Peace and Chaos in Olango

Okay, so last Sunday, I was looking for a little peace and quiet.  I don’t know why and how but out of all the possible options, I found myself driving (once again) towards the island of Mactan. And before I could even realize, I was headed towards the Mactan Shrine. I know it would’ve been a perfect opportunity to snap some shots of the small mangrove forest fronting the spot. But strangely, I didn’t stop at the parking lot. Instead, I continued driving towards Punta Engaño. Before long, I was at the gate of the ‘Hilton wharf’ (FYI – locals still refer to the hotel as Hilton even though the official name is already Movenpick) and chatting up the security guard about boat trips to Olango. You heard that right. It was already almost 4 and out of the many things that I could possibly do on a Sunday afternoon, I was seriously thinking about going to Olango. I know it sounds crazy but as I stood outside the perimeter fence of the wharf, I suddenly imagined myself driving through the small quiet roads of Olango. I was obviously just waiting for an encouragement. So, when the guard asked “Byahe ka Olango, sir? (Are you traveling to Olango Island, sir?)” my quick, confident reply was a solid and rather loud ‘Yes!’

Late afternoon in Olango. Can’t get better than this.

I went straight to the ticket counter and got myself a boat ticket. Fee is Php15/person and another Php25/motorbike. Not bad at all. I thought that that was all that I had to pay but I was later informed that I also had to pay a wharf fee of Php30, another Php20 for  cargo fee (?) and Php5 pesos for terminal fee. I also learned that I’d have to pay another 30 pesos for ‘labor.’ I didn’t really know what that meant.

Too many documents for a twenty-minute boat ride, I must say. Hehe.

A couple of minutes later, the boat from the island arrived. When I saw the boat, I began to worry. How could they possibly get my motorbike on that thing?

But the boat guys assured me that it CAN be done. Well…

This local boatman was announcing that the boat was leaving soon. Hey, wait, what about my bike?

And then, all my questions were answered. That’s right. That’s my bike crossing the plank. Pretty scary, right? One wrong move and my bike is gone. Haha.

But those guys were really strong! I realized later on that the ‘labor fee’ actually goes to these guys. Normally, they get 30 pesos for each motorbike. But since I didn’t know how much to give, I gave them 50 pesos.

The boat finally left mainland Mactan at around 4:40 pm. There’s my bike near the front of the boat.

Thankfully the weather was excellent. There were no waves. Thank goodness!

Twenty minutes later I could see the port of Santa Rosa.

This boat, leaving for Mactan is already quite stuffed. But it’s still taking in more passengers.

Probably because it was one of the last trips out of the island.

When the boat left, this was the view that I saw. Wow! Clean and beautiful, don’t you think?

The passengers disembarked one by one. I was basically the last one left. Hey, guys! Don’t forget about my bike.

Mactan-bound passengers are now getting on the boat. Hey! What about my bike?!?!?!

More passengers are trying to catch this trip. Uh-oh! There’s just too many of them!

The number of people getting on the boat was quite crazy. Imagine how crowded the last trip would be.

Finally the last piece of cargo was unloaded.

Now, it was finally time to get my bike off the boat. Thank heavens!

Slowly, please. Slowwwwwwwwwllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

I swear, my heart literally froze and these two guys slowly dragged my bike up the plank.

After what seemed like forever, my bike was finally safe on the ground.

Woohoo! I can’t believe I’m actually going to drive here. It’d be awesome!

One of the many wonderful things that I saw as I was leaving the port. Please excuse me while I pick up my lower jaw.

During the crossing, I was actually studying the map of Olango Island on my phone. The bird sanctuary was at the southern tip of the island. I noticed that there was only one major road going to that spot. And it was such a huge help that the roads in Olongo are so easy to navigate. You definitely won’t get lost even if it was your first time.

Finally saw something familiar. I remember this spot because I took a couple of photos in this area during my previous trip.  This is the ‘green tunnel’ which can be heavenly or scary depending on the time of the day. Haha.

I was on my way to the bird sanctuary when I saw a sign which read “Olango Marine Sanctuary.” The last time that I was here, this spot was still non-existent. So, I wasted no time and decided to check it out. Entrance fee is Php25.00

My ticket!

Their boardwalk looks very similar to Alcantara’s Mangrove Forest Boardwalk.

The trail looks really exciting and a little scary, too.

And hey! You get to learn some stuff while having a grand time.

A few moments later, the mangroves were gone. I was out in the open. If the tide were higher, I’d already be walking in knee-deep water.

It’s just me, the sea, the bamboo trail, and the endless mudflats of Olango.

Life here is slow and relaxed. But the sun was obviously in a hurry.

Sunset has finally arrived in Olango Island. Gorgeous!

Mudflats of Barangay San Vicente. Amazing. Wanna go look for a crab? You’re in the right place!

The place is just spectacular! I wish I could stay longer.

This part actually floats when the tide is high. Doesn’t that look neat?

San Vicente Marine Sanctuary. Excellent local tourism project, I must say!

Structures on stilts. I’m not sure what the second one was for. But it kinda looked like an outhouse.

I really didn’t expect to find a restaurant right in the middle of the sea. Looking really pretty.

And this what the dining area of the restaurant looks like.

So near yet so far! That’s the Imperial Palace Resort in Mactan.

You can also go down the stairs if you want to have a little bit of swimming.

View from the dining area. Amazing, right?

A small fish pen for fish feeding!

I sat down for a couple of minutes to take some selfies (haha. kidding) and just enjoy the silence and beauty of the place. I sure was lucky  to be in such an amazing spot. I really wouldn’t mind traveling every single weekend to this amazing place.

But it was getting late and I needed to catch the last boat to Mactan. Goodbye for now, San Vicente!

It was getting dark pretty fast.

Fifteen minutes later, I was back at the port. The situation there was something that I totally didn’t expect. The place was swarming with people wanting to get on the last boat out of the island.

I learned later that one barangay was having its annual fiesta and that a lot of visitors arrived in the morning. Now, add the number to the number of locals who are leaving for the city in time for the start of another work week. The result was a complete disaster.

I was lucky enough to secure a ticket for me and my bike just minutes before the cut-off. Apparently, a total of 11 motorbikes were already scheduled to board the last boat. Normally, a boat allows only around 1 to 4 motorbikes per trip. I was beginning to panic.  I didn’t have extra cash and certainly didn’t know anyone in the island.

Moments later, the last boat arrived from Mactan. After the passengers were unloaded, everyone at the port scurried to get a seat on the boat. When the dust settled, a loud argument erupted. The leader of a group with seven motorcycles was furious because he and his team got a ticket for an earlier trip and they were promised that they’d be on the next trip. The lady in charge of the cargo loading and unloading answered back with quite a valid excuse. Suddenly, everybody had a say on the issue. It was loud and chaotic. And picture this, the pier was completely dark. There was no lamp post in sight. All these arguments were happening in pitch darkness. At the edge of the dock.

Some of the passengers begged for one more trip. I was one of them. Well, actually there were enough people left for two big boats. If only one boat comes back, I’m definitely not going to make it.

Suddenly, one of the pier guys announced that two boats were scheduled to arrive. It calmed down the crowd a bit. When the first boat was approaching though, it became even more chaotic. I guess everyone was just too cold. It was already 7:30 pm. A full hour after our scheduled trip. One more hour and I’d be frozen meat (I made a terrible mistake of wearing a sleeveless shirt. Haha.)

When the boat docked, there was pushing and screaming. It once again became very heated when the first 7 bikes weren’t loaded into the boat. The leader was mad at the lady. And the lady was mad at the passengers who wouldn’t listen. Before the boat could leave, the second boat arrived. This one was a lot bigger. My fingers were crossed.

When the boat docked, a military guy who owned one of the 7 motorbikes handled the crowd. He instructed the porters to load the motorbikes first before passengers were allowed to board. Yep, that’s right. My bike was safely loaded into the boat along with the first 11! Yahoo! Hahaha. After that, everything was smooth. The boat was actually big enough for all the remaining passengers.

Our boat finally crossed the channel at 8:30 in the evening.

So glad to finally see you again, Hilton, este, Movenpick towers! 😀

After my bike was unloaded, it was time to head home.

Peace and chaos in one single serving.

What a day!


Boat fare: 15
Bike fare: 25
Wharf fee: 30
Cargo fee: 20
Terminal fee: 5
Labor: 50
Labor (Olango): 30
Marine Sanctuary: 25
Boat fare: 15
Bike fare: 25
Whart fee: 30
Cargo fee: 20
Labor: 30
Labor (Hilton): 30

Total: Php 350