Exploring Danjugan Island, A Reef and Rainforest Haven


Moray Lagoon
Nestled three kilometers southwest off the coast of Negros Occidental, Danjugan is a lush, 43-hectare island rich in marine and terrestrial biodiversity, thus, it is one of of southern Negros' treasured gem. The island is located in the town of Cauayan and is just about 10-15 minutes away by boat from Punta Bulata White Beach Resort and Spa. Together with Sipalay City and the Municipality of Hinobaan, it forms the southern border of the province and is situated in the Sulu Sea, an important eco-region for marine biodiversity.

How to get there:
  • From Manila, take a flight to Bacolod. Major airlines such as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have daily direct flights from Manila to Bacolod. To make the most of it, get the earliest flight.
  • From the New Bacolod-Silay Airport, board a shuttle to the city proper. There are shuttle vans parked outside the arrival area. Fare is at Php 150. Make sure to tell the driver to drop you off at the Ceres Southbound Terminal.
  • At the Ceres Southbound Terminal, you can either board an air-conditioned bus bound to Kabankalan City, which has a signage that says "two stops," or ride the direct non-air-conditioned bus to Hinoba-an. Please take note though that the direct non-air-conditioned bus takes longer to reach your destination as it picks up passengers along the way. The seats are not as comfortable as the those of the air-conditioned bus, too, so if you have many baggage with you, you might be uncomfortable. For your convenience, I highly recommend that you take the two-stop air-conditioned bus to Kabankalan City (fare is Php 135), and at the Ceres Kabankalan Terminal, transfer to another bus bound to Hinoba-an (fare is Php 99). You might be even lucky to board an air-conditioned bus all the way to Cauayan! - thanks Ayi Esguerra for this tip. It shortened our travel time from five to four hours!
  • Tell the driver to drop you off at Bangga Salamat Po, or the corner to Punta Bulata White Beach Resort and Spa. 
  • Make sure to pre-arrange your tricycle pick-up. Punta Bulata White Beach Resort and Spa can do this for you at Php 100 per way per head. The distance from Bangga Salamat Po to the resort is about three kilometers on rough up and down hills. 
  • Punta Bulata White Beach Resort and Spa can arrange your boat transfers to Danjugan Island
Punta Bulata's small boat to Danjugan Island 
On the way to Danjugan Island, the waves are a bit huge. Best time to go is during summer and monsoon-free months

Danjugan Island is managed by the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI), a non-stock, non-profit corporation organized to manage the conservation program based on the Island that was expanded to include the rest of Southern Negros Occidental. 

Measuring about 1.5 kilometers long and 0.5 kilometers at its widest point, Danjugan Island is an eco-tourism haven that is home to five lagoons and is covered with limestone forests providing asylum to many wildlife species that struggle to exist in the mainland. The island’s surrounding reef is under the Danjugan Island Marine Reserve and Sanctuaries with three Special Management Areas or No Take Zones established in 2000 through Cauayan Municipal Ordinance 99-52.

The turquoise water surrounding the island is clear and inviting
The docking area
The tour starts with a short briefing at the Danjugan Island Learning Center, where guests are given a sneak preview of what the island has to offer.

Danjugan Island Learning Center
At the main reception
After the briefing, the guide leads you to the trekking trail--the starting point of the eco-tour. The trail is quite an easy one, with some parts that are rocky and a bit uphill. The trek takes about 15 minutes from the learning center to the Typhoon Beach Camp.

The trail is paved for easier trekking
While trekking, the first interesting spot you'll see is the Moray Lagoon. Pretty with clear waters and enclosed by a verdant foliage, the lagoon is like a painting that instantly captivates your heart. The view is comparable to that of Bucas Grande Island in Surigao del Norte.

Moray Lagoon
Not too far from the Moray Lagoon is the bat cave that is home to a myriad bats (about 10 species are documented but most are insect bats). The guide said there is also a lone snake living in the cave.

The bat cave

Continuing the trek
About three minutes away from the bat cave is another lagoon that has a corner where the Bureau of Fisheries had set up a breeding ground for mud crabs. The guide said it is impossible to swim in this lagoon as the bottom is too muddy that it can sometime swallow you up to your knees. Plus, there is not much to see under.

The "mud" lagoon
You will realize that the 15-minute trek is worth it when you finally landed on Turtle Beach, a cove with calm waters and powdery shoreline. On a fine weather, you can bathe in the sun, walk barefoot on the sand, or just swim.

Turtle Beach
Turtle beach is also dotted with beautiful limestone formations and lush greenery making it a picture-perfect spot.

Still on Turtle Beach
The sand is fine, off-white, with some coral rubbles
The skies were a bit overcast during our visit

Limestone formations on Turtle Beach

Our boat hiding at the Typhoon Beach Camp on the far corner
At the other end of the Turtle Beach is the Typhoon Beach Camp, where guests usually go for snorkeling and kayaking. For us, this was no doubt the best part of Danjugan Island.

Typhoon Beach Camp
Once we settled our stuff at the cottage, we geared up to explore the beautiful reefs of Danjugan Island. Since we're not certified divers, we just enjoyed snorkeling instead. If you are a licensed diver, you must see the amazing dive spots in Danjugan Island. The island has an in-house divemaster who can guide you all the way. Diving and snorkeling gears are not a problem as the island can provide you with these during your visit.

Since we were just snorkeling, we were only able to explore the shallow reefs that are just a few meters away from the shore. It was high tide when we started. What did we see underwater, you ask? Here, take a look:

































According to the PRRCFI website, there are at least 17 species of mangroves, 572 fish species belonging to 139 genera, 244 species of hard corals, 8 species of seagrasses and 74 species of macroalgae have been recorded in Danjugan Island. Giant clams are also observed in the reefs, and a restocking program for the endangered species of giant clams is being implemented in collaboration with UP-MSI. Other commercially important invertebrates observed are abalone and spiny lobster . The endangered coconut crab still occur in the coastal and mangrove forests of the island. The western beaches of Danjugan Island are known nesting sites of the hawksbill  and green sea turtles. There was one sighting of a Dugong in the past while sightings of dolphins are common within the municipal waters of Cauayan which is a migration path of some larger marine mammal species.

Since we were so pre-occupied with the spectacular underwater scenery, we almost forgot that our four-hour eco-tour of the island has came to an end, and that it was already time to go to our next destination: Turtle Island.

We left Danjugan Island with a heavy heart as we really fell in love with the bare beauty of the place, but then, it was time to move on.

The Sulu Sea was bumpy when we left the island, and the way to Turtle Island became a bit challenging for the boatmen and scary for us. We were almost near the docking area when our boat's propeller crashed, leaving us swaying with the huge waves amidst the rough sea. Fortunately, the staff of Punta Bulata White Beach Resort and Spa was able to get in touch with the people at Danjugan Island to seek help. We were rescued (yes, again! bisyo na'to!) after about 30 minutes. It's a good thing that Turtle Island is just 10 minutes away from the resort. They said the island is also a great place for snorkeling and diving. Oh well, I guess we have another reason to go back then.

On the way to Turtle Island
No wonder it is called "Turtle" Island
A cave on its mouth
This was our view when we got stranded
A closer view, taken when our boatmen were able to find a way to somehow anchor our boat
The beach at Turtle Island

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Punta Bulata White Beach Resort and Spa
Cauayan, Negros Occidental, Philippines
+6334.433.5160 / +6334.473.0235
info@puntabulata.com
http://puntabulata.com/
https://www.facebook.com/puntabulata

The Philippine Reef & Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc.
Door #7, Teresa Building, Mandalagan, Bacolod City 6100, Philippines
+6334.441.6010 / +63920.281.8718
experience@danjuganisland.ph/prrcfi@yahoo.com.ph
http://www.prrcf.org/




Comments

  1. Beautiful! Danjugan Island is my favorite island in our country so far. =)

    ReplyDelete

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