I was panting like a dog as I reached the peak of Matukad Island’s jagged karsts, I’m definitely not a mountaineer, let alone a rock climber. This relatively low climb at the northeast corner of the island was totally dangerous. As I rested my unwieldy legs, I was thinking to myself how I got myself into this situation.
We started off from the town of Caramoan earlier on six-seater tricycles then transferred to a middle-sized outrigger boat at the mangrove-speckled port of Bikal. It was already pretty late and the sun was already high up. We circled the coasts of Bikal and Paniman, and after more than an hour of being splashed with saltwater, our boat docked at the wavy shore of Matukad Island.
Matukad, according to our guide means mataas, and I can definitely see why. The island is dotted with sharp rocky outcrops.
The beach cove is located on the southern part of the island and we docked on its southwest corner. The waves were relentless and I have to take care not to lose my footing as I jumped down the boat into its frothy shore.
The sun was overly bright and it accentuated the cove’s powdery white/cream sand even more. Matukad’s beach has one of the finest sand I’ve been to and it was a delight to walk around barefoot even under the scorching heat of the midday sun.
After setting up a tent on a woody patch inland, we hurriedly took our shirts off and proceeded to the turquoise waters of the beach.
Matukad’s water is very nice to swim on but the mildly strong waves dashing the shore was making everything below its water murky. After a few clicks of my underwater camera, I gave up. There were no fishes in sight and everything is silt-white.
We dipped for some minutes before heading back to camp for a hearty lunch. After platefuls of laing, ginataang pusit, and steamed rice it was time to explore the island.
It was thirty minutes past twelve in the afternoon and the sun was now bearing down extremely hard. A lot of people were still on the beach though, oblivious to the sun’s harsh rays. With arm warmers and hat on, I walked the length of the cove, which really is not that large, just about a hundred meters or so.
The northeastern side of the cove is bordered by towering karsts, which according to our guide was climbable. An inland lake can be seen on the peak of the rock wall where a huge two-feet long milkfish resides. The locals here hold this fish sacred and consider it as the island’s guardian. Our guide relates to us how it used to have a partner before it was speared for lunch. Legend has it that those who snatched the sacred fish died after eating it.
So there I was, eyeing this jagged rock formation, debating with myself if I should climb or not. The constant egging of our guide finally convinced me to set my foot up on the first jagged outcrop. I was soon steadily climbing up, holding on sharp rocks for support. The ground dizzyingly fell away as I looked back. It was a surprisingly easy climb, with my guide pointing to where I should land my foot and where to get a handhold.
The only thing about this whole affair was the danger it presents if ever a climber plummets down. It was an almost vertical climb, with jagged rocks the only thing that would stop one’s fall, so I was extremely careful on my way up.
After some minutes, it was at last only one heave up before the lagoon opens up before my eyes.
Unfortunately, to get there I have to put my left foot on a tiny piece of rock more than waist high from where I was standing, and there was no other way to go but through it. I knew I could not make that climb. I know my limits and knew that I have reached it; I don’t want to find myself tumbling down those spiky rocks. I told this to my guide who was still insistent that I could climb it. I just handed him my camera and asked him to take a few snaps of the lagoon (which he did a good job of, by the way).
After resting a bit, it was time to descend.
The climb down was the hardest part of the whole affair. I was grunting and sweating like a pig as I slowly navigated the way down. A crowd has gathered at the foot of the karsts, watching my torturously slow descent.
A round of applause sounded off once my feet landed on the soft sand of Matukad Island. I made it one piece.
After that grueling descent, I needed to relax my shaking muscles (or fats if you must, haha). The waves have now subsided and I decided to try out shooting underwater again. After going a bit further from shore, I at last saw some fishes and other marine life.
That relaxing swim was exactly what I needed before we headed out to Minalahus Island, our next destination.
The island of Matukad is one of the more popular beaches in Caramoan, and rightly so. It almost has everything; fine white sandy beach, crystal clear waters, snorkling areas, picnic groves, rock climbing karsts and a mysterious lake. All this bundled on a small little cove; and we haven’t even explored a fourth of the island.