Of Sunrise and Sandbars
There was activity early in the morning. It turns out it got really cold at the beach in the wee mornings that some of our companions went back to the pension. Up early, I decided to walk south until I could get a view of the sunrise. It was quite a walk until I reached the rocky coast where gentle waves lap and the sun was in view. Everything was enveloped in a blanket of peacefulness, even the walk back to where the waters were undisturbed. Still as a glass. A moment frozen in time.
Post breakfast activity was to visit the sandbars. Yes, there were a couple and probably more on low tide. It was near the mangrove area central part of the island. I could guess people can walk up to this part of the island by land. The sandbar is where our group really enjoyed the beach and the sea. We could walk up to a part of the sea where the sand below was white and the waters really clear. We also had a brief yoga session at the sandbar which was fun.
We then sailed to the other side of the island to do some snorkeling. It is evident the boatmen here are not that familiar on good snorkeling spots yet, relying on the presence of fishermen to ask if there were a lot of fish in the area. We jumped in the water regardless. It’s great that the water clarity was optimal. Corals were not that many and to find the fishes takes a little patience. Nevertheless it was a great to see what the underwater of Alibijaban Island has to offer, I’m sure there are other interesting spots around the island.
I could understand what lures people to Alibijaban Island. It dares you to strip down to the basics and abandon luxury for a simple camp and be out in the elements to enjoy nature naturally. The place is undeveloped so prepare to deal with water rationing and sharing facilities but its a minor inconvenience in comparison to what the island offers. I enjoyed the island and would go back but definitely not on a weekend when it can get pretty crowded.
How to get to Alibijaban Island
- Direct bus to San Andres from Manila. Superlines Transport in Cubao have daily trips three times a day. 4:30am, 2:30pm and 5:30pm. Fare is Php 470.00 with a travel time of 8–10 hours. For inquiries and reservations (02) 414.3119, (02) 4143321 and 0922.522.5192.
- Direct bus to San Andres from Alabang Barney Auto Lines in Starmall, Alabang, also have daily trips to San Andres. Schedules are 4:00am, 5:30am, 8:30am, 1:00pm, 6:30pm, 8:30pm and 10:00pm. Fare is Php 417. For inquiries and reservations 0918.368.2318.
- San Andres Via Lucena. From Cubao, Manila take the many bus options to Lucena like JAC Liner, Lucena Lines DLTB and Tritran. Fare is Php 220 with 4–5 hours travel time. From Lucena Grand Terminal there are buses (Superlines and Barney Auto Lines) to San Andres leaving starting 2:00am and last trip at 12 midnight. Fare is Php 216 with 4–5 hours travel time. There are also vans at SM Lucena for Php 270.
From San Andres, head to the pier, chance a ride for commuter boats going to the island for Php 20–50/head. There are no regular schedule of boats. Another option is to hire boats for Php 1500 good for a group of 4–10px for a round trip ride.
Notes before going to the island
- There is no electricity on the island
- Water is rationed. Php 10 for a pail or Php 150 for a drum
- Tents can be rented but its better to bring your own
- Bring citronella or insect repellant. There are sand mites on parts of the beach especially near the mangrove area
- Bring your own snorkeling gear
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.