Pamilacan Island, a small island just 12.5 kilometers across the sea from Baclayon in Bohol, has been an elusive destination, not because it vanishes into thin air, but because I could never recruit enough number of friends to join me on a trip. To get there, one has to charter a pumpboat which is too expensive if traveling alone (unless it's a Wednesday when the residents of Pamilacan go to the mainland for market day, then one could try his luck in getting a ride with them when they go back home to Pamilacan Island).
I finally sailed to Pamilacan Island on a windy December with six recruits: my officemates. We had hired a boat through Shirley's Cottage where we will be staying for the night.
For Php 900 per person for accommodation and three meals, it was a good deal.
The room was clean and simple and had the necessities: a bed, an electric fan (though electricity is from 5PM until midnight only), sockets (to plug in your gadgets...when there was electricity), and a toilet and bathroom (though you have to get water from their tank out back). Shirley had one cottage with two rooms; each room could accommodate two comfortably. Since we were seven in the group, she offered tents that we could use at no extra charge, but by the end of the day, we were too lazy to set it up and just squeezed in 4 or 3 in a room (an extra mattress was provided in each room so that each room could sleep up to four).
The right–hand side room
The food was delicious and plentiful. There was fresh fish, fresh fruits, fresh coconut juice! The meals were always all ready even when we weren't. They even prepared snacks (which I didn't expect)!
The family who runs this place is very nice, friendly, and accommodating. They have two boats that they use for the boat transfers and boating trips for their guests: Php 1500 for the small boat (up to 8 pax) for transfers to and from the mainland; Php 2500 for the bigger boat. For boating (dolphin watching and snorkeling), since we availed of transfers, she only asked us to add Php100 per person. This doesn't include snorkel and mask though, so you either have to bring your own or rent one (they will know where to rent one in the island).
We started early for dolphin watching (but I didn't get to take any good photos or videos) then came back to the cottage for breakfast before heading out again to go snorkeling at the coral garden and marine sanctuary.
Aside from boating, snorkeling, and swimming, our short overnight stay was spent enjoying the breeze, eating, sleeping, talking, and checking out and taking note of the other accommodations. Aside from Shirley's Cottage, these are the five other options:
On a December Friday, my friends and I boarded the 12 midnight slow ferry to Tubigon and arrived three hours later in the cold, rainy, windy Tubigon Port, all dreary eyed, muddle headed, and sluggish. We waited an hour or so for the rain to slow to a trickle before disembarking to search for the van we had hired to take us to Puntaas in Brgy. Concepcion in Danao.
We found the van and, inside, a snoozing driver. Much as we didn't want to disturb his sleep, we had to because we didn't want to miss the clouds at Puntaas which slowly dissipates as the sun rises. The driver himself didn't know the exact location, only that it was in Brgy. Concepcion. After some stops to ask for directions, we finally reached our destination marked by rows of cars parked on the side of the road. We each paid an entrance fee of Php 25 before following the path and the people making their way to the top to witness the clouds.
It was an easy 15-minute hike up a moderate slope. On the mountain, enterprising locals have set up shop to sell drinks and snacks (and maybe even breakfast!). There were also campers already enjoying the soft morning sun and the view.
That morning there was no "sea" of clouds, just a "river" as my disappointed friends called it. (In hindsight, the "sea" might have already dissipated; we had arrived around 6AM.) Nonetheless, to me it was still a beautiful sight to see. Not just because of the clouds, but because of the 360-degree view of nature; of paddies down the mountain; and of the clouds that have gathered low among a clump of trees and was slowly rising and fading.
A "river" of clouds as my friends called it
Terraced rice paddies
In the morning light
Rising and fading
Before the sun could rise any higher and scorch us entirely, and when there was just wisps of cloud left, we headed back down the mountain and to the van to our tired and sleepy driver.
Arrive as early as 430AM, bring a flashlight or headlamp.
Although it's a short hike, wear good hiking shoes or sandals, ones you are willing to get dirty and muddy. The trail can get muddy if it rains.
The "sea" of clouds isn't guaranteed to happen every day.
If you're coming from Cebu, the nearest port to Danao (in Bohol) would be Tubigon. Starcraft, the fastcraft from Cebu to Tubigon, runs 8 times daily from 545AM to 530PM and takes an hour. Fare is Php 200 / 220 / 280. The slower option is the ferry, Lite Ferries, which takes 2.5 to 3 hours. It runs 4 times daily: 7AM, 12NN, 7PM, and 12MN. Fare is Php 200.
Sometimes airline personnel will not tell you the truth right away or will wait to make an announcement at the last possible minute in the hopes of delaying the wrath of passengers. The online flight status is more updated.
Note: The above may or may not be applicable to other airlines.
If you're like me, always on a budget, thus always stuck on a budget airline flight, these links to flight status updates may come in handy: