There are lots of perks in this line of work. Free food, free hotels, free gear (well you don’t pay for it but often work for it) and tons of other compensated experiences. But, what I find so rewarding is being able to share that with those who don’t often enjoy the comped life.
My mum mentioned something about an over-water bungalow as a joke a few months before her 60th birthday so I set about finding our family experience in an epic location. Hundreds of emails later, I had the family booked at Pulo Cinta Eco-Resort as part of a collaboration.
We didn’t tell mum where the location was and she loved the build-up. She packed her bags and headed off on our vacation with no clue where she was heading. Our first few nights were in Ubud at an Airbnb villa, which was about as fancy as it has ever been for us. A private pool next to the jungle in our own villa was an epic base for a chilled few days in Ubud before we made the big transit to Gorontalo.
The flights ended up as a huge mess as we were turned around before we reached our final destination and had to fly back to Makassar for the night. This mean mum woke up on her 60th at a Makassar airport hotel but it was no drama as we finally made it to Pulo Cinta to our over-water bungalow by the afternoon and then it was on. The following is a little excerpt from the review I did on the resort, which if interested you can check out here.
The trip began at Gorontalo airport. We landed and then waited a few moments before our driver appeared and loaded us into the van. Our driver didn’t speak English but we confirmed that we were heading to Pulo Cinta and he said yes and off we went. The drive to the harbor is quite scenic with rice fields, mountains, and endless coconut trees. We passed through many villages and throughout the 2-hr drive we gained a quick snapshot into the landscapes and life in Gorontalo.
We arrived at the pier and chatted with some local guys fishing before boarding the boat for the 10-minute cruise out to the resort. The first impression of Pulo Cinta Eco Resort was the clarity of the water. We could see the corals on the bottom and all of the fish. It was as clear as drinking water.
When you arrive at Pulo Cinta Eco Resort what you find is a love heart boardwalk that surrounds a small sandbar in the middle of the resort. On this sandbar is where you have all your meals in the restaurant and can lay on the beach. Smaller boardwalks shoot off from the love heart and take you to your private bungalow.
The resort is luxurious throughout but with the natural textures of untreated wood and the simple design, it doesn’t feel over the top. It also felt very eco-friendly by using all natural materials. A huge king size bed looks out directly to the ocean through double doors towards a hammock on your own private deck. A bathroom and living room make this the ultimate chill zone and there are just unlimited nooks, chairs and resting spots to settle into with a good book.
Straight off the deck, you can jump in and start snorkeling. The snorkeling gear is provided free when you check in and you can keep it in your bungalow for your whole stay. The snorkeling at Pulo Cinta is amazing. Huge coral structures are home to hundreds of different fish species. I stayed at Pulo Cinta for three days and went on countless snorkeling missions around the reef. I’ve snorkeled in many great spots around the world and Pulo Cinta is definitely up there with some of the best.
At sunrise, we sat on the deck and watched to the east as the bright orange came over the sunrise. With no cars, chickens or other disturbances, we sat in peace for the beginning of each day. At sunset, we all sat out on our private deck and watched the sunset and the final light case over the mountains back on the shore.
The food at Pulo Cinta was quite good but not quite five stars. You need to remember, everything comes to Pulo Cinta by boat so there are certain limitations that come with that situation. Breakfast was a buffet of rice, eggs, sausages, chicken, vegetables, cereals, toasts and coffee. Lunch is also a buffet with noodles, rice, fish, chicken, and vegetables with a good spread of options.
Dinner at Pulo Cinta Eco Resort is the only meal of the day that is not a buffet and it is usually a special dish like a grilled fish or chicken dish. Beers are 75k ($5 USD) for a large Bintang and the wine was 600k ($40 USD).
The staff was all super friendly and most of them were quite young. They came from different parts of Sulawesi and several of them spoke some English and the others were learning but the constant smiles and fun vibes were great from the staff.
If you would like to check the rates and availability of Pulo Cinta Eco Resort you can view that information here.