Sorsogon Diaries: Matnog, Luzon's Southernmost Edge

Subic (Liit) Beach
Located in the Bicol Region, Sorsogon is the southernmost province in Luzon and is the gateway to an array of natural wonders such as pristine beaches, lakes, and lagoons, among others. The province is divided in 14 municipalities and one city, which happens to have the same name (Sorsogon City).

Our four-day journey in this province started with a long and butt-numbing trip to its southernmost tip (yes, southernmost of the southernmost, if that's how you want to call it)--Matnog. This town faces Northern Samar and the San Bernardino Strait.

How to go to Matnog:
By Air (via Legazpi)
From Manila, take a flight to Legazpi, the capital city of the province of Albay. From the Legazpi Airport, take a tricycle (there's a station just across the arrival area, flat rate is Php 50 per trip) to the van terminal. You may also walk outside the Legazpi Airport complex and take the regular tricycle, which usually costs Php 8-10 per person.

At the terminal, look for the van bound to Sorsogon City. Fare is Php 90 and travel time is around 1.5-2 hours. Tell the driver to drop you off at Chowking. Just a few meters away from Chowking is the jeepney terminal to Matnog and Irosin. Board a jeepney to (fare is Php 90). Travel time is around 2 hours.

Alternatively, from the Legazpi van terminal, you may take a van to Bulan and ask to be dropped off at Trece. This is the junction where jeepneys to Matnog pass by. 

By Land
There are buses that ply the Manila-Legazpi, Manila-Matnog, and Manila-Irosin routes. If taking the latter, you may take a jeepney bound to Matnog from Irosin town proper.

The gate of Matnog port

What to see in Matnog:
Matnog's most famous tourist sites are the islands of Tikling and Calintaan, the latter being the home to Subic Liit and Subic Daku beaches and Juag Lagoon. These spots are accessible via boat, which you can easily hire from the tourism office in Matnog town proper and in our case, through Brgy. Kagawad Eddie Evasco (+63928.2538607/+63926.1404577). The overnight rate of a small boat that can fit up to 10 people is at Php 2,000. Day tours are also available for a cheaper price. Best time to go is during summer (March-May) and, believe it or not, during southwest monsoon months (June-September), as waves can get rough during the northeast monsoon months (October to February).

Our boat
Tikling Island
Just a short 15-minute boat ride from the mainland is Tikling Island. Famous for its pinkish sand, the island radiates raw beauty and a tranquil atmosphere with only the sound of the waves breaking into silence. There are only a few pink sand beaches in the Philippines. Famous ones are Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga, Tikling Island in Sorsogon, and Sila Island in Northern Samar.

Tikling Island
Getting closer to Tikling Island
Bare beauty
A view of Calintaan Island from Tikling Island

Juag Lagoon
Our next stop was the privately owned Juag Lagoon, which houses a variety of fish caged in large nets set out into the sea. Fish feeding is allowed but swimming and snorkeling are prohibited. There is an entrance fee of Php 50.

A rock formation near the docking area of Juag Lagoon
Feeding time

The queen is here!

Her majesty
Our boat
Subic Beach on Calintaan Island 
There are two beach coves on Calintaan Island that are open for day tour and camping: Subic Liit (small)and Subic Daku (big). Both are famous camping sites for those who wish to stay overnight. We stayed at the former.

Tents are available for rent from Mr. Eddie Evasco, too. Price is at Php 100 per tent, each can accommodate two people. There are also open cottages that you can rent for an overnight stay. We rented the one that is located on the far left of the cove (if you're facing the island), which costs Php 300. Please make sure to deal directly with the caretaker and not with the boatmen or tour guide. Our boat captain who happens to be the son of Mr. Evasco was super nice, but his companion, our said to be "tour guide," was kinda annoying as he tried to charge us Php 500 for the cottage. Good thing, we were able to talk to the caretaker, who said it's only Php 300. We paid the caretaker directly.

Subic Liit

Calm before the storm
The cottage we rented for Php 300
Here are some tips if you plan to stay overnight in Subic Beach:

  • Make sure to buy your food and water before leaving Matnog port. There are no restaurants on the island.
  • Charge your gadgets before leaving the mainland. Bring a power bank if you have.
  • You will be given a huge garbage bag upon registration at the tourism office. You'll have to bring your trash back to the mainland. If you fail to "submit" your garbage bag with your trash in it, there is a penalty.
  • Make sure that the tents given to you are sturdy and in good condition. Ours were apparently a bit torn already, so we were awaken by the drops of water when it rained at dawn.
  • Bring a sleeping bag or pillow to make your stay more comfortable.
  • Cellphone signal is weak.

Our campsite
The ,morning after
At around 7 am

The rocky side of Subic Beach
Beyond this point is Subic Daku

Sunrise at Subic Beach

Matnog may not be as busy as the other famous tourist destinations here in the Philippines, but it's definitely picking up fast. People who are into exploring the great outdoors, especially those who are game to rough it out, are already starting to flock in this corner of Luzon. I won't call this destination bare, unspoiled, or untouched. Because it's not. Rather, it's one spellbinding destination that can give you the vitamin sea you need with only a fraction of the overly dense Boracay crowd--at least for now.


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