Olango Island, part of Cebu province in the Philippines, is a perfect example of what happens when nature just works. It’s a low lying island surrounded by coral reefs and sheltered from the worst of the weather by the neighboring islands of Mactan and Bohol. The combination of shallow water and shelter make it ideal for migrating birds, and they arrive from northern China, Japan and Australia on their way to the Northern Hemisphere. The mangroves are an ideal resting place and the fact that the Philippine Government has declared it a bird sanctuary and nature reserve limits building and allows the birds to rest and recharge in peace. Nearly 100 different species of birds have been seen here, split almost equally between migratory and native species.
Of course, that combination of rest and recharging also works for humans as well, which is how I found myself there one magical evening, preparing to photograph the sunset and feeling very much at one with Mother Nature.
The warm turquoise sea lapped gently over the coral reef as I stood on the observation deck and watched the sunset. Around me I could hear birds calling quietly and a sense of deep peace enveloped me. It’s moments like this which remind me what is so great about my job, and which make me eternally grateful that I have a chance to see such amazing sights.
The sea was warm, the air was warm; everything was beautifully at peace with everything else. Even when the tide rose enough to cover some of the causeway stones, walking back was not a problem, as the current was gentle enough not to be a threat.
If Paradise was written as a recipe it might run something like this:
- Take one beach side bird sanctuary
- Add a simple stone block causeway and an observation deck
- Combine with stunning scenery and amazing views in every direction
- Remove all other evidence of human habitation
- Leave to marinade in mangrove and shallow salt reef flats
Now, I know you’ll tell me that photographers say this all the time, but this is the kind of location that ‘stunning’ was invented for. Plus ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’, ‘incredible’ and all those other superlatives.
I’d like to tell you all to visit this unique place, but too many people all at once would spoil the view 😉
You see, on this magical evening, I was all on my own there. I was a privileged witness to a private show that nature had laid on especially for me. As sundown approached, even the wind and tide dropped away, and all that was left was a breathtaking light show in shades of blue and gold.