Cagbalete was not our intended destination that weekend. A day before our planned trip, my road trip buddy, Mike, sent me an SMS saying that he needed to be home for lunch by Sunday. So I opened google maps and looked for coastal towns & islands that fit these criteria – a drive that’s not more than 200 km from Manila, not over 3 hrs travel time, and most important, a picturesque landscape for our photography.
Cagbalaete is a popular beach destination off the coast of Mauban, Quezon. Its shores have plenty of white sand which are further exposed during low tides. You will find plenty of pine-looking trees, locally known as agoho, and lush mangrove forests.
The island is an ideal destination for backpackers on a tight budget. The resorts allow visitors to come with their tents and bring their own food.
Getting to Cagbalete
There are three ways of driving to Mauban. What we took was what I believe was the shortest & fastest route – via SLEX to Pagsanjan, Lusiana & Lucban.
In Mauban, we paid the registration/environmental fee of P 50 each at the Tourist Center. There, we made arrangements for a small boat to take us across Lamon Bay for P 2,000 (roundtrip) and for a room at Dona Choleng’s resort. There are bigger boats that ferry passengers for P 50 per person but we opted not to wait for it so we can spend more time in Cagbalete.
The 45-minute banca ride was an adventure as dark clouds loomed over the horizon. Heavy rains poured and the sea became choppy. Fortunately our boatman, Udoy, sealed our packs in heavy plastics bags which kept our stuff dry.
It was low tide when we reached Cagbalete so our banca couldn’t dock near Dona Choleng. Instead, we docked in Sabang which was the island’s main “town”.
We unloaded our packs and walked through the narrow alley in Sabang then reached its only concrete road that stretches about 300 meters. At the end of the road, we were met by one of the staff of Dona Choleng who asked us to board their “truck/jeep” for a 5-minute ride to the resort.
Where We Stayed
Dona Choleng offers different accommodation options. You can rent or bring a tent or stay in rooms at different rates. We got a room with 3 double-sized beds, an electric fan and its own bathroom for P 3,500 per night. Surprisingly, the management of the resort charged us P 100 for the 200 meter ride and an entrance fee of P 50 per person.
The island does not have its own source of power; electricity was only provided by the resorts’s generator which is turned on from 6 pm to 6 am daily.
Around the Island
After settling down and having our lunch, our boatman/guide rushed us into going on our island tour – reason, we had to be at the sandbar before high tide sets in.
Evening in Cagbalete
It was early March so Cagbalate wasn’t packed with visitors thus the evening was relatively quiet. We did hear some karaoke (as expected) and music from some visitors. The resort offered fire dancing after dinner to entertain its guests. Dawn offered the much needed tranquility. We spent the early morning bumming on the beach as we watched and took photos of the sun as it rose.
Tips & Additional Information
- The island gets crowded during the summer break, especially Holy Week.
- Charge up your gadgets or bring a power bank if you can’t survive without your mobile devices.
- 3G signal is weak, both networks.
- There are no public parking spaces at the pier. We were led by a local to private lot for parking at P 100 per night. Be prepared to leave your car key behind in case your car will be blocking other cars.
- There are two scheduled ferry trips daily:
- Mauban to Cagbalete : 10:00 am & 4:00 pm
- Cagbalete to Mauban : 7:30 am & 1:00 pm
- Be prepared to get wet when crossing the bay.
- Rent a banca to take you around the island. P 1,000 will be a reasonable price to offer for a day tour around the island.
- If you can manage, bring your own packs when boarding or getting off the boat in Mauban. Expect people to ask for “tips” for helping you out with your pack, no matter how small.
- Please bring your trash back home.