Most of the time, the best medicines are not in the form of capsules, syrup, or tablets, but natural wonders such as the beach, sunshine, and or salty/air.
One good thing about working overseas, particularly for those working in the middle of the desert, is the blazing anticipation for and of the beach. I couldn’t’ help but be inspired again and write another “beach experience”, which was the one official travel buddy (OTB) and I had in Masbate in June 2018. It’s a portion of my travel stories’ backlog.
I have a penchant for virgin beaches but a deviation from it once in a while is also fine. This explains why we headed to San Pascual in Masbate in the summer for Burias Islands’ island-hopping tour. “Burias Islands” is one of the many trip planners in the Bicol Region that make travel arrangements to the Burias Group of Islands. Mainstream as it is but it was definitely worth it to press the trip deviation button on my list. OTB and I joined the trip with other 15 wanderers on the 3rd of June.
Getting to Burias demands a two-hour jeepney ride from Naga City to Pasacao Port and a boat ride for about three hours to Brgy. Laurente in San Pascual, Burias Island, Masbate. This barangay generally serves as a get-go point for this tour because of Atlaza Resort that’s strategically positioned at the port. It has a wide dining area and multiple bathrooms for different “nature calls”.
We got to the resort by 1100 but we didn’t have lunch here, only a ten-minute rest. One of the organizers, PeeJay, is from the area. The organizers have been utilizing Peejay’s house instead for their guests’ dining venue. We screamed “lunch” as soon as we were seated inside the house. Yes, we were that starved from the long boat ride.
A few minutes of preparation turned the table in front of us into a gastronomic paradise. The variety of sea food served was truly commendable. The spirit of hospitality was well felt during our short stay, the food for the most part. The swapping of stories was also such an unforgettable and fun experience. There’s comfort in sharing stories of bravado and juicy stuff with strangers.
We took a nap before sailing to the vastness of Ragay Gulf for the three islands namely Animasola Island or Ambulong Island, Tinalisayan Island and sandbar, and the white sand beaches of Sombrero Island. There are plenty of other islands but the three are the biggest among the group so trip agents use them as default choices for their organized trips.
Among the three islands, Animasola was our first destination in the itinerary because of its geographical location. It’s the nearest from the jumping-off point: Atlaza Resort.
We reached the island in a little less than 30 minutes on a lazy afternoon. Approaching Animasola’s shores, we were greeted by untouched corals showing through crystal-clear waters and a beach of white, coarse-grained sand and crushed corals.
This island is one of the many proofs that Masbate has imposing rock formations that could rival Samar’s Biri Island. The most prominent among them is the one that looks like a T-Rex head. It’s a sculptured piece of rock on the island’s end right behind the massive sediment and ochres with clearly defined horizontal layers.
Trees and other green shrubs are teeming on the top of the sediments. Sadly, our guide said that part isn’t accessible.
I could just imagine what kind of views can be snapped from that vantage point.
A few steps away from that reptilian head outcrop is another awesome feature of Animasola, a favorite of mine. The guide called it “the mermaid pool”. It’s a natural pool that was formed by the everyday crashing of the giant sea waves.
Chilling out on a hot day at the beach doesn’t have to involve adrenaline-driven activities. Sometimes, it’s just dipping into this natural pool hewn into a cliff face.
The next to be ticked off the list is Tinalisayan Island. After an hour and a half of swimming and traipsing around Animasola, we were brought to this island. Getting here entailed an hour or so of a boat ride from the first island.
The sea was still calm during that time. We had a smooth sailing trip. The same kind of wonders greeted us as the boat was nearing the shore, with the exception of lofty coconut trees with leaves swaying gently in the wind. The sight of them gives a tropical vibe. I couldn’t help but feel immaculately peaceful.
OTB and I took another dip into the crystal clear water of Tinalisayan after a few minutes of dilly-dallying around. This was the consequence of learning from the guide that it’s impossible for the sandbar to appear because of the weather condition. Common sense and Google told me that there’s no way for the sandbar to emerge then. We were there in June. It was already rainy season so the water level in the area is high. High tide was already kicking off also by the time we were washing up.
Tinalisayan Island is smaller than Animasola. What it has that the latter doesn’t are nipa huts, tables, and buko juice. There were also a few interesting rock formations, plants, and cairns in the island.
The skies started to get cloudy and the wind was blowing hard by the time we were heading to the final leg of the island hopping tour. Consequently, our boat battled against the strong waves, with a bit of fear of being flung from it and into the waves at any moment. Nonetheless, we got through it safely by late afternoon. Finally, OTB and I got to check the rented cottage. I smiled upon entering the door and when I was putting our bags on the floor. I was so grateful for that little piece of heaven and ephemeral privacy in the midst of crowd in the island. We were so tired we fell asleep while pillow talking…
When I woke up, OTB was still sleeping. I took advantage of it by checking what nature wonders the island boasts. I chose to do it barefoot to really feel the sand under my toes. Walking on the beach barefoot is no big deal to some but for me, it’s a medicine.
Feeling my feet alternately sinking into the sand makes me feel stronger because the calf muscles have to work extra hard to push back up. The exfoliation and foot massage the activity gives are a bonus.
Sombrero Island has the longest white sand beach among Burias Group of Islands. Scuba divers also flock in the place because of the amazing coral reef particularly the one at the back of the island. Obviously, we weren’t there for that kind of pursuit but the less-complicated ones. I could only make you visualize the colorful marine life underneath.
When I got back to the cottage, OTB was already awake—happily waiting for me at the door holding my favorite hot cup on her left hand…That exquisite moment is embedded in my mind. I could always use it as a definition of the words “happiness”, “contentment” and “comfort”. We went out for a short walk together after that, because, apparently, the sun had set. She has heliophobia.
Meanwhile the clouds thickened even more by the time we got back to our momentary Xanadu for a pillow fight, to complement the pillow talk we had earlier. A little bit later, we were woken up by the loud sound of the heavy rain. We waited for half an hour for the downpour to let up then proceeded to the improvised mess hall for the group at around 2000. It was another superb dining experience followed by a fun partaking in small talk and hard drinks.
OTB and I left early so we can do more pillow talks and whatnots…That night reminded us of the one we spent in Bagolatao (“Stargazing By The Beach”). I’m really glad OTB and I still go on a date like this even at this point. There’s something quite special about this kind of time with her where we don’t talk about finances, household responsibilities, problems with the kids and stuff but purely enjoying each other—lionizing little things.
The next day was another beautiful day filled with outdoor activities. We started with a breakfast bouffage. Combining that with a good night sleep and, at last, sunshine, is a sure way to fire up the ultimate day.
The highlight of the activities was the hike for about 40 minutes behind the island while the sun was still rising. This part has a different kind of panorama. I so loved the piles of rock on this side of the island because of the aesthetics they add to the view. However, I also find it a bit excessive and dangerous should kids be frolicking in the area.
We went back to the default beach of the island to wind up the tour and to take a final dip. We freshened up before 0900 and were ferried back to Pasacao Port by 1000.
From there we took a jeep bound for Naga City and in less than two hours, we got back home—safe and sound.
After ruminating on this particular trip in the afternoon, I realized that no matter how evanescent the beach is in my grasp every now and then at the place I’m based in, it’s my kind of cynosure and medicine, still.
Thank you to Burias Islands for facilitating this trip. The company and the food feast every meal are definitely a thumbs up!
Descend Into Sombrero Island’s Tubastraea Heart (luxebeatmag.com)
BURIAS ISLAND: DIY Island Hopping in Masbate (Travel Guide) (jontotheworld.com)
Burias Island Masbate: Tour Packages, Itinerary, Travel Tips … (willexplorephilippines.com)
Burias Island Tour And Things to do in Burias Island (gamintraveler.com)