Leaving for Nogas Island (seen in distance) from Sira-an, Antique
We first saw Nogas Island from the Antique shore at Sira-an hot springs nearly a year ago. Nogas was an enticing prospect, an uninhabited marine reserve of an island surrounded by white sand beaches. So in January 2008 we finally had the chance for a visit. We left our home in Molo, Iloilo City before eight in the morning but our progress was not speedy as we stopped to buy the wonderful bibinkas (a coconut specialty) at the "Bingkahan Mohon" in Oton -- highly, highly recommended. It right near the junction with the road which heads to Mandurriao. The next stop was the always enjoyable public market in Miagao where we bought more fruit and snacks. We bought our take-out lunch at an eatery in Tiolas, where we also spied and bought a beautiful four kilogram speckled grouper to be picked up on our way back. The eatery is Magpatao-Hay. It's on the left before Tiolas. It a real Filipino place with dirt floors but nice people and good food. They catch their own fish just offshore of the eatery. Full of provisions we got underway once again. We turned of toward Anini-y at Tiolas. Had we continued on the main road we would have crossed the mountains and ended up at Antique's capitol, San Jose.
MORE NOGAS ISLAND INFORMATION AT http://myphilippinelife.com/nogas-island/
Nogas Island Entrance Sign
The first bit of the road to Anini-y, through Tiolas, was paved and quite pretty. There are a few resorts, some just picnic shelters, one or two others offering overnight accommodations. The beaches in this section seem to consist of smooth pebbles. After a few kilometers, paved roads disappear except for random stretches. The roads and bridges are under perpetual repair and very rough. We stopped at a family owned dive shack right where the rugged Cresta del Gallo mountain dives to the sea. It's a spectacular spot. Finally we came to Sira-an Hot Springs (covered my another of my accounts) and proceeded to another basic but very pretty private dive camp on the mainland beach opposite Nogas. We enjoyed the lunch we had bought in Tiolas while the pump boat was being prepared for our trip to Nogas Island. The round trip fee was P500. The boatman we used can be found by turning down a dirt track immediately (on Anini-y side) beyond the old cemetery located between Sira-an Hot Springs and Anini-y.
Beginning of path to Nogas Island Light House
The banca trip over was uneventful. When we got to Nogas we were the only ones on the island except for our boatman, his two kids and his helper. Although I do love the vibrant buzz of life in the Philippines, it was nice to get away to a quiet, green place where nature is the main focus. There's an excellent report on birding on Nogas at:
Fabulous Frangipani-lined Path to Light House
After unloading we strolled the path from the beach to the lighthouse. What a surprise and delight that path is! We don't know who gets the credit but many years ago each side of the path were planted with fragrant Frangipani bushes, now near trees -- locally called Calachuchi. The trees have grown to create a flowering bower over the entire path. Continuing on past the lighthouse we ran into an impressive and spooky balete tree and then impenetrable mangrove wetlands so we turned back.
Carol on Nogas Island Light House Path
Frangipani Trees and Nogas Island Light House
Giant Balete Tree on Nogas Island
Also called Ficus or Banyan tree - Lunok in Ilonggo. Continue walking beyond the lighthouse and you'll come to this tree. This tree is thought by many Filipinos to be a home to various spirit beings, mostly troublesome. My Ilonggo companions seemed a bit uncomfortable and repeatedly asked the spirits to excuse them (tabi, tabi, tabi) for intruding.
Back to the Beach, Nogas Island
Returning to the beach, some of us napped on a bed brought out from hiding by our boatman. My wife and I explored the beaches, up and down from the landing and trailhead.
Our young helper at Nogas Island Baech
St. John de Nepomuceno Church in Anini-y from Nogas Island
Nogas Island - surrounded by Mangroves
Carol Exploring Nogas Island Mangroves