Treasures of Fortune Island

It was one of the last days of summer, the air was humid and the wind was almost non-existent. The moment bore a promise of a perfect day… a perfect day in the beach!

I woke up in the middle of the dawn. My call time with the team was two hours past midnight, right when the entire Metropolis was at its deepest sleep. Our destination, Fortune Island!

Fortune Island
Parthenon? Nah! It’s Fortune Island!

Located off the coast of the town of Nasugbu in Batangas, the 27-hectare privately owned Fortune Island is fast becoming a go-to place for those aiming a quickie island escapade specially for those who live in Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog. The island boasts of white sand beaches on the eastern and southern coasts, and rocky cliffs on the rest. But its most prominent features are the remnants of what used to be a themed resort – the ruins of old columns and statues that resemble the Parthenon of Greece!

My buddy asked me how the island got its name and I came prepared for the question. Well, I know for a fact that on the seabed not far from the island, facing the West Philippine Sea, lies the shipwreck of an old Spanish galleon named San Diego, sunk on December 14, 1600 by a Dutch warship.

Fortune Island
Classic beauty of the ruins.

A vast amount of treasure was recovered in the wreck when it was discovered by French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio in 1992. These include valuable ceramics, stoneware jars, earthenware potteries, Japanese samurai swords, important metals and stones, navigational compass, maritime astrolabe and silver coins, among others. Majority of the ceramic wares recovered were intact and many pieces were still restorable. The fortune brought by the discovery of San Diego Galleon paved the way for the island’s present name.

Good Morning Nasugbu!

The sun was just breaking the eastern sky when we arrived in Wawa, a coastal barangay of Nasugbu, after around three hours of uneventful drive from Manila. The sea was calm and the sky was clear that day. The boat that would take us to Fortune Island was already at the coast, waiting for us.

Fortune Island
Mornings in Nasugbu.

I tried to suppress my excitement. Truth was, I haven’t been to the island before. But I have been wanting to visit it for the longest time. The enticing and dramatic images of the island were urging me to see and experience the place but due to its proximity from the Metro, I always end up bypassing it. It’s just nearby anyway!

Well, not anymore! Not on that memorable morning of May that I could already see the island. I could almost feel the island and breathe the island. I was just one hour away!
We had our breakfast at the dive resort before riding the boat that would take us there. My eyes were transfixed to the iconic ruins atop the island’s flat hill as we sail for an hour on the calm water of Nasugbu Bay. As soon as the boat reached the coast of our destination, I jumped off. Excited! Amazed!

Tropical Greece!

“Are we still in Batangas?!”

Fortune Island
Tropical Greece! 🙂

It wasn’t really a question meant to be answered. I was speechless in amazement and those were just the words I could utter. I have seen images of the island before with the ruins and all, but seeing it with my own eyes was different. It was as if a tropical Greece!

The ruins of columns and statues were remnants of the old resort built in the island in the late 80’s. Today, the ruins are the icons that give unique character to the place. The icons that exude that Parthenon feels! By just looking at it, I felt I was transported to the ancient Greek City of Athens! Surreal!

Fortune Island
These ruins are remnants of old resort.

I hurriedly ran up the hill to see the ruins up close. Lo and behold, it was extremely different up there! The view was overwhelming, overlooking Verde Passage and West Philippine Sea. My eyes feasted on the different hues of blue water that surround the island. I could also see the shadows of Lubang Island and Bataan Peninsula on the far horizon.

Bewildered, I sat in between the columns and let the early morning heat passed while appreciating the scenery atop the hill. My eyes on the view; my mind, lost and floating somewhere. The moment was conducive for a bite of ice cream on hand. I took the moment slowly, appreciating every second of it and enjoying the visual treat in front of me as well as the cone of happiness in my hand.

Fortune Island
I sat in between the columns and let the moment pass.

We were just starting our day in the island and it was an awesome start. As awesome as the layer of choco brownies on top of my ice cream that took me by surprise. I couldn’t help but compare the day with my Drumstick cone – the layers of surprises that are waiting to be uncovered and the fun of experiencing it all.
What’s more in store for us in Fortune Island? I couldn’t wait!

Underwater Treasures

As the midday heat surged, we thought it’s best to hit the water. After all, the water of Nasugbu Bay is a big stash of treasure and surprises! Fortune Island is in fact a marine reserve; its surrounding area is teeming with rich and vivid marine life ideal for scuba diving, free diving and even snorkeling.

Aboard the boat, we circled the island in search for a shallow reef or coral area. We found a spot facing West Philippine Sea but the surface was a bit choppy so we went back on the shallow coral area facing Wawa port where the current was mild and the surface was calmer.

Fortune Island
Bautiful hues of blue of Fortune Island

The spot is packed with soft and hard corals of different types, sizes and colors. It serves as home to variety of fishes and other marine species. Tempting and enticing! Exciting and inviting! Who would say no to such invitation?

So I gave in to the call of the water and jumped off the boat! Ah! It was a relief from the summer heat! I snorkeled around and saw some Anemones and the resident Clownfish, Trigger fish, Moorish idols, Groupers, Wrasses, Angels and other usual tropical creatures. I played around, occasionally diving and spreading my arms underneath as if I was flying. It felt home! I must have been a fish in my previous life.

The underwater treasures of Fortune Island are rarely seen by anyone! And these priceless treasures just proved that the island is a paradise under and above… that the place is more than just the scenic man-made ruins that made it popular.

When we went back to our base at noon, a sumptuous lunch was already waiting for us. Picnic time!

Cliff Jumping!

Just when I thought things in the island couldn’t be better, they did! So when the midday heat was already tolerable, we went up the hill again for the most adrenaline pumping experience I had in the island – cliff jumping!

It wasn’t actually my first time but I don’t do that stuff everyday so every jump for me seems like the first – knee trembling and frightening. Specially if it is a 30-foot drop into the open sea. Thirty?!

Fortune Island
Dare to jump?

But as they say, fear is just a state of mind and the more you let it stay, the more it will kill you. So it didn’t take long for me to jump off and fly into the open the moment I stepped at the edge of the cliff. First jump was fun, but the second was #funner. Then everything got better and better on the next that I ended up cliff jumping five times! Yes! Five times! Five consecutive 30-foot jumps! Yeah!

Others on the team jumped as well. Who would not? It was really fun!

But time is really short when one is enjoying that much. We realized it was already past four in the afternoon and we had to call it a day. But we still managed to have rounds of disc throwing by the beach before we bid adieu to the island.

We were back in mainland in time for sunset. What a best way to end the day!

Fortune Island
Ending the day with the dramatic sunset of Nasugbu Bay.

#FunnerThanEver Day!

It was a day well spent. A day filled with new experiences, thrilling adventures and exciting discoveries. Snorkeling, free diving, cliff jumping, beach bumming, disc throwing! I got to experience all of it in a day! And it seems that the more I stay in the island, the more I discover awesome things about the place. Suffice to say, it was a #FunnerThanEver escapade in Fortune Island!

With its white sandy beach, ragged and rocky cliffs, lovely turquoise water, classic Greek-like ruins, vivid marine life and all the layers of fun adventures and surprises that await, Fortune Island definitely awed me! Who would have thought that such a place exists? Just three hours away from the hustle and bustle of Manila!

This two-minute video summarizes all the fun that we had in the island. Check it out guys! 🙂

#FunnerThanEver Discovery: BatangasLike Lakwatsero, you too can fall into more #FunnerThanEver Discoveries with DRUMSTICK! Learn what other exciting things are in store for you in Fortune Island if you just try something new.

Posted by NESTLE Drumstick Philippines on Friday, August 5, 2016

How to Get to Fortune Island

  • Catch a bus or van from Buendia, Cubao, Coastal Mall or Alabang to Nasugbu or Calatagan and get off at Nasugbu Terminal. Travel time is two to three hours, fare P130 to P160
  • Take a tricycle to Barangay Wawa, travel time is around 10 minutes, fare is P10 per person or P50 per trike.
  • Ride a boat to Fortune Island, travel time is approximately one to 1.5 hours, boat rate ranges from P3,500 to P4,000 on day trip good for 10 persons. No need for advanced reservation as there are lots of boats at Barangay Wawa.

Where to Stay in Fortune Island

There is no commercial accommodation in the island but camping is allowed. In Wawa, you may stay in Fortune Island Dive Resort for as low as P2,500/night on air-conditioned room for two. Entrance fee to the island is P300/person for day tour and P400/person if overnight.