Buluan Island

Buluan Island, beautiful, pristine & relaxing

White sand, pristine waters of Buluan Island

Mindanao, the Philippines’s second largest island has a veil of mystery draped around her. Feared by the uninformed but loved by those who know her true worth and beauty. This series is my tribute for Mindanao, where I’ve been crisscrossing over the years and where a part of me also comes from. Buluan Island, a gem of a piece of land off Barangay Buluan in Zamboanga Sibugay’s municipal capital of Ipil is beautiful. And that is even an understatement.

The island is tear drop shaped as seen from above with a tadpole like profile. The apex fringed with a white sandy beach and gradually rising up to the top of the hill. On a beautiful morning, its ghost like when seen from Ipil’s port, about 20 minutes by speedboat.

Tadpole like profile, Buluan as seen from Ipil's port early in the morning

Coconut trees and a man

Buluan Island is actually private property but it doesn’t stop locals from visiting the place. With just a small land area, the island can be encircled by banca in 15 minutes, there are only a few huts and a military detachment present. This keeps the area safe.

Trees clinging on rocks

On any given day, only a few people really visit the island to swim. That’s why when I was there, together with Grees, from Zamboanga Sibugay local tourism office, I had the beach all to myself.

Just imagine, the water is so pristine that one can still see one’s feet below, like looking through clear glass. If you hold still, small fishes will just come near and even nibble on your skin!

Boating around the island, several small silver fish by the hundred, which the locals call lupoy, often break the surface and leap a few centimeters. With the sun still near the horizon, these fishes occasionally flash!

Fresh fish offered by a fisherman

Grilled fish fresh from the sea

From time to time, fishermen drop by in their motorized pumpboats bringing fresh catch and our group readily bought cheaply a few kilos which we had for breakfast: grilled fish, kinilaw (raw fish in vinegar) and crabs. One of our companions climbed some coconut trees and gave us fresh young coconut water to down all these stuff.

After having eaten, I again took to the water and just enjoyed the sea.

Pristine water at the western side

Buluan Island is just two kilometers from Barangay Buluan, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay and 20 minutes by speedboat from the port of Ipil. To visit, coordinate first with the local tourism office located at the Provincial Capitol in Ipil.

My gratitude to Ms. Eda Daarol, OIC, Provincial Tourism Office, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Ang Langyaw’s trip made possible by Airphilexpress, the fastest growing budget airline in the Philippines!

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

23 Comments

  1. Karl
    April 17, 2012 @ 0:36

    Posts such as this about Mindanao is really convincing me to visit parts of it. I’m the “uninformed” but I’m slowly taking in everything I’m reading about.

  2. The Photoblogger
    April 17, 2012 @ 13:40

    Wow! look at those waters! no wonder fish easily thrive there, such a healthy environment.

  3. Earl
    April 18, 2012 @ 10:36

    Karon lang ko kabalo ani na island bai. Nindota oi!

  4. halfwhiteboy
    April 23, 2012 @ 18:25

    nice. been looking forward to this post since your tweets. but how long does the travel from zamboanga to ipil take?

  5. estancabigas
    April 23, 2012 @ 19:19

    @karl, there are so many spectalar places in Mindanao under the tourist’s radar

  6. estancabigas
    April 23, 2012 @ 19:41

    you should visit that place bai.

  7. estancabigas
    April 23, 2012 @ 19:41

    bai, nindot jud ngadto. very pristine jud

  8. estancabigas
    April 23, 2012 @ 22:51

    Mel, its just around 2-3 hours. 24 hours naman ang biyahe ng buses dun.

  9. Jonard Deniega
    June 17, 2012 @ 1:49

    taga dira unta ko sauna, nganong wala man ko katunob dha miskan kas-a.. balik ko dha puhon aron makaadto lang diha… well done estan!! you’re such a great traveller/photographer..

  10. MJune Bugante
    July 4, 2012 @ 12:14

    thank you for your articles about Zamboanga Sibugay and the other parts of the peninsula. These are big help in removing the negative images of the Zamboanga Peninsula in the minds of people who have never been to these places. I briefly dropped by Sibugay during the closing of the Sibugsay Festival and Grees pointed you out to me. You were then busy taking pictures of the performers.

    There are still many places which I am sure will be interesting to you when you visit this part of the country. You still have not seen the Merloquet falls in Zamboanga City or the Bat Kingdom in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay.

  11. estancabigas
    July 7, 2012 @ 15:00

    thanx for visiting and commenting Ms. MJune. Grees also told me about you. I have visited some sites including Merloquet Falls but haven’t posted about it yet. Soon. 🙂

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  13. Liezel Lusabia morales
    February 9, 2013 @ 13:22

    this is the best island that i’ve ever sin, like diz so much,09352928639

  14. estancabigas
    February 12, 2013 @ 9:40

    It sure is!

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  19. Aijika
    June 3, 2015 @ 10:14

    Glad that I saw your blog, I always wanted to visit Zamboanga but I never tried to go there because I was too scared. Such a great scenery Zamboanga have! Thanks for sharing this. Hopefully this year I’ll be able to visit this place.

  20. jesthony lovedorial
    June 20, 2015 @ 9:35

    I like buluan

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  22. Felix
    March 3, 2017 @ 7:40

    How much po yung fare ng boat at yung entrance fee ng island?

  23. estan
    March 4, 2017 @ 20:01

    Felix, no entrance fee for island but I forgot the cost of the boat since this was several years ago

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