Cebu Destinations : Pacijan Island ( The Lost Horizon of the South )

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There is no argument that Cebu is surely blessed with alluring islands that meet anyone's expectation and might even exceed it. Bantayan, Sumilon, Malapascua, Gibitngil to name a few but none as diverse as the island group of Camotes. Blessed with an awe inspiring lake, stunning caves, magnificent waterfalls and those unspoiled white beaches that mostly lured tourists in. This wasn't always my top choice to recommend in Cebu but all that changed during my visit last weekend. 

Life is indeed full of surprises.

As my week closes, my mind is boggled with so many things. Overwhelmed by the added responsibilities of my new position at work, felt betrayed by the people I call friends and those past aches I vow to avoid brewing to occupy my head once again. Life takes an unexpected turn to a difficult situation and my preferred remedy is to escape to a beautiful place. I always find healing from a difficult situation by experiencing something beautiful.

Unexpectedly, Camotes was my life saver this weekend and to think this wasn't always my top choice. Most of the stunning islands in Cebu have already been crossed out of my to-visit list and it just so happened this island wasn't on that list. So I gave it a chance and was somewhat influenced by my folks at home who never stops talking about this island.

Camotes is actually comprised of three major islands namely Poro, Pacijan & Ponson with one minor islet of Tulang. There are four municipalities divided within those islands. Pacijan is usually the touristy one with beautiful beaches, Lake Danao and that laid back provincial appeal. I plan to visit Poro as well for the sake of stepping into another island.  

Departed before sunrise and the trip going to Danao's port from Cebu's north terminal took less than an hour. Followed by a two hour sea trip crossing Cebu Strait. I heard the trip going to the island is nauseating but I was blessed with a calm sea and reached the island around ten in the morning.

I was greeted  with a breathtaking scenery as soon as I arrive in the sea port of Consuelo. The sights in the island port of Pacijan filled exquisite rock formations protruding out of the sapphire colored water made me grab my camera in an instant. The landscape before me sets my expectation of what I will experience in this trip.  

Obtaining a ride in Consuelo Port is rather easy with the bulk of habal-habal drivers waiting for locals and tourists alike getting off the boat. Cost varies in your destination in the island and your skills. Haggle if you must but don't rob these people of their living. The regular fare going to the famous white beach of Santiago is usually around fifty pesos. I was lucky enough to find a real nice driver which didn't overcharge and know his way around the island. 

Habal - Habal Driver : Jun-Jun # (0930) 724 4677

  • An Awesome Find that is the BellaVistaMare Resort
Santiago White Beach is packed of all types of tourists so understandably there are a lot options when it comes to the accommodation based in your needs and how much you plan to expend. If you are in a tight budget then you should consider the backpacking shacks along the coast which offer some really cheap price. If you are the type who don't demand a lot of pampering in a vacation then give those shacks a try. There are also pricey resorts around the area for people who develops a taste of luxury. 

I found comfort of somewhere in the middle. BellaVistaMare Resort is a wonderful choice because it met my needs and not pricey as well. The living / dining area of the resort offers the best scenery of the beach thus far compared to the others. The right elevation and location offers an uninterrupted view of the white beach in Santiago. This alone makes it highly recommendable and the fast internet in the lobby is a bonus. 

Santiago White Beach is filled with backpackers rooms such as this!

Naturally, it is not all that perfect though because they don't cook breakfast and the menu is quite pricey. I found myself going down to the beach side every time I want to eat. There are a lot of choices for food by the beach and it is not that far from the resort. 

The hospitality of the staff in the resort is a huge plus for me. The moment I stepped in the vicinity I was greeted with a warm smile and meticulous enough to find me a room suited to my needs. Most of the single bedrooms are fully booked at that time so they offered me a family room with no added fees. End up with a spacious room with extra beds to neglectfully scatter my things for a price of single bedroom. A deal too good to resist.

  • Santiago White Beach Awaits!
I have this idea there's a contrast between the size of an island to the beauty of the beach in it. The bigger the island the less nicer the beach within its boundary especially when there are rivers involved. There's that eccentric explanation in my head that I couldn't quite justify involving the sediments that the river carries. Knowing Pacijan's land area I did not expect much of its beach and I guess that's what added more to the surprise. 

The picture says a lot! The sight of that beautiful beach somehow calms my head and give me that peace of mind I desperately need. This is already enough to satisfy a soul seeking tranquility but the explorer side of me will never be appeased unless I visit every nook and cranny in the island. I allotted an hour to checked-in everything and relished the scenery before hopping to the habal-habal off to another destination. 

  • The Adrenaline Rush in Boho Rock 

The haven for cliff diving is our stop, the Boho Rock Resort. There's not much see here but rather experience. A fun place for big groups who are into this kind of activity. Boring for those too chicken to ever want to try cliff diving. 

A decapitated "I  Boho Rock" sign greeted me after paying an entrance fee of twenty pesos. The fun awaits after a descent of more than a hundred steps and this is the only spot here you will bother visiting. There are group of teens hanging out in some cottages above the rock when I arrive in the cliff diving spot. This activity may seem very appealing to me when I'm with my friends but when traveling solo this don't interest me at all given the limited I have I did not stay long here.

  • The Eerie Beauty of Timubo Cave 
The experience in the island will never be complete without taking a dip in one of the many subterranean swimming pool hidden in Camotes. Timubo Cave and her secret pool is quite known to refresh the locals and tourists alike. This is the only cave I was able to visit in my limited time here. The Holy Crystal Cave would have been perfect to see living stalactites & stalagmites and that ever enchanting Bukilat Cave. I'll surely be coming back to this island soon.

Reaching Timubo's subterranean pool requires descending into the deepest area of the cave. After paying the entrance fee of twenty pesos I bravely enter the cavern on my own while the habal-habal driver is keeping watch of my belongings. I was imagining once I enter that entrance of the cavern I will be greeted by the refreshing pool after a few steps. I did not expect I have to go deeper in its chamber to reach it.

A man made stairway was built by the locals for the convenience of the tourists. I have to descend less than a hundred steps to reach that refreshing spot and my mind is bewildered with thoughts about imaginary beings fueled by my creative head. By the time I reached the subterranean pool I was too spooked to take a bath.

What awaits down there is a crystal clear water glowing in an amethyst hue. Anyone would easily be tempted to jump without hesitation by the glimpse of it but not in my case because I was overrun with those dark thoughts. Being all alone in that eerie chamber played tricks with my head and the deafening silence put me in a very uncomfortable condition. The dripping sound of the cold water is the only one that keeps me company and the statue of the Virgin Mary placed inside made me question the safeness of the pool.

Naturally, I did not stay long in that cavern. After a few photos I made a decision to go back even if my body is tempting me to jump into the water as if a Siren is ensnaring me. By this time, my head is filled with thoughts of giant snakes, Mantaga ( fresh water octopus ) or any cave monsters which could reside there. It is for this reason I am not a big fan of caves and spelunking.

  • The Relaxing Allure of Lake Danao

Ten minutes later, the glimpse of the crocodile island floating in the wide expanse of the lake brought back my excitement. It has been awhile since I have visited a lake and I did not envision Lake Danao to be that imposing.

This is the second Lake Danao I toured. The other one is in Leyte and coincidentally I think was the last lake I've been to. This Lake Danao in Camotes is smaller in size but no less amazing in beauty. Thanks to the increasing number of tourists they've built some resorts, diners, restaurants surrounding the lake. Lots of activities offered here as well namely kayaking, canoeing and a lake tour with a big boat. 

Undoubtedly, this is the perfect spot to take a sumptuous meal during the day tour with the variety of food to choose from and a relaxing sight of Lake Danao. I took my time here to savor the relaxing breeze, snooped some foreign couples going full PDA while enjoying the water and took a short tour of the lake.

  • The Dramatic Sunset in Mangodlong Resort

Finally, a day's tour will never be complete without an obligatory tropical sunset watch. The sight of a sitting sun never fail to make me reflect how my life has been. My driver recommended Mangodlong for this dramatic activity.

The sunset in Mangodlong Resort left me speechless and thankful altogether for the opportunity of doing these things regularly. It made me realize there is so much to be thankful about life and focused my attention to it. Forget everything that made it difficult for awhile. 

Got back in the resort perfect for dinner time. I go back to those shacks by the beach for a sumptuous meal and some cold beer to warm me in that bitter night. I got my ideal night all alone by the beach enjoying my cold beer with the calming hymn of the sea under the blanket of stars. 

These cool kids reminded how much I miss my childhood.

The next day was supposed to be focused in exploring the different white beaches in the island but the weather was uncooperative. So I decided to stay in Santiago White Beach and enjoy the remaining time I have. I got back in the rainy Consuelo port in time to catch the one thirty ferry back to Cebu.

Christian Vincent Literatus

Travel Blogger

Chris just loves to travel, and for a long time now has been drifting from place to place around the Philippines. With his combined passion for travel and photography, he’s managed to find himself in the middle of some magical moments and mind blowing scenery. The Bisdak Explorer is Chris’s way of sharing his experiences with you, and showcasing not just his travel photography, but the moments and stories behind those photos.


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