We arrived at the town’s airport early in the morning with no concrete plan on where to stay or where to begin. We had a thought of booking a room at the better-known Grace Island Resort but for whatever reason, the place was not answering our call. In desperation, we asked one of the terminal officials for help and thankfully, he suggested the newly built Bluewater Beach Resort situated at the beautiful Island of Ambulong.
The resort was a revelation. I wasn’t expecting much from the place but the stunning sight of limestone cliffs standing firmly on clear and calm blue waters immediately made me a sure-fire believer.
As our boat was starting to dock at the beachside of the resort, I was in total awe. My only wish was that the resort was decent enough for our short stay; but what we unexpectedly had was an extremely beautiful haven. I was indeed surprised and overly stunned.
As soon as I alighted from the boat, I quickly removed my Tribu Sandals to feel the magical sands of the beach. Step by step, I felt the soft and powdery sands gently massaging my feet. The sun was scorching hot but I didn’t really care.
I dragged my limped body to the hammock hanged by the beach-front and there, I stared at the glorious sight that gazed upon me. We were supposed to go island hopping through the different beaches surrounding Ambulong but the ambiance of the resort was peaceful enough to make us delay our sojourn for about an hour.
We ate lunch by the beach, rested for a while and had a serene time imbibing the open waters of the secluded resort. I was even so tempted to postpone the island hopping but the opportunity to explore the whole place was exciting enough to drag me off my suddenly lazy butt. We first headed to the Island of General LLanada.
We docked by the beachside of the beautiful secluded island. Of course, there was fine white sand and clear blue sea water but the real attraction of the place was the cottage that the General built for himself. The hut is strategically placed on top of a limestone cliff that can be reached by a 5-minute walk through a cement-paved path. It can be a tiring ascent but the rewarding sight it would give is worth the sweat.
While in the cottage, we had the magnificent view of Grace Island resort floating on top of the seawater, the towering limestone formations on the periphery of Ambulong Island and the white sand beaches on the other side of Ilin island.
It was really amazing seeing all those wonderful places from atop. No wonder that the General wants to spend his retirement days in this spectacular place.
The next stop contains the finest sands I have touched. Situated at Ilin Island, the sands of Inasakan beach resort was truly the most powder-like of them all.
Although the place has an entrance fee of 20 Php per person, the small amount would entitle you to a day of dipping and swimming on the surreal clear waters of the beach.
Situated inside a cove, the place was seemingly guarded from the huge waves of the open sea thus rendering the beach perfectly calm to swim on. We stayed here for a while, enjoying the heat of the sun while playing around the sapphire blue ocean.
After 30 minutes, we headed off to the fisherman village of the Island itself. We trekked through the small community to reach one of San Jose’s tourist attractions, the deep limestone caves of Ambulong.
Contorting our bodies and bending our heads, moving inside the deep cave was quite challenging. We only brought two flashlights for the trek making the hike down tougher than usual.
We carefully descended through foot holds and slowly hunched our backs to feel the ground. In about 20 minutes, we finally reached the end of the cave. I tried to enter the smaller holes but the frightening thought of being stuck inside made me think otherwise.
Even inside the cave I was surprised. I was only expecting a small dome like that of El Nido’s but the deep underground route reminded me of the caves of Sagada. The hike was quite tricky but after seeing the shining stalagmites and stalactites, the effort was worth it.
After having been surprised by the beauty of the small island, we went back to the resort, cooked our meal for about an hour and had our dinner by the beachside backdropped by the orange-tinged horizon silhouetted by tapestry of clouds shimmering with dazzling lights reflected by the setting sun. It was an amazing end to a truly wonderful day of unexpected beauty and majesty.
|spaghetti for dinner|
The next morning, we packed our bags, went back to the mainland and prepared for a 3-hour journey to Sablayan to experience the wonderful beach and virgin surroundings of Pandan Grande Island and Apo Reef.
I think I can say that San Jose can be described as the Mini-Philippines. Having a beach with fine white sands like the ones in Boracay, Limestone formations that can be compared to that of Palawan’s and deep underground caves reminiscent of Sagada, one can really find something to do because of the diversity of the place.
I may not have expected anything from this province before but after experiencing the grandeur of this otherworldly place, San Jose suddenly became one of the best places I had ever visited. It was a truly an amazing way to start our 5-day backpacking trip.
Next part of the Occidental Mindoro Series
Apo Reef, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro
Apo Reef, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro
day 1 (Occidental Mindoro Backpacking trip)
04:00 - departure from Manila to San Jose
05:00 - arrival at San Jose, make arrangements with locals
06:00 - buy food and supplies (the resort we stayed in was still under construction)
08:00 - departure from San Jose mainland to Ambulong
10:00 - arrival at Ambulong Blue Waters resort, rest, lunch
12:00 - start of island hopping
12:20 - arrival at General Llanada island, explore
13:30 - departure for Inasakan beach
14:00 - arrival at Inasakan beach
15:00 - departure for Ambulong fisherman's village,
15:30 - arrival at Ambulong caves, explore cave
16:30 - back at cave entrance, go back to Ambulong Blue Waters resort
17:00 - arrival at resort, prepare dinner
18:30 - dinner, socials
20:00 - lights out
How to go to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro
By Air, daily flights from Manila to San Jose are serviced by Cebu Pacific, Air Phil Express and Zest Air.
By Sea, a two and a half hour Ro-Ro cruise from Batangas Port to Abra de Ilog Port and then a five hour land travel will take you to San Jose
The Resort we stayed in was still under construction but boasts great personnel and management. They were still building the restaurant for the resort that's why we had to buy our own food for our trip.
Excellent beach front rooms situated at a serene and quiet place for a family to spend their days in.
You can contact them at (043) 491-4143; 491-2391 mobile: 0908-8845611. Look for Jonathan Sevilla.
If he asks where you got the info of the resort just tell them from the 2 hitchhiking backpackers that stayed at them for 1 night last February. If he doesn't remember tell him that we were the ones who got his calling card at his hardware store. Tell him we will definitely be coming back!!!