As a beach lover, I constantly look for new adventures. The recent talk of the town – Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon Province – particularly caught my attention this summer. A lot of travel bloggers say (and show through photos) that the island is budget-friendly if not relatively fresh compared to other summer destinations. Plus it’s accessible from Metro Manila. So here are my personal comments and “tips” for everyone who wants to go to this beautiful place. Especially I had quite a few thoughts that were not present in other blog articles that I’ve read.
(At Pansacola Resort in Cagbalete Island, Quezon Province)
METRO MANILA TO MAUBAN
Before reaching the island of Cagbalete, the would-be traveler should first ride a bus from Metro Manila to municipality of Mauban. There are actually two ways to reach the said place. Either you take a direct [limited] bus trip to Mauban or reach Lucena City first then take another bus ride to Mauban.
If you’re from the northern part of the Metro then you can ride a bus in Kamias courtesy of Jac Liner. It has daily trips departing at 5:00 AM and 1:00 PM which costs P280.00.
#BackpackerTip: it’s ideal to leave at around 4:00 – 5:00 AM to avoid traffic. The total travel time from Metro Manila to Cagbalete Island proper is roughly 6 hours.
However, if you want to go to Lucena first, there are trips offered by various bus lines in Cubao, Buendia and Alabang terminal stations. This alternative way to reach Mauban is more accessible because almost all bus stations have hourly trips to Lucena. I personally tried this route and from Southstation/Starmall Metropolis, Alabang, the fare to Lucena costs P 180.00 for air-conditioned buses.
From Lucena City, you can either take a van which costs P 60.00. You can look for the vans either in SM Lucena or Pacific Mall. On the other hand, an ordinary bus which costs P54.00 can be accessed in the Lucena Grand Terminal (LGT). We ought to try the ordinary bus ride which has no particular time of departure. As long as it is full, it will depart and the cycle goes on.
MAUBAN TO CAGBALETE ISLAND
Upon reaching Mauban, you have to reach the Barangay Daungan Port in order to cross the island using a boat. A public trip via a big boat departs at 10:30 AM and 4:30 PM on weekdays. According to the locals, during weekends the big boat continuously goes back and forth from Mauban to Cagbalete due to the surge of tourists. The fee costs P 50.00. Private commuter boats also offer the same service with higher prices. It ranges from P 1,000 (for 1-2 persons or 2,000 for 4 persons) to P 5, 000 or higher (12 – 20 persons) for roundtrip transportation. This will save you time but it’s difficult to book a trip here on weekends.
#BackpackerTip: it will take you roughly 45 minutes to reach the island.
To be honest, we did not try either mode to reach Cagbalete since we were asked to wait up to 6 hours before we can leave. The queue was terrible. Instead we were assisted by local fishermen who are not connected with the official carriers to Cagbalete. Out of desperation, we grabbed it and they asked us to pay P 1,900 for roundtrip transportation. I will really not suggest this option because it’s technically illegal. The only difference between the private, accredited trips and this “illegal” trip is a life vest. I am not encouraging the latter but I hope the local government officials/tourism office of Mauban will address this concern otherwise it will continue to go on since the port was really congested. If you will be stuck in this situation, I can refer the fisherman who helped us cross the island.
PAYMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL/TERMINAL FEE
A mandatory environmental fee costs P 30.00 and P 20.00 terminal fee should be paid in the port. Payment should be done before booking a boat ride to Cagbalete.
Before leaving to port (or even booking your trip to Cagbalete) you can shop at the local market since the food in the island is expensive or should be booked beforehand. I will discuss the policies of the resorts that I’ve been to later on.
#BackpackerTip: water is perhaps one of the most expensive commodities in the island so purchasing your own drinking water will help you save money.
There are different resorts in the island that can cater to your needs. The prices also differ depending on the room or tent that you will use. It’s great to hear that some of the resorts allow tourists to stay in their place when you have your own tent but with a fee, of course. So here are the following resorts that I have personally been to:
Pansacola Beach Resort
Located at the southern part of Cagbalete, this place boasts a long, beautiful beachfront. The water is perfectly lukewarm and there are very few stones, corals or weeds that may injure you. An entrance fee of P200 will be charged if you stay in this resort (but you can pass through it or swim in its beachfront even if you will not stay there). In addition, if you don’t have a tent, they offer a rental which costs P300. This tent is good for two persons. Room rates costs at around P 3,000 or higher.
(Pansacola Resort’s pristine waters)
As to the food, it should be booked prior to your arrival in the resort. They have limited menu (when we went there they only offer Crispy Pata) for walk-in customers. So if you wish to stay here, I suggest secure your reservation through their facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pansacolabeachresort) or their contact number +63 42 7840158,+63 928 5058633, +63 917 5465901. Generally speaking, the staff here is not accommodating. They don’t smile and would make the customer feel stressed over the internal mishaps that they are going through. I hope the management will talk to their employees about it.
Green View Resort
Here’s another resort located at the southwestern part of the island. Greenview lies after a nearby small community in Cagbalete. You have to walk northeastwards from Pansacola Resort for about 10 – 15 minutes. The beachfront in this area is of inferior quality compared to Pansacola. Room rates range from P 1,500 or higher. They also have tents for rent in case you’re traveling in a shoestring budget. Unfortunately, I don’t have a contact number of this resort but since most tourists go in the eastern part of the island, I bet you would consider staying here in case you ran out of accommodations.
Pinay’s Beach Resort
This resort is where we stayed. It has a homey ambiance and accommodating staff. Nipa huts costs from P 1,000 (good for 2-4 pax) to P 5,000 (good for 10 pax). There are no tents. Both Green View and Pinay’s are small resorts compared to Pansacola. In addition, the quality of the beachfront is not as superb. The advantage, however, lies on its strategic location which is very near the small community where cheap goods of varying kinds can be bought.
As to food, Pinay’s only cook food upon request. They charge P 300 in cooking, washing the dishes and preparing the meal. In short the payment is for their labor only. If you don’t have raw food/materials, prices may vary according to the food that you want to eat.
#BackpackerTip: I love how they cook adobo at Pinay’s. It’s the type of adobo which moms usually cook. The perfect blend of soy sauce, vinegar and spices would leave you asking for more.
(Green View and Pinay’s Beachfront)
OTHER RESORTS IN THE ISLAND
Although I’ve only been to the three aforementioned resorts, the following resorts are also located in Cagbalete Island:
Joven’s Blue Sea Beach Resort
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +63 939 2899752, +63 917 9848505, +63 907 1739016
Villa Cleofas Resort
Email: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +63 917 8395852, +63 917 8143475
MVT Sto. Niño Resort
Phone: +63 921 7275398, +63 927 7774828
Doña Choleng Camping Resort
Phone: +63 910 8823346, +63 916 4270487, +63 926 6549958, +63 927 9680690
Villa Noe Resort
Phone: +63 929 217 6971, +63 905 519 3847, +63 909 524 1773, +63 910 416 2536
I hope in one way or another, this will help you in your trip to Cagbalete. Enjoy your vacation!