Upon contact with light, the walls of the cave sparkled as if covered with a girl’s bestfriend. He threw the light on the other corners and they, too, shimmered like diamonds stashed away in the dark. “There are many caves and chambers like this under this mountain,” he said proudly to an overly excited audience — we, his audience. “But they’re inaccessible today,” he added. And the audience let out a long sigh.
Harold, our boatman and tour guide, led us out of the second cave we visited that day. The caves are probably long and deep but we were only allowed at the mouth, leaving us wanting, drooling for more. Still, we were not disappointed. Its depths may be elusive for now but this island has given us so much for the day.
In a sea of rounded peaks, Black Island is the odd man in these freckled waters of Busuanga. Odd man, yes, but not out. Its toothed tops and heavily contoured walls are not inviting but imposing, not nurturing but overpowering. The island does not beg for attention (like I do), it commands it.
Our first step on the island was an event on its own. We jumped off the boat and found our
soles feet devoured by the thick dough that greeted us. The sand was so soft, I was taken to the time when I first fell in love with Panglao Island. But before we could have a chance to lie on it, laze on it, or roll on it, our hole-crazy boatman dragged us to the caves, which he had been pimping to us since the day before.
We schlepped to the towering dark wall after the beach and at its base we found two openings leading to the guts of the mountain. We climbed a short ladder, an easy entry, into the massive chamber of the first cave. Its floor is cracked open, allowing a glimpse to the cold crystal water that filled its miniature lakes. Stalactites adorn its ceiling and rocks covered in sparkling white silica make up its walls.
The other is less welcoming. Through its small doorway, it demands its visitors to bow down to her before she could let you in. Sunlight barely leaks into it. Like the first cave, its walls shine when bathing in scarce light. Harold pointed his flashlight at the ground that bore traces of a fresh pit. “It wasn’t like this before,” he said in a sad tone. “They were probably trying to unearth something. They ruined some parts of this cave. It used to be all covered with this rock.” He picked up a small rock, an apparent fragment of a bigger body, perhaps part of the ground or the wall. The piece, too, glittered like a lump of gems.
“There’s another cave that connects this beach to another on the other side of the island,” Harold excitedly shared with us. Unfortunately, it was inaccessible for the ladder that leads to the mouth of the cave was broken.
A long ridge of white sand sheen like real ivory about to be seized by giant black claws that froze just in time. From the top of the cliffs, the lush greenery seems to overflow to the base. From here the beach slopes steeply, as if the gods who created it suddenly quit in the middle and dumped all the grains without spreading it out evenly. Yet, it gently slides under the waves. It’s a wide and happy playground for the beach lover.
With a snorkel and a waterproof camera in hand, I rushed to the water as soon as we emerged from the caves. It was high noon but my thirst for a splash was drowning my fear of the harsh sun. I zoomed across the tickling sand and dipped my face in the water for a look at some parts of the sunken ship that had been washed ashore. It seemed like I wasn’t the only one ignoring the solar threats. My blogger friend Mica was already enjoying the view underneath when I arrived and on the other end of the stretch was a group of foreign travelers floating around the rich snorkeling site just meters away from the shoreline.
Also called Malajon Island, Black Island earns its name from the dark-colored karst cliffs that stand tall at the center of the island. Their feet are worshipped by the wide bed of glittering white sand, one of the finest I have seen, which is teased constantly by the azure water. The beach is soft and supple, sloping and steep, perhaps shaped by the artful hands of the wind and the waves. Not very far from the shore is a coral garden and in the middle of it, one of those ships that submerged during the Second World War. Black may not be an inviting a name for an island but this paradise has everything a beach bum can ask for and more. Here in Busuanga, Black is the new white.
How to get there: Black Island is usually a part of Calauit Island Tours that can be booked in Busuanga and Coron. Day tours from Coron via a travel agency/tour operator costs around P2300 per head. If you’re a big group, you may charter a private boat for P7500 for 1-4 pax or P9000 for 5-8 pax.
Black Island Entrance Fee: P150