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Unicorn Island is real — and it turns out, it was originally designed specifically for adults! The Inflatable Island in Luzon, Philippines, is the largest floating playground in Asia, and it’s no joke. The size of eight basketball courts, the island is located in Subic Bay, offshore from the Samba Bluewater Resort, which features the Bali Beach lounge.

So what exactly is an inflatable island? This floating paradise is a mix of colorful activities, such as a water trampoline, a Tarzan swing, various slides, a wobbly bridge, rock climbing and a balance beam. Perhaps the most exciting of all is the human launcher, where someone jumps on an oversized, inflated pillow, thereby being catapulted straight into the water. And because all the aforementioned activities were actually made for adults, the inflatable island even has a designated kids’ play area.

(Photo courtesy of The Inflatable Island)
(Photo courtesy of the Inflatable Island)

Travelers visiting the inflatable island can always opt instead to lounge in the sunbathing section, or float around on blow-up creatures that range from unicorns to flamingos and narwhals, among others. Travelers can also hang out at Bali Beach, which is dotted with sherbet-colored pink and purple umbrellas and matching beanbag chairs overlooking the massive floating island. Be sure to check their schedule for events in advance, as sometimes Bali Beach and the Inflatable Island will host special parties, complete with beer pong and ninja wars.

Bali Beach lounge. (Photo courtesy of The Inflatable Island)
Bali Beach lounge. (Photo courtesy of The Inflatable Island)

Reservations should be made online ahead of time. This whimsical theme park offers a range of packages starting from one-hour access (so-called “Sprinkle” packages start at P499, or $10) to all-day passes (the “Soaked” package starts at P849, or $16). Note that all-day passes have first come, first serve access to the umbrellas and chairs on Bali Beach.

Getting There

Just a few hours from Manila (MNL), inflatable island enthusiasts can rent a car and drive to the site, which will take a few hours. Or, you can take a private seaplane from Manila to Subic (SFS), which takes just 15 minutes on Air Juan. One way rates start at 4000P per person, approximately $76. Much to our dismay, Air Juan is not part of any airline alliance, nor can you earn or redeem miles with your flight.

Fortunately, getting to Manila using points and miles is fairly easy. You could fly on Philippine Airlines — which is not a member of any of the three major airline alliances — from New York (JFK) with a stop in Vancouver (YVR) using 37,000 Mabuhay Miles in economy or 67,000 in business for a one-way ticket. One-way flights from Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) are slightly lower at 32,000 miles for economy and 58,000 miles in business.

Updated business class seating on a Cathay Pacific A350.
Updated business class seating on a Cathay Pacific A350.

You can also opt to fly to Hong Kong (HKG) first with Cathay Pacific — especially if you’re searching for a more updated business class cabin. The airline flies between Hong Kong (HKG) and Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), Toronto (YYZ) and Vancouver (YVR). The airline will launch flights from Washington Dulles (IAD) in September 2018.

Cathay’s Asia Miles program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, and you can earn points with a card like the American Express® Gold Card. You can also transfer points from Citi ThankYou Rewards with a card such as the Citi Premier Card, or Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) with the normal 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

Using the current Asia Miles award chart, Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG) starts at 70,000 miles one-way (120,000 round-trip) in business class or 40,000 miles one way (60,000 round-trip) in economy, making round-trip a significantly better deal. But note that Asia Miles is changing its chart on June 22, which will increase the cost of a business class round-trip from Los Angeles to 140,000 miles (one-way remains the same) and decrease the cost of one-way economy to 30,000 miles (round-trip remains the same).

You can also book Cathay flights with its Oneworld partners, such as American. You’ll spend 70,000 AAdvantage miles miles each way between North America and Hong Kong in business or 37,500 in economy. Remember that Cathay is also partners with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, and you only need 30,000 Mileage Plan miles each way in economy and 50,000 in business, which is a solid deal.

Although it may be difficult to find low-level award space, flying Singapore Airlines from New York (JFK) on the A380 is another option. Using KrisFlyer miles, you’ll need 40,000 in economy, 92,000 in business or 120,000 to fly in the opulent Singapore Suites one way (keep in mind this route still has the older suites). Or, starting October 11, 2018, you can take the world’s longest flight on Singapore Airlines from Newark (EWR) to (SIN). There’s also the option to fly on a Boeing 777-300 from Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) for 38,000 KrisFlyer miles in economy, 88,000 in business class and 118,000 in first.

It’s fairly easy to get KrisFlyer miles because the airline partners with American Express Membership RewardsChase Ultimate RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest so you have plenty of options when you need to transfer points to your KrisFlyer account. Each of these programs transfer points to Singapore Airlines at a 1:1 ratio (again, transfers of 20,000 Starpoints will also earn you a 5,000-mile bonus).

Once in Singapore or Hong Kong, you can hop over to Manila on a quick, short haul flight using a regional low-cost carrier, or either one of the aforementioned airlines.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

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