Take me to…the island of snakes

Are you up for some snake spotting? At low tide, hundreds of colorful, striped venomous sea snakes appear at Minalayo Island in Masbate

Photos by Christian Sangoyo

Minalayo Island in Masbate, also known as Snake Island, is home to hundreds of sea kraits or walo-walos, reputed to be one of the most venomous in the world. Some have yellow and black stripes, or grey and black, or blue and black. 

Minalayo Island
Spotted: walo-walo or coral reef snake
Minalayo is about an hour’s boat ride north of Batuan, a village in Masbate, and about two hour’s ride from the main city port. As you approach Minalayo by boat, you'd notice that the waters are so clear you could make out the beautiful coral formations underneath. It's best to come at low tide and dock your boat by the mouth of the cave in between two rugged rock formations. From here, you could walk to the cave, home of the walo-walos. Be careful where you step as some of the snakes are resting underneath the rocks. If you are up to it, you could snorkel through the cave if you don't mind swimming with snakes. Sea snakes are shy and generally won't bother you at all, but it's still best to take extra care.

March to May are the best time to visit Masbate when the seas are relatively calmer. A boat hire that can transport 10 people costs P8,000 (about US$178) for a whole day use. Tourists are advised to register at the tourism office by the port when they arrive in Masbate. Contact assistant provincial tourism officer Gerardo Presado at +63929 154 1000 or [email protected] for inquiries. 

Originally published in InFlight Traveller March-May 2016. Updated May 2016