The Philippines, touted as the Pearl of the Orient, has been blessed with a lot of natural wonders. An archipelago of around 7,107 islands, it is jotted with numerous beaches, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, an ultimate adrenaline junkie’s paradise.
One of these 7,107 islands is the secluded Cagbalete, situated around six (6) hours from Manila. Still untouched by the severe development that has transformed most of the Philippine islands into commercial getaways, Cagbalete offers a more tranquil getaway from the turbulent city life.
How To Get There
Go to Jac Liner terminal along Buendia. To get to Cagbalete, travelers can take either of two bus routes. The first is the Mauban trip. Bus schedules are 5 AM and 12 PM. However, on a busy weekend, the bus leaves earlier than scheduled because of the influx of passengers and eager tourists. Bus fare is Php 270.00 and the travel time is around 5 to 6 hours. Ask the driver to drop you off on Mauban Public Market.
The alternative is to take a bus to Lucena Grand Terminal. Bus fare is Php 209.00 and the travel is around 4 to 5 hours. At the Grand Terminal, hop on an ordinary bus going to Mauban. Fare is Php 54.00 and travel time is about an hour to an hour and a half. If you can’t take the heat, you can take a van. Van fare is Php 60.00.
Once alighting on Mauban Market, you can either walk or ride a tricycle going to the port. Look for the registration area for tourists and visitors first and pay a registration fee of Php 50.00 per individual.
To go to the island, one can take the passenger boat that leaves for the island at 10 AM. Boat fare is Php 50.00. and travel time from Mauban town proper to Sabang port is about an hour. Sabang port is located on the other side of the island. You will have to walk for about 10 to 20 minutes going to the beach area.
The alternative is to take a private boat. This cost us Php 3,000.00 for a round trip fare for a group of 8 people. The private boats will directly take you to the beach area. However, in case of low tide, the boat will alight about 500 meters away from the shore and you will have to walk on shallow waters towards the beach, so do be prepared by wearing shorter pair of pants.
Young, wild and free, that is what we are. And no better way of expending our excess energy than discovering every nook and cranny of our blessed country.
Where To Stay
There’s a quite a lot of resorts along the beaches of Cagbalete. You can either rent a cottage or a room or you can pitch a tent.
Here are some:
- Villa Cleofas – Phone:+63 917 814 0496
- Villa Noe – Phone:+63 915 703 2334
- Joven’s Blue Sea Beach Resort – Phone +63 917 984 8505
- Dona Choleng Camping Resort – Phone +63 998 352 0544
For our trip, we checked in with Joven’s Blue Sea Beach Resort. Because the rooms and cottages were all rented out (and because they are really expensive), we opted for the tents. As there were eight (8) of us in the group, we rented two tents, one good for 6 people costing Php 900.00 and another one good for 2 people costing Php 500.00. You may coordinate in advance with the resorts to ensure availability.
You can also bring your own tent. However, you have to pay pitching fee.
A glimpse of the ethereal beauty of the verdant mangrove forest.
What To Do
Cagbalete is not as teeming with activity as Boracay is. However, there are still a lot of activities to do. Below are some of the activities in the island.
Swimming – The beach is conducive for amateur swimmers as it is really shallow for miles to end. The water is so clear you can see the bottom. The white sand is between fine to grainy.
Frisbee and Beach Volleyball – For sports enthusiasts, Cagbalete beach offers a lot of playing space. With stretches of sand on the beach, one can play frisbee uninhibitedly. One can also bring that ball and spike your way through a good game of volleyball. Volleyballs can also be rented for Php 50.00 an hour.
Star Gazing – Being miles away from the urban pandemonium, light pollution is not an issue. You can just spread your blanket on the sand then just lie and stare at the array of stars that decorate the night sky.
Sunrise watching – Being on the eastern part of the country, Cagbalete offers a very captivating view as the sun slowly emerges from the horizon. You can easily fill your phone’s memory with pictures as you won’t dare stop clicking your cameras to capture this beauteous site.
Island hopping – Island hopping covers the mangrove forest on the other side of the island, or as the locals fondly call it, Cagbalete B (Cagbalete A is the beach area). It also includes a hop to the other sandbars. If time permits, a ride through the mangrove forest can be included, though this is optional.
For our group, we were charged Php 1,700.00 though for a group of four to six individuals, the price is Php 1,500.00. Island hopping takes about three to four hours and no extension beyond the four hours is allowed so as to accommodate the other visitors. Please note that Some of the resorts only allow travelers to make arrangement with their accredited boatmen. You can coordinate with the resort people if you are interested in this activity.
Snorkeling – As advertised, the area is teeming with aquatic life. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to witness any, or maybe because our boatmen weren’t aware of any spots suitable for snorkeling. This is also covered in the island hopping package. For goggles, your own goggles or you can rent at the resort for Php 50.00 per pair. Depending on the boatmen, you can borrow two (2) pairs of goggles for free.
The sea, the sand and the sun. What a way to escape the tedious city life. 🙂
What Are The Other Things To Consider
First of all, be sure to check the weather conditions on the days you intend to travel to the island. I’ve read and heard from locals the possibility of being stuck on the island due to unfavorable conditions. The waves can get too high that boats won’t be able to travel.
Secondly, the island is sustained by generators. Generators are ran from 6 PM to 6 AM on peak seasons. Otherwise, it’ll only be run until 12 midnight. For your gadgets, fully charge your power banks before embarking on the journey.
Thirdly, to preserve the tranquility in the island, drinking on the resort bars are only until 12 midnight. Karaokes are also limited until 12 midnight only. You can bring alcoholic drinks you can consume on your tent or on your room. However, make sure to respect your fellow traveler and avoid generating too much noise.
Lastly, for food, you can either cook or buy. For cooking, fresh seafood such as squid, crabs and a variety of fishes can be purchased from the locals. Cooking utensils can be rented from the resort. Condiments can be bought on the island “talipapa” which is about 10 to 15 minutes from the beach. If you intend to just relax, you can ask the locals or the resort people to do the cooking. One of the locals we asked charged us for Php 150.00 per viand.
Food can also be bought from the resorts. However, their meals are expensive. A whole chicken meal can cost up to Php 500.00. As an alternative, you can eat on mini-eateries at the talipapa.
Traveling is best enjoyed with your best of friends.
In life, we meet a lot of people. Some will teach us how to love, some will teach us how to cry, some will teach us how laugh, while some will teach us to dance in the rain. Some will cherish us, some will hate us, some will judge us, and some will not care about us. Some will stay, and some will leave, because that is the reality of life.
Cherish the ones who stay and thank the ones who leave. Love the ones who loved you and still love the ones who hated you. Life is too short to dwell on negative emotions. Life should be lived absorbing positive energy that surrounds us.
Imbibe the lessons the people who came across our journey taught us. Never take them for granted, for in their small way, they will teach you a lesson. Learn from every tear, learn from every frustration, learn from every failure. Just learn, and eventually you will grow.