A Glimpse of Pescador island
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - July 21, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  There’s a small island just a few kilometers off the southwestern part of mainland Cebu that’s been quite well known among professional divers around the world. Its fame, though, seems to be contained only within the divers’ circle. The neighboring communities – aside of course from the local fishermen that frequent the area – may have heard little of Pescador Island.

The little coral island is located at the Tañon Strait, a few kilometers from the coast of Moalboal town in whose jurisdiction it belongs. The word “pescador” is Spanish for “fisherman,” the little island being surrounded by rich marine life with an abundance of fish that attract the fishermen to the area. On the west side of the island, there’s an open-top underwater cave admirably called “The Cathedral” by divers.

The waters around the island are a marine park, and divers are charged an ‘entrance fee’. The collected fees are used to finance the conservation programs of Moalboal town. One of the programs is to ensure that there are no activities to endanger the marine life in the area.

It is a common sight for the rocky island to be surrounded by pumpboats carrying divers and other visitors, beginning at early morning. Everyone cannot seem to wait to have the first sight of the various species of whales, porpoises, dolphins, sharks, rays, turtles, and other large marine animals that abound in the area. Tanon Strait is one of the richest marine habitats in the country.

Many visitors are just content going around the island on boats, without actually setting foot on the island itself.  The experience is exhilarating enough, they say. Besides, there’s little to see at Pescador Island – no sandy beach to frolic or laze at, although certain points on the island offer a good view of mainland Cebu and Negros islands.

There’s not even a proper docking area. From the sea there’s only solid rock face everywhere. To get on the island the boats have to get as close to a rock face as possible, for visitors to be able to hop from the boat’s bow and on to the rock – which can be rather tricky.

On the island, there’s an old trail that leads inwards. Spots of woods and bushes largely cover the rocky surface. Birds and other creatures freely go about their day oblivious of human intruders.

Pescador Island is surrounded by coral reefs, which are shallow enough for snorkelers at some parts and deep enough for divers at other parts. The crystal clear waters allow visitors to see the lush underwater scene at 10 to 15 feet deep. Swimmers shall beware, though, the waters are sometimes infested with a toxic type of jellyfish, skin contact with which can really be a discomfort.

Many areas around the island’s edges stand up to 50 to 60 feet high, which are irresistibly inviting for young daredevil cliff divers. Groups of local teens frequently visit the island and have great fun jumping to the deep blue waters below. Although such activities are not encouraged, it’s a merry atmosphere as cliff divers dare one another as to who would go first.

To get to Pescador Island from Cebu City is simple. At the Cebu South Bus Terminal, there are buses that go to Moalboal; visitors may get on one of those. Upon reaching the town proper, if the trip happens to be on a weekday, they may check out the town’s tourism office for guidance. If not, then may they may just proceed to take a tricycle to Panagsama Beach.

From the Panagsama Beach in the mainland, pumpboats take visitors to Pescador Island. These pumpboats come in different sizes – from as small as five-passenger capacity, including the boatman, to as big as can accommodate 50 persons.  The distance takes about 15 minutes of boat ride.

A word of caution: Tañon Strait could be quite rough in inclement weather. Trips may be cancelled, and even those with pre-booked trips to the island are advised to abide. Insisting to go in bad weather can be dangerous.

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