We’ve already seen it from a distance the day before, as our ferry made its way from Pasacao in Camarines Sur towards the port of San Pascual in Burias Island, Masbate. It looked like a massive piece of rock, almost featureless, from afar. But now, as our rented motorized outrigger neared Animasola Island on our island-hopping jaunt, we began to realize that this place could be the most interesting piece of marine real estate in San Pascual.
Our primary reason for visiting San Pascual was to see the smaller islands lying offshore. The 3 primary islands are Tinalisayan, Animasola and Sombrero (there are 3-4 more islands that you can visit for an additional fee). Tinalisayan was foremost in our bucket list because of its white sandbar and crystal-clear turquoise waters; we considered the other islands as simply filling up the rest of our itinerary for a whole day of island-hopping. For the nth time we must say: how wrong we were!
Among the 3 islands in our itinerary, Animasola was the nearest from our jump-off point at Atlaza Resort in Barangay Laurente, San Pascual. We were at the island in a little less than 30 minutes. Approaching Animasola’s shores we were greeted by untouched corals showing through crystal-clear waters and an immaculate beach of white, coarse-grained sand and crushed corals.
Easily the most compelling feature of Animasola, however, is its collection of sedimentary rocks. The better portion of the island is dominated by a huge mass of ocher-colored rock with clearly defined horizontal layers bearing mute testimony to nature’s exquisite handiwork of deposition and erosion.
Large pockets of green shrubs peppered the upper and middle sections of the mass of rock, providing a rich contrast between the ocher rocks and blue skies above. The top of the rock mass was relatively flat and contained a field of grass. We could only imagine the panoramic views from that location, had we been able to climb all the way there. No one on the island told us but days after our visit we discovered that it was possible to climb all the way to the peak through a series of wooden planks held together by ropes on both ends to form a makeshift ladder.
The most fascinating rock formation is a sculptured piece of rock on the eastern end of the island located at a distance from Animasola’s major rock mass. This intriguing art work of nature has very well-defined parallel layers of sedimentary rock that resembled the head of a reptilian. When viewed from up close it looked like the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex towering over us.
Not too far away from T-Rex is another delightful feature on the island: a Jacuzzi-like natural pool formed by a table of rocks around an enclosure. A small opening out towards the sea in one of the rocks allowed sea water to come crashing in. It was high tide and we had to exercise some caution lest we get smashed by the waves on one of the rocks or to get cut by scores of barnacles clinging to the rock walls. Despite these, dipping in the cool waters of this natural Jacuzzi was one of our highlights on this trip.
As in most of our travels there were a few things we missed out such as not being able to snorkel the coral reef on Animasola’s southern shores and failing to scale its peak – not knowing about the presence of the makeshift ladder if you could call it that. But our stay on Animasola had been unexpectedly exhilarating and there were two more beautiful islands to visit in the distant horizon.
Animasola and adjacent islands may be reached via a boat ride from the town of San Pascual, Burias Island, Masbate. Go here for directions and tips on how to get to San Pascual.