Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cagbalete Island: A Perfect Summer Getaway

It's officially summer time in our dear archipelago! For some, summer is synonymous with vacation. It is the time of the year perfect for lazying around, getting a tan or visiting places without worrying for turbulent seas or erratic weather. It is the ultimate time for bonding and relaxation. In short, summer is fun.






Our country is composed of around 7,100 islands, all beautiful and uniquely mesmerizing so we will never run out of new places to spend our vacation with. I recently had a chance to visit one with my friends, the lovely Cagbalete Island. I'm sure this island is already known to a lot of people. Surprisingly, when we were there, the side of the island where we stayed was so deserted that it felt like we own the island.

Cagbalete Island is in Mauban Quezon, a getaway that can be reached in about 6 hours total travel time from Manila. It is an island surrounded with rich water, a combination of fine and grainy cream sand, and a home to disciplined people as seen by how clean the shores (and even Sabang port) are.

Getting There

There are a number of ways in getting to the island but I will be more specific on my own experience traveling to the island.

JAC Liner, JAM Liner and Lucena Lines have bus terminals in the Cubao area. We chose JAC Liner. Their station is in Kamias, can be found on your right when traveling Northbound in EDSA. JAM Liner's terminal can be found opposite to their station. Lucena buses on the other hand are located inside Araneta Center in Cubao. We planned on taking JAC's direct buses to Mauban Quezon but their website isn't updated so what's written there as an hourly trip starting from 5 AM to 2 PM is not accurate. They only have 2 trips, 5 AM and 12 NN. Because of that, we rode their bus headed to Lucena City (Quezon province's capital City). The ride took about 4 hours and 30 mins. Fare was Php218. Then we alighted in SM Lucena.

From SM Lucena, we rode a van going to Mauban. Fare was Php65. It was a fast 45 minute ride considering I was expecting an hour and 30minute travel time. Last trip of vans headed to Mauban is 9PM and from Mauban to SM Lucena is 5PM. Buses are also available in Grand Central Terminal in Lucena City (not in SM) for a cheaper fare but I'm sure will definitely be a longer ride. (Fare as of April 23, 2013 is Php54).





From Mauban Market where the van dropped us, we walked our way to Pantalan (Mauban Port) to board the ferry going to Sabang Port (Mauban Island) It is a short walk. We registered and paid a Php100 fee to Frances, the lady manning the Tourism Booth. The Php100 fee is a total for environmental fee - Php40, Terminal Fee - Php30 and take note, a Porter fee of Php30. So if the porters try and help you carry your luggage, don't be alarmed or shy - they are just doing their job and won't ask you for any tip or additional fee.

We paid the Php40 ferry fare directly to conductor of the ferry. Frances told me that they used to collect the fare in the tourism booth too but since they would be increasing the ferry fares soon and are just waiting for the tickets with the printing of the new fares to arrive, they just let the conductor collect it on their end. So expect a fare hike in your future visit. (Update: My sister in law traveled to the island on April 23 2013 and paid Php50. She and her companions weren't charged a porter fee though.) We arrived in Sabang Port in 45 minutes. There are only 2 trips going to and from Cagbalete, 10AM and 4PM to the island and 7AM and 1PM back to Mauban. It is advisable to be there earlier because they leave as soon as the ferries are full.

The Island

Our ferry, Neneng can't dock near the shore since the water is low. We transferred to a smaller boat with a flat bottom. From there we we're guided by Kuya Wilmer in our 20 minute trek to the resort since it was located on the other side of the island. It was an easy trail. Sometimes though, the trail becomes really muddy in some parts and there are a few fork trails so it's advisable to have a guide the first time you're trekking.





The resort is a picture of serenity. It’s almost deserted except for four other campers who left the following day and proved to be pigs. I’m sorry for the term, but the day they left, they also left their pile of snack wrappers, cigarette butts, paper plates and glasses scattered on the seashore just beside the tents they rented.  This literally caused my blood pressure to rise. How could people be so irresponsible leaving their trash for other people to clean it up for them?







For accommodation options, please check Accommodations in Cagbalete.

We stayed in the Eastern side of the island. Photo enthusiasts would be glad to stay here to capture the beautiful sunrise. It is a perfect spot to lounge in the hammocks hanging under the umbrella trees. The wind seems to always invite me to sleep but I didn't give in, afterall, we just stayed for two nights in the island and time is better spent exploring the place. It was high tide when we arrived the first day but come night time, the water recedes very far leaving the almost white sand shimmering under the full moon.





The following day, we explored Bonsai Island, an island directly located in front of Villa Cleofas Resort. It is an island with a panoramic view of flat bed rocks and some bonsai looking plants in the middle of the island, thus the name Bonsai Island. The whole island is submerged in water during high tide and can only be accessed during low tide. I would say, it is another haven for photography enthusiasts. Shortly after we arrived, we noticed the water slowly creeping in, a sign that it soon will be high tide gain. High tide is more frequent in the island during full moon, as what the caretaker told us. If you think about it, it makes sense.











After that, we decided to explore the Northern part of the island where MVT Sto. Nino Resort is.  The shore is significantly shorter in that side of the island compared to the beachfront of Villa Cleofas. There are several driftwood with interesting shapes and the sand is surprisingly finer in that part of the island. The water is higher too so we waded our way to the water and joyously swam to our hearts content. The water is cold and warm at the same time. Warm on top and cold in the bottom. It is near a creek or maybe a river so I thought it maybe a brackish water (a combination of salt and fresh water) causing for the interesting difference in the water temperature.





The following morning, it was high tide still and we decided to kayak, going to the Southern part of the island. The water is so clear in this part, I could see the bottom even in the deep part of the beach. We passed by two new resorts. It was a good one hour of kayaking when we decided to go back before we get burned by the scorching sun. It was a perfect decision since by the time we got back in the shore, it was almost low tide. The famous sand ripples came into sight and another photo ops with a lot of jump shots started.







There are several activities you can do in the Cagbalete Island, except nightlife. It is a peaceful haven for people looking for solitude. It is a place to retreat and bond with special people or just a place to lounge and feel the caress of nature. I really loved my stay here. It was truly relaxing and fun. Sometimes, your travel companions would make a lot of difference with how you would perceive your experience with a specific place and this time, I am just so thankful that everything was great. :)


47 comments :

  1. Wow sobrang ganda!! Thanks for this post, Pang! :D (I can't imagine those people who left their trash in Cagbalete... ugh, that's disgusting)

    Parang ang layo ng biyahe pero mukhang sulit sa kagandahan. Maghahanap na ako ng mga kaibigan para magpunta diyan! :D

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    1. Naku Claire, I wish I had their pictures, I'll post all their faces here. They all look professional pa naman kaya mas lalo nakakabother.

      Medyo nakakapagod nga yong travel pero it is worth it. Pagtapak ko sa buhangin, nawala na lahat ng pagod ko. Energy to the highest level na ulit. Sana makahanap ka na agad ng mga makakasama before the summer ends. :)

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  2. Hi there,
    Nkapunta nrin aq jan Cagbalete but we stayed in MVT. Sto. Nino last 2010 pa.....hehe We really had fun that time.....The view is perfect...

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    1. Tagal ko na nga din gusto pumunta dito but di matuloytuloy then the perfect timing came. I couldn't agree more, it is so beautiful, everyone who loves nature will surely have fun the way we did.

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    2. wowwwww sobrang ganda ng lugar.hidden paradise,may bago na nmn kming pupuntahan ng husband ko.anyway thanks much sa info's.god bless..

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  3. Thank you too Candy. Hope you and your husband have fun there. :)

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  4. Thanks for the info! Me and my friends are planning to go here by the end of May. Hopefully the weather will still be okay for travel.

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    1. You're welcome Artessa. Have fun in Cagbalete. :)

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  5. Hi magkano nama nagastos nyo all in all?

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    1. Hello Mark. Roughly Php2000 including everything. I would say medyo on a splurge mode na yan kasi we bought fresh seafood sa Sabang then consumed it for our entire stay plus we didn't camp. Kung tent lang sana, we could have saved Php580 each for those 2 nights.

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  6. Hi Pang! thanks for your reply.. kasi im planning to go there with my GF to celebrate our 2nd anniv this July =) Sana di maulan hahaha! Anyway, na bother lang ako sa sched

    "There are only 2 trips going to and from Cagbalete, 10AM and 4PM to the island and 7AM and 1PM back to Mauban.

    So after ng 10AM, 4PM na ung nxt ride to the island? =)

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    1. Wow! Happy second year anniversary in advance. :) Sana nga mataon na walang ulan sa day ng trip nyo.

      Yes, dalawa lang talaga ang ferry sched.

      If i may suggest, since it's for an anniversary, you may also check my post abt Tamaraw Beach Resort in Aninuan beach in Puerto Galera. Para mas madami food choices. You may also do the sidetrips and discover Tamaraw falls and Tukuran Hidden Paradise in San Teodoro, the town next to Puerto Galera. We also went there during anniversary and this was my favorite place for anniversary. We spent like 3k each, booked their cheapeat room, 800 for non peak months. Pero syempre your choice. :)

      Goodluck on your planning. I'm sure gf would be delighted.

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  7. wow,truly its more fun in the Philippines. thank u for posting this maam its very timely that i saw ur site me and my co staff nurses are looking a getaway to unwind from a very toxic work in the hospital.hope the weather is good when we get there,i had a very bad and scary experience in caramoan,we almost get drowned due to very bad weather coz we rode in a bangka, u might want to visit caramoan too, very nice place hidden paradise.i rili wanted to see cagbalete island see u soon. thank u maam and Godbless hope to read more of your new travel getaway.

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    1. Hi Ian. I'll be wishing a fine weather for you and your friends. I somehow know how it feels to be so stressed at work. I'm sure Cagbalete will be a good choice to unwind.


      Thanks for suggesting Caramoan. I hope to see it too, someday soon. Have a safe trip!

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  8. Hi Pang, me and my bestfriend are planning to go there this june 15. Can you suggest us a place to stay yung mura lang. Thanks..

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    1. Hi Jing. I've included a link for accommodation options in this post. If you go through it, you may just click the link provided right after the photo for Villa Cleofas or you may just copy paste this link.

      http://mybackpackdiaries.blogspot.com/2013/04/cagbalete-island-accommodation-options.html

      I've provided all the info I have gathered for each resort. Please check which works best for you. The rates might have also changed, please contact the resorts to be sure. Thanks.

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  9. hi pang! thanks for your blog. we are planking to go there this saturday. I'm wondering if you could help us decide in which resort we could pitch our tent and/or what resort offers cheap rooms but nice. Thank you so much.

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    1. Hi Sophia. Please check my blog on different accommodation options in Cagbalete. I had included the rates. Kindly click this link, http://mybackpackdiaries.blogspot.com/2013/04/cagbalete-island-accommodation-options.html?m=1 Thanks and I hope you guys have a safe and happy trip. :)

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  10. thx for the blog...ate may mga tindahan ba na mabibilihan kung maubusan kami ng supply?softdrinks,water, ice at food..at ok lang ba na hndi kami kumuha ng mga rooms sa tent lang kami matutulog..thx

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    1. Sorry late reply na. Sa mismong resort may tinda sila kaso pricey. Meron din mga tindahan malapit sa port kung saan kayo dadaong, mga 1 km walk yon from the resorts. Mas malayo pero super laki ng price difference.

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    2. salamat po sa info ate..ok na yon madaming bilihan hndi katulad sa kwebang lampas iisa ang bilihan tapos mahal pa hehe..thx po ulit ate.. :))

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  11. ang ganda ng beach.. ilalagay ko sa list ko to :-) thanks for sharing

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  12. Hi Pang,

    your infos will really help us a lot on this trip. Our motorcycle club: Club Cb110 Inc. plans to visit this place soon. I have gathered important note from your blog.

    thanks and God Bless!

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  13. Hi pang, my friend and i wanted to go her this summer, by the way i really like your post about this island its very informative, but we wanna bring our own car. Can we leave the car sa port like in galera? Thanks in advance

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    1. Hi Omel. There might not be a place to leave your car in the port, I think it's not safe. What I can suggest is to talk to the owner of the resort where you will be staying. They might offer their place in the mainland where you can park your car for the duration of your stay in their resort. Or they might know a secure place where you can leave your car. Hope you and your friend have a good time in Cagbalete.

      Here's the link for the contact numbers of the resorts in the area.
      http://mybackpackdiaries.blogspot.com/2013/04/cagbalete-island-accommodation-options.html

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  14. Hi, my friends and I are planning to go there.. alam nyo po ba kung ano ang mga bayan na madadaanan??? Tahnk you

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  15. Hi Ma'am, Thanks for having this wonderful blog, may place ba dun na pwedng magcamp lang? kasi we are planning a camp style with tent lang, then if pwede may source of water ba dun na pwedng inuman? and comfort room din. thanks po..

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    1. Ang alam ko lang na may water source is yong mga resorts. When we were walking around, wala kaming nakitang mga bathroom or water source na public. The resorts also offer tent accommodation or you can bring your own for a minimal fee.

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  16. Hi Pang! I've been searching for a perfect place to go to for a 3 days 2 nights vacation with my mother. And seeing your recent post about Cagbalete encourages me to explore the island. I would just like a relaxing, peaceful vacation with very nice view of nature, beaches, mountains, etc. Would you recommend Cagbalete, or since you're a travaler, do you know somewhere else that would be perfect for a 3 days vacation enjoying the nature? Your response will be much appreciated.

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    1. Hi Anj! A "perfect vacation" can be subjective so it's kind of hard to say that Cagbalete will be perfect but based on my personal experience (with the place and the company I was with) it was awesome and relaxing.

      The travel time to the island MAY be too demanding for your mom since it is a long travel but I think it still depends on how fit she is. My mom in law is I think 67 now but she can still walk the rest of Sta. Cruz and Quiapo the whole day. If she's like your mom, I see no problem then.

      Another option would be in Aninuan/Talipanan Beach in Puerto Galera. Please check http://mybackpackdiaries.blogspot.com/2011/06/uncrowded-beach-of-aninuan-in-puerto.html It is far more serene than the maddening crowd in White Beach. From there, you would have access to a sparkling clear beach, view of the mountains and I'm sure you'll also have a nice time relaxing. Plus it would be a faster and easier travel for your mom.

      Hope I answered your questions. Thanks. :)

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  17. My mother by the way is already 65 years old. Do you think it would be hard for her to go to Cagbalete considering the walks/treks? Thanks!

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  18. Thanks so much Pang for the quick response! I've decided to try Cagbalete :) I'm now communicating with Ms. Tess of Villa Cleofas to reserve one concrete room for 2 persons. Though I've only got to talk with her once and she's not responding after that. Sorry for this, just a quick question, does the concrete rooms face directly to the beach? (Tipong pwede mo ma-view ang beach from your room?) Again, thanks so much Pang! You're definitely of great help to all of us :)

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    1. No worries. :) Yes, the two concrete rooms are beachfront too, just a few steps away from the shore like the cabanas. If I remember it right, it's on the other side of the dining/reception area.

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  19. hi! i am planning to go there this holy week. where is the best place to stay? yung budget friendly. thanks!

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    1. Hi Camil. Please refer to the post above. I have provided a link for the accommodation options available and included all their rates. Thanks.

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  20. hi! ask ko lang kung nagdala na kayo ng mga food na lulutuin dun or namalengke na kayo mismo dyan kung may public market mang malapit. plano kase namin pumunta this coming may3-4. thanks! :)

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    1. Hi Al. May mga nagtitinda sa malapit sa port ng mga sariwang isda pero dapat sobrang maaga kayo pumunta para may maabutan kayo at mura pa. Pag medyo late na, limited na lang mabibili. Don kami namalengke then nagluto na lang kami sa resort. Mga 1 km walk sya from Villa cLeofas kung san kami nagstay.

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  21. Nag punta kame dyan nung nitong may 14. maganda ung place specially sa mga gusto tlaga mag relax. sa Jovens kame nag stay, mayabang ung ari at hindi kame na trato ng maayos..

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  22. Hi! Pang, thanks sa infos and tips. Me and my gf will visit cagbalete on the 24th! Your blog made me so excited! Hehehe

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  23. hello po. ask ko lang po kung need pa ba magpareserve sa villacleofas bago po pumunta dun. own tent lng din po kasi gagamitin namin. Saka may source of water po ba dun na pwedeng mainom??thank you

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  24. okay po ba holiday august pumunta? my accommodations po ba for two? thanks!

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  25. cagbalete is love. nagstay kami sa villa cleofas pero by boat and walang malayong lakarin. eto yung sinundan kong guide: cagbalete travel guide.

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  26. I cannot recommend this place. People in this place are tend to take advantage of the tourist they tend to overprice almost everything. From a overpriced private boat worth 3000 php two way and 2500 for 1 way for small group (4-6 person) and the price increase as your group member increase (for instance 12 person for 5500 on way trip) imagine!!!!!!. To a very simple favor you might ask to the local.... almost everything has a price....... One thing more some people in this place are trickster in nature even a kid..... But to be fare the view of this island are great...... But it is enough that I see this Islands once I will not go back anymore.......

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  27. How much po ang rates sa villa cleofas?.

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  28. Ask ko lng po kung safe yung bangka papunta ng island sa cagbalete,?? Kasi madami po kming batang kasama..

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  29. Eternal sandbar indeed in Cagbalete. Sharing my experience here, too: http://www.hellosheena.blogspot.com/2015/06/eternal-sandbar-at-cagbalete-island.html

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  30. Hello, ask ko lang po, safe kaya yung mga resort for solo traveler? (Especially when you will just use tent) I want to go there pero I don't have anyone to go with. Kaya I'll travel alone. I am planning to go this by the end of October. Thanks!

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