Overall it would be great to visit and stay for couple of days.

  4. Nice review and it looks amazing! I have been planning to go back to Palawan. Hopefully everything goes back to normal soon

    http://whereispaolo.com

    1. Agreed. Just keep hoping that this will end soon so that we can recommence our travel adventures yes, but more so for the safe and healthy of so many around the world! Shoutout to all our front liners and medical staff who selflessly put their lives on the line during this global epidemic.

  5. Quite a unique and refreshing place to stay. I did feel as if I were in Hobbit land. Somehow, I could smell fresh earth through your pictures. And that honestly, is so refreshing. I like the idea of using one of those paddle boards or kayaks to feel the element of water here. Sometimes minimalistic stays is all you need to rejuvenate

  6. Looks like a quirky and amazing place to stay. I’d be torn between just hanging out in the hammock and listening to the sounds of the forest, while recharging my batteries – or forcing myself to get more energetic and having a day out on the water. What a memorable experience for you. I love that they’re not all glitz and glamour … you go to places like this to step back and get away from all that. Sign me up!

    1. You should just spend a week there so that you have a whole day to relax in the hammock, a whole day out on the water, and then another 5 days to explore and do whatever you want! Haha. We stayed for 2 nights, but could have definitely stayed longer. While we do enjoy the occasional glitz and glamour of an all-inclusive resort, its the unique ecostays like Sanctuaria that make us feel alive. There is nothing like being able to feel so immersed in nature.

  7. The treehouse looks beautiful and the location is good if you don’t like the vibe in Coron town. I also like that the treehouse has mosquito nets because malaria is endemic in Palawan.
    I think renting a scooter is good if you are staying in the treehouse, it makes traveling to Coron town a lot easier. Will definitely keep this in mind if i plan to go to coron.

    1. Renting a scooter from the treehouse was definitely a highlight of our trip. It was nice to explore Coron Town and Busuanga Island by motorbike, but then be able to retreat back to our little jungle hideaway.

  8. I’d love to stay at this jungle retreat right now! It’s great to know that the staff is friendly and helpful, and food looks yummy. The view from your treehouse looks impressive. Having a mosquito net is a plus too. I remember having mosquito bites many times on my last trip because the place didn’t provide any net.

    1. We were amazed not to be bitten during our stay at the treehouses! Either they have some awesome mosquito nets or we just got lucky haha. During our stay in a Zanzibar, we stayed in a similar thatched style bungalow and just got devoured by mosquitos.

  9. Sanctuaria Treehouses seems just the place I would love to spend time. I love spending time in nature and absolutely enjoy the little joys of life that I will probably find here. Away from the crowded places, this is going to be a perfect oasis. Also, the amenities sound simply great. I would love to explore the mangroves and the waterfalls here. I am sure this minimalist approach will be quite right for a proper rejuvenation.

    1. You are absolutely right. The whole minimalism vibe is just rejuvenating. We enjoyed our stay at the Sanctuaria Treehouses and would love to return one day.

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