“I stood agape with wonder as I watched the fragmenting sandbar. I just couldn’t contain my fascination with the entire view. I thought I was only dreaming.”
I’ve read about Manjuyod White Sandbar in 2011 and was captivated by seeing its picture-perfect view of the glistening crystal clear waters, the sandbar, and the huts on stilts. From that moment I was itching to go there so I considered it saving in my bucket list.
Seven years had flown so fast and now, my hubby and I were on Negros Island trip. One of our exciting destinations and the first to visit is the Manjuyod White Sandbar which is dubbed as the Maldives of the Philippines. Next is in Sipalay and our last leg would be in Lakawon Island.
A bit of Trivia
The sandbar is located in Manjuyod and not in Dumaguete and is in the province of Negros Oriental. The jump-off point is in Bais City.
The long trip coming from Manila to Bacolod to Bais was somewhat tiring (approximately seven hours) but we let our excitement ruled the day. We were told there is no hotel in Manjuyod so we considered staying in Casa Sandoval in Bais City which is a few distances away from the town proper.
We will squeeze in a 3-day getaway so we will only visit the sandbar in the morning.
The call time for the island hopping is 6:00 am the following day and our contact person is Melchor Balansag recommended by a co-member from DIY Travel Philippines. His brother Mark Anthony will be our boatman and he will fetch us to the hotel in getting to Canibol Wharf.
Waking up to the excitement
By 5:00 am we were awoken by sheer excitement. We did not eat breakfast yet because Mark Anthony was already waiting for us in front of the hotel. But his motorbike can’t accommodate the two of us so we boarded a tricycle in getting to the wharf. It was a ten-minute ride only.
It was a downcast morning when we reached the wharf. What greeted us as early as 6:00 am were the people swarming the area and the busy boatmen tending their boats. It’s not summer yet but I was surprised to see a surge of visitors and lots of boats near the port.
What more if it is summertime?
Mark Anthony introduced us to his father Santiago and youngest brother Justine. They were our boatmen for the day.
There was a sari-sari store in the vicinity. Since there was no sunshine yet, we ordered 3-in-1 coffee and the sweetened suman which they call puto (the white suman), and tapol (the violet suman). The former was more delicious as complemented with hot coffee. Our breakfast costs Php76.00 only!
The thrill in getting to the sandbar
The boat ride took us twenty minutes only. When we reached the sandbar the water was waist-deep. I was so delighted to see the five iconic nipa huts standing majestically above the water.
We were assured by our boatmen that the sandbar will emerge by 8:00 am just like what happened the previous days. Thinking it was amihan (northeast monsoon) I was hoping it will be the same today.
Many tourists were sitting on their boats waiting for the sandbar to appear. When the water was knee-deep, we started walking away from the huts until we reached the area where the tide began to recede.
The water was glistening and so crystal clear. The sand was creamy white and so soft. There were several starfish along the way. The sandy stretch was fragmenting. It was vast. From where we stood I imagined the entire stretch as our playground.
I can’t describe what I felt while I stood agape with wonder on the sandbar. As I watch it attentively, I just couldn’t contain my fascination with the entire view. I thought I was only dreaming.
But it was real. We walked farther until we decided to capture photos. Every angle was beautiful. The sandbar was gleaming under the flickering heat of the sun. Oh, the view was so amazing! It was so nice to walk barefoot and feel the soft sand.
When we went back near our boat the water was below our knees. More boats arrived and more people were on the water. We couldn’t wait for the sandbar to appear in that area so we spent the remaining minutes frolicking in the pretty shallow water.
I blissfully floated in my back, a skill that I naturally developed from being a water baby. I stretched my hands while my feet were apart, completely still while gazing at the clear blue sky.
I uttered to myself, “thank you Lord for this life!”
Though we missed out on seeing the entire sandbar in its full glory, I was so grateful and thankful that I saw another paradise. My heart is full of joy for we experienced the irresistible charm of the Maldives of the Philippines.
Just like our previous travels, I was delighted to hear another inspiring story from Mark Anthony, an education student by weekdays and a boatman on weekends. Though he wasn’t living in opulent comfort, his eyes were beaming with contentment and happiness while he was sharing his story. Indeed, life is really meaningful!
Island hopping tip
To fully enjoy your vacation, take the Island hopping tour which includes dolphin watching at Tañon Strait, snorkeling at the Coral Garden (no goggles, life vest only), and stopover at Manjuyod White Sandbar for lunch and swimming. Boat rental is Php3,500 for 15 persons or less and Php5,500 for 16 to 20 persons basically for the entire whole day use from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm.
We were on a short visit and on the sandbar only. But if given ample time, I will be staying overnight in the hut with my family.
In getting there:
1) The nearest main entry to the sandbar is in Dumaguete City. There is a daily flight from Manila to Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport via Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. From the airport ride, a taxi going to Ceres Liner Terminal in Barangay Calindagan and board a bus going to Bais City. Travel time for the bus is around one hour. From the city take a tricycle ride by going to Canibol wharf (ten minutes only).
2) The longest trip will come from Bacolod City. Take a bus through Ceres Liner bound to Dumaguete (5 hours trip) and alight at Bais City (Php300.00). From there, ride a tricycle in getting to Canibol wharf (Php50.00).
Contact Numbers of Tourism Offices:
Manjuyod Tourism Office: 0905-6800055 or 0919-4882950 / (035)-4041136
- for hut rental
Bais Tourism Office: 09182650474/ (035) 402-8338
- for boat rental
- Check the tide schedule before you get there. As per our boatmen, the best months to visit the sandbar are from April, May, and September during when the tides recede early in the morning. November to February are months where the temperature is bearable.
- There are two jump-off points in Bais City, the Canibol Wharf or Capiñajan Wharf.
- There are no restaurants in the sandbar so bring packed food and water.
- Only four huts are for rent for a day tour or overnight stay. So be sure to book in advance if you are planning to stay there. Nipa huts for the day-Php3,000 and Php6,000 for overnight – a maximum of 15 persons
- Every boat has a little comfort room.
- For boat rental with the intention of staying only in the sandbar for five persons or less, I highly recommend Melchor Balansag-with a rate of Php1,500. His contact number is 09308911147.
- Wear a sunblock to protect you from the scorching heat of the sun.
- There are local vendors selling buko juice (3 for Php100), sea urchin (Php250), seashells (Php300), and parrotfish (Php550)
- Aside from swimming and island hopping, a banana boat is also offered for Php100/head.
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