Friday, March 2, 2018

The Tropical Charm of Matnog, Sorsogon

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Situated in the southernmost part of Bicol Region, Matnog, Sorsogon is not just a gateway to Eastern Visayas, it is also known to its beautiful landscapes, secluded islands, azure waters and an unforgettable tropical charm. Getting there is a not a joke, but you will be captivated by the outstanding beauty of Matnog. The place is a combination of a laid back living with a mesmerizing sunny ambiance. [Read: Exploring Sorsogon City]

The crystal clear and aquamarine water of Subic Beach in Calintaan Island.

I am always fascinated by the province of Sorsogon, I heard a lot of interesting stories about the place. Aside from the famous whale shark watching in Donsol, Sorsogon and the now famous waves in Gubat, Sorsogon, this province has a lot of secrets that needs to uncover. I knew that I should add  Sorsogon in my bucket list. [Read: Bulusan National Park]


We carefully plan our trip to Matnog because we knew that it would not be easy. Thirteen to 14 hours bus ride from Manila to Matnog  is not for faint-hearted individuals. Once you arrived in Matnog all your back pains, delusions and worries will automatically fade away by the enthralling beauty of the place. It is one of those off-the-beaten path destination with stunning discoveries and wonderful results. 


Tropical palm trees adding charisma to Calitaan Island.

The enchanting shore of Subic Beach in Calintaan Island.

Subic Beach in Calintaan Island



When we arrived in the simple town of Matnog we headed straight to the local tourism office to inquire and to ask information about the island tours that they offer. We arrived late in the afternoon at around 5pm and we were a bit skeptical because we’re not sure if they will still allow us to go to Calintaan Island. I guess luck was on our side because the local tourism officer gave us permission to go to the island.  It’s another one hour and a half boat ride to Calintaan Island  from the port of Sorsogon and we passed through San Bernandino straight where the waves and current are a bit bumpy and rough.  They advised us that we should stay in Calintaan Island or Subic beach. I got easily hooked by the sheer beauty of the beach. The long sugary white sand matched with crystal aquamarine water is delightfully amazing. Some part of the island had pinkish sand due to crushed red corals. This Tropical Island is not yet highly commercialized so you can still enjoy the beach with a few tourists. It is one of those islands that retain its tranquility because of the far distance from Manila. Surrounded by palm trees and peaceful atmosphere it is definitely a hidden utopia in the province of Sorsogon. 



On our way to Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary.
The sanctuary is a safe place for rare marine life and different species of fish.

Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary


On our first day we booked a tour going to Juag lagoon Fish sanctuary. It is a 30 minutes boat ride from Calintaan Island or Subic Beach. Since the lagoon is a marine sanctuary snorkeling and other water activities are not allowed in the area.  Also, dipping your underwater cameras is not allowed because the fish might take it as a food and it might harm the marine life. The sanctuary is a perfect Eden for different species of fish and other underwater life. The crystal transparent water is just flawless. We were astonished by an exceptionally huge coral fishes such as napoleon wrasse,parrot fish, large groupers, big eyed jack and puffer fish. The lagoon is also a safe haven for sea turtles, large sea cucumbers (the biggest I’ve seen), lobsters and rare giant clams. This sanctuary serves as a breeding ground for these rare species of fish and sea creatures.  According to the owner, their goal is to reserve these endangered sea creatures and to spread awareness about the preservation of our marine life. 

The view inside Calintaan cave.

A secret spot for relaxing.

Calintaan Cave


Another must visit spot is the Calintaan cave. It’s not actually a cave that we all knew instead it’s more of a secret hideout or an isolated place surrounded by huge walls of stones and wild vines. In order to get in, you need to swim across to reach the center. The water in this part can be pretty deep but once you get into the cave you will be awestruck by the pure beauty of the cave. Huge walls of stones covered with lush greens are just spectacular. It was like finding a magical place in a magical world; it was like a mermaid’s secret place in a world full of fantasy and magic. 

Cliff diving or cliff jumping outside the cave is a must try for thrill seekers and adventure junkies. Jumping from towering cliffs will add adrenaline rush and excitement to your Calintaan island trip.  Calintaan cave is about 15 to 30 minutes boat ride from Subic beach via an outrigger boat. They usually included Calintaan cave and Juag lagoon in their island hopping tours and packages.

Originally, a visit to Tikling Island was part of our island hopping tour. But, the owner was no longer accepting guest due to the ongoing project and restoration to build a resort in the island. We were sad and a bit mad since we really want to explore Tikling Island and its famous pink sand.  Nevertheless, we don’t allow our anger overcome our emotions instead we headed back to Subic Beach and spent the rest of the night drinking and just get totally lost by the calmness of the night. 

Long and powdery white sand of Subic Beach. 


How to get to Matnog, Sorsogon


By Air:

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have direct flights from Manila to Legazpi City. It will take an hour via plane. You can hire a tricycle (Php 50 -80) from the airport going to the bus terminal of Daraga-Matnog buses. You can also opt to hire a tricycle from the airport to Legazpi bus Terminal and board a bus going to Bulan. 

By land:
Option 1, from Manila:

Take the bus going to Matnog from different bus terminals in Alabang, Pasay and Cubao. Bus companies such as DLTB/Penafrancia /PHILTRANCO and Raymond bus have direct route to Matnog. Travel time is about 14 hours and it cost Php 800 to 1000 for aircon buses. Php 700 for non aircon bus. 

Option 2, from Legazpi:

At Legazpi bus terminal look for buses going to Bulan. Make sure to remind the conductor that you are going to Trece. From Trece, cross to the other side and wait for passenger jeepneys bound to Matnog. The fare is Php 20. We actually hire a tricycle going to Matnog for Php 150. If you are traveling alone you can join some passengers going to Matnog and charter a tricycle for Php 150. 

How to get to Subic Beach, Calintaan Island:


From Matnog town rent a boat for Php 1,500 for a day tour good for 10 persons and Php 2000 for overnight stay good for 10 persons. Calitaan Island, calitaan cave and Juag lagoon fish sanctuary are included in both tours. 
Contact person:  Mang Eddie- 0926 140 4577/ 0928 253 8607 

Important reminders: 
  • Buy your foods and supplies in Matnog Public market. The Public market was located      near to the tourism office. You can buy charcoal, rice and fresh fish, pork and                toiletries. 
  • All visitors are required to pay registration fee for Php 50 for local tourist. Php 300        for foreign tourist.
  • Environmental Fee for Php 20.
Where to stay?

Beach camping is allowed in Subic beach. Make sure to bring your own tent and hammocks. You can also rent a tent for Php 300. Bamboo Cottages can be rented for about Php 400 for day tour and 700 for overnight use. 



About the author:
Edss Tolentino works a Visual Merchandiser in a retail brand. He is an aspiring travel writer; an adventure junkie and a seeker of the unknown. His goal is to explore the 7,641 islands of the Philippines and share its beauty to the world. 

***Text and photos by Edss Tolentino

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