Posted by: hoz49 | April 15, 2008

Monthly Boat Trip with Living in Cebu

For a couple of years I have been posting on a forum named “Living in Cebu”. It is owned by Paul Petrea, an American expat from Georgia. Paul came to Cebu several years ago and fell in love with the Philippines, the lifestyle and it’s beautiful women. He decided to live here full time and provides the forum as a way of helping others who are thinking about visiting or moving to Cebu.

Pandanon Island

Once a month the members who are in country get together for a boat trip. Costs are shared and they have a pitch in picnic. Depending on how many come, it can be a very inexpensive way to go island hopping.

Sunday I finally met some people who have until now only been anonymous screen names. About 25 people, expats from the USA and even one Brit, along with their Filipina girlfriends and wives met on Mactan Island to board a banka boat and set sail for Pandanon Island.

The boat and crew were first rate, helping less steady clients aboard the slightly rocking boat. Once all were ready we backed away and headed east, passing nearby Olango Island and moving out into the Hilutungan Channel.

I have discussed kayak crossing from Mactan to Bohol with my friends Doyet and Buzzy of the Bohol Kayak Club. Although they have not yet done it, it’s on their list. From what I saw the crossing is perfectly doable, jumping from island to island until you reach Bohol. The longest open water would be the Hilutuingan Channel a distance of about 8 kilometers. I saw many native fishermen out in the open water in their outrigger canoes.

In no time we were disembarking on the white sand beaches of Pandanon Island. Our trip organizer, Bob Ward had contracted to have 2 nipa huts for the group and the shade was most welcome! Believe me it gets HOT under the tropical sun.

Lunch in my hut was chicken, both fried and grilled, native pork adobo , rice, (including puso or hanging rice) and Bobs famous potato salad. He also provided a delicious macaroni salad, but the potato really stood out. After eating rice for the past 2 months it was a taste of home. Desert was on me and I brought brownies and 2 different cakes from Leona’s, a well known Cebu bakery.

Locals enjoying the water

We spent several hours lounging in the huts, telling lies and recounting humorous tales of our trips in and around the Philippines. Many went swimming in the emerald green waters surrounding the island. The children in our group spent the entire time wading, splashing and swimming, and from the sound of their laughter they had a good time.

With Mrs Lee, Nila, from Ft Lauderdale via Bukidnon

Several boats docked on the Island

Local kids enjoyed swimming around the outriggers

A small chapel for the Fishermen and their families

Thats Jetafe, Bohol in the distance

(much closer than our paddle to Pamilican Island!)

Looking back toward distant Cebu.

Fisherman’s Village on Pandanon Island

At 2:30 we decided to pack up and head for Hilutungan Island, which has an extensive reef system. On the way over Bob explained it is a nature preserve and that admission for swimmers would be 100 pesos (with a reduced rate for Filipinos) but that those of us who elected to stay on board wouldn’t be charged. Since I hadn’t brought a mask or snorkel I decided not to swim and just chill on the boat.

Hilutungan is another beautiful island. There are even a couple of dive resorts located there. The reef area is roped off and includes mooring buoys for the boats to save additional destruction of the delicate coral. After we tied up six people decided to dive and swim the reef. The wind and current were strong so they kept close to the boat and it’s outriggers. After 20 minutes or so a fellow paddled up in a canoe to collect the permit fees.

It was then we learned the fees had been recently changed to 100 pesos for Filipinos AND Foreigners alike, and that everyone on the boat regardless of whether they were swimming or not would have to pay. This caused much consternation among the group as there was no sign advising the increase and there were many more people on our boat who did not swim. Some thought it was an outright scam, to squeeze more money from foreign tourists.

After motoring over to the “floating office” and much heated discussion in both English and Visayan (including threats by the permit police to call the mayor of Cordova, the nearby town!!!??) Bob offered to pay 600 pesos for the swimmers and leave, promising not to come back. This was reluctantly accepted and our short time at Hilutuingan Reef ended. I hoped the authorities wouldn’t be waiting when we landed back at the dock!

Motoring back to Mactan we passed my in laws beach house in Maribago, which I recognized by a small island offshore with it’s circular grotto where I swam over 20 years ago.

Back at the wharf all seemed calm (no police, no DENR and NO MAYOR) and we all went our separate ways. A large group jumped on a colorful jeepney for a ride to the highway. I joined Mr Lee, his wife and another fellow (screen name Ologist) to share a cab we found waiting at the road. We had some good conversation on the return and I saved 50 pesos over my morning trip.

If I lived in Cebu I would join the group every month they have an island hopping tour. It was a nice day on the water and everyone had a great time.



  1. wow! a chapel just a few feet from the water! wow!

    the place is ‘heavenly!’

  2. Hi Hoz,

    I went on this trip and had a great time, too bad it was my last. I met you on that day.

    Now why did you stop posting here!

  3. I quit posting because we came back to the US. This blog is my remembrance of our trip to the Philippines and Cebu. Unfortunately, my day to day in the US is not as exciting!

    Thx for the comment!!!

  4. Hi,
    …. twas nice i found this site when i search for “bohol kayaks for sale” and after seeing buzzy in there.. and mactan to bohol i think is doable.. i dont know if buzzy has paddled up to bohol mainland.. But am sure he had paddled from mactan to pandanon is. this am sure coz i was with them. I think we were 11 people. including buzzy (in a single kayak) the rest is in tandem.

    enjoyed your site keep up the good work. 🙂

  5. Nice post.. ive been on a few of the boat trips and although I would like to visit other islands its good to meet up with other people living in the Philippines.

  6. I don’t like a chapel being on a beach. What’s next, a cemetery? 🙂

    • Well, in Camiguin there is a cemetery that is underwater!!!

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