Islands and Beaches

This Forgotten Island in Manila Bay Has a Revelation That Will Blow Your Mind

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Julius Calvin Santos | Nov 20, 2014


The Island of Limbones is found in the outer fringes of Manila Bay. While the island is under the jurisdiction of Maragondon, Cavite, it’s geographically located between the town of Maragondon, Cavite and Nasugbu, Batangas.

It’s the only island in Manila Bay that wasn't turned into a fort by the Americans, and it's the farthest from Metro Manila’s coastline. Yet a recent discovery made by a group of scuba divers will forever change your perception of Manila Bay.

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Every hiker who reaches the summit of Mt. Pico de Loro is rewarded with a refreshing view of Limbones Island and the southern shores of Manila Bay.

The island’s distance from the metropolis was probably the reason why the Americans didn't fortify the island like its neighbors, Carabao and El Fraile. However, it still played a role in the defense of Manila during WWII. It served as the “eye” of the Filipino and American forces guarding Manila bay because it’s situated at the bay's very entrance, making any ship coming from the West Philippine Sea visible from anyone standing on the island.

Instead of fortifications, the Americans decided to instead build fire control stations, docking areas, concrete staircases leading to the top of the island, and a cable system that enabled communications between fire control stations.

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One of the hidden offerings of Limbones Island is this fiery sunset display minutes before the sun completely disappears behind the island.

The island endured multiple bombings by the Japanese forces during the height of the war. Curiously, no one was permanently stationed on the island during the time of the bombings.

Currently, Limbones Island can easily be spotted from the newly built Nasugbu-Maragondon-Ternate Road. The island’s lush vegetation provides a perfect backdrop to the surrounding white sand beach coves of Maragondon and Nasugbu.

Limbones can also be spotted from the top of Mt. Pico de Loro, Cavite’s highest peak. At day's end, the island awes you with a fiery and dramatic sunset -- the same trademark that Manila Bay is very much known for.

So What's the Shocker of Limbones Island?

On August 2013, a group of scuba divers headed by Ed Garcia, Eric Punzalan and Mike Ajero heard about a potential diving spot found along the southern coast of Manila Bay. They checked online to search for the satellite image of the said area.

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The satellite image of Limbones Island's surrounding waters provides a glimpse of the thriving marine life below. (Photo credits to Digital Globe.)

What they found on the Internet delighted them. The area offered so much promise that they finally gave in to their curiosity and ventured 2 hours south of Manila, to a fishing village in Maragondon called Santa Mercedes.

From there, they boarded an outrigger boat, which took them to the southern tip of Limbones Island.

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Beautiful branch-like brown coral provides a great respite to the tropical fishes swimming around the area. (Photo credits to Mike Ajero.)

After several minutes of surveying the area, they finally took the plunge and began their dive. What they found down surprised everyone.

Just 15 feet below the surface, the sea floor is dotted with live and healthy corals. A much closer look revealed more coral varieties, fish species and amazing crustaceans, including the fascinating mantis shrimp, a type of shrimp that possess a set of multi-colored exoskeleton.

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Peek-a-boo! This colorful mantis shrimp reveals itself to the divers exploring the area. (Photo credits to Mike Ajero.)

In short, this portion of Manila Bay is teeming with marine life!

This surprising underwater discovery only proves that Manila Bay is very much alive. While it’s true that the portion of the bay close to the City of Manila is polluted, this doesn’t reflect the overall state of this body of water.

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Just 15 feet below the surface, a good number of healthy corals revealed themselves to the curious divers. (Photo credits to Mike Ajero.)

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A trumpet fish swims around the corals while being serviced by a cleaner wrasse fish. (Photo credits to Mike Ajero.)

With this, I encourage everyone to support any form of effort or program that intends to clean up Manila Bay. Metro Manila can benefit and capitalize from a much healthier and livelier Manila Bay. We can entice more tourists to stay longer in the capital by providing more water-based tourism offerings, which includes a visit to the forgotten islands of the bay.

We do'nt need to explore far to discover fascinating destinations that will surely amaze us. Just here within our own backyard, countless overlooked spots are waiting to be rediscovered.

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This hard coral is one of the types of corals that were spotted by the group of divers exploring the waters around Limbones Island. (Photo credits to Mike Ajero.)

Getting There

The Island of Limbones is most accessible from the coastal village of Sta. Mercedes in Maragondon, Cavite. The town of Maragondon is only 50 minutes away from Metro Manila via the Cavite Expressway.

Any plans to explore this island can easily be coordinated with the Tourism Office of Maragondon. You can contact Kuya Jimmy at +639494078525 or Ate Loida at +639178501250.

For more island-hopping adventures, follow us at our Island Hopping Adventure Philippines (iHAP) page on Facebook as "iHAP" from one island to the other. LIKE US!

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