Setting off to a distant island across rough seas and under intermittent weather in the wee hours of the morning aboard a large fishing vessel may sound like a romanticized adventure. But that’s exactly how our journey to Seco Island began. Well not exactly, it’s actually a clumsy ride on a flat boat that held everyone’s breath as we grope for balance to transfer from the shore to the big boat. I’ve only seen flat boats used here heavily in Antique, but these outrigger-less, flat surfaced geometrical boat is a challenge to balance on water especially with a number of people inside. But it did wake us up under the starry night sky and kept us alert as we boarded the shipping vessel for a 2-3 hour ride.
The island was fondly named as “seco” which came from the Filipino word siko which is an “elbow”. It resembles a slightly bent arm seen from the air. It is located 21 nautical miles from the shores of Tibiao, Antique. It is ideal to leave early like we did and arrive when the sun is still low and gentle. There are no major facilities on the island except for a security post to guard the area. Other than the low vegetation, the 4 hectare area is stripped off to almost its unadulterated island state.
The morning ride also gave us a chance to witness a glorious sunrise. Occasional rain clouds drifting along gave a fiery texture and glow to the sky. Shortly, a pod of dolphins appeared in the distance to greet us as we caught sight of Seco Island’s distinctive sandbar.
There’s always an excitement of stepping on a new island. We had to transfer again to a smaller boat to go to the island since the tide is low. Fortunate enough to ride the small outrigger since we were gonna fly our drones out. The shallow and clear waters made the healthy sea grass and occasional star fishes visible below. One of the island caretaker greeted us and helped our boatman to set up the rope line for the flat boat.
Meanwhile my heart was abound as I removed my slippers and feel the soft sand under my feet. Now this here is a white sand beach that feels supple to the soles of the feet. Not the coarse kind. I try not to disturb the low mounds of sand made by resident crabs after digging their hole as I walked the diameter of the sandbar. I flew up my drone to see what the 1.5km stretch of sandbar looked like. What mesmerized me was the astonishing pattern on the sea floor that looks like an abstract painting. Just what wonder on how nature can create this kind of art.
How to enjoy Seco Island? It’s simple, swim to your heart’s content. Even if there were passing rains, we spent most of our time in water. The eastern side of the sandbar has a very swimmable beach with gentle slopes. Some rocks but an area with pure sands underwater. When the sun is out, the water becomes gatorade blue, more inviting and refreshing to the eyes. Aside from snacks and lunch in between, we always go back to the beach and the sea.
Seco Island is 2-3 hours away from Tibiao, Antique. There are no regular tours here. It is best to arrange a tour with a group in advance which includes food and snacks. There’s an option to stay on the island overnight as well. This trip was made possible through Katahum Tours.
Going to Tibiao
- By Air: Philippine Airlines now has direct flights to Antique. They fly three times a day to San Jose Airport from Clark Airport. From San Jose, it’s a 1.5-2 hours travel time by road to Tibiao. You can catch a bus at the terminal coming from Iloilo to Pandan or Culasi directly.
- Kalibo and Caticlan: Catch a bus heading to Iloilo and alight in Tibiao. Travel time is 2.5-3 hours.
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.