|Catandayagan Falls plummets straight down to the ocean!|
Passing by some rocky islands with impressive escarpments and shallow caves, we arrived at Halea Nature Park on San Miguel Island, which harbors small beach coves where, according to our guide, harmless juvenile sharks use as shelter. A resort, lighthouse and a few beach huts are the only manmade structures of the island. Travelers can comfortably spend the night here, or camp on the beach.
We donned our snorkeling gear to admire the coral reef off the main beach. The welcoming party were mostly damselfish and anemone fish. The sharks were (thankfully?) a no-show that day!
|Halea Nature Park on San Miguel Island, Monreal, Ticao Island, Masbate|
|The stacked rock formations of Borobangcaso Islet|
As the receding sun painted the skies with varying shades of purple and orange, our ride back to Monreal town afforded us a wonderful panorama of three volcanoes on the Bicol Peninsula – Mt. Mayon with its extinct sister, Mt. Malinao, in Albay, and Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon.
|Incredible views of Mt. Bulusan and the Bicol Peninsula along Ticao Pass|
A full-day island-hopping tour costs PHP 1,500 per person for a minimum of four, inclusive of meals. Tours can be arranged through municipal tourism officer Renante Letada. Mobile number: +63 9084067877. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's possible to visit these sights in northern Ticao Island from Masbate City on Masbate Island, but I assume the rates will be higher as the distance to be traveled is much farther.
WHERE TO STAY: We stayed at homestay-like Grona Inn, which offers A/C double rooms for PHP 1,000. Cheaper but smallish fan rooms are available. Mobile number: +63 9073867405.