Omapuy Island (Tawi-tawi, PH)

The happiness of travelling relies on the individual meaning we attach to it. To some, it means indulging on a lavish and comfortable trip on well-known tourist attractions; to others, it is about taking a tightwad method if you’re on a shoestring account; while a small number would opt to spend a few of their bucks to set foot on off-beaten destinations. Well, it really doesn’t matter, so long as you take pleasure in the journey and what the destination has to offer you.

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Exploring the road-less travelled has satiated my sense of curiosity for the past years. The Philippines being an archipelago offers a wide array of stunning islands – from those that have graced the covers of travel magazines (like Boracay and Palawan) to those that have been written about by only a handful wanderlusts, like Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.

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My sense of nosiness and adventure made me want to tick off the Philippines’ southernmost island province from my bucket list. Together with my 10-liter rucksack, my nous for eagerness and a leap of faith, me and 3 of my new found friends, went on a sojourn to the unchartered gems of the Philippines – Tawi-Tawi.

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This is only 1 of a series of write-ups about this province with a chain of more than 100 islands scattered like emerald gems around the Celebes and Sulu seas. These islands are definitely not the typical tourist destinations as only a few (brave) visitors have set foot on these splendid places.

Omapuy Island (also Omapui Island, Omapoy Island, Umapuy Island) is an island bounded by seaweed farms situated in the turquoise to emerald green sea. Adding charm to the island is a number of stilt houses ostensibly buoyant over the shallow waters. Across this island is Sipangkot Island, known to be a home to several Sama Dilaut and Tausug people. They are the ones who collect the agar-agar that abound the area.

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Omapuy is indeed one of the beaches that can be tagged as untainted and pristine. The long and wide stretch of white sand beach is a world of wonder to any beach-lover. It is also a great place to watch the sun set at this side of the Philippines. During my visit last August 15, 2015 – we were very fortunate to have the entire beach to ourselves. We spent a few hours taking pictures of the island and basking under the sun to get ourselves tanned.

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Prior to my Tawi-Tawi trip, most people who knew of my plan warned me not to go as this side of the country has been tainted with bad (and perilous) image. But sometimes you just have to go with your inkling.  Exploring far away, unfamiliar places is just the sort of journey that I adore. More of Tawi-Tawi soon.

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How to Reach Omapuy Island:

From Manila, take a plane bound for Zamboanga. Then from Zamboanga City, ride another plane to Bongao (capital of Tawi-Tawi). From the Sanga-Sanga airport in Bongao, hire a tricycle to Chinese Pier and look for the ferry (lantsa)going to Sibutu town proper (4 hours). There are no definite ferry schedule going to Sibutu town proper from Bongao, but there are at least three trips per week. Even the time of departure is not definite. From Sibutu town proper, Omapuy Island is a about 45 minutes to an hour away by regular outrigger boat. It is also important to ask the assistance of their Tourism office. One may contact Ma’am Salve Pescadera of Tawi-Tawi Tourism Office at +639106716367 or +639051547865.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

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