The Fortune Island, Philippines – Rise and Fall in the Greek Style

Fortune island

The Greeks had their gods and the modern world has Greek mythology. Though Greece failed twice, during the ancient “classical” period and the recent  Economic Crisis, Greek culture has stayed immortal through its efflorescence. Even after centuries, Greek political, philosophical, artistic and architectural ideas continue to play a big influence in our modern society. Fortune Island’s main feature is the Greek Inspired Acropolis, a version of which is found in Athens. The island’s breathtaking tropical location adds further to its allure and charm. Just like its’ inspiration, Fortune Island is battling hard times after a very bullish run.

The story of its creation and destruction is a fascinating tale, full of unexpected outcomes and extraordinary back-stories. Fasten your water goggles; suck in a deep breath before we dive into the crystal clear waters of the Fortune island!

HISTORY OF THE FORTUNE ISLAND

Formerly owned by the Batangas Governor José Antonio Leviste, Fortune Island is a 27 hectare island that lies 14kms off the coast of Nasugbu town in the Batangas province of the Philippines. José Antonio Leviste built the posh Fortune Island Resort Club in 1995, exclusively for the who’s who of the society, who sought exclusive luxury. The main attraction of the island is an Acropolis with Grecian pillars and statues on the edge of the island overlooking the tranquil waters. Of the many stories about Fortune Island, the one that stuck to me was the one about its name. Fortune island is called fortune because the San Diego Ship, a trade ship converted into a war ship, sank off the island on December 14, 1600 (Ironically my birth date 😛 and not year). The Shipwreck with its treasure trove was discovered by French marine archaeologist Frank Goddio. Few of the originally recovered artifacts were displayed in the San Diego Museum which was there on the resort.

The island is a shipwreck magnet. Not only did the San Deigo ship sink here but this island has a history of many modern shipwrecks too. On December 13, 1995, a passenger ferry sank off Fortune Island leaving 17 people dead and on September 18, 1998, another passenger ferry sank off, resulting in 70 deaths. One usually gets to hear about spooky ghost stories of the island but I guess they are all made up.

Anyway coming back to our Fortune Island’s rise and fall story, due to mismanagement and reasons unknown the Fortune Island Resort Club Operation were shut down in 2006 and later reopened for public in November 2013 by a Korean Businessman who had leased it. The main reason cited by locals for its failure was the island's lack of  Fresh water source resulting in great difficulty in  managing day-to-day operations. As they say, you should never take basics for granted. Luxury is of no use if basic needs are not met.

Like the Great Greek Civilisation, the once exclusive island is now an abandoned and wrecked private property. It's like seeing an empire slipping into decadence and destruction. The good thing is, it is still an offbeat destination and as a result its natural beauty is fully intact. However, the only remaining attraction on the island, the Acropolis, standing at the edge of a cliff might not last for another decade because the pillars are quickly deteriorating. Many Statues are already  damaged and there is no maintenance work in sight. I hope the owner wakes up from his slumber and saves this beautiful island from having a similar fate as its inspiration had, the ancient Greek Civilisation.

The Acropolis inspired Greek Ruins at Fortune Island

damaging acropolis

The deteriorating pillars of the Acropolis, Fortune Island

Now let me give you some practical tips how you can see this amazing creation of nature and art before it slips into oblivion.

HOW TO GET TO FORTUNE ISLAND?

Though I had gone with a group in a private van but you can easily board a BSC or DLTB Bus Line departing from EDSA, Buendia or Cubao bus terminals, Manila going to Nasugbu Batangas every day. Travel time is 3-4 hrs, depending on traffic. From the town, hail a tricycle to reach the Fortune Island Resort where after paying the Landing’s fee and boat fees, you’ll embark on an over an hour boat journey. In choppy weather it can take up to 2 hours or more too. The worst part was walking through the dirty black sand beach of Barangay Bucana, Nasugbu to get into the boat.

Boatride from Barangay Bucana, Nasugbu to the Fortune Island

Boatride from Barangay Bucana, Nasugbu to the Fortune Island

Fortune Island view from the boat

Fortune Island view from the boat

WHAT TO DO AT THE FORTUNE ISLAND?

The pristine beach has portions of the powdered white sand and portions with rough white sand. Shells and corals abound in the shore.  It is a completely deserted property with one caretaker therefore there are no facilities of any kind. The activities you do will depend on what you are game for, namely:

  • Swimming: The turquoise crystal clear water is ideal for swimming
  • Cliff jumping: At the back of the hill, through steps down the hill one reaches a cliff jumping point from where you can dive into the open sea
  • Snorkeling and Diving: Fortune Island has 3-4 dive sites (Source: www.divephil.com)
    • The Blue Holes: three large holes in the coral leading into an open topped cavern, crystal clear water with visibility reaching 300ft on a good day
    • The Wreck: located opposite the beach in 65ft of water the stern and keel of a steel Dutch freighter are found
    • Fortune NW: located between the blue holes and the wreck is some very spectacular coral formations with valleys dropping away to over 120ft
  • Hiking to the Lighthouse: if you are game to bear the scorching sun then hike to Lighthouse
  • Photography: Fortune Island is a photographer's dream! The white Acropolis and statues set against the backdrop of infinity turquoise blue sea will confuse people if you are in the Mediterranean or in Philippines. If possible, try to capture the sunset and sunrise. And yeah, Photo ops at the Athens inspired Acropolis is a great way to make your friends jealous 😛
  • Camping: The island lacks basic amenities like electricity, rooms, working toilets etc. therefore you have to be properly geared up for camping. Make sure you carry your own tent/sleeping bag, mosquito repellent, loads of water and food supplies, spare clothes. Lastly, carry a brave heart which doesn’t get scared of unwanted guests, the ghosts 😛
  • Island hopping: From Fortune Island you can go island hopping to deserted islands like twin islands. However, be ready to shell out extra bucks
  • Just sit back and relax: Fortune Island is an ideal place for doing nothing but relaxing and marveling at God’s great piece of artwork.

Just sit back and relax. Philippine Sea from the Athena Statue

Cliff Jumping Point: Even a non swimmer like me wanted to do it

Fish eye View of the Philippine Sea from the Acropolis

Ideal for Photo ops - View of the Philippine Sea from the Acropolis, Fortune Island

Pristine White Powdery Sand Beach of Fortune Island

WHERE TO GO NEXT?

If you are doing a day trip like I did, then you can spend the night at the beach either at the Fortune Island Resort or any other beach Resort like Mar-Lou Beach Resort, Nasugbu, Batangas. You can either opt for a camp or take a room. The Resorts are budget Resorts but well maintained.

Next day you can do a quick food or sightseeing trip at Tagaytay.

Camp at Barangay Bucana, Nasugbu, Batangas for this view

Posing at Tagaytay withTaal Lake and Crater in the background

Pose at Tagaytay withTaal Lake and Volcano in the background

Food Trip at Tagaytay Beef & Bulalao Market

MY TAKE FROM THIS TRIP?

Fortune Island not only gave me a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the city life but also restored the faith I was unknowingly losing. The fascinating rise and fall of the Fortune Island in the Greek Style reminded me that even if a thing is abandoned and totally wrecked, there is still goodness and beauty in it. And it’s not over until it’s over. You can still restore it, if you want. You just have to believe and take that leap of faith and everything will fall into place. Post-mortem of the past won’t help. You have to take timely action before it gets too late.

So, game for exploring the Fortune Island?

If you liked this story, please do share your feedback. Travel See Write is incomplete without your valuable feedback 🙂

Fortune Island from the Boat

First glimpse of the Fortune Island from the Boat

Way to the Fortune Island Beach from the Acropolis

Way to the Beach from the Acropolis, Fortune Island

The Azure waters are ideal for swimming

The Azure waters are ideal for swimming, Fortune Island

16 Comments

  • joanna says:

    “Thank you’ for your writing and love for travel, certainly bring us to breathtaking places (ironically) just hours away. I will start my travel wish list that i hope to get to see for myself. In the meantime, keep on writing so vividly. 🙂

    • Thanks a lot Joanna for such lovely words. Really heartfelt thanks to you for giving me this opportunity to explore this beautiful country and its lovely people.

      Feedback from readers like you is what keeps me going 🙂

      Thanks for your valuable support.

      Cheers!

  • Erica says:

    Camped here last year and absolutely loved it. A friend of mine recently went and was turned off with the amount of people compared to the first time. Please tell me it was at least clean still? 🙏🏼 I love this island, such a shame if it loses its unique charm.

    http://girlunspotted.com

    • Hi Erica,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading the post. Really appreciate the effort. When I had visited it one week back, it wasn’t bad. there were two small groups. Except for the pool being dirty and peeling wood and pillars everything seemed to be in place. I wish some effort can be taken to restore it’s past glory. Nonetheless still a beautiful place to go 🙂

      Have a happy week ahead!

      Cheers!

  • Foram G says:

    Good! I am not sure if I have a strong heart to fight ghosts, but I loved the blue water. Would love to trek in the area and be back to a cosy hotel room by dark.

    • LOL! That’s what most of the people do. However, spending a night in the company of Ghosts is a good adventure in itself, One must try it. Just kidding. WE should do what what we want to on Holidays. And yeah, this island is a must try.

      So come to Philippines soon 🙂

      Have a happy week ahead.

      Cheers!

  • I am a new blogger just launch my blog blotub.com yesterday 05-11-2015.I loved your blog and article style very much,please help me with some tips..Thanks

  • Photos were stunning 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a useful post on this topic.

  • Rohit Dua says:

    The deteriorating pillars of the Acropolis, Fortune Island is something tremendous which i would live to see.

  • Who would have thought Philippines has a slice of Greece. In fact, I initially thought it’s Greece only. And them I read the whole things. Your blog is full of small and big surprises. Not many travelers are talking about these.

  • Dev says:

    I’m living here in Manila but never had a chance to come in this stunningly beautiful place. Your blog makes me want to go in there.

    Thank you for the tips.

    • Hey Dev,

      Thanks a lot for such kind words. There are many such hidden gems around Manila that are worth visiting for.

      I believe any place is more appealing than your four walls. So what are you waiting for? Just explore it.

      Cheers!

  • Ana Margarira Lapiz says:

    can i ask question who is the new founder of fortune island today? some people says steve a Korean nationality but im not sure whats the real name. can you answer me pls. thanks :)

    • Hi Ana,

      Thanks for writing in. As far as my limited knowledge goes, it is still owned by José Antonio Leviste,t he former governor of Batangas. But for the past few years it has been leaked out to Steve, the Korean businessman.

      Hope that answers your question.

      Cheers!

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