For this week's (technically previous week) Market Friday, let's take a trip to Immuki Island located in Paraoir, Balaoan in the province of La Union here in the Philippines. La Union is located in the Ilocos region of Luzon, the north part of the archipelago.
Before heading to the island, let's talk about the souvenir shops that you can find on your way to the beach.
From San Juan, La Union, we headed to Bacnotan taking the Luna-Balaoan Road just beside Bacnotan Public Market. We almost missed the turn but we were only a few meters away so it was no problem. We have to acquire the help of Google Maps to lead us to the right direction.
From the market, it took us about 20 minutes drive to arrive at our destination.
There is a sign on the road that I forgot to take a photo of stating that you have arrived at the barangay where Immuki Island is located which is in Paraoir.
There were parking attendants who are there to guide you to a small parking lot beside the barangay hall. You are then asked to register first and pay the necessary fees before going to the island. I'm not exactly sure how much was the registration fee per head but for our group of eight the personnel at the registration desk said we'll just pay PHP150.00 (USD2.67).
This is billboard stating the rules that one must adhere when visiting the place.
You can already see the souvenir stalls behind it. Across the first shops are shower booths but I didn't take a photo of that.
We were met with colors upon colors of merchandise, a throng of people coming and going. I had to let the crowd disperse before continuing on with taking photos of the shops there.
Everything you need for swimming and to protect you from the sun can be found here I think. They have shorts, underwear, shirts, snorkels, googles, hats, shades, scarves, floaters. One thing I didn't see are sunscreens and the like and aqua slippers.
There were even cellphone holders you can wear around your neck to protect your phones from getting one.
There are also different kinds of souvenirs like those that were made from shells, ref magnets, keychains and the cute tiny little cups with I ♥️ Immuki Island on it. One cup has a fading paint.
There were also these accessories. If I was younger, I would have bought one or two of these.
There were different kinds of food sold there but not as plenty as the other stuff. It was interesting to see one of my favorite food made from glutinous rice being sold here. I inquired about the price and the lady seller said PHP20.00 for three pieces of tupig (ground glutinous rice in coconut milk with sugar and coconut strips and baked in charcoal) and the other one we call patupat or suman (steamed glutinous rice in coconut milk and sugar to taste) costs PHP10.00 each. I did plan on buying that after our tour but totally forgot all about it.
I was also delighted to see these chili oil in one of the stalls selling food. Bottles of vinegar are beside them.
Past the shops is this gateway to Immuki Island.
It says on the arch that this is the sea urchin capital and home of the Immuki Island. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any sea urchin. There were lots of brittle starfish though wedge among the rocks in most places.
Directly left to the entry is this shower area where one has to pay PHP10.00.
There are tour guides there that you can acquire of their services. These tour guides will serve as your bangkeros. One way of getting to the island is through bamboo rafts or balsa.
Each raft can carry maximum of six people but I think that depends on how big those people are. Since there were eight of us, we decided to avail of two rafts, four in each raft. One raft costs PHP150.00. None of us are good swimmers but we only hired life vests for PHP50.00 each.
One way of getting to the island is through balsa. The other is just by wading through the shallow waters until you get to the island. However, you cannot bring anything there. Hiring rafts is an advantage because you can have a place to leave your things. No food, drinks or pets are allowed in the island.
While waiting for our companions to buy stuff that needed from the shops, I took some photos.
There are swings that one can swing on which is also good for photo ops. Behind these swings is the island. I think it's about 100 meters walk from the beach until you reach the island. It was almost 3 p.m. that time and we didn't want to brave the scorching sun so that is one of the reasons why we decided to hire balsa.
There are also varieties of mangroves there. It looks like they were just planted. That is great initiative for it will give shade to the cottages along the beach.
Boats and kayaks are anchored near the beach.
The balsa is not motorized. It is pulled by your tour guide or bangkero. It was a slow but steady process but still enjoyable. According to the bangkero, it is "easier" for them to maneuver the rafts in the morning because it is high tide. At this hours, the water is just below the knee.
Immuki Island in the distance where a frame of a star is.
Taking a shot from where we came from. From the beach to the island is about a 15-minute bamboo raft ride.
As much as I wanted to share more of our experience there, I think I have to cut it short for this is getting longer than I expected.
This is just part of our weekend that I wanted to share. I was actually going backwards in writing this.
For additional reading, check out @bloghound's post Reflection Hunters Contest Round 80: When Sea And Sky Meet. She together with @naniplayergamer and some other friends went to the island for a visit.
Thanks so much for reading!
I almost forgot #alwaysaflower! Here's a tiny bloom of the bonsai mangroves growing on the rocks of the island.