It is true, there’s a pungent smell inside Hinagdanan’s cave and this is what will greet you as you go down its paved stairs. From its entrance, you will go down a steep stair (10 feet or so) and find the cave grounds. In here and until the rails of the lagoon, the odour from bird’s feces is really strong. It only dissipates at the far corner where two opennings from the cave’s roof provide ventilation. So endure, for your own pleasure.
With a few steps down the steep stairs (10 feet or so) my sister and I found ourselves swallowed by the dark mouth of Hinagdanan Cave. This site is near Panglao Island Nature Resort and Spa which has another underground cave with lagoon within its property. It is a single-chambered cave, walled by coral limestones that are formed millions of years ago. Its roof is still dotted with stalactites, but since the flooring has been paved, the stalagmites are just on the sides, but they are rare and polluted.
The cave’s interior is mostly coral stone. The island arose from the sea and not a product of any volcanic eruption. The lagoon is the result of the water pressure from the sea getting through the soil. The centerpiece of this single-chambered cave is its lagoon, which holds filtered-water from the sea so the water is a little salty. The lagoon’s deepest part measures 16 feet to the bottom. Water level changes according to the tides. Coming from a ride under the sun that afternoon, I opted to take a short dip.
No ebbs or waves. Hinagdanan’s pool is calm, relaxing and refreshing. Dipping in its waters made me forget the odour in the cave, or I was just near the roof’s two opennings. That dip allowed me to come out fresh from the cave and so ready for our next stop in our island tour of Panglao. I could have swam for a longer time, but the darkness of the cave made me feel uncomfortable of where I was wading.
Hinagdanan, like any other cave is a natural beauty, an attraction that should be preserved for the next generations to come. But, what is beauty when your eyes could not gaze upon it in deep darkness? The birds which has found habitat in it is part of its attraction. Swimming in sync to their chirps is an experience you won’t find anywhere at all times. I have to admit, that Hinagdanan did not amaze me that much, and I have several things to say about it too. Or is this because my benchmark of a beautfiul cave is Sumaguing in Sagada?
Outside Hinagdanan are a number of souvenir shops. If you don’t have much time to spend in the Island or in Bohol, you need to take that chance to grab some goods for your pasalubong. The prices a little lower compared to the souvenir shops in Tagbilaran city or inside the private resorts, since there is strong competetion among vendors. Try your haggling skills to score for the least price. Just imagine, I bought the same Ukelele for P100 which was priced at 190 in Tagbilaran, and 250 in one resort.
Commentary: The lighting inside the cave is poor. It’s really dark in there , so you don’t get to see the lagoon immediately. The guide explained they can not make it any brighter to protect the stalactites and stalagmites because the rocks are continuously forming. From my experience of spelunking in Sagada, kerosene lamp are used which gives off better lighting effect inside a cave.
Lighting could be improved with the use of xenon-bulbs rather than the standard flourescent bulbs. Xenon produces the same effect of the tungsten-halogen light at lower temperature. This should make the cave a little brighter to reflect the crystal formations. But sadly, the cave is not well maintained. Men can help in cleaning it up by brushing the rock formations. I don’t think the birds’ droppings are helpful to make the rocks grow, it just gives off an odor that drives away visitors.
We paid 15 pesos for the entrance, and this amount is collected for the maintenance of the cave. As a natural attraction, it is expected that there could be birds and bats inside, but with fees being collected it is also expected that the place should be cleaned up of those birds’ mess. Let the birds remain there, that must be their sanctuary. There must be commitment though for the maintenance of the cave’s interior.
From one corner, I noticed that the water in the lagoon is not really that clean. There are smudge of oil floating. This would not be from the birds. It is from people. With poeple going inside and getting near the water, wearing their slippers, it is possible that they bring the dirt which pollutes the water.
There was nothing I heard from the guide about the cave, or its rock formation. He merely answered the questions I was interested to ask. He merely guided us through a path that anyone could take, and just took our pictures. When I climbed over the rocks, he could not even assist me, because he was just there near the lagoon. But, thanks for the shots anyway.