Taklong Island hopping
APART from mangoes, Guimaras is also rich in biodiversity. With the many islands and islets surrounding this tiny islandprovince, it is just right that we leave the mainland and make our way towards its coast. Our stay at the Nature’s Eye Resort included a three-hour island hopping at the nearby Taklong Island National Marine Reserve (TINMR) in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.
Before we proceeded to the mangrove forest in Taklong Island, we made a stopover at the Floating Cottage on a sandbar. The sandbar was submerged in the sea and is not visible from afar. But upon closer look, it seemed like a huge swimming pool that is shallow enough for children to swim into. It is cordoned off by a net and a ladder makes it easy for guests to get into and out of the water.
The water was enticing and I immediately took a dip in the sea. The sky was clear and the surroundings were just postcard perfect. The sea was clean and the fine sand felt silky beneath my feet. Good thing there weren’t too many tourists in the area. There were just our group (there were six of us in the boat) and then a family of six enjoying the Floating Cottage.
The small cottage, with four picnic tables inside, is managed by the San Roque Coastal Environment Program Association (Sarcepa). Members of Sarcepa who were manning the cottage at that time told us that this started in December 2015 through the efforts of former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez.
Things to note when you plan to stop by the Floating Cottage: liquors and smoking are not allowed in
Covering a total of 1,143.45 hectares, including 53 hectares of mangrove plantation, the TINMR is a place where various plant and animal species abound. It also has 46 islands and islets within its boundaries. We were able to chat with some personnel from the DENR-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office patrolling the area. We went to the beach where their office is located. The beach was deserted until another boat arrived. Still, we swam to our heart’s content while others climbed the lookout structures for a bird’s eye view of the surrounding islets.
As I sat there at the beach and looked around the magnificent raw beauty of nature, the more I am convinced that we need to protect our environment in whatever way we can – big or small. I am glad that the local government agencies and the communities are doing their part to safeguard the natural gems within their territories. After that infamous oil spill in 2006, the locals are more vigilant that their natural resources will be protected from damage caused by man.
The sun was high and it was time to go back to the resort. We passed through the many islets, some of which have interesting shapes, carved and molded by nature. There were tiny caves and cavities, proof that the waves and the wind can cut through the rocks. We also spotted a number of isolated beaches and felt relieved that they have remained untouched. Guimaras has charmed us and its marine reserve has brought us straight into paradise. *** All photos are by this author. Claire Marie Algarme blogs at http://firsttimetravels.com. Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram and like her Facebook page First-time Travels.