Roughly 4-5 hours from Manila lies Fortune Island, a semi-isolated-used-to-be-super-private island off Nasugbu, Batangas. They say this is as close to Greek’s ancient ruins as could be possible, with the clear blue waters as your backdrop! Who would have thought that the typhoon destruction to an uber exclusive island paradise would result to a steadily becoming popular destination for beach bums and island campers? Known for its picturesque rows of Athens-like pillars and half-destroyed half-gorgeous statues, Fortune Island gives each traveler a nice reward for climbing atop the stairway-lined hill that leads to it’s “viewpoint ruins” and, as my friends saw and experienced, cliffs and caves. To reach Fortune Island, take the San Agustin Bus line at Coastal Mall in Pasay, going to Nasugbu (3-4 hours, PhP 200-220 AC (about $5), PhP 130-150 (about $3.5) non-AC). From there, take a 15-minute tricycle ride to Fortune Resort Dive Center (pre-booking necessary with caretakers Mang Dante 09394895292 or Chris 09087225628 is necessary) which is the jump-off point to Fortune Island. The 45-minute 10 pax-max boat ride costs around PhP 6000/$135, plus PhP 400/$9 island entry fee (overnight price, negotiable; day trip is cheaper). With upper limit calculations, that’s about PhP 1250/$28. Add in food, booze and other expenses, a beach camping (yep, no rooms) weekend at Fortune Island would be about PhP 1700/$38 which, I must say, is quite cheap to “experience” Greece and of course, enjoy the Philippines’ endless summer with the company of family and friends under the sun and stars. [Special thanks to Hazelle for organizing this CouchSurfing trip back in May and providing all these info I’ve already forgotten.]
I’ve always wanted to go to Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan — but I never did. Well, until my friend Matt brought it up that is.
I guess I could say I’m lucky in this regard — I’m surrounded by people who not only share the same passion I have for travel but are also game for almost anything almost all the time!
Earlier this year, I made a checklist of the places I wanted to visit and Anawangin Cove in Zambales was included in it—until it got bumped by Nagsasa Cove.
Nagsasa Cove is about 30 minutes farther by boat than Anawangin Cove if you are taking the Pundaquit or San Miguel jump off points in the town of San Antonio, Zambales. We availed the tour package offered by Ate Alice and our jump-off point was Brgy. San Miguel. It’s just 10 minutes from the San Antonio Municipal Hall where most passengers and tourists get dropped by the buses from Manila and picked up by their boatmen or tour operators.
From the jump-off point, it took us about an hour to get to Nagsasa Cove. The boat passed through surprisingly very calm waters, so calm that at some points it’s like a glass mirror reflecting the outriggers of the banca without any disturbance! Plus, since it was just a little past 6am when we started our boat journey, we had awesome views of the sunrise, the mountain, and the horizon! On the way to Nagsasa Cove, I was so happy feeling the subtle warmth of the sun’s rays breaking through the mountain peaks and touching my face. I greeted everyone a very good morning indeed!
And then, once we arrived at Nagsasa, we can’t help but admire the beauty that was around us. My travel companions, being foreigners who have lived here for a while now and have already traveled to other places, exclaimed that Nagsasa was indeed so beautiful and they can’t believe that they’re still in the Philippines and not somewhere else!
Groggy girls that we were, we found our spot at Mang Ador’s campsite and Kuya Ruben, our boatman, set up our tents. We then brought out our supplies and prepared breakfast. You can start your own fire but we opted to go to Mang Ador’s cottage-slash-sari-sari store coz they have better firewood cooking set-up. And after breakfast of fried eggs and bread, with cheeze spread and peanut butter, plus a good serving of Gatorade, we went for a swim and welcomed the clear and soothing waters!
Apart from being the best sand my friends have ever been on, they also appreciated the clearness of the waters at Nagsasa Cove. It’s so clear that you don’t really need goggles or snorkel masks to see through the water. There are also some jellyfish species floating around as well as small fish. The campers here also seem friendly and are conscious of keeping the place clean.
After a good swimming and soaking, we decided to take a nap. It was kind of humid at first but the wind picks up every now and then at Nagsasa Cove. I still don’t know why that is so but it’s amazing how you would “hear” the humming of the wind first before you “feel” it!
It felt like we napped for a long time and then we realized that it was just noon!!! For some reason, we found time to be very slow once we’re at Nagsasa. It’s either the cove is doing it’s job of not making us think of time and how it passes OR our brain’s still exhausted and has not recovered from the lack of proper sleep! In any case, we didn’t really complain coz that meant we have more time to enjoy the coves!
Once we’re done with lunch and another swim to play with the jellyfish and find other fishies, we decided to move to the other side of the cove—the one I want to call “mainstream campsites”. If facing the beach, from Mang Ador’s campsite, you would need to walk towards the left and reach some kind of a sandbar due to the drying river that flows through to the ocean.
The scenery is quite nice but upon reaching the shoreline of the mainstream campsite, I can’t help but feel disappointed and sad. There were a lot of plastic garbage! Me and Elaine did some cleaning-up but it was just too many!!! The sand is also coarse and more painful on the feet than the campsite at Mang Ador’s.
So, after taking pictures from the top of rocky cliff-like formation and taking a quick dip, Elaine and I decided to return to our campsite, just in time for the sunset. Nagsasa sunset wasn’t the “setting-in-front-of-you” type of sunset coz it was covered by the mountain but it was spectacular nonetheless. A good mix of red, orange and purple. Ganda!!!
And of course, after sunset comes another round of eating! And then, bonfire! I was really excited for the bonfire coz it will be the first time I was to have smores—a very good bite of marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers goodness! I can’t remember how many I had but I still remember how the mallows and Hershey’s melted and the way it felt in my mouth!!! We four girls had some wine (or a lot of it) and just enjoyed feeding the fire with logs…and mallows!
I woke up really early in the morning (like before 6) and had a good swim (for hangover?) and watched the sun rise again—this time trying to break through the pinewood trees! And once all the girls were awake, we prepared breakfast and decided to stay at Nagsasa a while longer and skip Camara island on the way back.
We spent some time just chilling, swimming, chatting and exploring a bit more of the rocky side of the edge of Mang Ador’s campsite. I think some people from the mainstream campsites also walk over this side to take photos.
And to cap it off, Elaine “insisted” that I go for the water splash shot! To which I “not so willingly” (as in pakipot kuno) obliged. Hahaha I think it’s a good memory of Nagsasa, di ba?!