*For more info, check out this POST.
C and I left Alabang aboard an Alps Bus at around 5pm and traveled overnight to Sorsogon, arriving around 9am the following day (I know, long ride – but it was worth it). There were only two of us, so we didn’t arrange for any van transportation since it would be too expensive. We dediced to just commute, which took a bit longer but was cheaper on our part.
We were not too familiar with the area, so we had several rides before reaching the port in Matnog. The ideal route would be either of the two:
- Ride a bus going directly to Matnog
- Disembark at the Sorsogon City bus terminal, and then ride a jeepney to Matnog
Upon arrival in Matnog, we went to the tourism office to register (Php70) and find a boatman that would take us to Subic Beach (Php2000 overnight roundtrip). After all the processes involved, we went straight to the market (which is located inside the port) in order to buy all our needed stuff – water, seafood (shrimp, crabs, and fish), and other necessities. The food was really cheap; we were able to buy a kilo of crabs for only Php140. Total spend for food was around Php600 for the two of us. Tip for travelers: try to arrive at the market early so you can enjoy the freshest catch of the day (we almost didn’t find shrimps because it was already a bit late in the morning, and the one we found were the smaller variety).
We then went to look for out boatmen, and then proceeded on our way to Subic Beach.
Side Trip: Luag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary
This sanctuary is almost always a side trip when heading to Subic Island (included in the boat package). It’s a sanctuary that house hundreds of kinds of fishes ranging from tiny ones to a gigantic few. Access to the lagoon feeding deck is through a raft. There’s no entrance fee to the lagoon; only donation. If you want to help out in the maintenance, though, you can buy fish food to feed the fishes. At Php100, you get 2 small bowls – one with fish pellets and one with chopped small fishes and crabs for feeding.
The feeding deck was smaller compared to the one last time, and the roof has already disappeared. According to the staff, it was destroyed by a previous typhoon, although construction and development is currently ongoing.
Small Subic, Big Subic
On our way to the island, our guides asked us where we wanted to stay. There were apparently two areas to choose from – the small Subic and the big Subic. Both areas are in the same island, only different parts divided by some rocks. You can transfer from one part of the island to another and explore both by navigating through a rocky area to cross to the other side.
The Big Subic has all the developed resorts and hotels, with more amenities to choose from. Meanwhile, the Small Subic is less developed, with fewer options for accommodation, and ideal for those who want to rough it up. We decided to go for the latter because of the fewer people present – ideal for those who want privacy and a certain feeling of exclusivity. The cheaper cost is a bonus.
Our part of the beach was being managed by a family. It has cottages and a shared bathroom, but the only facility for sleeping overnight are tents. I was extremely delighted about this, as I have always wanted to sleep in a tent at the beach (first-timer, hehe :p).
When we arrived, there were only two other groups in the island, and both were leaving that same day after staying overnight. Yes! We had the resort to ourselves! There wasn’t much going on in the said area, so it’s ideal for those who are looking for some peace and quiet.
The family was also kind enough to cook the food we brought with us for a very minimal fee. We had halabos na hipon (shrimp boiled in water with salt), crab in coconut milk, and grilled fish, plus watermelon for dessert.
It was beach time after lunch. The sand was fine, although the incline of the beach was a bit steep, which made swimming a little bit scary. In the afternoon, we had a chance to explore Big Subic when we went there to buy some snacks. The beach in that side of the island was kinder to swimmers, so to speak – more flat surface, so more relaxing to swim in. There were also several stores, and we were able to buy some bread, chips, and halo halo.
Electricity in the island is already available 24 hours of the day, but there isn’t any outlet in the cottage that we stayed in. If you’re visiting, you can probably request the family to have your phone charged, but it would be better to bring a powerbank, just to be sure.
Internet was good at times, and at other times weak. But well, who needs it anyway when you’re on vacation?
In the morning, we were able to request for two cups of hot water and to have our saba (bananas cooked) for breakfast. We went for a little more swimming, and then the boat arrived at around 9am to pick us up. During our visit, we found out that the island we visited back in 2012 wasn’t exactly the Subic Island but an island nearby (named Tikling Island). Remembering how beautiful the island was, we requested our guide for a side trip to the said island on our way back home.
We arrived to find several boats already docked on the shore and with swimmers already enjoying a great time swimming at the beach. There were one or two cottages, but most of the island is just sand and trees and plants. The fee is very minimal at only Php50 per boat.
The sand was pristine, the water was clear, and the weather was perfectly sunny. We swam for about an hour before heading back to the port. One of our guides was very kind and allowed us to use their bathroom (they live near the port) so we could rinse and change to clean clothes. We just gave a few pesos to pay for the service and the water.
Our next stop was Donsol, but there’s no jeepney that travels directly from Matnog to Donsol. We rode the jeepney to Sorsogon City, had our lunch there, and went on our way to Donsol to swim with the whale shark.