Cagbalete Island: Your next weekend destination
MANILA, Philippines – Do you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Manila without spending too much time and money? Don’t fret. It can be done.
Several hours away from Manila, you can experience white sand, turqouise waters, and the beauty of nature in one of the unspoiled beaches of Southern Luzon: Cagbalete Island.
Imagine yourself waking up to the sound of chirping birds and the calming sound of the sea lapping at the shore. Picture yourself taking in views of the blue horizon while breathing fresh air, all day.
Cagbalete Island may not be half as popular as Boracay or El Nido, but it has its own charm and appeal. Just 6 kilometers from the town proper of Mauban, Quezon, Cagbalete is a hidden paradise waiting to be explored.
A friend invited me to join them for a quick getaway to Cagbalete. I have heard stories about the island before. I immediately said yes and the island didn’t disappoint.
Here’s how to enjoy the island for less than P1,000 for two days.
From the Cubao terminal, ride a bus to Lucena in Quezon. (The fare is P225.) Travel time would be 3 to 4 hours depending on the traffic but I suggest you leave as early as 5 am. From Lucena Grand Terminal, ride a van going to Mauban port, which will cost you P70. You wouldn't get bored as you would pass along rice fields, towering trees, and see people doing their laundry the old way, along the river. Plug in your earphones, listen to your favorite playlist, and enjoy the one-and-a-half-hour travel.
When you reach the port, head to the Municipal Tourism office for booking purposes. You would be charged P50 for the environmental fee and meet representatives from different resorts in the island that offer options for accommodation.
There are 12 private resorts in Cagbalete, each offering an accommodation package ranging from the most budget-friendly camping tents to luxurious villas. Some resorts would require you to pay an entrance fee ranging from P50 to P100, depending on the length of your stay in the island.
Overnight rent for a tent that fits a maximum of 3 persons is P300. I think the tent is the best deal for an overnight stay in the island – perfect for lazing around. If you have money to splurge, you may opt to rent a room that costs between P1,200 to P5,000.
To get to the island, you have to take a one-hour boat ride (P75). It's best to be at the dock by 9:30 am, as the first trip of the public boat is at 10 am, and the next is at 3 pm.
If you follow my recommended timetable, you'll probably get to the island at 11 am, or at low tide. The tide rises at around 3 pm to 4 pm, according to locals. While waiting for the sea to come closer to shore, spend the time building your tent and walking on the powdery white sand.
You can also read your favorite book under a tree overlooking the blue sea.
If you have P150 to spare, why not go island hopping? There are boats waiting near the shore for tourists who want to go on this activity.
At around 11:30 am, you can see the island's famous sandbar. Stand in the middle of the sandbar, use your selfie stick, take an Instagram-worthy photo, and share a piece of paradise to the world!
It would be good to bring a power bank to the island, which has electricity only from 6 pm to 6 am.
The island has weak cellphone signal – just enough to make calls and send text messages – making your stay there the perfect time to take a break from the online world. It is also the best place to bond with your friends, catch up with them, or play some board games.
Another tip – bring food and bottled water enough for your two-day stay in the island, as we did, as food and water are a bit pricey there.
Expenses for a two-day stay in Cagbalete Island:
- Bus ride (Cubao-Lucena-Cubao) – P450
- Van ride (Lucena-Mauban port-Lucena) – P140
- Environmental fee – P50
- Boat ride (Mauban port-Cagbalete Island-Mauban) – P150
- Resort entrance fee (overnight stay) – P100
- Tent rent (overnight) – P100
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