Olango Island is accessed from a wharf at the side of the Hilton in Mactan, Cebu. A boat ride costs P15, plus a terminal fee of P1.
I bought my ticket and immediately, “agents” gathered around me offering their services as guide, or offering to arrange for lunch in the many floating restaurants in Cao-uy, or offering boat rental at P3,000 with the boat taking us to Olango, waiting for us while having lunch, and to take us back to the pier beside the Hilton. I fended them all off, decided on doing it on my own.
The regular boat wasn’t ready to depart. One of the boats, anchored on the pier but unsuccessful in getting a tourist group, was going back to Olango. One of the crew members asked if we would rather take the boat that leaves now, at P30 per person. Deal.
The boat ride was short, Olango is just 4-5 kms away. We landed in a place called Paring, nearer Cao-uy, where the floating restaurants are.
We took a tricycle to Cao-uy, paying P60. And then we had to board still another boat to take us to the floating restaurant.
We went to Topie and Dinah. Because it was just my mom and I, I picked the smallest lapulapu to be steamed, 6 small prawns and a squid to be grilled, and a few shells for broth. I was shocked to be told that the lunch bill will be P1,800. I felt like I was being held up face to face in broad daylight. But what the heck, I did not want to take the journey back on an empty stomach, with my diabetic mom who can not afford to be hungry. And so can’t I.
The restaurant was built on the water, with 4 or 5 others nearby. Apparently, the owners rent out their boats to tourists who snorkel around Olango, at a “discount”, with the agreement that lunch will be in their restaurant. I wondered how much discount that was, or maybe their lunch bill will be even more expensive on a per person basis.
We ordered a bottle of Coke and a bottle of Sprite, plus two small bottles of mineral water. I nearly fell off my chair when I found out that the drinks were P50 each. Yes, in a small, makeshift restaurant on the water.
I wouldn’t recommend the experience to friends, except to those who are ready to pay a huge price for this experience. And will tell them to bring their bottled water. And advise them not to order those clam-like shells for broth – – – the meat was so tough. The broth tasted good, though.
Saving Grace : the Bird Sanctuary
From Cao-uy, I rode a tricycle to the Bird Sanctuary in San Vicente, past the “ciudad” of Sta Rosa. No, it is not a city, but locals call it ciudad being the island’s trade center. Not much trading here though.
I checked with Boy, one of the caretakers about possible overnight accommodations, thinking of a return to enjoy the tranquility. Tents can be rented at P250 overnight, with each tent good for 2 or 3. Toilet facilities can be used at a small fee, and food can be bought from the stores in Sta Rosa. The charges within the reserve are as follows:
There are resorts with accommodations in Olango. But I will be camping at the Bird Sanctuary when I go back.
Returning to Mactan, we took the boat from the pier in Sta Rosa. And I was happy to be allowed to use our unused ticket for the return journey.