Tsada MindaNOW: Agutayan Island in Jasaan

If you have been to Camiguin, a visit wouldn’t be complete if you haven’t made a trip to White Island, a sandbar just a few meters away from the coast. But you’ll be glad (and surprised) to find out that a similar (yet smaller) feature exists in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental, a mere minutes away from Cagayan de Oro.  

Agutayan Island is a marine sanctuary near the coast of Jasaan. It is accessible through a number of ways, but the quickest and the easiest access is through Liyang Beach, a few meters away from Jasaan proper. They have rentable boats for groups which you can hire for around P1,000. Like Camiguin White Island, Agutayan is devoid of trees or plants, and only a cottage for the sanctuary outpost stands on its side. It is advisable that you visit early in the morning to avoid the harsh heat of the sun.
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What the island lacks of flora on its naked white sand landscape (which is great on its own), it makes up for the marine life all around it. In the shallow, pristine waters, one can go snorkeling and enjoy the richness of aquatic life. Agutayan is declared a marine sanctuary after all, and because it is against the law to fish in this area, the surrounding waters are teeming with life. It is recognized by many local divers as one of the few (and most frequented) diving sites in Misamis Oriental.
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For my trip to Agutayan, I made the most of it to learn the basics in scuba diving. I went with Scuba de Oro, led by Mr. Amir Elazegui. PADI, an international organization of dive instructors, offers Discover Scuba Diving (DSD), an introductory course if you just want to try out and see if scuba diving is for you. And while you could train in confined waters (pool), I was taught everything at the shallow edges of Agutayan Island. Personally, I’d prefer the latter over the former at any time. Sir Amir got me through the basics and the (bit) challenging parts with ease (he’s a really good teacher).
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When the time came for my first actual dive (you get a shallow dive for training prior), everything was exciting: the water entry, the actual descent, seeing hundreds of jacks swarming before our eyes within a few minutes into the water (a perfect timing, as they don’t stick to one place), natural and artificial coral reefs home to hundreds of sea creatures (it’s so overwhelming I only recognize a few of them, like the ever famous clown fish, and the giant clams locally known as Taclobo), each looking and behaving differently than the other. The rich colors of life under the deep blue is just overwhelming. From deep underwater, until you go back to your boat, I felt always secure as sir Amir is always by my side guiding, checking on me if I’m okay, and pointing whenever something awesome is up ahead.
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Most of all, you’ll appreciate just how rich the sanctuary waters are. While I had my basic training, a group of diver friends went ahead in their first dive, and came back with amazing photos, including a shot of a resident turtle the size of a coffee table. Also, one of the perks in diving is meeting new friends who share the same passion of seeing and experiencing underwater life.
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With everything amazing you’ll see under the waters of Jasaan, it pains to see human trash invading these clear waters. Seeing plastic bags along these natural corals is just sad. We at TsadaGyud are one with the call in limiting, if not eliminating, the rampant overproduction, use, and littering of plastic in any form, especially bags and bottles. Our oceans are already very polluted with our trash, and we have to make a turnaround if we are to protect our treasures like the Agutayan Island within our reach.
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That said, go out and explore Agutayan Island! It is a must see destination in Misamis Oriental. Even better, go and learn diving with Scuba de Oro at Agutayan so you’ll enjoy the wonders both above and beneath the water’s surface. I assure you, you’re in good hands with them. And while you’re at it, be a responsible visitor. Trash is a big no-no, so better use reusable things for your baons. Lastly, enjoy! And help maintain the beauty that is Agutayan Island.
Agutayan Island can be visited 6am to 5pm. Best look at the weather forecasts and choose a sunny day to go. Overnight stays are not allowed, and fishing is not allowed. Agutayan gateways include Liyang Beach and Jampason Beach.
Contact Scuba de Oro through Amir Elazegui at 0917.312.7872 or 0928.551.7601.
Visit their office at JR Borja Extension (Above Barkadahan Grill)
or visit their website scubadeoro.com
Beautiful underwater shots by Topo Yasay. 
Special thanks to new dive friends Topo, Rozel, Weweng, Jay, and the rest of the gang. I shall return for more! 😀