Here’s a digital photo narrative of our visit to Nogas Island, Anini-y, Antique Province, Philippines, including hiking, beaches, mangroves, birding, lighthouse, where to buy your s picnic lunch. Pack your lunch, your snorkeling gear, your camera and binoculars in a waterproof bag and head for a very special place.
We first saw Nogas Island from the Antique shore at Sira-an hot springs nearly a year ago. Nogas was an enticing prospect, an uninhabited marine reserve of an island surrounded by white sand beaches. So in January 2008 we finally had the chance for a visit. We left our home in Molo, Iloilo City before eight in the morning but our progress was not speedy as we stopped to buy the wonderful bibinkas (a coconut specialty) at the “Bingkahan Mohon” in – highly, highly recommended. It is right near the junction with the road which heads to Mandurriao. The next stop was the always enjoyable public market in Miagao where we bought more fruit and snacks. We bought our take-out lunch at an eatery in Tiolas, where we also spied and bought a beautiful four kilogram speckled grouper to be picked up on our way back. The eatery is Magpatao-Hay. It’s on the left before Tiolas. It a real Filipino place with dirt floors but nice people and good food. They catch their own fish just offshore of the eatery. Full of provisions we got underway once again. We turned of toward Anini-y at Tiolas. Had we continued on the main road we would have crossed the mountains and ended up at Antique’s capitol, San Jose.
There is also a bus from Iloilo City to Sira-an Hot Springs and to Anini-y, jumping off point for Nogas Island While we haven’t ridden it ourselves, it looks to be a fast-paced adventure. We understand that it leaves from the bus terminal in Molo on San Pedro Street, a block or two east of Molo Plaza. It stops in Oton, near the plaza or you can flag it down anywhere. You’ll have to find and speak with the Molo bus terminal manager to find the schedule.
The first bit of the road to Anini-y, through Tiolas, was paved and quite pretty. There are a few resorts, some just picnic shelters, one or two others offering overnight accommodations. We’ve gone to one of these, LSDC Dive Resort, which you can see at http://www.pbase.com/hammerslag/sanjoaquin. This is a good stopping place on your way to Nogas. You can stop for lunch and a swim or, if you got a late start, stay overnight here.
After a few kilometers, paved roads disappear except for random stretches. The roads and bridges are under perpetual repair and very rough. We stopped at a family owned dive shack right where the rugged Cresta del Gallo mountain dives to the sea. It’s a spectacular spot. Finally we came to Sira-an Hot Springs (covered my another of my accounts) and proceeded to another basic but very pretty private dive camp on the mainland beach opposite Nogas. We enjoyed the lunch we had bought in Tiolas while the pump boat was being prepared for our trip to Nogas Island. The round trip fee was P500. The boatman we used can be found by turning down a dirt track immediately (on Anini-y side) beyond the old cemetery (see photo above) located between Sira-an Hot Springs and Anini-y.
TIP: The boat service to Nogas Island and scuba lessons, equipment and accomodations can be arranged in advance through Boy Saldaña – mobile numbers: 0920-952-8869 and 0917-305-0699. Saldaña’s dive center and boats can be found by turning down a dirt track immediately (on Anini-y side) beyond the old cemetery located between Sira-an Hot Springs and Anini-y. The website is http://www.thedivehouse.com/
Sad to say, on a subsequent trip we found this sign had been vandalized and there was lots of litter near where the boats go ashore.