CEBU’S HIDDEN GEMS
If you love nature and birds, Bojo River & Hermits Cove in Aloguinsan is the place for you.
It’s definitely one of Cebu’s hidden gems. Why? Because the Hermits Cove is actually a HIDDEN BEACH.
One lunch time, I met up with my best buddies, Chelsea Bartolo and June Guardo at McDonalds and because we share the same mental disorder, we decided on the spot to go to Aloguinsan. Obviously, we were unprepared but our hearts were ready for a new adventure.
Bojo River & Hermits Cove, Aloguinsan
1. The ecological tour
2. THE GUIDED RIVER CRUISE
6. EXPLORING HERMIT’S COVE
1. THE ECOLOGICAL TOUR
The Ecological Tour consists of an introduction lecture on mangroves, ecology and wildlife conducted by fisher folks, bird and wildlife lectures, a handicraft demonstration, a traditional send-off ritual performed by a village medicine man (mananambal), snacks provided and a bomb buffet lunch.
Before boarding the boats for a river cruise, a traditional practice called palina is done. It’s a ritual with pre-Hispanic roots that’s still performed to this day to ward off evil spirits and ensure a safe journey. It’s pretty interesting to witness.
2. The guided river cruise
This is the beautiful path to where you pay your Bojo River Cruise entrance fee and all that jazz (lol). Because of our lack of research, the friendly employee took her time on explaining the different package rates.
The reason why we ate in my car was because we didn’t want to carry everything during the trail to Bojo River. Besides, it was lunch time and we needed the energy. Hehehe, so we filled our tummies with Andok’s Lechon Manok. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing half your life, bud.
This is the reception area where you have to register your name/s for the Bojo River Cruise. Here, you can bring food without incurring a corkage fee. We did not anticipate the heat so June suggested we just hang for a bit. Let the sun chill out while we chill in.
We paid PHP 300 per head for the guided river cruise. The cruise itself has a daily schedule and relies on the tide. As you might know, cruises are done during high tide, so that the boats easily glide over water.
This is where all the Bangka (small boats) dock.
The water is brackish, which is a mix of fresh and salt water. It may look green and cloudy but rest assured the river is clean and the water is very cool; just perfect water temperature for the Philippine heat.
The tranquil Bojo River is a very important artery of the municipality. It is a gateway to the sea where fishermen harvest Mother Nature’s bounty. It is a source for farmland irrigation.
We took turns in rowing the boat. It’s a little bit of a struggle at first but overall, fun!
“Bojo” is the Spanish term for “river ceiling”.
In the Visayan dialect, it is pronounced as “bo-ho”, which refers to the hole or inlet at the end where the river exits the sea.
In the past, Cebuano fishermen made their way into the inlet to seek refuge from bad weather. The inlet also hid Cebuano warriors from the Spanish and Japanese invaders during the Philippine Revolution and World War 2.
Each mangrove has it’s own mini-ecosystem that is very important to the river and sea. Fish from the sea swim inland and lay their eggs within the protective “cage” of the roots. Within a few weeks, the eggs hatch. The roots are temporary sanctuaries of baby fish, which also serve as their storehouse of oxygen and food. In time, the little fish will mature and will leave the sanctuary so they can head out into the sea.
Here’s the exit that leads to Tanon Strait, the narrow strait between the island of Negros and Cebu.
Finish line! We made it through the 1.4 kilometer protected nature reserve!
Here’s where the Legend of Maria Tang-an comes in:
Maria Tang-an is a benevolent engkantada / diwata (forest nymph) who, like Maria Cacao of Argao and Maria Makiling of Laguna, lent valuable items to villagers for special occasions.
In times of yore, the Aloguinsan residents would visit this opening to request for dinnerware for fiestas, wedding dresses for betrothals and other such valuables. They would also return the items at the same spot. Unfortunately, as the story goes, a woman once returned a badly damaged wedding dress, thereby upsetting Maria who fled away from her river home. However, locals believe that the engkantada still visits the Bojo River now and then; and that visitors must show respect for her abode by keeping voices low and avoiding horseplay.
If you plan to snorkel at the mouth of the Bojo River, like we did, it’s best to wear rash guards, as jellyfish are common in the area. (P.S. the fisherman took this photograph of us swimming. Pang Tumblr ang peg).
Back in the day, monkeys lived in the trees above the cliffs but they were hunted down long ago. Then I’d like to say Chelsea, June & I were the only monkeys there.
As you visit the Bojo River, you are doing two good things in life: aligning yourself with nature and help fund local community programs and projects.
I highly recommend wearing waterproof shoes / slippers if you want to venture on the rocks. It really hurt walking barefoot.
When you reach the exit to the Tanon Strait, turn right. You’ll find shade.
After the river cruise, you can continue to go hiking and sightseeing at the hills and landscapes of Aloguinsan. You will walk the 400-meter long bamboo bridge along the riverbank. At hilltop, a native style gazebo is waiting to give you rest.
5. kick back in hermit’s cove
Time to relax in a secluded cove where a hermit once made his home more than a hundred years ago.
This is the road going to Hermit’s Cove. There’s not much road signs so you’ll have to ask the friendly locals.
Yup! There’s a well carved out pathway to finding white sand, swaying palms and crystal-clear waters. I was simply mesmerized by nature’s grandeur and it humbled me back to the earth.
A row of open cottages with tables and chairs can be found just below the cliff which the entrance fee covers. Keep in mind, it’s on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you want to visit Hermit’s Cove, I suggest you register around 6AM to call your dibs. They hold a strict people-limit policy at the cove.
What I love about the cove is that it’s hidden from the road and has a separate area for grilling and cooking. Smoke doesn’t bother the visitors at all.
– Entrance fee is PHP 50.
– Beach is open until 5PM only.
– They do not permit overnight stay.
– There are no available rooms but there are people who live there and are willing to accomodate visitors for affordable prices (around PHP 300). Note that there are no walls inside their cottage; just wooden benches to sleep on.
– You can ask the locals to cook you food for a fee.
BAETAS (BOJO ALOGUINSAN ECOTOURISM ASSOCIATION)
Address: Barangay Bojo, Aloguinsan, Cebu, Philippines
Telephone: +63 32 583-6797
Mobile: Rudney Carcuevas 0905-9133-055 or 0922-4798-822 | Jomalyn +63 926 490 6670
It is very important to contact those operators so that you come at the right time when the water tide is high.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Cebu | 2 hrs. (no traffic)
- You can choose your mode of transportation: van for hire/rent-a-car/bus going to Toledo City.
- Or bring your own transportation and take the Toledo City or Carcar City routes.
- South Bus Terminal
- take a bus to Toledo City (1 hr.)
- take a jeepney to Aloguinsan (1 hr.) or take a bus to Carcar City, then go to Aloguinsan by habal-habal motorbike
BOJO RIVER CRUISE RATES
30-50 pax – PHP 450/head
20-30 pax – PHP 480/head
16-20 pax – PHP 500/head
11-15 pax – PHP 530/haed
6-10 pax – PHP 550/head
5 pax – PHP 800/head
NOTE: please check with the Aloguinsan Tourism Office for price updates.
ALOGUINSAN MUNICIPAL TOURISM OFFICE
Phone number: (6332) 492-9042
Cell Phone: 0997-371-5698 or 0933-120-9480
Facebook Page: Aloguinsan River Eco-Cultural Tour
- Do not expect hotels and inns in the area. Aloguinsan is a 4th class municipality. Contact ALOHA (Aloguinsan Homestay Association) for more info. at (6332) 469-5604.
- Pay close attention to the guides. Learn something new everyday! The guided cruise is very educational. If you have kids, it will spark their great minds.
BRING THE FOLLOWING
- Snorkeling mask or swimming goggles (underwater seascape at the hole/inlet is to die for)
- Underwater camera
- Drinking water (at least 1 liter)
- Trekking sandals/sturdy shoes (terrain is rocky)
- Umbrella, hat or sarong
- Packed lunch
- Rain gear (in case of bad weather)
- Swim wear
- Extra clothes
- Extra money for emergency