Find out how we spent a weekend in the quiet and charming islands of Concepcion, Iloilo.
Concepcion, Iloilo, located on the northeastern part of Panay Island, is a laid back town, in contrast to the world famous Boracay Island at its northwestern tip. I first heard about Concepcion, Iloilo ironically from a female foreigner whom we met on a boat ride on our way back to Roxas, Capiz from Isla de Gigantes in Iloilo two years ago.
The old lady by the name we could not recall and which we tried to remember with every inch of our cerebral muscle (and failed), sold her belongings to travel the world. She came to the Philippines and lived in village homestays during her travels. Her next destination when we met her in Isla de Gigantes was Concepcion. Here we are two years later, heading to the islands of Concepion, Iloilo ourselves.
Day 1 – Getting there
From Iloilo City, we rode a jeepney to Tagbak Bus Terminal in Jaro, Iloilo. We then took a Ceres Bus to Concepcion, Iloilo. Trips start as early as 6 AM until around 3 PM. Travel takes about 2.5 to 3 hours. We arrived past 10 AM at the Concepcion town.
These are the options on how to go to the islands of Concepcion:
1) The cheapest is to take the daily passenger boat, which leaves at around 10 AM daily from the Concepcion Fish Port. Fare is Php 35 per person. There is only one trip per boat per day.
2) Head to the Concepcion Tourism Office to arrange for boats to the islands. Hiring a chartered boat is ideal for large groups of 5 to 10.
3) Contact resorts like Sandbar Island Beach Resort in Bulubadiangan Island, or Hotel Junbee in mainland Concepcion who also has cottages in Pan de Azucar Island. They have their own private boats which can be rented at PhP 1,500 to 2,000 per boat (small motor boat, up to 4 or 5 capacity), roundtrip from Concepcion mainland to the resort, excluding island hopping.
We were lucky that a passenger boat is still available at the port even at past 10 AM. The boat ride took 45 minutes. With no concrete plan on how to spend our weekend at Concepcion, Iloilo, we opted to get off and stay overnight at the Junbee Island Resort, along Tambaliza Beach, in Pan de Azucar Island.
We haven’t had breakfast yet at past 10 AM, so just imagine how we looked at those heap of bread with a twinge of longing.
Tambaliza Beach at Pan de Azucar Island
Concepcion, Iloilo is composed of 16 islands, none of these have hotels, only basic cottages, open or semi-closed cottages (photo below). There are only a few accommodation options when you’re off the islands of Concepcion. One is the Sand Island Beach Resort in Bulubadiangan Island, and Junbee Island Resort in Pan de Azucar Island. We’ve also seen some visitors who pitched tents in Bulubadiangan Islands and the Junbee Island Resort where we “landed”.
This is our semi-closed cottage/nipa hut for a night at the Junbee Island Resort. You can close the door if you want “semi-privacy”. Also don’t worry, they provide foam so sleeping on the bamboo slats is not that uncomfortable after all.
Mt. Manaphag in Pan de Azucar Island is Concepcion, Iloilo’s most famous landmark
There is a common toilet and bathroom, the use of which could be quite challenging if there are a lot of tourists staying in the resort. Electricity lasts from 6 AM until 10 PM. As for the food, there were a group of 10 persons staying at the resort at the same time as us. They have arranged for the food through the resort and the resort owner suggested that since it’s just two of us, we can just chip in our share to the group’s meals. Perfect! No more fearful encounters of getting hungry. (Note: Guests can actually bring or cook their own food but chipping in is the easier stint.)
Note: Sanitary treatment facilities for domestic wastewater is a concern that needs attention in the islands. Untreated wastewater discharged to open canals pose significant risk to people and the environment. For tourism to become sustainable,a more sanitary environment in which both locals and tourists are able to enjoy the local biodiversity, is imperative.
After our late lunch, we had the luxury of time to explore Tambaliza beach.
Found these children selling halo-halo (Filipino dessert composed of shaved ice, milk and various ingredients like boiled sweet beans, coconut, sago, gulaman and other fruits). My first time to taste halo-halo with bits of chips.
We decided to view the sunset from Hampangan Rock, which offers an overlooking view of the Concepcion Islands and a close view of Mt. Manaphag, the second highest peak in Panay Island. Crisha, our guide from the resort took us to Hampangan. The easy hike took about 20 minutes.
According to Crisha, Hampangan translates to playground. See the “sungka”-like rock formation in the photo below, lower rock level? (Sungka is a traditional Filipino Mancala game.)
Our guide also told us that climbing the Mt. Manaphag involves a steep and dangerous ascent. In fact, a climber already fell off and died in an attempt to reach the summit. In the meantime, we’re contented with the views at Hampangan Rock.
We descended at sunset and went back to our humble nipa hut while anticipating what’s for dinner.
Day 2 – Island Hopping
Rise and shiiiine!!! This is not too difficult at all to do if you’re sleeping in a semi-open hut in front of a beach, with the rays of sunrise waking you up. I can just sit up from my “bed”, take a selfie while pointing my camera towards the beach, and instantly post a woke-up-like-this image on social media. Selfies are not my thing, however, so I stood up, took my camera and enjoyed taking in and taking photos of sunrise views.
This side of Tambaliza Beach can be explored by foot during low tide
This tree looks like a bonsai version of Balete. Interesting!
We arranged for the resort’s private boat to take us to the other islands after breakfast, then bring us back to the Concepcion town proper to catch the bus heading back to Iloilo City. The last bus from Concepcion to Iloilo City leaves at about 3 or 4 PM.
Lumpatan Rock Formation
Our first stop for the island hopping is the Lumpatan Rock Formation, which is actually still within Pan de Azucar Island, which is the biggest among the islands of Concepcion. The number one attraction in Lumpatan is the unique rock formations naturally shaped by the waves. The barangay has built a walking trail along the cliff leading to the villages.
The waves were rather rough that day and rocky where we docked.
Surfer’s waves-like rock formation
Agho Island in Concepcion, Iloilo is made of white sand beach. The aqua blue water invited us to take a quick dip. From Agho Island, you get an imposing view of Mt. Manaphag, while Sombrero Island seems to play the role of the defender to its king, Mt. Manaphag.
Our last stop is Bulubadiangan Island, which is known for its shifting sandbar. From here, you can view the nearest island, Igbon Island and Mt. Manaphag from a distance. The sandbar reveals itself in full form during low tide. At the time we visited, the sea was already starting to shift into a high tide. We still had the chance though to walk through the sandbar while the shallow parts are slowly becoming submerged in the water.
Sandbar forms by opposing currents on both sides
That ends our weekend immersion to the wonders of nature. Check below how much we spent for 2 days, one night in Concepcion, Iloilo.
The following costs does not include air travel from Manila to Iloilo City. Costs included here starts from our travel from Iloilo City.
|Php (for one person)|
|12||Jeep from Iloilo City to Tagbak Bus Terminal|
|125||Bus fare Iloilo City to Concepcion|
|35||Passenger boat, Concepcion port to Pan de Azucar Island|
|250||Cottage at Junbee Resort (actual cost is 500, divided by 2), one night|
|45||Entrance fee to Junbee Resort (actual cost is 90, divided by 2)|
|150||Guide to Hampangan Rock (actual cost is 300, divided by 2)|
|1,250||Boat rental for island hopping (Lumpatan Rock Formation, Agho Island, Bulubadiangan Island, back to Concepcion town, actual cost is 2,500, divided by 2)|
|200||Lunch, Day 1 (actual cost is 400, divided by 2)|
|200||Dinner, Day 1 (actual cost is 400, divided by 2)|
|150||Breakfast, Day 2 (actual cost is 300, divided by 2)|
|200||Lunch, Day 2|
|25||Bulubadiangan Island entrance fee|
|25||Agho Island entrance fee|
TOTAL per person: Php 2,697
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