When in central Bacolod, one does not readily feel the sea breeze. It feels quite landlocked. Aren’t we supposed to be in a provincial island? Where are the beaches and the sunset views?
But, don’t feel so disappointed just yet.
There is one island in Negros that Bacoleños can claim as truly their own—a paradise close by for quick weekend getaways. A mere 1.5 hours away, Lakawon Island boasts of its prime white sand and crystal, blue waters.
A majestic aerial view of Lakawon Island (Photo courtesy of Lakawon Island)
Back in the 1970s, when the youth of Bacolod needed a quick sojourn to the beach
, friends would gather in the sugar farms near Cadiz and Manapla. They would bring in their friends and ice chests filled with booze, usually in a Volkswagen combi-van. Permission from their respective parents would take several days of planning. Cadiz from Bacolod then was not a mere hop away with its unpaved roads leading to the boat docks of Cadiz Viejo, the drop-off point to get to Lakawon. So, ideally, it was better to stay at some friend’s hacienda
(estate) overnight prior to the boat ride to paradise.
A bangka amidst the blue-green waters of Lakawon Island (Photo courtesy of Lakawon Island)
Early to arise, the youngsters would gather dockside for the next available bangka, or local outrigger boat, to ride to the island. Most already get giddy on the way. Once on the island, some would settle under the shade while the rest frolic in the sun, sand, and sea all day. Food was usually brought in as well, depending on who organized the party. It usually involved grilled pork chops, squid, and crabs. But ubiquitous to the menu were the cases and bottles of San Miguel beer chilled in giant coolers with floating blocks of ice. Another menu staple was Tanduay Rhum, mixed with a bit of Coca-Cola. It was beach and booze all day long.
Umbrella huts dot the shore of Lakawon Island. (Photo courtesy of Lakawon Island)
Still in the early days, the only activity to do in the island besides drinking, eating, sunbathing, and swimming was taking a short walk to the northern and more secluded part of the island, where there is a spectacular view of Gigantes Island, Panay. There used to be a community of inhabitants in the village to the west. However, not many people went to that side, except for those who wanted to find snacks and cigarettes in the tiangges or small local stores. Visitors usually found that there were enough attractions and frolicking to do on the white sand and crystal, blue waters in the rest of the island. At the end of the day, intoxicated beach bums were usually dragged out of the beach and carried into their waiting boats.
A scenic sunset at Lakawon Island (Photo courtesy of Lakawon Island)
Revelers would typically leave the island before sunset. In those days, it was considered unsafe to stay outdoors past dark due to the volatile political situation, not to mention the overprotective parents awaiting their children onshore.
Sunsets over the sea were phenomenal and much sought after. It has become an unspoken tradition among the locals to be on the 25-minute boat ride back to the main island during sunset, where one can have an unobstructed panoramic view. On the way back to the docks of Cadiz Viejo, travellers can see ahead the northern Negros mountain range. To the west, where the sun sets, are the islands of Panay, and back south is the island of Lakawon.
Bamboo houses for overnight use at Lakawon Island (Photo courtesy of Lakawon Island)
As the years progressed, jet skis and speed boats started to frequent the island. People would stop by Lakawon on their way to nearby Sicogon in the north, or Bantayan Island in the east. A simple restaurant and overnight lodging huts were constructed to accommodate these visitors. And such developments made provisions from the mainland unnecessary.
Squid in black ink is a popular dish when in Lakawon. (Photo courtesy of Maybell Marasigan)
As for food, squid cooked in its own black ink was usually the most sought-after dish in the menu. Shrimp marinated in soda, ginger, and garlic were also usually prepared. Grilled fresh fish of the day was always recommended.
Finding ice and cold beer, however, was still a bummer. There was no electricity on the island. It was still best to bring in that giant cooler with floating ice blocks and San Miguel beer. Revelers still had to be hauled out of the island onto their jet skis, speedboats, bangka or—when it was still brand new and in optimum condition—the resident island owner’s miniature hydrofoil. Those were the days.
Players compete in a professional beach volleyball match in Lakawon. (Photo courtesy of Lakawon Island)
Fast forward to 2015, the owners of the island decided to open up its resort management to interested developers—after taking care of the property for 30 years. So, comes in Mr. Vladimir Gonzalez, resort management and operation lessee of Lakawon Island. For the past year, there has been ongoing construction in the island to accommodate a new generation of tourists and revelers belonging to Generations X, Y, and Z. Lakawon is now a place where professional beach volleyball competitions are held, where DJs from Manila play their clubbing
music, and where high-end super jet skis and speed boats can be found, not to mention the occasional yachts.
TawHai Floating Bar is one of the main attractions of the island. (Photo courtesy of Lakawon Island)
Enjoy soaking in the sun (Photo by Writer)
Lakawon is bound to be dubbed as the “Ibiza of Asia” when it is completed and fully operational. There will be suites and bungalows. A special stage for DJs and events has been erected. A big clubhouse and restaurant will be waiting to be filled with visitors and diners.
But what is now ready for action is TawHai Floating Bar
. Made of fine wood, the boat has lounge chairs, cushions, sunbathing decks, and a fully stocked bar that can accommodate over a hundred guests. From a distance, it resembles Noah’s ark, but instead of animals, it will be filled with human passengers geared up for party. It currently costs PhP250* to hop on board; fee comes with complimentary drinks.
The clear blue waters and pristine white sand of Lakawon Island. (Photo courtesy of Lakawon Island)
From the days of old up to the present time, Lakawon Island continues to attract the heartiest of beach party goers. Its proximity to Bacolod is still its biggest draw, next to its pristine white sand and clear waters. The latest developments to the island will surely bring in a dawn of new stories and adventures for the fresh generations to wander off the legendary place in Negros called Lakawon.
How to Get There
From Bacolod City, take Ceres Liner bus at the north terminal going to Cadiz City. Then, take tricycle going to the port of Barangay Cadiz Viejo. There are available boat rides that are provided by the management which will take you to Lakawon Island when you arrived at the port.
Price may change without prior notice.