Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lost in the Mangroves

Olango Island, located 5 kilometers east of Mactan Island, is part of Cebu province and is under the jurisdiction of the city of Lapu-lapu. The island is a raised coral reef so if you're looking for long stretches of white sand, you're on the wrong island. But if you're a bird lover, then this could be heaven for you for Olango Island has a 920-hectare sanctuary where birds from Siberia, China, and Japan seek refuge from the winter climate of other countries.

Most visitors come to the island on a day trip. To stay a night, either pitch a tent or pick from a handful of choices: Talima Beach Villas, Abalone Beach, Shalala Resort [032 511 3201],  Isla Bonita Inn [032 424 8063].

I picked Shalala Resort for two reasons: sand and budget (Php 1000 for a fan room for two). Talima Beach Villas doesn't have a sandy shore and is way over my budget, so is Abalone Beach. Isla Bonita is inland and obviously doesn't have a beachfront, though this is the cheapest (Php 800 for an AC room for two) of the four.

Shalala Resort is on the south side of the island where the mangroves are.
It has fan rooms, AC rooms, and open cottages.

Blue Bayou, Shalala's next door neighbor, doesn't have rooms but open cottages.

The mangroves at high tide.


How should you spend your 24 hours in Olango? Relax, sleep, rent a kayak (Php 100), check out the bird sanctuary, and walk to Pangan-an island at low tide. The last one was unfortunately off the list for I got lost in the mangroves while trying to find the bird sanctuary. The upside? I got to see the birds without using binoculars! (Sorry, no photos, I don't have a telephoto lens. They hop or fly away if you get too close.)

Ack! Where am I???

Relaxing on a mangrove while figuring out which way to go.

Two hours in the mangroves searching for an exit got me all sunburned, tired, and hungry that once I saw a concrete road I decided to hail a tricycle even if the locals said the resort was close by.

Land! Oh land!

How did I manage to get lost? By taking two right turns instead of one. Quite easy to do when you're surrounded by mangroves and no directional signs! Try it! The goal was to reach the hut where tricycles were waiting (at low tide) to take passengers to Pangan-an island. And here's my actual 2-hour route round the sanctuary in red!

Lessons learned:
1. Know where you have to go. I knew where the wharf is but forgot the name of the area. It could have saved me one jeepney ride.
2. Bring water and food when strolling thru the mangroves. In case you follow my footsteps.
3. Be aware of the tides. You don't want to be in the middle of a 920-hectare sanctuary as the tide comes in, do you?
4. Do not fret if you don't have food. There are small stalls nearby selling food. Just be sure to get there at meal time. Getting there too late will assure you of empty pots and a growling stomach.

How this (mis)adventure bore a hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Mandaue-Maribago jeepney Php 18
Maribago-Punta Engaño jeepney Php 8
Boat to Sta Rosa (Olango) Php 15
Terminal fee Php 1
Tricycle from Sta Rosa wharf to Suba, Sabang Php 20
Fan room at Shalala Resort Php 1000
Too tired to walk (tricycle) Php 10
Habal habal from Suba, Sabang to Sta Rosa wharf Php 15
Lunch Php 50
Boat to Punta Engaño Php 15
Terminal fee Php 1
Punta Engaño-Mandaue jeepney Php 15


  1. This looks fun! Wish I could do this before the year ends. :)

    Babe For Food - your new BFF in Cebu dining!

  2. Does getting lost look like fun? :-) Just make sure you have water, food, and friends! But if you want to learn about the birds, don't go backdoor like I did (I sure saw birds up close but couldn't identify them haha), you have to go to the wildlife sanctuary at San Vicente. There's a minimal fee for bird watching --- you will undergo orientation, get to use a telescope and borrow a guide book.