It’s summer! And you know what that means – we all need a respite from the scorching heat. One of the surefire ways to cool off is to hit the beach or, in this case, have a balsa adventure!
A balsa is basically a floating cottage or raft largely made of bamboo and wood. Balsas have become ubiquitous especially off the shores of Laguindingan and Alubijid in Misamis Oriental (and in Cagayan de Oro City, last I heard!). I’m aware of the issues surrounding the operations of Balsa in Alubijid and Balsa in Laguindingan so I leave it all up to you guys to decide if you want to patronize but I do want to emphasize that I totally support responsible and sustainable local tourism efforts.
So anyway…my relatives and I went on a balsa adventure recently and I have a few tips for you before you go. Here’s a brief balsa vlog, BTW:
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Before I forget, here’s a brief review about KarlKerr Balsa Oceanica, the balsa we commissioned. The owners and staff/boatmen were courteous and helpful. I liked that the bangka that they used to ferry us to and fro the balsa was anchored nearby. The balsa itself was ok but here’s the thing – some of my relatives (we had seniors in our group!) and I got injured because it was difficult to alight from the water. In my case, I got really nasty, bloody wounds on my right knee and on my left leg. Needless to say, I’m now sporting scars. UGH. Maybe the management could consider installing some kind of makeshift “stairs.” Another thing that I observed was that the balsa wasn’t thoroughly checked before we arrived. A pair of pants was hung at the second floor of the balsa and there were also two empty plastic soda bottles. I personally don’t mind. I just can’t help but wonder if the pants belonged to a previous guest. The plastic bottles could have been properly disposed of as well.
Anyway, so much for that (I’m glancing at my battle scars while typing this). Here are my tips for you to fully enjoy your balsa adventure:
- Bring and wear your face masks. You can take them off (if you wish) when you’re already aboard the bangka and balsa.
- Avoid bringing raw pork (that you intend to grill or cook at the balsa) or lechon. The Municipality of Alubijid has an ordinance banning the bringing of pork from outside their town.
- Arrive early. Queues at the dock tend to pile up quickly. Looking for parking spaces may also be a challenge. The docks open at 6 AM.
- Be aware that the coast guard may order all balsa guests to leave when the waves become too strong or if the weather turns bad. In our case, we decided to leave right after lunch because of the waves. We had the option to stay until mid-afternoon but some of my relatives already felt seasick. We transferred to a beach resort in Initao instead!
- Make sure that the balsa operator has enough life jackets for you and your companions. This is mandated by law.
- Wear sunscreen, aqua shoes and I highly recommend bringing dry bags!