“You will not see the island when the tide gets high”, my Filipino friend, Irene, told me before we hopped to the small boat that would bring us to the Vanishing Island or popularly known as Sanipaan Shoal to locals; although some will call the island as Wishing Island, Arboles Island or Arboles Shoal. Irene also said that if we were lucky, we could meet starfish without doing any underwater activities. They would just show up on the sand. I got myself more excited knowing about that, as I know myself very well that I cannot dive, hehe.
A fisherman’s boat fits for 5-8 people took us to find the vanishing island. As we cruised the ocean, all we could see was a crystal clear water along the way to the island. It was very clear so that I could really see the depth of the water. The underwater view is very astonishing. I can see sea creatures, sea shells, sea bed, corals, reefs, fish, and sea grasses like serial jewelries. When the boat reached the sand, I couldn’t stop myself to scream as I hopped out from the boat, “Thank God, I’m here!”. I touched the sand and danced! Hahaha..
I looked around and all I can see was a tiny island with white sand and blue tosca water with a bright blue sky at the background. I was so lucky that I visited this place on April, the start of the summer season in the Philippines. Sanipaan Shoal is serene, clean, and has thriving marine biodiversity. We walked through the sand to the mangrove forest. Irene said that it was 2-3 years ago that people started to plant mangrove trees on the island to further support the rich marine life. The environment itself has been declared as a protected reserve area – Tambo Marine Park/Fish Sanctuary. A project of Island Garden City of Samal, The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR), with the support from USAID.
If you are one who likes to see the wonder of nature, this place can give you a lot. Swimming, snorkeling and diving are one of the things you can do here. Or if you would only want to enjoy the tranquility, take a moment to walk through the sand and waves, and find yourself immerse in the paradise. For one who would like to stay longer in the island, there is a floating house – a cottage that can be rent – just above the ocean, but it cannot be reached by the tides for the fact that it has been elevated.
Boat fee: 200 P for 4 people, back and forth.