Just across Inasakan Beach at Ilin Island is another interesting island called Ambulong. Coming from a local word “bulong” which means “medicine”, the island is known as an “island of healing.” Local tourism are intending to make the island known for its medical tourism. It’s barely one fourth the size of Ilin but it also has its a few villages. For my visit, I was able to explore a couple of places perfect for quiet and soulful retreats.
Who else is better in discovering a place where one can have peaceful moments to reflect and introspect? None else than our religious brothers of course who also finds time and place where their group can mingle and hold lectures, conferences and trainings. One such small island which is part of the bigger Ambulong island can be found at the mouth of a limestone cove south of Ambulong. They call this Grace Island.
The island has been owned by the Watcher’s Multipurpose Coop for more than 6 years but has only been developed last year as a resort. Originally a place where most Pentecostal Groups do their retreats, it is now open to the public. Allan the caretaker, narrated how several foreigners visit the place and enjoyed staying at one of their floating cottages.
There are several of them floating cottages at the western side of the island. I remember having caught some sleep in one of them that afternoon. Who wouldn’t be tempted to sleep here when your room is rocking like a cradle. Maybe loosing oneself in a good book here is a great place to pass the time.
Food can be brought here since there are no restaurants yet, but it can be arranged in advance since staff there can cook for you. There are clean baths and toilets so no need to worry about hygiene while on the island. Cellphone signal is only from smart but is very spotty.
The island has very rugged shores which I’m sure a lot of landscape photographers would enjoy. I wanted to take pictures here very early morning on a 2nd visit but had boat problems. Maybe next time I’ll stay on the island itself to catch its beautiful landscape during the golden hours. Despite that, I was intrigued by the unique rock formations the island has.
The waters are also rich in aquatic life. They have resident turtles there that you can meet in it’s enclosed sanctuary. It’s somewhat tight sanctuary and they told me they would extend it further. Dive walls are also abound and snorkeling promises numerous sightings of a good variety offishes. I enjoyed my short visit here and hopefully I could stay longer next time.
Moving on, sailing through the Ambulong straight towards the eastern coast of the island is a picturesque stretch of beach with a few cottages. The beach is known as the Heaven’s Place. It used to be a retreat place for priests but now it’s also open to the public. I find the waters a little rough at that time but the beach and cottages is an ideal place for picnics.
These are just a couple of places which could interest weary travelers and find tired souls trying to escape the urban jungle at rest here. There are more to explore in the island as I heard the community is very rustic and almost left behind by time. But for now these places has left a relaxing imprint on me for a short time. Definitely worth coming back to in the future.
For inquiries on Grace Island, you may contact Grace Island Ms Leah Maglipay at 0928.346.8841 and Allan 0918.600.8426
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.