If you are a marine life lover and not afraid to get up close and personal with giant fishes, Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary will be heaven for you. Juag Lagoon is a cove hidden among islets off the town of Matnog in Sorsogon. Its caretaker Alex Geneblazo and his family have seen to it that the fish and other marine species of the lagoon are well protected; in fact, if you've put on sunblock, you're not allowed to swim in the gin clear waters of the lagoon. Geneblazo has installed fish pens underneath interconnected foot bridges built on stilts for guests to easily spot various species of fish, from groupers to trevallies, some up to 12-inch long and over a decade old. Ask permission to jump into the 3-meter-deep water and find yourself face to face with hundreds of fish – small and big ones that don’t seem to mind sharing their sanctuary with a stranger. There are giant clams to marvel at, and if you’re lucky, the owner can ask someone to dive to fetch the 12-inch long sea cucumber, a long-time resident that’s treated more like a pet, and let you hold it with your bare hands.
Mid-March to May, when the seas are relatively calmer, are the best months to book an island hopping tour of Matnog, which includes a stop at Juag Lagoon. Tourists who are going on tours are advised to register first with the tourism office in Matnog located in Matnog port. Boat hire costs P1,600, good for 10 people. Tours include stops at Tikling Island (10-15 minutes away from the port), Juag Lagoon (20-25 minutes away from the port), and Subic Beach (30 minutes away from the port). Contact tourism officer designate Oliva Gacis Rumba at tel+63928 520 5362, visit Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary’s Facebook page. The visit at Juag Lagoon is free of charge but a donation is very much welcome.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller March-May 2016