Floating Cottage and Taklong Island National Marine Reserve
After roaming the whole Guimaras Island in the Western Visayas part of the Philippines (READ: 10 Tourist Attractions in Guimaras Island), it was time to go to the seas and see some of the smaller islands in the province. As part of our stay in the Nature’s Eye Resort, we headed towards the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve where the resort faces.
We boarded our boat from the beach and we made our way towards the islets and the small islands. From afar, they looked like tiny dots floating at sea. But as we approached them, we found various and sizes that looked like works of art.
Our first stop was the Floating Cottage. The small hut that really looked like it was floating from afar caught our eye as the only structure in the middle of the blue sea surrounded by green islands. We rounded the cottage and our boat docked behind it. As we stepped into the hut, the water around it looked like a large swimming pool. The cottage was built on a sandbar that is submerged on water.
A small ladder is placed in front of it for guests to easily go down into the sea. The sandbar was surrounded by net as safety precaution for swimmers not to go beyond it. As I got into the enticing waters, I realized it was only waist deep. Three children were also playing there.
The hut, although small, felt spacious. It has four picnic tables inside and a toilet at the side. Signages informing guests of the rules in the Floating Cottage were posted on the walls. Visitors should note that no liquors and no smoking are observed in the cottage. Since there are only four tables, guests are expected to give way to other arrivals and share space with them.
I chatted with the women manning the Floating Cottage. They are members of the San Roque Coastal Environment Program Association (SARCEPA), a local association that manages the structure. They started this venture in December 2015 through the help of Gina Lopez, who traces her roots in the province of Guimaras.
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve
While at the Floating Cottage, we met some men from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Office (DENR-PEMRO) who were patrolling the area. Our boatman told them that we would be heading to the office, which also serves a multi-purpose hall, of the DENR-PEMRO in Taklong Island.
The men told us that the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve (TINMR) covers 1,143.45 hectares of total area, which includes 46 islands and islets. The mangrove plantation is 53 hectares in total. The whole marine reserve is home to various flora and fauna species, birds, fishes and sea creatures, and other animals.
The information they shared with us was a good preview of what was in store for us at the next stop. The mangrove plantation that we passed by were wonderful to see. Then we once again docked on a deserted beach where the DENR-PEMRO office is located. There were a tower built near it, which was easy to climb. Another tower can be seen at the opposite end of the beach and higher than the other. They were good vantage points to view the island and the bay but the water was so attractive that I opted to swim rather than hike and climb.
If you are in the Guimaras province in the Philippines, register and inquire at the Tourism Office upon arrival at the Jordan Wharf. You can also go to the TINMR office in Nueve Valencia (you can ask your tricycle or motorcycle driver to take you there) to register and inquire for the boat rides. Otherwise, your hotel or resort should be able to arrange an island hopping adventure for you as what Nature’s Eye Resort did for us.
Gems in the sea
On our way back, we passed the sea route which gave us an opportunity to get closer to the islets. Some have small caves within them. Others have hollow portions underneath, proof of the power of the waves, the wind, and the weather that can drill through these rocks.
I looked around, thankful of the wonderful glory of nature that is bestowed upon us. The Philippines is truly blessed to have all these beauty within its bosom. How I wish that we are able to protect our natural resources as stewards of God’s creation.