Buntod Sandbar and Marine Sanctuary in Masbate City, Masbate Island
While the coastal areas in Masbate City on Masbate Island are generally lackluster, an offshore sandbar only less than 30 minutes away by boat provides idyllic respite for beach lovers and snorkelers. The sandbar stretches away from a young mangrove plantation, shifting in size and shape according to the currents. One clear days, the majestic Mayon Volcano on the Bicol Peninsula can be seen peering from far away behind the vegetation. If you walk through the mangroves at low tide, you will emerge at a tidal flat where sandpipers and egrets feed, and ghost crabs and mudskippers scamper across the exposed sea floor. A stilted house at the middle of the sandbar serves as a lookout for rangers guarding the site as well as an eating area for visitors, most of whom content with lazing away floating on tire tubes or the white-sand shores.
Giant sea cucumber, anyone?
A haughty ghost crab stalks the tidal flats
According to our snorkeling guide, the mangrove area is a sanctuary for baby black tip sharks which swim through the tree roots during high tide. But our guide assured us that they are very shy and placid creatures. Established in 2001 as a marine sanctuary, the reef adjacent harbors some interesting marine life, offering some good snorkeling opportunities. We swam almost 500 meters away from the sandbar, admiring the plethora of marine life such as giant clams, giant sea cucumbers, gorgonian fan corals and zebra-striped lion fish. As the tide receded, we gingerly made out way back through dense clusters of spiny black sea urchin – which was somewhat a scarier experience, compared to potential sightings of the sandbar’s resident sharks.
The tidal flat of Buntod Sandbar aglow with the colors of a sunset
HOW TO GET THERE: There are direct flights to Masbate City from Manila and Cebu. Return boat trips to Buntod Sandbar and Marine Sanctuary from the city will cost PHP 800 (up to 10 persons). Snorkeling gear can be rented at the outpost on the sandbar. WHERE TO STAY:Baywalk Garden Hotel at Brgy. Ibingay along the Masbate Circumferential Road is away from the city center but has nice, comfortable rooms fronting a small garden. A/C double rooms are PHP 1,500. Landline: +63 56 3336648 or mobile phone +63 9073042331.
Welcome to my website! I’m travel writer, photographer and online influencer Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap from the Philippines. Join me as I hike, dive, fly, eat and do pretty much anything in between across 7,641 islands and beyond. Need to reach me? Please write me an email.