When talking about virgin and unspoiled beaches in the Philippines, its always those in Zambales (Anawangin or Nagsasa) and/ or Camarines Sur (Calaguas) that comes into our mind. But we always wanted to try something new…something that is very unfamiliar and not yet receiving much hype as compared to those I’ve previously mentioned. And when a friend of mine –misshappywanderer– asked me if I wanted to join her on a Holy Week getaway at Cagbalete Island, the initial thought was- ‘where the h*ll is that?!’..with all the question marks floating above my head lol…
And after 2 days (hours before the trip), I decided to join (because I first planned to spend the weekends at Baler, Aurora)..haha…
First stop: JAC Liner bus station at Kamuning Quezon City. We gathered at around 1:30am so we would be able to take the 2am bus trip going to Lucena Quezon.
Fare: Php 218.00
Expected Travel Time: 3-4 Hours
Next stop: Lucena Grand Terminal. Here you can rest for a while, take a pee or grab something to eat. From here we took a bus going to Mauban, Quezon.
Fare: Php 54.00
Expected Travel Time: 45Minutes according to my friend (misshappywanderer) but it took us 2 HOURS!!! lol The driver was too careful with his driving…i guess we were running on a 10kph speed haha but it was a bit of an advantage as I’ve enjoyed the sceneries.
We arrived at Mauban at around 8am leaving us with 2 hours (at least) spare time to buy some more food (there’s 7-11 and a local market) and water (the water refilling station near 7-11 charged us Php210.00 for the water and the jug/ container). You need to buy the container so its better to bring your own and have it refilled for just Php 40.00
From the bus terminal/ 7-11/ water station, you can ride a tricycle for Php 10.00 or you can also opt to have a short walk to the port.
I wanted to commend the local government of Mauban for keeping their town ‘super clean’ and smoke-free (cigarettes). Plastics are also prohibited so expect your meat wrapped in newspaper when buying at their local market.
For emergencies or unexpected events, these phone numbers might also be of big help (sorry since we were in a hurry, i didn’t bother to move that motorcycle lol).
From Mauban Port, you need to ride a boat to get to Cagbalete Island.
Terminal and Environmental Fee: Php 50.00
Boat Fare: Php 50.00
Expected Travel Time: 45minutes
If you want to charter a boat, there’s a different fee for that. Check the above image for the prices (the one written on white board).
Once you get to Cagbalete Island, you have the option to walk or pay for another boat ride for a much comfortable and faster way of getting to your resort. (but for an added adventure and ‘exercise’- I suggest you walk). Since the image is blurry here’s the price list for the boat ride:
To Pansacola Beach Resort: Php60.00
To Villa Cleofas and MVT Sto. Nino Beach Resort: Php 75.00
There are kids in the island that will offer to guide you to your resort. They wont charge a price, and it’s up to you how much you are willing to pay them. (Just be generous and kind enough hehe)
We rented three tents (2 persons for each) for Php 300.00 (per tent) and paid Php150.00 per person as camp fee at the Pansacola Beach Resort where we were not accomodated as expected (as guests I mean). To be fair, everyone was kind except for one person- the female owner.
I wasn’t able to take a picture of her (out of respect), but when we arrived I guess she’s already tired and exhausted. She kept on saying she’s ‘low-bat’ (no more energy). There’s something in her that made us feel uncomfortable, i dont know if its her personality. We definitely understand that she’s working since morning (considering it was just past 10am when we arrived) and she catered to a lot of guests already since its holiday (holy week) but she must also consider that we came all the way from Manila, traveled for almost 8 hours, and haven’t had any decent sleep yet.
Anyway enough of that…
The whole island specifically the resorts depend on generators for their electricity. So expect that there would be no electricity for most of your stay. In fact, I didn’t bother to bring my phone and ipad chargers. Dont forget to bring your powerbank and flashlights for this matter.
There are also common bathrooms and comfort rooms, so you don’t need to worry where to poop or to take a bath.
Sleeping mats for a good night sleep and insect repellant lotions to keep the bugs away, are also necessary- you know, sleeping in tents also has its own downsides.
Now, let’s talk about the beach. I always believe that enjoying or appreciating a certain place is very subjective. And I guess it depends on many different factors (collectively or individually- it could be a hit, a miss or sometimes plainly acceptable). Lets discuss that in detail: (Please do remember that I’m just pertaining to the area of Pansacola Beach Resort as I am not sure if it’s the same for the whole island of Cagbalete).
Low tide at Pansacola beach is a miss– for me. We arrived at around 10 in the morning when the water was slowly drifting away from the shore and we’ve waited until 6 in the afternoon for the high tide just to be able to swim (but low and high tide have varying times depending on the moon, the sun and the earth, so pray that when you go here the universe will conspire for you to achieve your perfect vacation…hehe im serious!) I felt like I have a curfew- no swimming until 6pm!
We tried to walk towards the sea (after lunch) only to find out that the water is filled with sea weeds/ grass and sea urchins. It’s great to know that the beach is still ‘alive’ (for lack of a better term)- or is still able to support life. But it’s a bit disappointing since in the first place I came here not for the sand nor the seaweeds but for the SEA!
Ok so here comes high tide but the water rose only until knee deep (i’m 5’10”, so if you’re a bit shorter than I am it could be thigh or waist level for you). With seaweeds floating all around me and I fear I might step into something like sea urchin (since its almost 6pm and its starting to get dark so I wouldn’t be able to see it)- I gave up. Morning came, still high tide, but I didn’t bother go swimming anymore but my friends did. And I guess they had fun. That’s why its very subjective.
Unlike in Boracay or Puerto Galera, nightlife in Cagbalete is synonymous to bonfires, reminiscing good ol’ mem’ries while chatting with friends- which I love. This is the time to really relax and ponder on things that really matter. Star gazing and watching fireflies make me feel like I’m having an authentic unspoiled island experience. There was also a fireworks display but I doubt if they do this every night…I guess it’s the resort’s way of welcoming Easter.
By the way, you can have bonfires for Php 50.00 and the resort will be the one to set it up for you. So forget about wandering into the ‘forest’ to look for wood and dried leaves haha….
Don’t get me wrong guys, I don’t hate sand, just the lack of water to swim in..lol. Anyway during low tide, instagram-worthy sand ‘formations’ will make your cameras busy. Panoramic view of the island as well as the neighboring islands are also hard to miss.
There are also boatmen who offer guided tours to the mangrove forest and other places to enjoy in Cagbalete. But this we wasn’t able to try. Price can be as low as Php1000.00 per group.
Locals are also an asset of this island. Upon arrival, you’ll definitely feel their warmth (which is very innate to every Filipino except for the female owner of the resort- ok let’s give her the benefit of doubt so let’s move on hehe) and children will always say hi or hello.
I also remember we were provided with monoblock chairs when we stood outside a house near the port where we waited for the boat to get us back to Mauban – how hospitable that was.
The boatman who also offered to bring us back to Mauban expressively said thank you and asked to visit their province again.
But on a different note….
Increase in the number of tourists can ‘sometimes’ mean increase in trash and Cagbalete is in no way an exemption to this. Sad to say, as the island gains popularity, it also attracts irresponsible tourists.
‘Take nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footprints’- WE should always have this in mind whenever we travel. This is just a small favor in exchange to the memories we create, friends we gain, and the whole experience we get from the places we visit.
To sum it all up, we spent 2 days for this getaway (Departure: Saturday, 2am Kamuning Bus Station – Arrival: Sunday,10pm Edsa Taft Pasay -including traffic) and here’s the breakdown of expenses:
Transportation: Php 736.00 (Kamuning-Cagbalete-Pasay)
Food: Php 450.00 (From breakfast on our 1st day to Lunch the next day)
Terminal & Environmental Fee: Php 50.00
Camp Fee: Php 150.00
Tent: Php 150.00 (Php300.00 but since there are 2 persons per tent)
Total: Php 1536.00
Overall, I might not had fun swimming in the beach but the total experience is definitely worth the travel.
Enjoy wandering guys!
Comments and/ or suggestions are definitely welcome and appreciated.
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