GATO ISLAND: A Quick VISIT To A Sea SNAKE Sanctuary


I was trying to mollify myself from experiencing the unexplained feeling the minute I got stung by a jellyfish while we were enjoying and exploring the Island of La Manok. It was my first time and I don’t know precisely what happened. A good friend of mine told me that I was stung by a jellyfish. It was actually our last day after spending our 3 days on the different Islands, located at the Northernmost tip of Cebu. Yes, it was truly a memorable experience for we were able to survive as we barely come to embrace the island life for 2 nights and 3 days.

I’ve been so curious about this Island while we were exploring the Northernmost tip Islands of Cebu. I’ve seen it from afar and I thought it was just an ordinary Island. My friends and I didn’t anticipate that we were going to get closer to the Island, but because our boat man was so kind, he brought us all here without having an idea of what this Island has to offer.

Photo Credit: Dilon of Chasing Wonders

Gato Island is a rocky Island that looks like selfishly rises in the midriff of the sea and located in the middle of the Visayan Sea. It is said to be the sea snake sanctuary. It owns five dive sites, namely Whitetip Alley, Nudibranch City, The Guardhouse reef, The Cave, The Tunnel and the Cathedral Rock. It holds a huge diversity of marine life with a beautiful coral formation and are in good condition. It is known to be a rocky Island with many interesting underwater rock formations and a lot more. Truly, this Island is abundant in marine species such as banded sea snakes, stingrays, tuna, snappers, Nudibranchs, porcupine fish, cuttlefish, seahorses, puffer fish, scorpion fish and mantis shrimp. The divers can also see schools of squid and big-mouthed mackerel. Gato Island is also known for sightings of sharks such as the cat, bamboo and white tip reef sharks resting in the cave and under rocks.

While on our way to Gato Island, I couldn’t stop thinking about the mysterious existence of this Island. Seeing it from afar seemed to be really uncanny. It seems like a lonely island that tries to separate itself from the crowd. Yes, I was genuinely excited to come closer and see what it looks like. The ocean could be in its maddening state that time, but he must have been really in peace, for we weren’t able to experience big waves while on our way to Gato Island.

Our boat must have been so lively and riding on it is not drudging at all cause I didn’t feel sleepy that time. I enjoy the vast ocean view, the turquoise water and the Island life were really real. The moment we were approaching near the Island, I can visibly see the boat scattering around the Island with a group of divers riding in it. They must have viewed us from afar and bother about how we look like cause we seemed to just drop by and won’t dive just like what they do, which is truly real.

Hence, we finally really close to the Island. It is really mysterious, but stunning. The first view that really caught my attention is the huge cave that I guess a boat can fit in. There were bats and birds flying outside the Island, which I guess they believe it as their home where they can freely multiply themselves without the interference of human existence. Seeing the turquoise water below is truly tempting, if only we have a proper diving gears that time, we are really going to explore the underwater paradise of Gato Island.

We were just on the boat while watching the Island, which have left us in awe even for our short sojourn. We would surely be back If we get the chance and explore the cloistered underwater paradise of Gato Island. Yes, we may not able to explore the Island that much, but we were nevertheless happy and blessed cause we were able to drop by and we even have a close encounter to its stunning beauty. We  were seeing a lot of divers during our visit and I can rightfully see the satisfaction and the happiness in their face as they were able to see the hidden paradise of Gato Island. Our boat slowly moving away from Gato Island while we still wish to get the chance and travel back.

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HOW TO GET TO GATO ISLAND

There are daily flights to Cebu from Manila, Davao and other part of the Philippines with Major Airlines (Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia). From the Cebu Mactan Airport, ride a taxi going to Cebu North Bus Terminal and from there, take a bus bound for Maya Port in Daanbantayan. The Bus trip will end at Maya Port. Travel time from Cebu North Bus Terminal to Maya Port is around  4-5 hours. Most Buses are non-air-conditioned so make sure to get a comfy seat. From Maya Port, you have to register  your name first before riding a boat going to Malapascua Island. The first trip will depart at 7AM and the last trip going to Malapascua Island is from 5 PM, but they still consider bringing the visitors going to the Island after 5 PM if there are still a lot of passengers waiting in Maya Port. The last the trip going back to Maya Port from Malapascua Island is at 5PM. In the late afternoon during low tide just like what we have had. A small boat picks us up in Maya Port and Malapascua since bigger boats can’t get close to the shore. The travel time is about 30- 45 minutes. Once on Malapascua Island, you can always ask the locals to get a right direction going to Gato Island.

Note:

There is no public passenger boat directly to Gato Island. Hence, you have to rent a boat going there from Malapascua Island or this can be included if you are availing a diving package on Malapascua Island. Gato Island can also be included in your Island hopping when you’re going to visit Carnaza Island  and La Manok Island. What we did during our visit, we were on Carnaza Island that time and we rented a boat from Carnaza Island going to La Manok Island and we pass by on Gato Island for only PHP 4,000.00.

TRAVEL TIPS

  • Gato Island is a haven for divers, but if you don’t have a license, Island hopping is the best.
  • Expect big waves when going to Gato Island always make sure to secure all your gadgets and put them in the dry bag. We are just lucky enough that during our trip to Gato Island the ocean has been just so calm.
  • Mobile signal is not really that stable, it can be 2G, 3G or 4G.
  • Please remember to leave no trace behind. Take good care of our mother nature. Just enjoy and be responsible enough.

POSSIBLE TRAVEL EXPENSES TO PREPARE 

  • Fare from Cebu-Daanbantayan (Regular Bus) – Php 160
  • Breakfast – Php 100
  • Fare Daanbantayan to Port going to Guintarcan Island –  Php 10
  • Boat rental going to the Guintarcan Island (good for 10-15 passengers), including the food for 2 days Island adventure –Php 500
  • Fare from Port – Daanbantayan proper – Php 10
  • Fare Daanbantayan – Maya Port – Php 10
  • Fare Maya Port – Malapascua – Php 100
  • Additional charge for a mini boat transfer –Php 40
  • Dinner at Ging-Ging’s Restaurant on Malapascua Island – Php 115
  • Mr. Kwiiz Resort bed space (fan room) and good for 4 people –Php 350
  • Lunch at Mr. Kwiiz Resort – Php 155
  • Boat rental Malapascua to Carnaza Island PHP 3,000 divided to 10 people – Php 300
  • Boat Rental from Carnaza, Lamanoc Island, Galut Island and going back to Tapilon Port PHP 4000 divided to 13 people – Php 310
  • Fare Tapilon to Cebu City – Php 190

        OVER ALL TOTAL for our 3 days and 2 night trip: Php 2,350 

 

Note: This is the good side when you travel with a group of friends, aside from you won’t be spending much, you will as well enjoy so much that you forget about your skin being sun burnt. 

3 Days and 2 night Itinerary. Exploring five remote Islands in the Northernmost tip of Cebu. Guintarcan IslandMalapascua IslandCarnaza IslandLa Manok Island and Gato Island. 

DAY 1 

  • 1:30 AM- Meet-up at the North Bus Terminal
  • 02:00 AM- Depart from Cebu City
  • 06:30 AM- ETA in Daanbantayan
  • 07:00 AM- Breakfast
  • 07:30 AM- Buying the necessary supplies needed in Guintarcan Island
  • 9:30 AM – Depart for Guintarcan Island
  • 10:40 AM- ETA Guintarcan Island
  • 10:50 AM – Trek going to La-aw Lagoon
  • 11:20 AM – ETA La-aw Lagoon
  • 11:30 AM – Swimming in La-aw Lagoon
  • 12:00 PM – Lunch
  • 12:30 PM – Swimming continue
  • 02:00 PM – Depart for Daanbantayan
  • 03:15PM – ETA at Daanbantayan
  • 03:30 PM – Depart for Maya Port
  • 03:50 PM – ETA in Maya Part
  • 04:00 PM- Buying all the necessary supplies for 2 days Island adventure. 05:00 PM – Depart for Malapascua Island
  • 05:30 PM – ETA Malapascua Island
  • 05:50 PM – Looking for a Hostel to stay in Malapascua for a night
  • 09:00 PM – Dinner
  • 10:00 PM – Social
  • 11:30 PM – Rest time

DAY 2

  • 07:00 AM – Prepare for breakfast
  • 08:30 AM – Breakfast
  • 09:30 AM – Exploring Malapascua Island
  • 11:00 AM – Prepare for check out at Mr. Kwiiz Beach Resort
  • 11:50 PM – Check out
  • 12:00 PM – Lunch at Mr. Kwiiz Beach Resort
  • 02:00 PM – Depart for Carnaza Island
  • 03:30 PM – ETA Carnaza Island
  • 04:00 PM – exploring the Island and chasing sunrise
  • 06:30 PM – Prepare for Dinner
  • 08:30 PM – Dinner
  • 09:30 PM – Social
  • 12:00 AM – Rest time

DAY 3 

  • 05:00 AM – Wake up and prepare for sunrise viewing
  • 05:30 AM – Sunrise viewing
  • 06:30 AM – Prepare for breakfast
  • 08:30 AM – Cleaning the camping area
  • 09:00 AM – Breakfast
  • 09:00 AM – Prepare for La Manok Island
  • 10:00 AM – Depart for La Manok
  • 11:20 AM – ETA La Manok Island
  • 11:30 AM – Explore and enjoying La Manok Island
  • 12:30 PM – Lunch
  • 01:00 PM – Depart for Gato Island
  • 02:20 PM – side trip on Gato Island for a while
  • 02:30 PM – Depart for Tapilon Port
  • 04:00 PM – ETA Tapilon Port
  • 04:10 PM – Quick wash up at the Karederia (food beanery).
  • 05:00 PM – Depart for Cebu City
  • 09:30 PM – ETA Cebu City
  • 10:00 PM – Home sweet home.

SPECIAL THANKS

I would like to thank Master Arnold of Wandering Soul Scamper for the invitation and for planning the whole trip. To John Jay of Wandering Feet PH, James of ASANASADSIJAMES, Gly of Chasing Potatoes, Mike Laagan of The Traveling Panda, Sean of His Hidden Letters, Dilon of Chasing Wonders, to Gelai for always making sure that we have luscious food to eat, to Angel Kevin and Duke that I have just met, may I still see you on our next adventure and to Rome of Basta Bisaya and Totem of Totemgineer. Thank you so much guys for the fun filled adventure that I have experienced together with you all. See you all on our next adventure again!

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32 thoughts on “GATO ISLAND: A Quick VISIT To A Sea SNAKE Sanctuary

  1. I better check this out especially when my family and I visit the area! Thanks for the awesome post and for the great guide! Bookmarking it ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: copied: | My little simple thought

  3. I dove at Gato island last week and did not see any white tip reef sharks but we did see plenty of sea snakes! The scenery of the island is amazing too. A great place to dive at from Malapascua.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cool, this is such an informative post! Philippines are on my travel bucket list but I have just spent two months in Vietnam so it will take another few years until I make it back to that side of the world. But I already can’t wait! And your photos look so pretty 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Gato Island from a distance does looks so mysterious! Although you didn’t get a chance to get off the boat to explore, it still seems like quite the experience from the boat. I am so afraid of sharks (I’m sure most people are:)), so I don’t know how I would react if I saw some from the boat.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This sounds like such a cool place to visit. I love how lonely and mysterious the island looks in your photos. I would certainly love to have a day of adventure and visit here.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I always love reading your blog posts because you’re writing about places that I never knew existed. I really need to visit the Philippines ASAP — the people, the culture, the nature all seem so wonderful. Thanks for opening my eyes to another new place in the lovely country!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I thought that Gato Island is a sanctuary of cats for “Gato” is a Spanish term which means “Cat”. But I was wrong for it is place for sea snakes. That place seems to be mysterious. I could imagine the underwater of it is considered as paradise. How I wish I could see some pictures taken there. – Gil Camporazo

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Gato Island really does look stunning. If one were to go by the photos, there does seem to be an aura of intrigue hanging over it. Reminds me of mystery stories that I have read as a kid which talked about mysterious islands in the sea with strange happenings. The bid-diversity of the place also looks fascinating. Again thanks for uncovering yet another gem from the Philippines.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A beautiful itinerary. Gato Island definitely looks very unique. It appears like a huge rock floating on the sea, covered by a green carpet. It would be great to go here. And when I do, I will follow your itinerary for sure

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your pictures always stir my interest about the place. I just cant take my eyes off, for a minute. Gato Island looks simply Wow. Thanks for sharing a nice detailed write up on this gorgeous destination. It will be helpful to the tourists who travel to Gato.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I thought this was the snake island in Masbate. Apparently, it’s a different one because this is located at the Southern tip of Cebu. Seeing only one boat that carried divers and basing on what you mentioned made me realize that not only you need to be a diver but you also need to be highly experienced. One should be able to know what to do when one sees a sea snake or sharks so they won’t bite.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Yes, the view was such a marvel in the eye. I hope you have ventured more so that you can have more photos.. However, the trip should be accompanied by experienced divers or those who have learned how to dive.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ganda!!! Really love the pictures you took. The island looks so pristine! I love that there are still of birds and bats thriving there. Sorry about your jelly fish experience though. I’ve never been stung myself but heard it’s a b*tch. 😬😬

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Omy! Mejo suspense yung dating sakin when I started reading you post. There are surely precious creatures living peacefully in that island. I am not into diving but, I would be interested to see the underwater in that island. Go back and take us there again.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Gato Island seems so serene and perfect. I would love to explore this rocky Offbeat Island. So much variety of marine life- it is surely going to be a unique experience for me. Thanks for covering this up and for sure i will be adding this to my bucket list.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Oh Gato Island looks so good and peaceful. I wish I could take some time off and visit this spot. Your description of its marine life also sounds inviting. Anyway, good post! Bookmarking it for future reference 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hey what a beautiful place. The view of Gato Island from the waters is simply mind blowing. U do have beautiful places in Philippines!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The little island (so it seems!) really look mysterious and captivating. It is amazing and as always, you described it with such evoking feeling that makes me yearn to travel more once I have more time to explore beautiful places in our country. Good luck and more power!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Wow! This is exactly why I’m so envious of you guys in Philippines! There’s is such explored beauty there!!!! Awesome that you boatman took you there! The huge cave is just a natural wonder!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Gato Island looks beautiful! Do you know if they have any diving courses or diving with an instructor available around there? I’ve been scuba diving once for a day with and instructor but I don’t have the license or equipment myself. However, the island hopping sounds fun too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. oh so this one reminds me of that island in Burias which is also inhabited by Sea snakes, hence they called it Snake Island but this one has a more interesting rock formation and those natural caves were really remarkable.. is the cave passable? that would be a thrilling adventure

    Like

  23. We have plans to go to Cebu next summer and I would love to squeeze this place in our itenerary! I hope we can visit because from your post, it seems like its a majestic paradise! 🙂

    Like

  24. You have nicely put your idea about the Gato island looking like a creature wanting to break away from the crowds. Its cave looks like the mouth of a big animal-I would be scared entering that cavern. The waters look serene and pristine, though. But where were the sea snakes? I thought your post was about them.

    Like

  25. The Gato Island looks like a green berg floating in sea. Seems a little mysterious too to me. And I am scared of these sea snakes… other creatures are okay but not snakes. I am unable to decide whether I would be keen to visit the beautiful island or give it a pass.

    Like

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