I saw a photo of Antonia Beach in my FB wall and fell in love with it. I have to visit that place, I told myself. For my xxth birthday, I traveled all the way to Isla Gigantes Iloilo and had the time of my life there. Solo. Alone. Enjoying the beach, sandbar and great food. And I frolicked with friendly fishes at Antonia Beach.
I hired a motorized outrigger boat for P2,000 and as we left Bantigue Island which has a great sandbar, my guide said, Papunta na po tayo ng Antonia Beach sir (We are heading to Antonia beach sir). I got excited. As we approached the beach, the beautiful rock formation at its tip mesmerized me that I kept on taking photos.
The white sand was just awesome, the water clear and pristine. As the boat anchored and docked, I sprung to the ground and was just beaming. I placed my things at the table, carried my camera bag and climbed the pile of rocks that, from a distance, looked like toppled slice bread loaf.
From the top I could well see the familiar view. From postcard pretty photo at my FB wall to reality. The scene was familiar. But being there was just marvelously different. Seeing photos on your screen can excite you, being actually there can heighten emotions. I felt and heard the wind. I can see the waves crashing to shore and the boats anchored off sea near the shoreline swaying.
It was already high noon and my guide brought in lunch of deep sea blue crabs steamed to a wonderful red and paired with (still) hot rice and grilled squid. I was famished. Hours frolicking and swimming at the sandbar was enough to make me hungry.
After having been sated, I ran to the beach, making a splash. The water was cool despite being a sunny day. I swam. I dived below. There were a few rocks and pieces of shells. As I was floating in the water, two then three then four fishes appeared. It has a flat body but disc like. My guide told me its bantaybutbut, a kind of fish that feeds on the flowery like corals.
It tried to get closer and at first, I enjoyed the attention. Tried shooing it away or grabbing the fishes. They just darted away then came back. as I extended my hand, there, it bit on my fingers. Because these were rather small, it wasn’t painful but tickling, like having a fish spa at the mall.
The beach’s caretaker charges P25 as docking fee.
Antonia Beach is part of a day tour around Isla Gigantes that goes from Bantigue Island, Cabugao Dako, Tangke Lagoon and, sometimes, to Tinagong Dagat. For solo travelers, the day tour is P2,000. One can arrange these trips at the resort where you will stay.
Isla de Gigantes is part of Carles. From Iloilo City, ride a bus bound for Concepcion where you can ride a motorized outrigger boat to the island.