Loboc is not the only river town in Bohol. The island province, home to the chocolate hills and the tiny primates, tarsiers, have four major rivers intersecting through the island. Up northwest is the Inabanga River, the largest on the island and Ipil River up north. Utilized for eco-tourism is Loboc River coming from the center of the island down to the southeastern coast and recently, the Abatan River flowing to the southwestern coast. Our adventure guide, Buzzy Budlong, found excellent paddling opportunities on the latter and set-up shop along with the town’s RiverLife tours to offer something different and new.
“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.
As the largest island in Bacuit Bay, Cadlao Island is an imposing presence that has become the popular landmark island being so close to town. Despite its proximity, it’s probably the least patronized of the 4 main island tours in El Nido. In my months of stay in El Nido town, taking my time off at the beach, I have always imagined what it is like to visit the island, to climb its peak which is the highest at 640 meters above sea level in El Nido or even visit its lagoon on the far west. I knew, one way or another I won’t leave El Nido without visiting this prominent island. So on the day before I left El Nido, my friend and I launched our kayak and set out for a day of expedition.