SABLAYAN, Occidental Mindoro -- It was a fine morning when our outdoor group's summer getaway officially began. We proceeded to our first destination which is Pandan Grande Island. But before that, our excitement was hung for few minutes because my companion has to buy goods for our consumption and all we will be needing in the entire trip. That took for only a half-hour and then we were enroute to the island.
I joined the first batch who came a day ahead. Kahit na humabol lang ako Hehehe! Naiwan kasi ng bus. While the other group came the next day. We tagged them the Sablay-an group. Peace! Hahaha!
Little did we know that just from first destination will be one of the highlight of our adventure.
It was not love at first sight. I found the island an ordinary one with yellowish coast with not so fine sand but crush corals. The turquoise blue water that I was expecting was dark greenish sea water instead. It is because of the abundant sea grass underneath. Although it didn't met my criteria for a best beach destination beforehand, I'm telling you, this island can provide you solitude given that it is a private island resort.
The island may not have the best coast with powdery white sand and bluish-pool-like water but have been blessed with diverse marine creatures. The water of Pandan Island is teeming with species of fish be it big or small in sizes. It is also home to one of the gentle sea animals -- the Pawikan.
May pawikan! One of my companion yelled with great excitement. As I heard it, I hurriedly rushed to the water to verify if it was really there. I wore life vest and put on goggles provided by our boatmen slash tour guide and instantly I saw plenty of them.
I grew up in coastal barangay but I never had a chance to catch a sight of sea turtles. I just heard catching coincident but even glimpse of it never happened. That is why my excitement to see them was like I was enchanted. The boatmen/tour guide were the one locating the turtles so we were following him all the time. Whenever there was new turtle sighting, we swam towards his direction with excitement.
Look at the proportion of the turtle's body against my mine! Halos kasing laki ko na!
Oooppss!! Sorry po! I touched the turtle. I didn't know that touching them may cause stress. Hindi na mauulit. Nadala lang sa sobrang excitement. Wag nio na po kaming gayahin.
We were like a child following after these wonderful creatures. 'Was enthralled seeing them as if they were flying and gliding freely right on their natural home. These pawikan I believe are the main attraction in the island that is why protecting them was absolutely implemented.
Sir Jimmar while touching the turtle's back. Again, please don't get closer to them even touching them. We were not formally informed by our tour guide regarding that precaution. Even before we were not aware about it.
Our skillful boatmen who were tracking the turtle's where about. Galing!
We got sighting of these almost plate-size fish together with these pawikans. Also, there were Remora, under the turtle--a parasite-eating-fish.
|From the right: JM, Albert and yours truly!!! That was after the swim.|
All in all, we saw 4 sea turtles. Another bucket list was crossed off. It was just the first stop yet the experience was exemplary. And how much more when we got to our main destination--in Apo Reef? (Will post 'bout it soon) For the mean time, Pandan Island can be your alternative destination to see Pawikans in the wild. So, set the date, pack your things up and go right away because Sablayan has the same to offer. Get amaze by these gentle Pawikan!
How to get there:
The fastest way to reach Sablayan is by air. Daily 45-minute flights from Manila to San Jose are service by Cebu Pacific, PAL Express and Zest Air. An then another 2 to 3 hours bus ride will take you to Sablayan by Dimple Star Bus. There were also vans routing to the town as alternative.
Small chartered plane can be arranged upon prior notice. This could land directly to Sablayan Airport or int province's capital which is Mamburao, a 2 hour land trip to Sablayan.
Sea planes are also an option that can land near Pandan Island and along the coastlines of Sablayan.
In our case, we travelled by land and by sea. A two to three hours bus ride going to Batangas International Port. And from Batangas Port, another two to four hours cruising depending on the ship line you boarded. Then a three hour land travel will bring you to Sablayan service by Dimple Star.
Also from Metro Manila, one can avail a flawless travel on air-condition bus direct to Sablayan. It will take a comfortable eight hours Trip via Ro-ro and bus.
There are also private yacht and tour-operated boats from Manila, Batangas, Palawan or Puerto Galera that can be arranged.
If you'll be coming from Visayas, there are daily six-hour trips from Libertad, Antique to San Jose, followed by a two to three-hour bus ride to Sablayan.
Upon reaching Sablayan town proper, we suggest that one has to go to the Municipal Tourism Office for you to arrange boat that will take you to the island. There are package tours that the office can offer you with reasonable price. So enjoy Sablayan!
For inquiries, please contact:
Municipal Tourism Office
Buenavista, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro 5104
Contact numbers: +63 929 428 0431 (Smart)
: +63 915 995 3895 (Globe)
: (o43) 458-0028 (Landline)
*All photos credit to Sir Jim Lagazo