The second island we explored after our swim at the diminutive Colibra Island was the nearby rocky isle of Balas Nagtaros. We were here to visit the Cabacungan Cave and it took around twenty minutes via our rented boat to get from Colibra to the island.
The island looks craggy from afar, and indeed, it proved to be one as our boat’s engine was killed and our boy co-captain started maneuvering the craft by swimming and pushing the entire boat into its rock-strewn shore.
I was amazed at what that little sunburnt kid could do.
The cove we docked on looked unsuitable for swimming bare-foot as the beach was literally covered with rocks and sharp corals. Good thing this was not where our guide planned for us to spend the day in.
Same with Colibra Island, we again climbed up its flat grassland plateau, about twenty feet from the sea level, before heading back down onto one of its four coves, Cabacungan.
Balas Nagtaros Island is about thrice the size of Colibra, but I was not able to explore much of it since the midday heat was just killing us. I was able to glimpse another cove from where we were supposed to go but it was really just too hot to go exploring.
The beach we stayed at, Cabacungan Cove, might turn off regular beach-goers.
As with the cove we docked onto, it is similarly covered with sharp pebbly rocks. There is a spot with cream-colored sand on its sides and that was where we made camp.
But what really we came here for is the cave carved into one of the rock walls of the cove.
It was easy enough for us to wiggle our way into the cave and once inside, we were greeted with a cool pool of clear water about four feet deep. The cave goes on to about thirty feet or so with an opening at its far side into the sea. The water at the middle part slopes down to about ten feet deep as you approach the mouth. It was fun wading inside this natural pool, away from the harsh light of the midday sun.
Once we got tired of the cave, it was time to go swimming outside.
The water at Cabacungan Cove was crystal clear and was not that deep. I spotted a few interesting fishes while snorkeling but they were few and far between. The waves were gentle but gets stronger as you get farther away from the shore. The seabed remains constant at two to three feet deep but drops vertically to about thirty feet after you reach a certain point.
I dared not venture onto that part, even if with my floating vest and snorkel; it gets pretty scary when you’re all alone on a part of the water where you can hardly glimpse the sea floor.
We spent quite a while on this beach, wading in the cave pool, swimming at the sandy part of the shore and snorkeling the rocky areas for fishes. We wished that we had brought some snacks with us though, as it was our rumbling stomach that finally decided for us to go back to Tambobong Beach.
In hindsight, Balas Nagtaros Island is a far more interesting place to explore than Colibra. It’s just too bad that we got there when the heat of the day was just too much. I recommend going there in the afternoons; you have to brave the rougher midday waters but the reward of a setting sun against the craggy rock fortifications of this island would be more than enough compensation for the discomfort of the journey.
2 0 1 4 U P D A T E
I went back to Balas Nagtaros Island after almost four years, during the rainy month of August. While the island looks the same, the waves were quite a different story.
We were unable to dock at the southern part of the island due to the huge waves and have to circle to its northern portion where a small channel is located. The place is quite calm compared to the surrounding areas since it is protected by the southern end of the mainland and the northern portion of the island.
Cabacungan Cave was virtually impenetrable during our visit due to the strong waves that slams through the shore, so we contented ourselves into swimming along the channel on the opposite side of the cave.
Balas Nagtaros Island
Address: Dasol Bay, Dasol, Pangasinan
Entrance Fee: Free
Island Hopping Tour Rate: Php800.00
GPS Coordinates Map: 15°54'54.2"N 119°46'22.8"E