From our resort at Barangay Laurente in San Pascual town, it was the farthest of all three islands in our island-hopping tour. Sombrero Island is about an hour away from the port at San Pascual town. However it is almost two hours away from the first island on our itinerary – Animasola Island – situated much farther to the northeast. Fortunately we could stop at Tinalisayan Island on our way to Sombrero – or it would have been almost two hours of a monotonous journey on the deep blue of the Ragay Gulf.
Such is the distance between these three jewels off the coast of San Pascual in Burias Island, Masbate province. It also explains the pretty hefty price for renting a motorized outrigger to take us to all three islands. We were actually thinking about adding two more islands to our list but limited time and the fact that we needed to add P500 more for each additional island dissuaded us.
When we finally hit the sandy shores of Sombrero Island past lunch time, the sight of the crystalline aquamarine waters and white sandy beach felt like a soothing welcome to our arrival after a long journey. The eastern and southeastern beaches of the island are an unbroken string of pearly white sand. It was high tide when we came but a pool of water had become trapped in the wide swath of white sand on the southeastern corner of the island, forming an interesting patch of light green.
As our boat came in to dock on Sombrero, we noticed the sea bed on the southern beach dropping down abruptly to a point where plenty of corals could be spotted through the crystal-clear waters. We were a little tired and hungry after exploring Animasola and Tinalisayan however, and no one bothered to swim or snorkel on the island. Everyone’s thoughts had turned to lunch.
What sets Sombrero apart from the two other islands is the availability of overnight accommodations in the form of basic huts as well as open cottages and rest rooms for day stays. Surprisingly, there is cellular signal on the island, although not sufficient for browsing the internet. Sombrero Island also has a store that can prepare meals. However, you may need to inform the caretakers in advance, especially during the tourism off-season. Somehow we were able to obtain a fish (a variety of snapper or something) that we had grilled but we had to purchase rice, eggs and canned goods from the store and have them cook it for us.
After lunch we just took it easy, resting in the hut by the store and strolling along the southern and eastern portions of the island later. A stroll on the eastern side revealed a rock islet shaped like a hat and connected to the rest of Sombrero Island via a sandbar. This rock outcrop is where the island got its name. The sandbar was well under water when we arrived, otherwise it would have been possible to walk all the way to the rock islet.
It was well past 3 in the afternoon when we left Sombrero. Rather than head back to our resort at Bgy. Laurente, we decided to head instead for the port at San Pascual town proper and a visit to an interesting place that an estimated 80,000 swiftlets have made their nesting home.
Tinalisayan and the islands of Animasola and Sombrero may be reached by hiring a boat at the port of San Pascual. From that port Sombrero Island is about an hour away. In our case we stayed at Atlaza Resort from where our boat first proceeded to Animasola, then to Tinalisayan and finally to Sombrero. The boat rate now is P3,000 for all three islands for a group of about 5 people. You will need to shell out P500 more for an additional island you might want to visit.