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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Island Hopping: Pan de Azucar Island, Iloilo




Pan de Azucar Islands is a group of islands located in Concepcion, Iloilo, Panay Island west central Philippines. It is about 111.4 kms. from the city and be reached through a series of rides of jeepney, van, bus, motorcycle & ferry boat. It is made up of exotic islets with cave-like gateway which tourists can enjoy swimming and feeling the ambience of solitude. The tropical backdrop includes coconut which can serve as foundation for your hammock and can quench your thirst with its juice which is a good cleansing agent for our kidney.
Pan de Azucar is the biggest and most popular among Concepcion’s 16 islands because of the enchantingly tall and steep mountain, called Mt. Pan de Azucar or Mt. Manaphag, standing like a towering sentinel in the center of the island.
Pan de Azucar Island, also referred as “Tampisaw Island” or “Tambaliza,” is located 7 nautical miles north of the poblacion or town proper (in mainland Concepcion) with an expanse of 18.4 square kilometers, occupying 19% of the town’s total land area. It is 30 minutes away from the poblacion via motorized bancas (pump boats), which have regular trips to the southern side of the island. Special tours will have to be arranged with the municipal tourism office or with boatmen docked at the fish port in the mainland.
Mt. Manaphag is a 573-foot land mass considered as one of the steepest in the country. It is frequented by mountain climbing enthusiasts such as the Sigarong Backpackers. The mountain, which can be seen from afar (as far as Negros Island), easily distinguishes itself from its surroundings and provides Conception a magnificent and interesting landmark because of its shape and size. The island was named after “Pan de Azucar” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil because of its similar appearance.
At the foot of the mountain are flat lands suitable for farming, one can see a perfect overview of them on top of Mt. Manaphag. If you happen to know a local, try to have him to take you to a coconut plantation and ask for all the coconuts that you can eat. It’ll certainly give you a fulfilling experience.
Pan de Azucar has thin coasts of golden-yellow sand to white sand. Most of them are inhabited and may not be suitable for swimming, though there are still a lot of sites around the island which are perfect for a dip like Malumpatan, which is a short beach with a pebbled shore and spectacular rock formations in its surroundings.
Along a white sand beach at the foot of Mt. Manaphag, is Pan de Azucar Beach Resort, which offer rooms for those wishing to spend the night in the island. They offer simple accommodations and have water and electricity available.
Access is from Iloilo, which has its own airport with regular flights from Manila (1 hour) and Cebu (30 minutes). There are bus connections to Iloilo from local cities such as Caticlan (6 hours), Kalibo (4 hours) and Roxas (3 hours). Pan de Azucar Island is a 30-minute pump boat ride from Iloilo's port.
Pan de Azucar Island is a unique experience where you cannot see elsewhere in the country.
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