Bonbonon / Tambobo Bay Negros Oriental
Port Bonbonon / Tambobo Bay is located on the southern tip of Negros Island and is considered to be a typhoon shelter: partly because it is almost below the typhoon belt (very few storms come this far South); and, partly because it is protected on all sides by significant hills and open to the Sulu Sea via a dog-leg channel, which shelters the inner bay from wave action. Port Bonbonon and Tambobo Bay have offered shelter for boats from storms for centuries.
Port Bonbonon is about 100KM by road South from Dumaguete City, the provincial capitol of Negros Oriental, and has been a ship building and repair location, for fishing boats and cruising yachts, for at least decades . . . and maybe longer. There is a resident boat builder in Tambobo Bay who specializes in building catamarans - although he has recently claimed to be retired, he can still muster a crew to assit with repairs and upgrades - contact Tongo Sail Inn for more information.
Moorings In Bonbonon / Tambobo Bay
Moorings in Tambobo Bay have been laid over the years by cruising skippers seeking a safe place to leave their yacht for extended periods. It is relatively easy to obtain permission to drop your own mooring in Tambobo Bay and the local residents can be recruited to look after your yacht while you are away.
If you want to pick up a mooring then a good first contact is the Tongo Sail Inn resort, located at the West side of the entrance to Port Bonbonon, and ask them which ones may be available. The Tongo Sail Inn does not manage the moorings but the owner is familiar with most of the yachts in Tambobo Bay, because most of the yacht owners visit the resort's restaurant and bar to share their stories and exchange information.
The Tongo Sail Inn is also the spiritual home of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary for the area.
Anchoring In Tambobo Bay
Anchoring in Tambobo Bay presents few challenges. There is good holding on sand and mud at various depths to suit your keel. Around the shores of Tambobo Bay you will find a small selection of resorts and friendly places to pass the time. Nothing moves very fast in Tambobo Bay.
If you are planning to leave your yacht for an extended period then there are many willing residents to keep her clean and run the engine periodically for a modest fee.
As of 2019, the Municipality of Siaton, in whose waters Tambobo Bay lies, charge a monthly water usage fee of around Php1,500 (approx US$30) per month, per yacht.
Elsewhere: follow the environmentally-friendly anchoring code and you should be welcomed in almost all locations except around Apo Island.
Port Bonbonon / Tambobo Bay Tourist Attractions
Tambobo Bay is known as a place to visit to get far away from the madding crowds and find tranquility. As such, the main attraction for tourists is the serenity and beauty of the mangrove lined bay, where nothing much happens past harvesting coconuts, and if something does happen then it usually happens rather slowly.
There have been attempts to speed up life in Tambobo Bay: a few years ago a group of residents built a handful of one-person, racing trimarans to encourage some friendly competition but recent reports suggest that the enthusiasm has waned; and, there has been recent report of a yacht club opening up on the eastern shore of the Tambobo Bay but as at 2023 it has not yet materialized.
Travel North towards Dumaguete City and you will pass by numerous resorts that offer scuba diving adventures to the nearby Apo Island (not to be confused with Apo Reef, between Mindoro and Busuanga islands). Apo Island provides spectacular scuba diving opportunities, where big fish action and large schools of fish of all sizes congregate in the Marine Sanctuary that encompasses the island.
In Dumaguete City itself, also known as the "University City", you will find a laid-back, cosmopolitan atmosphere that boasts the largest percentage of foreign residents of anywhere in the Philippines. Most of the foreigners are students, teachers or researchers from the numerous university campuses. Marine research is a significant subject of study because of the unique biodiversity that the surrounding waters contain.
High in the mountains, an hour's drive to the West of Dumaguete City, you will find the "Twin Lakes". The Twin Lakes provide a unique location for paddling in tranquil contemplation of Mother Nature. The protected rainforest that surrounds the lakes is literally teaming with birds and critters of every size and color. Many species endemic to Negros Island can still be found here because there are virtually no feral cats in the vicinity.
An alternative to the Twin Lakes, and only 20KM drive from Tambobo Bay, is Lake Balanan. A tectonic lake, Lake Balanan was formed in 1925 when an earthquake caused a massive landslide that blocked the Balanan River. Lake Balanan is designated a Game Refuge & Wildlife Sanctuary that is home to many bats and other endemic flora and fauna. Some say it is the most beautiful mountain lake in the Philippines.
There is more . . . but you will have to come and discover it for yourself.
The closest ATMs to Tambobo Bay are found in Dumaguete City, where there are multiple banks with ATMs that are internationally connected and mostly working.
Port Bonbonon / Tambobo Bay Transport
Land transport around and from Port Bonbonon / Tambobo Bay is not so easy unless you hire a vehicle. There are tricycle and jeepneys that are inexpensive but not so frequent. If only two of you, then rent a motorcycle for your exploration – the roads are all fully metaled/sealed to a high standard and the volumes of traffic light, until you get to Dumaguete City.
From Dumaguete City there are ferry services to Cebu, Bohol, Dapitan, Zamboanga, Tagbilaran, Siquijor and Manila. Most of the ferries are large and some offer air-conditioned accommodation.
There are multiple daily flights between Manila International Airport (NAIA) and Dumaguete City airport; there are infrequent flights between Mactan Cebu International Airport and Dumaguete City airport. Recently scheduled flights have been added from Dumaguete City to Davao International Airport and to Clark (DMIA) International Airport. Hire cars can be contracted at the airport to take you to/from Port Bonbonon / Tambobo Bay.
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