Our tour organizer Ricky Soler Jr., a private boat owner immediately acknowledged us upon his arrival. There were tons of stuff in the back of his pick-up truck that comprised our needs for our seafaring trip to the Manjuyod sandbar. Actually, the cottages on stilts were already visible in the distance.
Weather forecasting the night prior revealed a 66% chance of rain. So, it wasn’t a surprise at all that it started to drizzle a bit the minute we were about to board our pump boat. Well, the timing was perfect indeed. Although the rain was already battering the dark expanse, lashing onto the roof of our boat that was afloat beside the dock that ran alongside it, yet we could not help but feel a bit of soothing effect afterwards.
The pump boat itself looked very cozy like a floating home, manned by uniformed personnel that rendered on-the-spot assistance. They had probably done this so many times they were a smooth working team. There were big round tables in the center and comfortable chairs were positioned on both sides facing them. We could imagine ourselves drifting into the sun-kissed horizon and just indulging in a banquet, but reality check we were supposed to eat our lunch in one of those cottages on stilts we just mentioned earlier.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one engine start.”
We nodded in agreement to that statement by our host. The engine throbbed and was all powered up on the first try. So, we were then navigated towards the sandbar. We chitchatted for a while with other guests, since we only joined a group for the sake of cost-cutting. We will try to itemize how much we paid for this adventure at the near end of this write-up, but for now let us first describe our first-person account of the trip.
Well, there was this British solo traveler named Ian. He was supposed to join another group, but it got cancelled. Well, we had a healthy conversation to begin with. Our foreigner acquaintance tipped us that he was headed for Donsol to spot and swim with the whale sharks, coursing through Cebu and Masbate until he eventually sets foot in Sorsogon. We were a bit shocked to be honest, since there’s a better option nearby, located in Tanawan, Oslob. He’s heard about that tourist trap in the southern part of Cebu before, but he abhors the feeding aspect of it. Just in case he will have a change of heart, we opted to formulate a travel guide for him which even included a segway to Sumilon island!
We might come up with a cast of interesting characters here, since we were with a bunch of people. There were some girls from Bacolod, a Tanjayanon buddy of ours named Sherwin and the boat crew. It was a happy mix; very rewarding to experience the Manjuyod sandbar in the spirit of togetherness.
After all that excitement, the pump boat headed straight to the cottages on stilts jutting out of the sandbar. We counted 5 of them in total, one still under construction. The fine white sandbar, underwater most of the time (even during low tide), spans at least 7 kilometers. It was marvelous to see its edges leading to bluer waters. There was even a buoy steadily drifting to signal boat drivers to steer away it.
We finally arrived at Cottage no. 2. There was a wooden stairway going up and we were cautioned that it was slippery. Ricky himself was the victim of unstable footing. So we went up to check out the place and it was amazing – nipa hut roofing, a kitchen, a bedroom and benches strategically placed within its enclosing walls. Before we forget, there’s actually an option for weary visitors to spend the night there. We were drawn to the panoramic view outside the windows. After taking in the beautiful scenery, we immediately took a dip in the turquoise waters; mind you, there were many shades of blue present and we were cutting right through them in sheer delight.
Jazzed up for even more aquatic activities, we ended up grabbing our snorkels and fins; soon we were combing the entire breadth of the sandbar. It exhibited an underwater world that was bursting with marine life. We came across a bandit sea crate, lionfish and plenty of other unidentified fish species. Our senses were on high alert, for we were a bit anxious as to what to encounter next.
By the way, there was a free-for-all kayak already drifting on the water and ready to use, but we only spent a few minutes riding it in tandem. Everybody else was itching to try it, so we decided to give them the upper hand. We carefully climbed up the stairway leading to the veranda to socialize with the other guests there.
Manjuyod Sandbar Underwater Pictures
The White Sandbar
Lunchtime was just around the corner and the sea breeze was increasingly accentuated with the savory smokiness of grilled meat. It prepped us up subliminally that a decadent feast or banquet was imminent. We were not disappointed, because the wide array of dishes to choose from were sinfully good and well-presented – chicken, pork, fruits and some seafood. However, the fish wrapped in tin foil, slow roasted to perfection was easily our favorite.
Lunch at the Manjuyod Sandbar
The Interior and Exterior of Cottage no. 2 on Stilts
For sure, we reckoned the food was the best treat during the whole trip, but lo and behold, we were given the rare opportunity to see the dolphins of the Tanon strait free of charge! It wasn’t part of the original plan, but Ricky Soler Jr. unexpectedly gave such an order to his boatmen. (Again, thank you so much, Ricky! We know you’ll get to read this article one of these days. We really had a blast at the Manjuyod Sandbar.)
The dolphins were very elusive at first, we were searching for them, even got too close to the Cebu mainland. The sea was glass-still and it was raining again. We sat up front, so both me and my wife got soaking wet. There were gusts of cold wind that added insult to injury. My wife was blowing hot breath on her icy fingers, so being the good husband I cuddled with her immediately. What a sweet moment it was. Behind us were our passenger friends and they probably caught a glimpse of that romantic scene.
Dolphin Watching at the Tanon Strait
On Our Way Back
Alternative Route (if Ricky Soler Jr. is unavailable)
Ricky Soler Jr. doesn’t do this on a regular basis. We were lucky to be invited to join a group and experienced the Manjuyod sandbar plus dolphin watching for only P550 per head. We highly doubt he’s gonna offer the same price the next time around, but do check on him by giving him a holler. Cellphone #: 09202947989 or just add him up on Facebook (Ricky Soler Jr.).
Tell him THE ROAMING COUPLE sent ya and get a FREE use of the KAYAK, MASK and SNORKEL!
Ricardo Soler Jr.
The government used to be on the forefront, but with boat rates in Bais city cost P4,000 for a group of 20 plus terminal fee of P20 or P3,000 fora group of 15 plus terminal fee of P15, it might be too steep a price tag. You will need to contact the Bais City Tourism office at least one day prior. For your convenience, ask them to cater the food at P100 per head additional. The itinerary would reveal that dolphin watching comes first. Be entertained by dolphins of all sizes doing acrobatic tricks and tail-flipping on the water. Don’t get too pushy though as these wild creatures happen to be sensitive to the engine sound; a good pump boat operator would advise one’s crew to mellow down when these Cetaceans are close enough for your viewing pleasure. They congregate somewhere within the vicinity of the Tanon strait, so chances are you’re gonna sea a magnified view of the Cebu island. The tour loops back to the cottages, where lunch is served. Swimming is highly encouraged for a more memorable visit. There is another option to explore the Talabong Mangrove Forest. That completes the itinerary; the pump boat will finally return to Capinahan Wharf.