In the biodiverse north-eastern Palawan region in the Philippines, the all-villa destination Banwa Private Island is now open for bookings.
Located alongside the turquoise waters of the Sulu Sea, the seven-hectare Banwa Private Island offers exclusivity in a stunning, marine protected-area with a thriving ecosystem. The waters here form a key part of the Coral Triangle, which is home to six of the world’s seven sea turtle species and more than 2000 different reef fish species.
Previously known as Puerco, the island was renamed Banwa, meaning ‘community’, derived from Tagbanwa, the name of the tribe whose people can be traced back to Tabon Man, believed to be the earliest human Palawan settlers dating back to 14,000 years BC.
The culture of the Tagbanwa people is strongly reflected at Banwa Private Island.
Six beachfront villas, with capacity for 22 guests in total, have been designed to immerse guests in the natural beauty of the island. Natural light floods in through floor to ceiling windows in both the beach and garden terraces. An infinity pool in each villa blends with views of Sula Sea.
Contemporary-designed villas are each located within steps to the unspoilt shores. Guests can hire out the island exclusively for family and friends, for intimate gatherings, milestone celebrations or multi-generational family holidays.
Banwa can be reached in under two hours from Hong Kong, or under an hour from Manila, via private jet, followed by a 10-minute heli ride from San Vicente. Alternatively, the island provides excellent access to Puerto Princesa.
Staff can create destination dining moments in scenic locations on the island, with dedicated chefs will create dishes made from freshly grown ingredients from the island’s organic farm.
With an unspoiled coral reef to explore, guests can venture underwater or go kayaking, paddleboarding, or Hobie sailing; or head to other nearby islands to discover waterfalls, a deep-sea fishing excursion or a sunset picnic on an idyllic sand bank.
Nearby Tubbataha Reef is ranked among the world’s top eight dive sites, and features some of its rarest marine life. Guests can also visit the Underground River near Puerto Princesa, one of UNESCO’s 7 Natural Wonders of the World; the mangrove-lined shores of the Barbacan River; or witness the flying foxes on neighbouring Pagbo Island.
Banwa Private Island established the Aquos Foundation to support, nurture and protect the delicate ecosystem.
Central to its purpose is the protection and restoration of habitats of the critically endangered Mantanani Scops Owl, Hawksbill Turtle and the Tabon Scrubfowl (also known as the Philippine Megapode).
On the mainland, the settlement of Tumarbong is home to the island’s organic farm and training village, providing ethically cultivated produce for Banwa’s guests and staff. The farm uses best practice in vermiculture (the cultivation of earthworms to convert organic waste in fertiliser) and apiculture (beekeeping); and aims to be an educational hub for the local community.
Banwa’s water is drawn from a naturally replenishing aquafer 600 feet below the surface. Two deep wells provide sufficient fresh water to maintain the landscape’s irrigation and the water is also pumped directly to the villas for guests to shower, so there’s no mineral-stripped desalinated water to endure.
Drinking water is bottled at source at the island’s bottling plant, where the well water goes through a simple UV filtration process before being bottled (using reusable glass bottles) directly as ‘still’ or carbonated to produce ‘sparkling’ water.