It used to be a laidback, sleepy town in a province better known for cattle-raising and sometimes referred to as the “Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.” But once word spread around about a group of six islets with pristine white-sand beaches and stunning rock formations lying just offshore, San Pascual in Burias Island, Masbate soon burst into the tourism scene. Although we’ve first read about this town and its island gems 5 years ago it was only last March that we finally got to organize a visit along with a friend and our nephew.
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.
In the middle of a trip that requires a total of 7 vehicular transfers – a taxi ride starting from home, an 8-hour bus ride, a 2-hour ferry ride, 2 van rides and 2 transfers by trike – you come to a point when you begin to question the sheer absurdity of going through a self-flagellating travel schedule just to cross out an item in your bucket list. And it didn’t end there. The following day after our arrival in sleepy San Pascual town in Burias Island, Masbate we had to negotiate a not-so-calm sea on our way to the islands of Animasola, Tinalisayan and Sombrero. In a boat just big enough for the five of us. These islands had better be good or else.
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. Continue reading Animasola Island Rocks!
Everything had gone smoothly during our visit to Guimaras. Until this time. We had just boarded a boat at Alubihod Beach for our island-hopping trip. Despite having rained the previous days – it was the southwest monsoon or habagat season – the sun was up and the waters of the Panay Gulf unusually calm. Our first destination was easily visible on the horizon and, from what we knew, just 15 minutes away. Our motorized outrigger started its engine and we waited for the boat to speed up. So far, so good. We waited… and waited… and waited. Continue reading Island-Hopping at Guimaras
The most well-known destinations in the Gigantes Islands group (sometimes called Islas de Gigantes) are Cabugao Gamay, Antonia Beach, Bantigue Island and Sandbar and the Tangke Saltwater Lagoon. Our island-hopping took us to these destinations in a little under 6 hours. However, there are other islands and islets scattered in this section of the Visayan Sea just off the towns of Carles and Estancia. Continue reading Gigantes Islands: The Not-So-Well-Known Side
From our vantage point at the hill on Cabugao Gamay’s northern tip we spied a rocky island nearby with a long, easily recognizable sandbar snaking its way lazily in the direction of nearby Gigantes Sur. It was immediately apparent that this is Bantigue Island and sandbar – the third stop of our island-hopping tour at Islas de Gigantes, a group of islands and islets off the northeaster coast of Iloilo province.