Guintarcan Island (La-aw Saltwater Lagoon)

I never knew that aside from the famous Bantayan Island, there is yet another noteworthy island on the northern part of Cebu that can par with the rest of the Philippine islands for its raw beauty. Guintarcan Island (Guintacan/Kinatarkan Island) sits near the northern tip of mainland Cebu and is located between the famous Bantayan Island and Daanbantayan municipality. The island is reachable via ferries that regularly sails from Daanbantayan wharf daily. Within just an hour, you’ll be able to see the beautiful virgin island of Guintarcan and be greeted by its pristine seashores.

Just recently this past month of April, the gang, composed mostly of travel bloggers and social media enthusiasts, went out for another summer adventure. The whole trip covers some of the less tourist-flocked islands in the northern part of Cebu. Guintarcan happens to be an underdog when it comes to tourism aspect over the digital world. Only a few entries can be found over the internet when you key-in the island’s name over the search engines. That is why we decided to include the island on our itinerary and see what the island can offer. It came in as our first stop on our itinerary.

Read more of our whole trip’s itinerary here.

A series of unfortunate events? Or call it Adventure?

Early call, we set forth at dawn from Cebu City to the municipality of Daanbantayan. We departed early to get away from the morning traffic. The plan was to set off early and catch forty winks while on the bus ride for Daanbantayan so that we’ll have enough energy for our adventure. While on the bus, so many things were running through my head. Personally, I did not have any idea on what to expect on the island. I didn’t know what it has to offer. Everything is pure imagination, full of expectations and what-ifs. I don’t know if it is only me or what, but every time I go to places I’ve never been before, I always experience the conflicting feeling of anxiousness and excitement. Maybe it’s because of my innate passive pessimistic nature or just because I have an abnormal mindset. Well, regardless, with my mind so occupied, I found it hard to catch even a nap without the aid of calming music. So I got my headset on and my usual calming tracks on the loop. Problem solved!

guintarcan island

We unexpectedly arrived too early. Instead of the usual 4 hours ride, we arrived within less than 3 hours. Good job! Mr. Bus driver! But on the negative note, I didn’t get enough sleep. What’s even worse is that we disembarked not in Daanbantayan but in Bogo bus terminal. What a joke! So we have to wait for several minutes for another bus heading to Daanbantayan and endure another hour of bus ride. Good grief! To top it all, we almost missed the exact place where we have to get off from the bus. I guess this experience counts and falls under the concept of “adventure“, or is it not? Waiting in Daanbantayan was another travel blogger and enthusiast, Sir Mike of The Traveling Panda, who was with us the entire trip.


To Guintarcan Island we go!

From Daanbantayan, we quickly grabbed breakfast and headed straight to the nearby wharf where we can catch the ferries heading to the island. The drawback with public ferries though is that they need to fully fill the ferry with passengers before it can leave the wharf. So we looked for another alternative to save time. Instead of taking the ferry, we haggled and negotiated with the locals so that we can charter a boat to take us to the island and bring us back on the agreed hour. We got ours for a negotiated price of 2.5K pesos, back-and-forth ride.

guintarcan island

Going to the island requires one to endure an hour-long boat ride from Daanbantayan. It’s a no problem though, you can just sleep through the entire ride. The ocean’s lulling wind and the hypnotizing waves put me into a hypnotizing trance that eventually brought me to sleep. We arrived early noon when the sun enhanced the clearness of the sea water and illuminated the white sands of the island. Local children were playfully enjoying the beach as if it was their own playground. We can’t help but take several photos of the spectacular scenes we were facing. With no time to waste, we headed straight to our main destination.


Finally! La-aw Lagoon!

At the heart of the island is a gem waiting to be visited. La-aw salt water lagoon was the main reason we visited the island. From the beach area, the lagoon can be reached after around 20 minutes of trek. The locals on the island were very helpful. Even without asking, the kids voluntarily guided us to the lagoon. It was full noon when we started our trek. The sun’s heat was really toasting while we made our way through the open trail heading to the lagoon. It was also humid that day that our energy reserves drastically went down fast.

guintarcan island

After several minutes of a scorching trek, finally, a nearby sound of the splashing waters and kid’s playful laughs hinted our senses that the lagoon is just nearby. Few meters more and the inviting colors of the lagoon unveiled the inner child within me. There were local kids also enjoying the waters. No other people around except for us and the local kids. The saltwater lagoon is quite deep. I estimated it to be around 7-feet deep. Without wasting our time, we plunged into the waters. It so happened that there is a cliff that you can climb and jump straight to the water. Spurting with adrenaline, I did not pass the chance to cliff-jump. After all, adventure is what I was after.

guintarcan island

Originally, we were supposed to hit more spots on the island. But because we enjoyed the lagoon much, we stayed longer than expected that we ran out of time. We took our lunch near the lagoon. Of course we observed the LNT (Leave No Trace) Principle. The lagoon is so beautiful that we must protect its cleanliness and raw beauty. I am also hoping for the other tourists and visitors to practice LNT, not just here but also on wherever place we visit.


Next destination?

Since we were running out of time, we decided not to proceed with the other spots and leave it for the next visit. After several hours, we headed back to the beach where our chartered boat was waiting. We headed back to the Daanbantayan early as we still have to go straight to Malapascua island where we will be spending our night before proceeding to our next destination by the following day. Right after we docked on the wharf, we went straight back to Daanbantayan proper and took a bus ride heading to the Maya port where we can catch another ferry ride heading to Malapascua island.

We stayed overnight in Malapscua island before proceeding to our next destination later on the following day.

Click here to read more about our next destination.

5 Replies to “Guintarcan Island (La-aw Saltwater Lagoon)”

  1. Wow, I didn’t know that you guys had an awful bus ride experience. Anyway, I as well have genuinely enjoyed the whole time I was on Guintarcan Island. Hopefully we can get back there and explore the other side of the Island.


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