Picture Boracay, before it became the beach. Before the open bars and bikini opens. Before it morphed into the posh Bora.
Welcome to Subic, a tiny island off the coast of Matnog in Sorsogon Province. It is about an hour’s commute by land from Sorsogon City plus another 35 minutes by banca (motorized boat) from the Matnog port. The road trip going there is easy: it will take you past fields of green (or gold, depending on the season), blue mountains and occasional glimpses of the eternal, ever-present sea. The boat ride is just as priceless. The waters is an irresistible, inviting shade of green, and is made more picture perfect by the fishing boats out for a day at sea. The tiny islands dotting the route–with their thick foliage and secret beaches–serve as a prelude to the real thing.
From the banca, Subic is a study in blue, white and green. The blue sky is a stark contrast to the crystal clear waters, and the white sand stretches on and on. On the island, the first thing that you will notice is the powder-fine white sand with sprinkles of pink and red.
Subic is definitely not for those whose idea of the beach life spells cabanas, tropical drinks and five-star comforts. Amenities here are spartan. For one, there is no electricity. There are no hotels, no comfortable restrooms, no restaurants. You would have to pack in a day trip’s worth of food, or if you’re the quintessential scout, you may stop by the public market in Matnog and set up those makeshift grills on the island. Or you might ask the locals to cook for you. There are a variety of fresh seafood–lobsters, prawns, crabs in all shapes and sizes–in the market in Matnog.
For the longest time, Subic was a secret known only to the locals and to the fishermen who sought shelter in its sanctuary. Apparently, the secret is out, and in the hot summer months, boatloads upon boatloads head out to discover the tiny island. Off season, though, you can have the island to yourself. There’s nothing like a day in the sun, with the heady view of crystal waters, distant islands and miles and miles of endless blues, whites and greens to peel off the layers and layers of commercially induced stress.
From Subic (which is not to be confused with its more cosmopolitan namesake of the US Bases fame), one can go spelunking in Calintaan or hop off to Tikling and other nearby islands. On the way back to the Matnog port, a quick detour to the Juag Fishing Sanctuary is a must. Nemo and his cousins are there, plus a variety of fish big, small and extra large. A small raft will take you to the heart of the sanctuary for an unforgettable, exhilarating experience.