Just a week ago I was in a hidden gem in Cagbalete island in the eastern coast of Luzon, now I am about to see another gem in southern Mindanao, some 900 km away from my previous island destination [ hey its summer and its all about beach hopping :) ].
Kiamba is a small quaint town in Sarangani, facing the Celebes sea. Here's a piece of trivia: in the recent Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, Manny Pacquiao (you know who he is, right?) was introduced to have come from Kiamba, Sarangani.
The beaches along this part of the Sarangani coastline are nondescript with ordinary black/gray sand. But just a few minutes away from the town center of Kiamba are four small coves with cream colored sand. No access roads were built, and each cove is cozily separated from each other by rock outcrops, and you can only cross over when the tide is very low.
Tuka Marine Park
"Coral planting"Its not all about talk when in comes to preserving their coastal beauty (both over and underwater).
Every weekend a group of about 10 volunteers, armed with 3-inch nails and those plastic loop locks, would make several dives to a spot just 30 meters out. They would translate corals from a bed to different spots and anchor them to rocks with the nails and loop locks.
|out to his "office"|
They would make 4-5 dives, upcoming up for a change of tank, quick bite, and a new batch of nails and loop lock, and then head out again. A couple of years from now and snorkels will be enjoying their coral gardens.
Flash bang sunsetI spent a good part of the day appreciating Tuka's underwater beauty (yeah, no photos to show for but definitely next time) but I made it a point never to miss a sunset (or sunrise) whenever I am travelling.
Sublime sunriseI was not expecting much for sunrise the next morning, knowing that its on the opposite direction shielded by hills and forests. But I still woke up early, landscape photographer habit.
Our stay was short but sweet, and as I am writing this post I am already contemplating on a possible return date :)
Travel tipsThere is no road to Tuka so you'll have to take a 15 minute boat ride. Access to the marine park is regulated by the local tourism (including boat transfer and accommodations). Contact the tourism office at +63-910-280-56-00
Getting to KiambaThere are numerous vans from General Santos to Kiamba. Travel time is 1.5 hours and fare is Php 150. Head to Ablog van terminal near the Bulaong bus terminal, their Kiamba bound vans depart every 30 minutes or so.
Tuka Marine Park fees
- Entrance: Php 50 (day trip), Php 75 (overnight), Php 15 (children 5-10 years old)
- Boat rental: Php 100/head, Php 500 for special trips
AccommodationsThere are several options for accommodation, including roughing it out in a beach tent.
They also have fan rooms (Php 1,500 pesos) that can accommodate 6-8 persons. If you are looking for a bit more comfort, some of the rooms in Pacman's beach house are for rent (Php 2,500 aircon room, good for 4-6 persons)
Other essentialsSome of the stuff we cannot live without :)
- Electricity: 24 hours
- Cellular coverage: SUN/SMART - almost non existent, GLOBE - very spotty, 3G signal at one end of the beach near Pacman's beach house
- Water - best to bring drinking water. You buy can filtered mineral water in the tourism center.
- Food - best to bring your own. There are available grilling stations (free use) but be sure to bring your own charcoal. Bring portable stoves or rice cookers. However you can also arrange with the tourism office if you want packed meals (average of Php 150 per meal).