Driving from Dipolog to Cagayan de Oro, my family & I thought of stopping by the much-raved aquamarine park in Misamis Occidental, which locals would popularly call MOAP. I haven’t seen dolphins up close so I would say I have equal excitement with my little niece and nephews.
The Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park (MOAP) is located in the town of Sinacaban in Misamis Occidental. It is a 2-hour drive from Dipolog & roughly an hour from Ozamiz City. When in Ozamiz City, just ride any bus bound for Dipolog City and ask to be drop off at MOAP in Sinacaban. It is a popular landmark in the province, so drivers should know where it is. There is also a large signage along the national highway.
The entrance to the park is Php 10 per person. Don’t confuse yourself with Dolphin Island and MOAP. Dolphin Island is just one of the attractions in MOAP. The jump-off point to Dolphin Island is in MOAP. The area is a huge complex which has a wildlife park, hut-style cottages and a floating restaurant. Mangrove trees surround the cottages, and a walk in the cemented bridge to the floating restaurant & Dolphin Island jump-off is a must-try.
The first time I’ve heard about the park and have researched about it, the bridge which connects the jump-off point to the mainland is still made of bamboos. Now, it is fully cemented and even passable for motorcycles.
Good thing the water has remained clear and you can even see fishes swimming.
We’ve proceeded directly to the mini-port off for Dolphin Island, paid for the 2-way fare but had to wait for 30 minutes (for they open at 8:00AM). The 2-way fare is Php 300 each for adults & Php 100 for kids. Surcharge will apply if you are less than 10 persons (click the image below).
Other expected expenses (rental fee, swimming with the dolphins, snorkeling fee) below.
Dolphin Island is just a short 15-minute boat ride from the jump-off point. It is literally not an island but actually composed of stilt structures which houses a restaurant and the swimming pens for the dolphins.
As soon as we disembarked, it’s like all our eyes are competing on who could see the dolphins first. In seconds, the paddling dolphins are within our eyes reach. It’s fascinating how swiftly they swim around their pens, like warmly welcoming their first visitors for the day.
The kids with us are overly amused, & i have to admit it brings back the kid in me
There are only 3 remaining dolphins in the park. When i asked what happened with the others, the guide mentioned some have died and others were released to the open sea. I asked the cause of death, i didn’t get a definite answer but they’ve mentioned about the dolphins having difficulty in swimming around their pens, especially during low tide when the waters are shallow.
That gave me a lot of thought & while trying to make a conversation with the guides to get more info, my nephew hurriedly pulled my hand so that we can start with the activity.
After paying the fee, I plunged into the water and started feeding the dolphins with small fishes. I guess every visitor is allowed to stay/swim with the dolphins for a maximum of 30 minutes only. I only lasted less than 10 minutes I think.
Other than being a dolphin rescue center, the “island” also has a protected sanctuary for giant clams and several variety of fish. I have to say I equally enjoy the snorkeling activity. Perhaps they can capitalize on developing this attraction instead? Being a dolphin rescue center, they cannot keep these dolphins forever, right?
As a piece of advise, be there just as the park opens to avoid the crowd. On a weekend, visitors start to arrive normally 10 in the morning. But if you are solo travelling (only few of you), you may also go there just as the crowd arrives to save up on the 2-way boat fare.
I have to admit, i was really delighted to have seen these adorable dolphins up close. The kids loved it as well. But I couldn’t avoid thinking, should these marine mammals be swimming freely in the open sea, in their natural habitat? I’m sure I am not the only one asking this question.
Is MOAP worth a visit? Definitely yes.
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