I have been to Maragondon Fish Sanctuary twice and I can say that it would always be one of those places where I’d run to shall I crave for a breath of fresh air. The daybreak scene, the vast blue cradling the islands and islets, the stark outline of a proud mountain from a different region, the unpredictable harmony of the waves crashing into gigantic volcanic rocks and boulders at the shore, a stunning golden sunset melting into a star-sprinkled night sky – these are all enough to heal my emotionally and mentally-loaded being.
While a lot may not see it the way I do, my intention for going there would shape my perspective – of how I see and feel about the place. This pandemic has affected us differently. Regardless, we all longed for an escape to it. This place was one, for me. With that, allow me to share with you a guide to one of my ‘escapes’.
About Maragondon Fish Sanctuary
Maragondon Fish Sanctuary is actually located at Ternate-Nasugbu Highway – adjacent to the shore of Sta. Mercedes and near the famed Kaybiang Tunnel. It is situated just less than a kilometer away from Patungan Beach, a weekend beach destination to Caviteños and other southies. The cove and its shore are characterized by gigantic volcanic rocks from the nearby extinct volcanoes namely Mt. Palay-Palay and Mt. Mataas na Gulod. Apart from the volcanic rocks, it also has remnants of what seemed to be once a fortification or bulwark.
This fish sanctuary may be a part of Maragondon’s Carabao Island Fish Sanctuary one of Cavite’s three existing fish sanctuaries. The local Government of Maragondon manages the Carabao Island Fish Sanctuary. It is a sprawling 56 hectares of reef and sanctuary at Sta. Mercedes. On the other hand, the other two sanctuaries include Ternate’s Bulaklakin Reef and Naic Fish Sanctuary. Anak ng Dagat ng Bucana Inc. with PG-ENRO, local government of Ternate, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Office of the Provincial Agriculturist manages the Bulaklakin Reef Fish Sanctuary. It is a 15-hectare one. The Local Government Unit and a private organization called E Gancho manage Naic’s Fish Sanctuary located in Labac. These fish sanctuaries provide livelihood and serves a resource to the locals.
The motorcycle riders and bikers would usually flock the place as they take a break from their long, hauling road trip. Thus, it usually gets crowded especially on weekends and holidays.
Where to Stay
You have several options as regards your accommodation shall you plan to visit the place. You may either pitch a tent at the left side most and pay for the entrance fee only (Php 40.00) or rent an open cottage (Php 800.00 – Php 1,500.00). These spots are just by the cove. Take note that there are no restrooms, washrooms nor source of fresh water in the area.
There’s also a resort called A & J Beach Hut and Viewpoint just below the parking areas of the sanctuary. They have Instagram-worthy rooms and spaces with a view of Corregidor Island, Mt. Mariveles and Manila bay.
There are also campsites and resorts around the area. However, take note though that these would require you to trek down to the sanctuary itself. The nearby ones are as follows:
- Cabana at Kaybiang
- Hundred Steps Place
- Moana Beach Camp Resort
- Backpacker’s Inn Campsite and Viewdeck
What to Do in Maragondon Fish Sanctuary
- Cliff Jumping
- Sunset Watching
What to Bring
IMPORTANT NOTE: Maragondon Fish Sanctuary isn’t something that you may find convenient. Thus, take note of these things that you should bring for a ‘less’ hassle trip.
Sun protection. There are only few trees and rocks that would provide you shade at the sanctuary. Hence, take with you some sun protection especially umbrellas, tents, hats and reef-friendly sunscreen of you intend to stay for the whole day.
Picnic mats. Bring mats so you can comfortably sit and lay on the grounds of the sanctuary.
Food. If you intend to stay the whole day at the sanctuary, make sure that you’ll take enough food with you. There may be stores at the area but the goods are limited.
Cook set, grill, gas and utensils. Make sure that you’ll bring your own grill, cook set and utensils.
Drinking Water. Again, there are no source of fresh water nor drinking water in the area. Instead of buying water in small water bottles, bring a gallon to lessen your trash and to save some bucks as well.
Trash bags. Bring a trash bag with you and take it back instead of leaving it at the sanctuary. The locals would only opt to gather the trash in a corner and burn them.
Snorkeling and diving gear. The locals do not have gear for rent at all. Hence, if you want to see what the sanctuary has to offer from the underwater, make sure that you bring your own mask and snorkel. Though they would have something for rent though, I personally do not advise it for safety as well. You may get your own affordable snorkel and mask here!
How to Go to Maragondon Fish Sanctuary
Option 1: From Nasugbu, Batangas
- Take the Palico-Nasugbu Highway.
- Turn right to J.P Laurel St.
- Drive straight to Nasugbu-Ternate Highway to Kaybiang Tunnel.
- Maragondon Sanctuary is on the left side.
Option 2: From Maragondon, Cavite
- Take the Governor’s drive.
- Turn left and take Ternate-Nasugbu Highway.
- Maragondon Fish Sanctuary is on the right, just past Kaybiang Tunnel before you take the steep and sharp left turn.
- Take a St. Gabriel Express bus bound for Nasugbu at PITX. These buses would travel from Manila to Walter Mart Nasugbu via Cavitex. First trip is at 7:00 AM and last trip at 4:30 PM.
- Tell the driver to drop you off Maragondon Fish Sanctuary. Fare is at Php 188.00. Travel time is 2 to 3 hours.
Estimated Day Trip Budget
Bus from PITX to the Sanctuary v.v. (Php 188.00 x 2) – Php 376.00
Cottage rental (Php 800.00/4) – Php 200.00
Food – Php 300.00
Total: Php 876.00
Take note that this is an estimated budget for a day trip to Maragondon Fish Sanctuary for a group of four.
A Personal Note
I personally do not want to share the guide to this place due to the volume of irresponsible tourists who came in here and left their trash at the same time. Yes, there are locals who would always be there to clean the tourists’ mess but it doesn’t mean that just because we paid for entrance fees, we have also paid people to deal with our trash. It doesn’t hurt to carry our trash back until we find a bin elsewhere. We have carried it there in the first place. I am still sharing this guide nevertheless, with high hopes, serve as an eye opener. This may still invite people to come but at least, the ones who would can see how a lot would still opted not to care.
As aforementioned, it serves as a source of food and livelihood to the locals. On our own simple ways aside from tourism, we can also help them through being one with them in taking care of the Fish sanctuary and its reef.
Travel responsibly because you can.