“Tall and tan and young and handsome, the boy from Ipanema goes walking, and when he passes, each girl he passes, goes ‘ahhhh.’ When he walks he’s like the samba that swings so cool and sways so gently, that when he passes, each time he passes, I go ‘aaaaaaaahhhh.'”

Sitting there under the shadows of the Screw Pine tree and adoring the wonderful view of the pure, crystalline blue waters, I could not help but hum Diana Krall’s version of “The Boy From Ipanema.” I was waiting for that lucky man to pass by and make me drop my jaw in astonishment but nobody arrived. A date with God’s creation, perhaps? It was the 14th of February, and I, alone was pouring all of my Valentine’s Day love to an uninhabited island.

Nogas Island

The only island at the Southernmost part of Antique is the beautiful, picturesque, Nogas Island. Virgin, unspoiled, and is a natural reserve for marine life, birds, and thriving mangroves. He (the island) is a small wonder that boasts its white sand beaches, coral reefs bursting with colors, and that untouched “garden” of life underwater. No wonder it was love at first sight for the both of us. πŸ™‚

My love affair did not stop there on the coast. As I walked along the long stretch of white sand, I saw an inviting pathway of coral rocks under the canopy of fragrant Frangipani (Calachuchi) trees leading to a lighthouse.

Pathway to the Lighthouse

Just like in the romantic movies where the groom patiently waits for his soon-to-be-wife to join him in the altar, the trees bear witness to that slow, meaningful walk of the bride to her groom. Thus, slowly, I walked towards the lighthouse, adoring the trees and the whole masterpiece of nature. One step after another, I was listening to the sound of the waves and chirping of the birds singing the song of my “hypothetical” wedding. πŸ˜€

Nogas Island Lighthouse

I arrived at the abandoned Light Station. I took a deep breath and I entered the lighthouse. I lifted my head up and saw an amazing view of the clear sky, framed by the pillars of the concrete structure. The stairway to the top of the lighthouse lured me into exploring its solitude in the center of the island.

Framed Sky - Lighthouse

On the viewing deck was an enchanting view of the neighboring town of Anini-y. A breath-taking view of the green mountains and the crisp color of turquoise in the sea was exemplified by the island’s flourishing trees. I took one more deep breath and I climbed down.

Lighthouse View

At the center of the island, on the viewing deck of the lighthouse.Β 

Tucked at the side of the lighthouse was a trail. I followed it and it brought me to this huge Banyan Tree (also known locally as the balete tree or the “lunok”). The climbing roots and branches enticed me to move even closer. To me, it resembled a woman with an uncombed hair. She sat there, waiting for people to take an interest in her.

Balete Tree

I went back to the beach and explored once more. Mangroves at the far end of the beach, just near the Banyan tree, were stunning. That was simply “life” consistently blossoming in the island.

The Screw Pine tree near the beach was my perfect little spot as its cascading shadow shielded me from the heat of the sun. The tiny hermit crabs crawling beside me were my companion. I was back to where I started… In solitude, I pondered on so many thoughts about life and that queasy feeling of being in love.

Screw Pine

The Screw Pine fruit (looks like a pineapple)

Feeling the warmth of the sun, smelling the fragrance of Calachuchi, and adoring the wondrous seascape were truly enough for me to embrace that thing called “love.” I hope someday, I could share this experience with a person that could satisfy me like Nogas did. With that, here’s to falling in love with life and in travel. πŸ™‚

Nogas Island beach

As the song Β continued… “Oh, but I watch him so sadly. How can I tell him I love him? Yes, I would give my heart gladly, but each day when he walks to the sea, he looks straight ahead not at me…”

anini-y antique map

How to get to Nogas Island:

  • From the Molo Bus terminal (at San Pedro St.), take the bus en route to Anini-y and tell the bus conductor that you are headed to Sira-an Hot Spring and Health Resort (starting point of Nogas Island escapade) – the fare is around Php80 to Php90. It’s a 2-hour trip.
  • Pay your entrance fee of Php20 at the Sira-an front desk and let them know that you are going to Nogas Island.
    • If you are traveling solo, ask if there are other people who will go to Nogas Island. You will pay around Php50 to Php100 (roundtrip) and you will be sharing the boat with other travelers. 5-10 people could fit on the outrigger boat.
    • The boat rental is Php500 – of course, I paid the whole amount since I was the only one brave enough to spend Valentine’s Day alone and on an island πŸ™‚ Make sure to have your friends and families to bond with
    • There’s another Php20 for environmental fee
    • Oh, and tell your boat man what time he will pick you up for your trip back to Sira-an
  • I suggest you’ll have lunch at the Sira-an Hotspring Restaurant. There are plenty of available meals there. The Nogas Island has literally nothing there to provide you with refreshments and snacks. Php50-Php100 meals
  • There are snorkeling sets for rent. I believe they are only limited. It’s Php100 per set.
  • If you are headed back to Iloilo, there’s a Ceres bus that passes by around 4:30pm to 5pm. Make sure to catch it. Else, you could spend the night in Sira-an.