In the middle of Luzon’s Southern waters, just an hour off the coast of Nasugbu in Batangas lies Fortune Island. As little as it is, this lone island is hard to ignore with it boasting of creamy white shores of powdery sands and turquoise waters as cold as ice. Not only that the beach is beguiling to the eyes but its richness reaches hundred of meters deep, making its surrounding waters a favourite diving spot. And just when you think that’s all there is to this little island, wait until it charms its way to your heart, taking you into some unearthly place created only for the gods. Yes. Fortune Island is not your typical tropical paradise. It is that and more. Surreal. Mystique. Mythical. So if you need a quick beach fix with a goddess’ touch, simply head your way to our country’s own version of Athens.
It has been a long time mystery to many how a structure resembling the Acropolis found in Greece stood on top of Fortune Island’s limestone cliff which overlooks the vast ocean. Also in the island found remnants of what seemed like a luxurious beach house with an empty swimming pool. According to the information I managed to extract from some locals and from people who frequent the island, Fortune Island was once an exclusive island resort similar to what became of Balesin. The project was spearheaded by former Governor Jose Antonio Leviste who also owned this little paradise.
The resort was designed to please the upper class members of the society and the best way thought possible was to build something similar to how the Greeks built their gods temples. Hence stood an acropolis atop a cliff much like how the Acropolis of Athens stood several meters above ground to remind the commoner of the “higher power”. The resort also featured a salt-water swimming pool with vacations houses fronting the beach, a serpentarium, a helipad and a museum dedicated to San Diego, a warship which sank off the island in the 17th century. Now that’s what we call luxury!
The resort went to operate for several years until it shut down in year 2006. Primary reason found for the resort to finally cease its operations is the lack of fresh water source. Other circulating cause is due to the island being prone to typhoons with the strongest to hit sending its intricately designed infrastructures into rubble. Leviste must have thought about keeping the resort a bad investment given the massive amount needed for restoration and so decided to leave the island abandoned instead.
In 2013, Fortune Island opened its doors again to the public through the initiative of a Korean businessman who currently holds the island under lease. Up to this date, it remained unknown as to whether the island is still owned by Leviste or was bought by some other entity or is already under the local government’s jurisdiction which surely involves some legality issues that I don’t really want to dig into further. One thing is evident though. The island is undoubtedly beautiful beyond its league but is badly neglected.
THE NAME “FORTUNE ISLAND”
I, just like many people, have wondered why Fortune Island was named such. To think about it literally is a folly given how bad luck seemed to stick to the island. Tragic shipwrecks, it being a cyclone magnet and a failed business venture make it more of a misfortune island instead. Perhaps some people just wanted to be funny and took its ills lightheartedly thus naming it Fortune.
I don’t know but of all the tales I’ve heard surrounding the mystery name, the one that totally got me was of the Spanish galleon-turned-warship San Diego which sank off near the island in the 17th century. The wreck and the treasure trove it carried which consisted of ancient artifacts were not discovered until 1992 by a French archaeologist Franck Goddio. Hence the name which probably pertains to the long undiscovered wealth lying beneath the waters near the island.
URBAN LEGEND: The Mystery Of A Ghost
Ever thought about waking up in the middle of the night in some remote island too far away from civilization with you still half asleep while you walk to relieve yourself off fluids? And just when you’re about done with the earthly mundane, a strange air suddenly sent shivers down your spine, instantly waking you up from your slumber. You froze and hesitated to look around. You turn your eyes slowly to the left then right, up and down. No one’s around. You hastily walk back towards your camp but just when you’re about to take the turn to safety, a woman dressed in white with her pale face obscured by her long black hair stands in the way. She slowly turns to look at you revealing her lifelessness. Her ferocious stare sent you choking until it is hard to breathe. You try to scream but you just couldn’t find your voice. And then… And then….
Okay enough… I was just sharing what immediately came playing over and over inside my head the moment I heard about the story of a ghost while we were having our evening chitchat session over a bottle of GSM Blue few minutes before midnight in Fortune Island. Imagine me a little tipsy with one too many glasses of alcohol in my system suddenly jolted back to my senses upon hearing about the ghost they fondly called Anna or Maria. I couldn’t remember which. Our friends were even challenging Ian, my boyfriend who is a non-believer of all things superstitious to ask the ghost to appear in front of us. While he was as cool as the breeze with the challenge, I on the other hand was like crazy asking him not to do anything stupid. I should really thank Cupid for sending me a man who understands the scaredy cat that I am.
Anyhooo! Nobody really knows about the truth behind the lovely bones of a girl found buried under the fine white sands of the island. Even if someone knows what her fate really was, he/she chose to carry that secret to his/her grave. And for many years to come, Ana or Maria– (I hate myself for not dropping by her tomb. Now I am struggling to remember what her name really was) –will continue to walk along the shores, wondering why the sands feels so good against the thin skin of her toes. She will continue to climb that staircase to the acropolis every night especially when the moon is at its brightest. She will still be seen staring blankly into space while she effortlessly stood at the edge of the cliff with her silky black hair gracefully flying with the wind. Despite her underlying circumstance, I really wish she was happy.
WHAT TO DO IN THE ISLAND MADE FOR THE GODS?
I’m pretty sure reading everything I’ve written about Fortune Island sparked your interest even more or did it make you change your mind? I hope not because the island just got a whole lot of things to offer you. Fortune Island is surely not a bore. I promise. You asking what you can do for fun. Here’s some of them.
- Trek to the Lighthouse – Sweat those extra calories and go on a 30-minute trek to the lighthouse atop the island’s highest point. You’ll love to see the antic that it is.
- Do a Greek style photo shoot – Get enough selfies, groupfies and what have you with the Grecian pillars of the acropolis as the backdrop. Dress like the ancient Greeks for more style. Pretty classy enough? Who’s up to playing Psyche and Cupid?
- Cliff Dive – Are you up for the coolest plunge? Then jump into the tempting turquoise waters from a 25-30 feet high cliff. Just make sure to bank more than enough courage as it can really be frustrating if you haven’t.
- Snorkel and discover the colorful world underwater – Marvel at the abundance of life within the waters surrounding the island. Do it your way. You can either snorkel with a floater or if you are far more skillful than that then this might just become one of your favorite free dive spots.
- Swim and frolic under the sun – Nothing beats the classic. While some dudes and chicks get on with their adventure, don’t feel left out if you are more into relaxing by the beach. Indulge into the cool refreshing waters and frolic under the sun as long as you want! Sometimes it’s okay to skip playtime and have a little me-time.
- Explore the Batcave through a canoe/kayak – If the waters are friendly, you might wanna ride with tides and explore the batcave to ravel on some amazing rock formations.
- Visit the shipwreck site – Ask your boatman to take you to the shipwreck site. This is something diving enthusiasts don’t want to miss.
“Alright. Have I kept you waiting long enough?.. Yeah.. Of course! I know what you really came here for… You probably Googled for itinerary or directions to the island or possible expenses and oh my favorite, contact info! You’re definitely not here to read about my blabber and stuff like that (but I was hoping you would somehow, not that I’d hate you if you didn’t)… So! I won’t keep you browsing any further. Here are the nitty gritty.” 🙂
HOW TO GO TO THE ISLAND
- Commute – From Baclaran or Buendia Bus Stations, ride a BSC or DLTB bus bound for Nasugbu. Alight the bus in Nasugbu Bus Station then ride a tricycle going to Fortune Island Resort. Pay the fees and charter an outrigger boat to take you to the island. Total travel time may take 5-6 hours.
- Private – Drive via Cavitex. Continue driving to Governor’s Road then to Nasugbu Ternate Hwy until you reach Nasugbu. Turn right to C. Alvares, the street passed Jollibee. Continue driving then turn right to Apacibe Blvd. Just drive straight until you find Fortune Island Beach Resort.
SOME OTHER THINGS WE MIGHT NEED TO KNOW?
- Fortune Island is devoid of comfort. There is no electricity. No decent toilet and bath rooms. No clean water source. But! You might be happy to know there is mobile data signal in the island so keeping your IG and FB updated will never be a problem.
- Since there is no clean water source, it is better to bring extra gallons of water for washing and cleaning up. You may wanna bring lots of wet wipes too.
- Shaded camping space in the island is limited so if you hate exposing yourself in the midday sun then be there early on, especially on weekends and the summer so you can save yourself the best camping space.
- There is no trash bins nor trash bags in the island so please don’t add up to the existing garbage scattered there. If you can’t pick those rubbish up at least keep yours for proper disposal when you get back to the mainland.
- Prepare yourselves for a rough boat travel as the waves can really be unforgiving especially in the rainy season.
- If you need anything like floaters and snorkel gears or if you seek assistance, please look for Tatay Dante, the island caretaker.
- For those bringing their cars, there is parking space in Fortune Island Resort.
POSSIBLE EXPENSES, ESSENTIALS, CONTACT INFO AND SAMPLE ITINERARY
>Day Tour - P300
>Overnight - P400
>Group of 5-10 - P3000 Day Tour | P4500 Overnight
>Larger groups - P4500 Day Tour | P6000 Overnight
|SAFE BUDGET (OVERNIGHT) FOR 5 PAX
We joined an organized event for this trip to Fortune Island and we paid P2300 each for everything. We were in a group of more than 10 people. If you are going to DIY travel, here is a sample expense breakdown.
RT Bus Fare Manila-Nasugbu - P300
RT Fare Tricycle - P20
Entrance Fee - P400
Boat Rental P4500/5 - P900
Food Contribution - P250
TOTAL - P1870
DIY VAN RENTAL
Van Rental P3000/5 - P600 (Price just an estimate)
Boat Rental P4500/5 - P900
Food Contribution - P250
Entrance Fee - P400
TOTAL - P2150
Note: Come with bigger groups of 10-15 to save a few hundred bucks of your travel money.
Fortune Island Resort - 09155047166
Tatay Dante - 09394895292
|SAMPLE ITINERARY (OVERNIGHT)
0300 Assembly Bus Terminal Buendia/Baclaran
0330 ETD Nasugbu
0600 ETA Fortune Island Resort. Breakfast
0700 Boat Travel Fortune Island
0800 ETA Fortune Island. Set Up Camp
0900 Free Time. Photo Ops. Swim. Explore
1630 Trek to the Lighthouse
1730 Sunset Viewing in the acropolis
1900 Dinner. Socials
2300 Lights out
0500 Wake Up. Freshen Up. Sunrise Viewing
0700 Cliff Dive
0800 Snorkel. Swim
0900 Pack Up
1000 ETD Fortune Island Resort
1100 ETA Resort. Wash Up
1200 Drop by Jollibee or Mang Inasal For Lunch
1300 ETD Manila
There you go. Fortune Island is such a precious little jewel that is in danger of losing its shimmer if we continue to take it for granted. Being responsible with our trash while in the island is one great way to lessen the negative impact we bring to this little paradise. Yeah. I know P400 entrance fee is huge but what can we do? That’s business! But lets look more into the bright side. If we the least preserve the beauty of this unspoiled heaven then she’s going to stay longer and there will come more years for us to visit to experience her allure. Until next time lovelies. For questions, just drop them on the comments box but make sure to have done your reading first. Ayt. Ciao! 🙂