Fortune Island lies off the coast of Nasugbu in Batangas, Philippines. It’s a small, private island that offers a quick escape from the mainland, with breathtaking views, towering limestone cliffs, and its very own taste of Athens.
A structure resembling the Acropolis sits on top of a cliff, overlooking the turquoise waters beneath. Although first impressions are those of ancient Greek ruins, you’re actually looking at the crumbling remains of a luxury resort that was built on the island in the 1980s, but closed down in 2006; a luxurious resort was difficult to sustain on an island with no fresh water source. However, the spot lends a mythical charm to the island and has become an incredibly popular with travellers looking to snap great holiday shots.
Why visit Fortune Island?
If exploring a stunning location off the beaten track calls to you, then Fortune Island is your place. Here you can dip into the cool, deep blue waters, relax on the white sandy beaches and take quality snaps of the stunning scenery to show off your adventures to friends and family back home. The best time to visit is during the dry season, which is November through to June.
It’s entirely possible to experience the luxurious side of this beautiful region without seriously denting your bank balance. There are plenty of adventures to be had, and numerous fun activities that will all add up to an unforgettable experience.
Here’s what you need to know about traveling to Fortune Island…
Best accommodation near to Fortune Island
As there is no fresh water source, electricity, or commercial accommodation on the island, you’ll need to camp if you want to stay overnight. If so, plan to bring camping equipment and provisions with you – including plenty of drinking water! There are no stores, restaurants, or accommodation on the island itself, but there is at least a mobile data signal.
Stardust Beach Hotel, Matabungkay Beach
Stardust Beach Hotel is situated right on the coast, practically opposite Fortune Island. It’s considered one of the best places to stay in the area. What makes it special is that it’s not remotely typical of a Philippino resort. It’s a David Bowie-themed resort with a French touch. Naturally Bowie fans are going to love this, but even if not, it’s worth booking for the comfortable king-sized beds and stylishly decorated, homely rooms.
The hotel also has an inviting clear blue swimming pool, and the beach is just a few metres away. It’s an orderly place where peace is kept as standard, staff are friendly and there’s plenty of good, affordable food onsite – the homemade whole wheat bread is a particular hit with guests. Expect to pay around 2,800PHP per night.
Coral Beach Club, Matabungkay Beach
Coral beach club is another popular choice. Also situated on Matabunkay beach, it’s one of the closest options to Fortune Island. Coral Bay is Australian owned, it’s not a huge resort but does boast a spa where you can get a massage after a long day of exploring, and there’s a small swimming pool for those times you need a refreshing dip. If jacuzzis are your thing, you’ll be happy to know that Coral Beach offers one of those too.
You’ll only need to walk 20 metres to be on the beach, and you’ll have a spacious room, with a set-up comparable to a 4 star hotel. Bathrooms are sizeable, you’ve got decent air-conditioning and management are very accommodating. The restaurant has a good menu with reasonable prices, and there are even happy hour deals on beer and cocktails.
Things to do on Fortune Island
The island appeals to a range of visitors, from those eager for adventure to those happiest relaxing on a beach. Whatever your motivation for visiting this gorgeous island, there is plenty to keep you entertained.
Adventurers will love this one. Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping more than throwing yourself into the air and dropping down into the ocean below. At Fortune Island you find some great cliff jumping spots, between 15 and 30 feet high.
Snorkelling and diving
There’s plenty of marine life in these crystal clear waters; snorkelling and free-diving are popular activities on Fortune Island. You can ask your boat captain to take you to a good spot; just remember to bring your own snorkelling equipment.
There are also several excellent diving spots around the island. ‘Blue Hole’ is characterized by spectacular underwater architecture; three large holes in the reef open into a vast cavern, so it would be a shame to miss out on such a mesmerising scene. Also check out the deep valleys at Fortune NW diving site, which drop down over 120 feet and are dotted with unusual coral formations.
Visit a shipwreck
Visit the shipwreck near Fortune Island if you’re interested in checking out the remnants of the warship San Diego that sunk in the 1700s. Scuba diving fans can request to be dropped at this underwater museum ship, where they can explore the stern and keel. Dive down to 65 feet, and you’ll even see a VW mini-bus!
Swimming and relaxing on the beach
With plenty of white sandy beaches, there’s ample opportunity to take it easy. Sit back and relax while watching the waves rolling in. Be warned, the waves can get a little rough on the beach, so swim with caution.
Take a hike up to the lighthouse
The trek to the lighthouse on the highest point on the island takes about 30 minutes but the views are simply stunning. You could also hike around the island, which is only 27 hectares, so it doesn’t take too long.
Take photos at the Grecian ruins
The island is full of Grecian architecture. Here you can find the signature pillars of Parthenon, mythical creatures and sculptures of ancient gods. There is also a photo-worthy replica of the San Diego as well (the warship that sank off the island).
For all you Instagram fans and avid photographers, the best time of day to get the best Fortune Island shots is between 1 pm and 3 pm, when the sun is at a lower point.
How to get to Fortune Island
The nearest airport is Ninoy Aquino International Airport, also known as Manila International Airport. If you’re traveling from Manila, you can either opt for public transport, drive by car, or hire a van (which is a great option if you’re in a bigger group) to get to the town of Nasugbu.
There are several direct routes offered by DLTB and San Agustin Bus Line. The journey takes about four hours, and fares cost around Php168 ($3.20) per person. The best stop to get off at is Jollibee-Nasugbu and you can either take a 20 minute walk or ride a tricycle to Fortune Island Resort on the mainland. Cost is between Php10-15 ($0.20 – $0.29).
When you get to Fortune Island Dive Resort, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee to get to the island. Day trips cost Php300 ($6). Finally, you’ll need to hire a boat to take you to Fortune Island, which takes between an hour and an hour and a half. Boat rental costs are usually Php3000 ($58) for groups of 5 to 10 people, or Php4500 for groups of over 10 people.
Although Fortune Island is remote, with a little forward planning it’s quite easy to get to. If you’re staying in the Batanga area, it’s the ideal spot for a day trip to experience wonderful scenery and take some great pictures at the Greek ruins. Who wouldn’t love the chance to watch a sunset or sunrise over this beautiful Filipino island? Enjoy your trip.
About the guest author
Cal Bailey runs MountainLeon.com – a travel blog he started after two years backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or tips for travelling, make sure you read his blog!