The roaring sound of the motorized banca and a stretch of seemingly infinite blue sky reflecting on the turquoise waters put me in a dreamy mood as we made our way to Tinalisayan Islet in the province of Masbate.
My companions were on a mission to find a pristine natural attraction that they could feature on their TV show while I was simply fulfilling my long time desire of setting foot on the 6th province of the Bicol region.
Tales about aswang, pirates, witch doctors, and notorious political rivalry were my first impressions of this beleaguered province while growing up. But stories like these, along with the constant discouragement from my father whenever I mentioned my desires to backpack Masbate solo just made me more curious, like a child being entrusted with Pandora’s box.
It was only a matter of time before a series of fortunate events made it possible for me to finally visit it. With a month to spare before going to Australia I decided to travel around Luzon, and near the end of my journey the crew of a documentary and Lifestyle TV show (Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho) agreed to join me in exploring some of its islands.
We made it to municipality of San Pascual on Burias Island less than two hours after leaving Pasacao Port in Camarines Sur. There wasn’t a single tourist in sight and the town center itself could be explored in a few minutes. A few fisher folk were having siesta in the waiting shed watching a noontime variety show but later on got distracted by my companions who were lugging around some serious video cameras and tripods.
We walked past a narrow street flanked with small shops full of fishing gear, stalls of dried fish, and fresh produce on the way to the municipal hall situated on a hillside. It loomed above the sleepy town and was one of the few structures graced with modernity.
After paying a courtesy call to the local officials and devouring a hearty take-away lunch that the crew bought earlier at Pasacao, we were back on the boat swiftly cruising on the surprisingly calm waters. I was kind of expecting turbulent swells after experiencing stomach-turning waves the previous week on the way to Calaguas Island and while checking out some beaches at Matnog, Sorsogon.
And there it was… interrupting my reverie, a tiny islet appears on the horizon . It has a lengthy sand bar that stretches all the way to another isle. It is barely visible under the clear aquamarine water.
Our boat slowed down as we approached Tinalisayan Island. A small strand of white sand with a backdrop of rust colored sandstone came into view. It was like the typical, idyllic setting of a movie about shipwreck survivors, who find refuge on a deserted little island, with only a handful of coconut trees to keep them alive.
I was raring to go the moment I saw the glistening sand and the clear shallow water. I wanted to feel it under my feet and walk on the sandbar as far as it would let me.
My Ray Dan
We first circumnavigated the island, finding some craggy walls on the other side. A few cave-like rock formations dot the surrounding waters and some nearby islands are just a short boat-ride away.
Although I prefer small coves with fine pearly white sand, and have seen some of the best beaches in the Philippines, Tinalisayan Beach is a worthwhile stopover while exploring the wonders of Burias. It may not be an ideal place for a pampering kind of beach getaway but it’s a perfect spot for those who don’t mind roughing it a bit in order to have their very own island for days of beach camping.
There is no accommodation or any sort of facilities on the island so you would have to bring you own food and tent if you want to spend the night here. You only have the sand and the water to keep you company – a nightmare to some but a paradise to many.
For me, this trip is proof of the joys of spontaneous travel and having low expectations. I originally planned to visit Masbate on a solo trip to see Sombrero Island. Yet I was greatly surprised with this new discovery, and to top it all there was a TV crew there to document something that I love doing – travelling and discovering something new and wonderful.
How to Get to Tinalisayan Island
Take a van near SM Naga en route to Pasacao Port. The port is about 30 kilometers from Naga City and some 10 kilometers from the main highway. You could either ride a passenger boat that goes to San Pascual in Burias Island and rent a small boat to take you to Tinalisayan Islet or rent a private banca from Pasacao Port. Boat rentals vary depending of the number of islands you want to visit.
You can watch the special feature about Tinalisayan Islet and some behind the scenes images at Lakwatsera de Primera on Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho.