SORSOGON | Matnog Island Hopping

Monday, August 26, 2013

Island Hopping in Matnog, Sorsogon

The sun failed to show up on the second day of PHILTOA’s Bicol media familiarization tour. I was eagerly awaiting this leg of the trip since the itinerary included an island hopping adventure off the coasts of Matnog in Sorsogon. Daring the heavens to pour, our group boarded the white outrigger boats docked near the town market and sailed to sea.

Dreary Weather for Island Hopping in Matnog, Sorsogon

Matnog is hardly known for touristy destinations. When one mentions the town’s name, the thing that immediately comes to mind is its port that serves as a gateway to Visayas and Mindanao. A concrete arch even announced that we were about to leave the island of Luzon.

But wait just a minute, we’re staying put and we’re checking out what this small town at the southernmost edge of Sorsogon has to offer.

Batanes-Like Landscapes in Matnog, Sorsogon

The sky silently wept as we set sail. It was just too bad; the verdant rolling hills from across the waters reminded me so much of the famous Marlboro Hills of Batanes. Taking a photo was a challenge due to the combination of sea spray and the light rain.

Tikling Island in Matnog, Sorsogon

But dour weather was unable to taint our trip as we docked on the first island of the tour.

Ticlin Island or Tikling Island to the locals, is named after a bird that frequents the area. They say that the island is also shaped like a bird, but a quick look at Google Maps reveals an island that looks more like a mutated chicken leg than anything else.

Buko Juice at Tikling Island in Matnog, Sorsogon

A party of bolo-toting manongs welcomed us; thank goodness those blades were not for us! A pile of fresh coconuts awaited slaughter for our drinking pleasure; coupled with local kakanin delicacies, we drank the juice straight from the fruit. We were living the island life!

Tree House at Tikling Island in Matnog, Sorsogon

After sipping our bukos dry, it was time to swim. Unfortunately, I was unable to bring my snorkel and mask for this trip. I was expecting we would be provided one since there’s a fish sanctuary in the itinerary; no such luck though. Good thing our bankero had a spare set of handmade mask that he willingly lent me.
Hermit Crab at Tikling Island in Matnog, Sorsogon

There wasn’t much to see under the waters of Tikling Island, but I really wasn’t able to go that far since the mask lent by our boatman didn’t have a snorkel that usually goes along with it. I didn’t miss shooting with my busted Canon D10 that much.

Approaching the Juag Marine Sanctuary in Matnog, Sorsogon

An hour later and we sailed to the second destination of our island hopping tour. Passing and dodging small whirlpools along the coast, we arrived at Juag Lagoon in Juac Island where a marine sanctuary is located.

At the Juag Marine Sanctuary in Matnog, Sorsogon

This is not what I had in mind when I first heard we were gonna visit a marine sanctuary. The Juag Lagoon is more like a big fish pen where hosts of interesting fishes are kept. One can even compare it to an aquarium, but here, you can actually swim on it.

Fish Feeding at the Juag Marine Sanctuary in Matnog, Sorsogon

A sanctuary is the farthest thing the owner was thinking when he first built the place years ago. It was originally intended as a ground to harvest saltwater fishes since it was getting harder to fish on open water. It shifted to a tourist place as people started to visit the fish pen due to the vast array of species that can be seen inside its bamboo fence.

Swimming with the Fishes at the Juag Marine Sanctuary in Matnog, Sorsogon

The best way to enjoy the Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary is by immersing yourself in its crystal clear waters and swimming with its marine inhabitants. Best to bring your own snorkels and goggles though as they don’t have one for rent. The depth ranges from knee-deep to around ten feet; you may however use the life vests provided by the boats if you don’t know how to swim.

Waters Around the Juag Marine Sanctuary in Matnog, Sorsogon

If you, however, prefer a more natural swimming ground, the area surrounding the lagoon is also beautiful--albeit deadly. Its current is quite strong and the bottom quickly slopes down to man-deep heights. Natural whirlpools also abound in the area, even expert swimmers must take extreme care.

The Old Lighthouse in Matnog, SorsogonPassing an old derelict American lighthouse in the middle of the San Bernardino Strait, our outrigger boat chugged along to our third and last stop for our Matnog island hopping tour.

Subic Beach's Pink Sand at Matnog, Sorsogon

I’ve heard about a beach in Mindanao having pink sands, but I didn’t know that Luzon also has something similar; it’s in Matnog’s Subic Beach. Calintaan Island’s sand is really not pink per se, rather, the sand is mixed with crushed red corals giving it a somehow pink hue when viewed from afar.

Rondalla at Matnog's Subic Beach

The sounds of guitars, ukeleles and bandurrias greeted us as we made our way to the huts for lunch. A group of students performed local songs just for us; the people of Matnog were very gracious indeed.

Seafood Galore at Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon

And then lunch arrived; shrimps, fishes, squids, giant crabs and humungous lobsters. To say that everyone was overwhelmed is definitely an understatement. I have never ever had this many seafood dishes in one serving, I was honestly panicking on which one to eat first!

Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon

With somber gray clouds hiding the sun and the blue skies, I thought our island hopping tour in Matnog would be a total failure. I took my word back as we wound our way back to the docks, Matnog’s hidden gems shines even on the dourest days. And I can just imagine how beautiful its beaches and sanctuaries are on perfect beach weather.

Matnog Location Map

Tikling Island
GPS Coordinates: +12° 34' 43.06", +124° 7' 21.86"
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here

Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary
GPS Coordinates: +12° 33' 9.94", +124° 6' 39.61"
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here

Subic Beach
GPS Coordinates: +12° 32' 28.62", +124° 6' 15.95"
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here


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  1. wwwooowww...ganda ng swim with the fish..nakaka inggit naman... :-(

  2. W.O.W. Kakainggit talaga. Thanks for posting.

  3. You have nice photos! Hope I could go to Sorsogon someday!!

    1. Thank you Bianca! Sorsogon is a beauty, don't miss the Matnog island hopping tour if ever you decide to go :)

  4. Ang pagswim with the fish is so so so ganda , hanep! Idol

    1. Hahaha salamat. Sayang lang, mas gusto ko sana kung hindi nakatingin yung swimmer :)

  5. pano po ang mga ways para makapunta sa Juac island, fish sanctuary and how much and usual na gastos

    1. Hi JL, just head to the Matnog Tourism Office near the port, in front of the Municipal Hall, register with them and book your Matnog Island Hopping tour with them. The cost, including the banca rental (good for 10 persons) and other fees would be around PHP2,000.00

  6. looks so much fun! thank you for sharing your island hopping in Sorsogon.

  7. reading travel guide is a big help! enjoyed our 3 day stay there in Sorsogon.

  8. The shores of Subic Matnog Beach may not be as popular as the other beaches known in the Philippines. Enjoyed reading this! thank you so much.

    1. It's actually one of the rare pink beaches in the world!