Danjugan Island: Nature’s Sanctuary in Negros

[SEPTEMBER 2016]
You might already have heard of this place: Danjugan Island. It’s not labeled as a resort but as a sanctuary, and we well understood this when we got there.

Danjugan is an island located at the Southeastern coast of Negros Occidental. It houses a variety of species of fish, birds, and even butterflies. Nature here is well preserved and protected. Visitors need to follow one main sanctuary rule: respect and protect all kinds of life in the island.

Dave Albao, the island manager of the island, first-handedly entertained our group during our stay in the island.

Our group with Dave (second from left) (📷: Ino S.)
Our group stayed at the Typhoon Beach camp. Everything in the island is solar-powered so there was a time during the night where it was all lights out. Also, water is very precious in the island, so we had to adjust (especially when taking a bath). But of course this is okay, because this is all for the good of the other living creatures in the island. According to Dave, this is their way of minimizing human waste in the island, maintaining the natural balance of the ecosystem.
We could just feel Dave’s passion about protecting the island. He shared with us that he was looking after a turtle that recently laid its eggs on one area of the Typhoon Beach. He placed a net around the nest as protection. He was waiting for those to be hatched and will help the baby turtles to return to the sea if necessary.
Curiously gawking at the turtle nest as Dave explained how he found the eggs.
(📷: Krishan T.)
When you stay in the island, part of the package is the boat tours for the snorkeling spots around the island. But be prepared as you’re in not just for the typical snorkeling experience. Before going to the sea, we were shown an illustrated book of different fish species. Then each of us were assigned to find a specific fish during snorkeling. They gave us whiteboard and pencils to write on as we were also to draw all the different kinds of fish that we will see during our swim. How exciting is that, right? 😀
Me prepping for our educational snorkeling! (📷: Ino S.)
Happy snorklers. (📷: Krishan T.)
I’m pretty sure I was pointing at something awesome.
(📷: Krishan T.)
Fresh from snorkeling. (📷: Krishan T.)
The island indeed was rich in marine life. There were lots of living creatures even at the shore. I think we saw some sea snakes too. 😰But as Dave as pointed out, if you don’t disturb them, they won’t attack you.
Aside from snorkeling, canoes are also available there. When we did our kayaking, we just had to observe the waves before setting off, as they could go strong and it would be difficult for us to return.
Just casually kayaking by… 🛶 (📷: Krishan T.)
We kayaked from the Typhoon Beach camp all the way to this cove where the waters were very calm. It was a bit quiet also, kind of eerie actually, as if a giant creature living underneath would surface anytime. 😅#justmywildimaginationrunning

During the sunset, Dave guided us to another part of the island (can’t remember anymore which part it was 😭). But the one thing that stuck to my mind was the scenery there — there were lots of plastic bottles along the shore. It was part of Dave’s habit to go here regularly to collect the bottles. You won’t believe where all these trash were coming from. These bottles come all the way from the South China Sea! True enough when I looked at the bottles, it all had Chinese characters on it. It was kinda sad to know we humans leave behind so much trash, and that it can travel far and wide (even crossing an ocean!). 😔

Spending the night in Danjugan island gave us an authentic experience of nature. Sadly in these modern times, people are always online, busy with their phones and gadgets. Through that one night we spent on the island, we unplugged. There was no phone signal and limited electricity at night so we just bonded and talked endless stories throughout the night.

One unforgettable moment was the magic of seeing fireflies come out of the trees. It felt so surreal I thought I was just dreaming. Together with the stars twinkling in the sky, these fireflies subtly lit up the place while we were all chatting away by the shore. I will never forget that night.

Visiting Danjugan is such an astounding experience. You’ll not just enjoy the place, but you will learn to respect nature and care more about the other creatures living in the ecosystem. I hope Danjugan island, and all the other natural treasures that we have, will be preserved so the natural life there can live and thrive.

~o~

Danjugan Island is being managed by The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc.

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