Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
While my colleagues were busy covering the 38th Kadayawan sa Dabaw, I was in Mati City, Davao Oriental availing the island-hopping tour in Pujada Bay by the Laagan Tourist Boat Rental (LTBR).
After all, I needed a much-needed for the busy schedules I had in the past few weeks. The tour was timely and apposite and Mati was the best choice. After all, it is known as the city with beautiful bays. It is also part of the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mindanao.
Mati City is home to three bays: Balete, Mayo, and Pujada. All three were listed by an international group as among the most beautiful bays in the world.
I have been to all three bays before. But during my recent visit, I only visited Pujada Bay as it is the only bay that LTBR is offering to its clients. It is a good choice as it is the only bay with three beautiful islands: Oak, Waniban, and Pujada.
“Our Pujada landscape and seascape is a 21,200-hectare marine protected area that is home to dolphins, dugongs, marine turtles, and other aquatic animals,” said Mayor Michelle Marie Denise N. Rabat in her message during a recent MiceCon meeting held in the city.
The perfect way of exploring Pujada Bay is availing the services offered by LTBR. “Our exclusive island-hopping party boat gives our guests a chance to enjoy the beautiful and interesting view of Pujada Bay while partying onboard,” explained Bryan Regencia, one of the owners.
“During your boat party,” he added, “you can watch the ever-changing scenery and visit the three islands. Our party boat is such an unusual and memorable way to celebrate with family and friends.”
Together with this trip were Bryan and his wife, Careza Dawn Malintad-Regencia, with their two kids, the mothers of Bryan and Careza, my friend James Delfinado, and the Lagaan crew.
Our first stopover was Oak Island. Actually, a sandbar, it is also known as Vanishing Island as it quickly disappears when the high tide arises. You can visit the place only during low tide. Here, we explored the island for almost an hour. Be sure to bring your own umbrella as there’s no place to hide against the scorching heat of the sun.
From there, we proceeded to the 156-hectare Pujada Island, just a few minutes away from Oak Island. It is surrounded by white-sand shoreline and covered with lush tropical trees. There are reportedly lakes and rivers inside the island.
The island is privately-owned and there’s an entrance fee of P100 per person (5 years old and above). An open cottage is available on a first come, first serve basis. Tables and chairs may also be rented.
After swimming in the crystal turquoise waters and walking on the fine white sand, we decided to move to another place: Darrporrt Campsite, which is located at sitio Catmunan in barangay Macambol.
What makes the place interesting is the cold spring water that comes from Mount Hamiguitan. The range lies in the boundary of Mati City along with the municipalities of San Isidro and Governor Generoso.
After having fun at the Darrporrt, we returned to our boat and had our lunch. After eating, we were ready for our next adventure: Waniban Island. It is surrounded by blue crystal-clear waters which is good for snorkelling, diving, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
Now, if you want to explore and experience what I had, then you can avail the services of LTBR. It offers four packages: exclusive tri-island hopping (P9,500 for 10 persons and P11,500 for 20 persons), Pujada Island direct transfer with crystal kayak (P7,500 for 10 persons), reef to ridge (P11,500 for 20 persons), and sunset cruise (P6,500 for 10 persons).
Ridge to Reef has actually two choices. The first one is from Oak or Pujada Bay, then to Darrporrt and finally to Waniban. If you select the second one, which means the group is to be picked up from Darrporrt, the price is P15,000 and it is good for 30 persons.
Those who want to avail the Tri-Island Hopping plus accommodation, the price for 15 persons is P22,500 (Mondays to Thursdays) and P24,000 (Fridays to Sundays and holidays).
Included in some of those packages are the following: use of life vests, snorkelling masks, kayaks, onboard party boat speaker, docking fee, accident insurance coverage, Instagrammable party boat with deck/bean bags/katig hammocks. Be sure to talk with LTBR staff who applied with your package.
Guests and visitors can also ask to be catered for their food requirements or they can bring their own. It is highly recommended to have your lunch on the boat. There is also a store, at the jump off area, where you can buy some of the things you may have missed bringing like towels, shirts, water, drinks, and shorts.
The LTBR is based in purok San Pedro, Sitio Taganilao in barangay Tamisan. The landmark is before Gavino Dawang Elementary School. The main gate is fronting the cotton trees. Look for Malintad Property.
Pre-booking is needed before coming. Email LTBR at this address: email@example.com. You can also call these numbers: 0909-785-2111 (Tuesdays to Sundays) and 0946-316-0383 (Mondays). The booking number is 0935-073-5034.
So, what are you waiting for? – ###
1) Party boat of Laagan Tourist Boat Rental.
2) Getting out of the party boat to visit the destinations.
3) Exploring Vanishing Island.
4) Pujada Island, the biggest among the three islands.
5) Swimming at the cold spring water in Darrporrt.
6) Some of the water activities near Waniban Island.
7) From where the fun activities starts.