Discovering New Places: Balut Island, Municipality of Sarangani, Davao Occidental

Discovering new places is something exciting as there are undeniably more places to explore in the Philippines – more islands to hop, more sandy beaches to walk on by, more diving and snorkeling sites, more nature to trip, more mountains to trek, more exotic foods to eat, more friendly faces to meet and greet and more pictures to take. Thousands and thousands make up this archipelago – definitely there’s more fun in the Philippines.
Update: Sarangani Islands is  in the southernmost part of Davao del Sur Davao Occidental – the newest province in the Philippines, also known as Balut Island/Olanivan Island. Balut is a Maguindanaoan term for “island”. In the center of this island is the Balut Volcano (Stratovolcano) which is elevated at about 2,828 feet. Despite its overflowing natural resources, Sarangani Island is the “poorest and most neglected municipalities in the country. When, in fact, this town was powerful years ago and its people were respected by other nations, even European countries”. Not all Filipinos know that Sarangani Island exists, when you say Sarangani Island, they will think of Sarangani Province. Read the rest of history here.

Hopefully, this island will start acclaim its seat on the tourist spot’s list sooner because of its spectacular destinations such as hot spring, white sand beaches, the Balut Island Peak and many more. In here you may perform any of the activities you want to delve into such as beach volleyball, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, swimming in the 11-kilometer stretch bay and other stuffs to your heart’s delight.

The islands of Sarangani  are to die for! And as the moment  we stepped on to it, all my fears melt away. And this story to tell has started. FUN. FUN. FUN. ’nuff said!
Getting There

Port Mabila in Balut Island with M/V Song of Dolly 3
There isn’t a daily boat ride to Balut Island, so it is best that to coordinate with three shipping lines as to the schedule of your trip may be.  The ferry leaves 12 midnight and usually it’ll take you about 5 hours to traverse from the port to Balut Island. Also, some of the things the locals of Sarangani Island needs are bought from General Santos that’s why when you be having your trip to this island, along with you are cargos of foods, luggage, furniture, appliances and other stuffs inside the boat.
  • M/V Song of Dolly 3 is docked at the Lion’s Beach in General Santos City. Travels thrice a week from Gensan (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) for P360 + P20 gate fee. You may call RD Group of Companies at (083)552 4435 for inquiries and reservation.
  • Or you may go to the Wharf of Puting Bato to ride the M/VNieky or M/V Sabgangat.
As soon as you get into Sarangani Island, the very first thing you need to do is to meet Hon. Mayor Jerry Cawa or their chieftain Hon. Abet Jawed so they can assist or guide you. Next, find a pump boat for one day island hopping, usually it costs from P1,500 up to P2,000 depending on the capacity of the boat and the islands to visit. Take note, you have to pick a pump boat with double engine, aside that it is faster, it has a reserved engine in case the  other engine stops working during the island hopping. Once you got all of these things, then the show begins.

Best of Balut Island

The Best Part of All is Island Hopping
Olanivan Island photo: Ian Olden

Lighthouse at Olanivan

Our first stop is Olanivan. From the port, it took us one and half hour to reach this island. In this 3 – kilometer stretch, you will see the Lighthouse, which was built by the Americans during their reign. You can stroll along the white sands of Olanivan, swim in its clear blue waters, and of course cam whoring. You definitely wouldn’t want to miss this.
Heart-Shaped sulfuric Sabang Hot Spring in Sarangani Islands, Davao Occidental
Next is Sabang Hot Spring, it is located at Barangay Lipol, about one hour and 30 minutes of travel from Olanivan. This spring is about 16 meters wide with the temperature that can be hot as 80C. Both Olanivan and Sabang Hot Spring are owned by the RD Group of Companies, also the owner of MV Song of Dolly 3.

Tuke Maklang Beach Resort
Then we headed to Tuke Maklang, a beach resort owned by Mayor Jerry Cawa. The entrance fee is only P10.00 and they have 2 rooms available good for 2 persons each. But is it more exciting to stay outside with tents. Aside from Tuke Maclang, you can also visit Tuke Nunsol or Bolae Cove as Sarangani Island is blessed with fine coarse white sand, locals made used of this gift and made some resorts for tourists to choose from.
Balistic also known as Villalobos or Marorong Islet
Last on the list is Marorong Islet in Brgy Mabila. This bullet – like shape islet, nestles the ruins of what was once a bastion of Ruy Lopez de Villalobos. The Marorong islet is about 130 meters away from the Mabila port.

Where to Stay 

JVL Inn Cafetria owned by Hon. Mayor  Jerry Cawa in Brgy. Mabila, you can see it directly at the port

If you want to stay overnight or couple of days in Balut Island, you can either stay in JVL Inn in Brgy. Mabila or  in Tuke Maklang Beach Resort, both are owned by Hon. Mayor Jerry Cawa.  The inn has the most convenient area since it’s located near the port. The rates range from P1,000.00 to P2,000.00 per night depending on the rooms. But if you want to stay in a more natural place, opt Tuke Maklang Beach Resort. There are two available rooms good for two persons each. But it is more exciting to stay outside with your tents. 

Since Sarangani Island stands near Celebes Sea, the best time to visit is during summer or from March to May, this is the time the weather and waves allows you to sail smoothly from one island to another. Just monitor the weather before you will visit.

For any traveler to appreciate the beauty of a certain destination has to offer, one should have a little knowledge on the place itself as well as its locals. Here in Balut Island, the locals’ main economic activity is farming, more specifically coconut crops and its major source of livelihood of fishing. The people living here are mostly Bilaan and Sangils but they can converse well in Bisaya and Tagalog.
Here’s what I’ve learned when I visited Sarangani Island, Traveling is not all about discovering new places. It is also discovering who of your friends are craziest, willing to risk their life  just  to  enjoy new adventure  with you… and it makes the friendship stronger.

Facebook page of Municipality of Sarangani:

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