I was planning to go back early to Siargao but decided to take it easy. Spent the morning at the Puting Bato beach and enjoyed some down time at Sohoton Bay Resort. Before making my way back to Siargao, Sir Ed suggested we visit one of the attractions that was to open this April 2018 – the Giant Mangroves of San Roque. These rainforest of the sea have always fascinated me. They are one of the indication how healthy the environment is so I try to see them when there is one in the area.
“We can’t find our boat!” paddling master, Buzzy Budlong, tells me after several attempts of trying to spot our convoy outrigger boat through the maze-like passageways of Banacon Island, north of Bohol. Buzzy was at the back of our double kayak as I was the one in charge to shoot. We wait for the others south of the largest man-made mangrove island in Asia. He switched places with my assigned-writer friend, Oggie, back to his favorite yellow stand-up paddle (SUP) board, Mango Float. His sight looked far to the mainland. “Let’s head to that lighthouse!” he pointed. “Is he kidding?!” I thought. That’s almost 10km away by sea and we’re passing through two sea channels and an island. But he paddled on. He’s crazy like that which also partly makes him great.
A cup of coffee taste so great while at sea. Our breakfast of bread with peanut butter, saba bananas and a unique concoction of crushed cereal with honey made by Harold himself of Harold’s Dive Center was enough to energize our morning. It’s the last full day of our Oceana Philippines Photo Safari and time simply flew by fast here while at Tañon Strait. From Mantalip Reef in Bindoy we were headed to our last stop in Dumaguete but not before we do some Bais Dolphin Watching and a visit to the largest remaining mangrove forest in Negros Oriental, the Talabong Mangrove Park and Bird Sanctuary.
It was a relief that after travelling at least four hours from Bantayan Island, then a short 200 meter hike from the roadside, we were welcomed with Cebuano folk songs by the staffs of BAETAS (Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association). I may not fully understand the words but I could feel the collective liveliness from the group vocals to the energetic strums of the lone guitar. We were on the third day of our Oceana Philippines photo safari at Tañon Strait. We traveled southwest to the town of Aloguinsan to experience their Bojo River Cruise, the towns foremost attraction with activities revolving around the 1.4km river leading to Tañon Strait.
So you have done all the tours in El Nido Palawan from Tours A, B, C, D and E. The west side of El Nido, the Bacuit Bay in particular does have dramatic limestone karst islands and captivating beaches, but El Nido doesn’t end there. The other side, the El Nido east coast holds more islands to explore and stunning white sand beaches to bum around. Sibaltan is the jump off point for these island adventures. I have written about some of the islands of Linapacan, now discover the limestone island of Imorigue Island. From afar it looks daunting but the locals swear on how rich the marine life surrounding its waters are.
I’ve been long interested with the mangroves of El Nido. Yes, the place is most known mainly for it’s dramatic karst islands, blue lagoons and scenic beaches. But El Nido also has a rich mangrove eco-system. I was originally looking for a way to visit the Aberawan Mangroves but it’s not a popular tour and could cost me a lot. I was told of the Wakat Wakat Mangroves of Bubulungan, just at the border of El Nido town proper. Decided to spend an afternoon to look for this place.
I was looking at the map and was quite surprised there are many islands and islets surrounding the huge main island of Culion. Pastor Hermie, our guide, pointed to the map and showed our path going westward then south to this snaking river opening up to the a large bay with islets which then exits to the sea. We were going to Cabulihan Mangroves instead of the original plan to Balanga Falls and Mangroves which he honestly says is now in a really bad state. We followed his recommendation to discover the southwest side of the island.