The Philippine’s Hidden Gem: Concepcion, Iloilo
The Visayas is often associated with beautiful beaches. The popularity of Boracay, however, sometimes over-shadow the other similarly beautiful beaches scattered in the area. Among which are the 16 hidden gems of Concepcion in the Province of Iloilo. Concepcion is just 2.5 to 3 hours away from Iloilo City, hence, a great place to visit when in Iloilo.
If taking a bus, it is best to stay overnight as the last trip in Concepcion going back to Iloilo City is at 3pm and 4pm for going to Sara (the next municipality where there are several bus trips by Ceres Liner going to the city). If bringing a private vehicle, one day of fun is do-able.
The maximum number of islands that one can visit in one day is three: Pan de Azucar, Agho Island, and Bolobadiangan Island.
Take a Leganes-bound jeepney and get off at Tagbak Terminal in Jaro. HPQ Liner has regular trips going to Concepcion daily. Take note, however, of the last trip which is at 3pm. Beyond 3pm, Sara-bound jeepneys are available and from Sara, there are numerous bus trips bound for Iloilo City.
Pan de Azucar is 40 minutes away by boat from the mainland. It is famous for Mt. Manaphag, towering at 573 meters and ideal for mountain climbing. As one approaches the island, one can already see the looming presence of the steep mountain. There are no resorts in the island. There are, however, several rest houses owned by the town’s prominent residents. Unless you know them, camping is the only way to go. The beach is not really a good place to swim anymore. One could check out an interesting rock formation on one side of the island instead.
Approximately 25 minutes from Pan de Azucar, is Agho Island. Agho Island is a paradise. One can have the island for the whole day without anyone else. Besides being private, the sand is white, the scenery picturesque, the breeze heavenly, and the water crystal clear. It is noted for different kinds of shells and Tabon birds. A word of caution though, there may be sea urchins in the area depending on the season. There are no resorts in the island. Only the caretakers inhabit the island. So, if one would like to stay the night, one should bring a tent and enough food and water. Do not fret, Malangabang Island (where a sari-sari store is available) is just a kilometer away.
Bolobadiangan Island is often visited by tourists because of its long and winding white sandbar. During low-tide, the sand bar extends as far as if it almost touches the next island. Owned by the heirs of the Eusala family, accommodations is available through the Sand Bar Beach Resort situated in the island. There are simple cottages that visitors can rent, which ranges from Php500-800. One can also rent or bring their own tents and pay a minimal amount. The island resort does not have a restaurant, so one should bring their own food and drinking water. Water for bathing is for sale at Php10/gallon.
Concepcion beaches offer world-class quality beaches. It would be a shame not to visit these hidden gems, when it is so close to Iloilo City.
– Bolobadiangan Island
Sandbar Beach Resort
Mr. Rex Eusala: 09207198042
– Agho Island
Ronnie (boatman): 09072897111
Sandbar boat operator: 09129575002
Municipal Tourism Officer – Mario Lazarito: 09085929096; firstname.lastname@example.org
Junbee accommodation: P200-250/pax
Sandbar accommodation: P800 (big cottage); P500 (small cottage)
3-island tour with Ronnie: P1800
Sandbar boat operator: P2000 (back and forth only)
Island tour arrangement with Municipal Tourism Officer: P1500 (small boat), P1800 (2-island tour), P2200 (3-island tour)
Agho Island: P50/head
Bolobadiangan Island: P25/head
P120 each way/head
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