Yes, Camarines Sur boasts of so many things. There is the all-time favorite wakeboarding in Camsur Water Sports Complex, the famous Penafrancia Festival and the hot local cuisine. All these have earned this province distinct tourism accolades over the years. But Camsur is also a haven for extra-ordinary beach bums, those who seek new island adventures, those who wish to find a personal retreat.
In the coastal side of Camarines Sur lies the blissful district called Partido Riviera. It is in this side of Bicol where the land, sea and sky meet. It is home to wonderful islands with awesome ivory sand beachlines. One of the islands closest to mainland Bicol is Atulayan. It is a snail-shaped paradise with four coves hemmed with sparkling white sand. A small community who thrive by fishing inhabits the most prominent cove. The rest are privately owned but since there are no resorts built yet, it is free for the beach-hungry at the moment. Bani cove is most popular because of its shallow coastline perfect for swimming or snorkeling. On the other side is Bontugan cove and perhaps the most enthralling because of its shape, finer sand quality and private indulgences.
Atulayan got its name from the local word “atoll” or snail, which is the shape of the island when viewed from the sloping landscape across the sea. The nearest jump-off point with only 20 minutes sailing time is from Nato Port in the Municipality of Sagnay. Only privately hired motorized outrigger boats sail to the island. Huge and sharp rock walls prominently edge the island. Roots and vines from age-old trees break out from the spaces in between rocks holding this natural masterpiece in its place. The water around the island is so clear that even corals beneath it can be seen. The cold and refreshing water is a perfect balance with the sun’s heat from above. The sand quality varies from cove to cove but the entire paradise is blessed with glistening white sand. In Atulayan, your quest for open solitudes is greatly answered. There are no posh resorts and no beach parties. What you only have, as you dip your body on the turquoise water are the humming of the birds, the dancing trees and the waves splashing against the boulders.
I learned about Atulayan from my Bicolano friends. After a long time of waiting for the perfect moment and over bottles of beer with equally excited friends from Manila, we decided to take a road trip the next day. We took off early and sped uphill to Barangay Patitinan because according to the locals, the drive up to the winding coastal side of Partido Riviera is breathtaking. We were never frustrated. The gentle green slopes on the right side of the road and the magnificent panorama of the vastness of the sea on the left was truly an awesome experience. We welcomed sunrise in Patitinan Viewing Deck overlooking Atulayan Island surrounded by Lagonoy and Caramoan. After the preview of Atulayan, we head down to Nato Port in Sagnay to start a wonderful and sunny island day.
There are no hidden secrets in Atulayan Island, just you and that exquisite island retreat you’ve been dreaming of. Escape now.
How To Get There
From Naga City, Camarines Sur, take the van (from SM) to Tigaon Crossing.
From Tigaon Crossing, take the tricycle to Nato Port in Sangay.
Try negotiating for a boat with the local fishermen in the area. Just pass outside the port (on the right side), is a small fishing village, which can offer a boat ride at P700 roundtrip.
Bring packed food and water. There are no stores in the island. Bring extra for the boatmen, a simple gesture of thanks is greatly appreciated.
Request the boatmen to bring you around the 4 coves so you can see the entire island.
Tourists are advised not to go topless or naked (whatever nationality you are from) because there is a small community inhabiting the place.
Betwixt and between the arthritic 40 and a horrendous body mass index of positive 30, escapism and yummyeology are my real-life double post-graduate degrees conferred with the highest honors.
I lived nearly half of my life in fancy suitcases, jetsetting between reality and fantasy... read more