How about Cagbalete Island in Quezon?
I know you’re also looking for an island weekend getaway. And being older and smarter like we are :), we’re done with crowd and beach parties, right? We just want to be in a laidback and calm beach, enjoy and relax.
Well, you don’t need to go to Batangas for the Nth time for a fantastic experience near Metro Manila, because there is a hidden jewel in Mauban, Quezon – the beautiful Cagbalete Island.
This 1,640-hectare island is home of pristine beach and sandbar with a diverse ecosystem. Before the summer ends, the awesome friends we’ve met in Calaguas invited us to another beach escapade, and this time there were more new friends for us! 🙂
How to get to Cagbalete Island
From Manila, one bus company will take you directly to Mauban, Quezon, and that is Jac Liner Bus! The first trip is as early as 4 AM, so you need to be there for the boarding time, which is 3 AM. Fare is about Php 277. If you missed the first trip, another trip to Mauban will be at 11 AM.
If that happens, and you need to be in Mauban early in the morning, just ride the bus going to Lucena Bus Terminal (Php 210), and there you’ll find buses going to Mauban for Php 50. The drop off point is the Mauban Public Market.
If you take the direct route, the last stop is the Jac Liner terminal in Mauban, and you’ll need to ride another tricycle (Php 10) going to Mauban Market.
The port is near the market, just a few meters walk. All travelers are required to pay Php 50 environmental fee and register. It was also a chance for us to rest after the 5-hour trip.
But we need to hurry up. The public boat going to Cagbalete was scheduled to depart that morning at about 10 AM, depending on how fast it will be full. Instead of walking, we rode a tricycle (Php 10) going to the port. Luckily, we made it! The boat was huge, able to accommodate quite a lot of passengers.
If you miss this morning trip, there are private boats that you can rent and bring you directly to your resort, just coordinate with the Local Tourism Office of Mauban. The fare depends on the number of passengers. A small boat for four people is about Php 2,000, while the bigger boats cost Php 4,000.
Another option: Via Private Car
Pass through SLEX until reaching the Calamba Exit, then follow the road that leads to Los Banos, Laguna. Just follow the National Highway passing through Pila, Santa Cruz, and Luisiana.
Before you reach Lucban, you will encounter two separate roads, one is bound to Lucban town proper, and the other one is going to Mauban. Of course, take the way going to Mauban. The port of Mauban is just another 30-minute ride. Just ask around the local, in case you need assistance.
One Reminder when you arrive in Cagbalete
After about a 45-minute boat ride, we’ve finally reached Cagbalete Island. The port is called Sabang Port.
And since it was low tide, the boat was unable to dock near the beach, so a few meters from the port, a raft (like a mini-boat) will fetch the passengers and bring them near the port. That should be the case, but before the raft could even reach us, several “bangkeros” with their motorboats flocked to us and offered a ride directly to our resort, Dona Choleng.
They told us that the resort was a long tiring walk from the port that it was better to ride the boat. We were caught by surprise! Everyone was talking and offering, even the people from the public boat were telling us to decide fast because they need to unload the boat fast. To cut it short, we were pressured. LOL! And we didn’t know what was going on; it was like chaos, so we gave in for Php 550 fare for eleven of us. That’s Php 50 each.
Almost all the passengers, mostly tourists, were also convinced. Not to mention, we all endured the balancing act as we transferred to another boat. We were okay, but this can be terrifying to some.
It was another bumpy boat ride passing through the longshore of Cagbalete until we reached Dona Choleng Resort.
Again, since it was low tide, the boat could only bring us at a particular part of the sea. Yes, it was like we were in the middle of the sea, like a hundred meters more from the shore. We all had no choice but to walk going to the beach.
At first, we were excited, but as we went on, we then realized it was tiring LOL!
The good part about it was to experience the abundant marine life of the sea. But Nah! I didn’t entertain the idea of sea creatures and organisms there as we wade into the water. It wasn’t fun anymore. LOL!
At the resort, the staff was surprised to know that we arrived from the sea. LOL! They told us that the resort was just a few meters walk from the port, and they even have a shuttle to transport us.
We were all like… “WHAT?!” LOL!
We took a deep breath, remained calm, and said, “Where is the lunch?!” LOL! We availed the package meals from Dona Choleng Resort. Food was served after a few minutes. We ate, and then we were okay. LOL! Charged to experience. 🙂
So if you’re going to travel to Cagbalete, you know what to do – go for the raft to bring you to the port and walk your way to the resort, better and more convenient.
But then again, despite the little inconvenience, Cagbalete is beautiful. No questions.
It is peaceful, laidback, an experience you need if you want to escape from the hustle of the city, especially the stress of the traffic.
That afternoon, we hired the same boatmen (yes, we forgive and forget fast!) for an island-hopping experience. The first stop, the famous sandbars of Cagbalete. This beauty is only visible during low tide at around 12 noon to 4 PM.
Part of the island hopping tour is the snorkeling. At that time, there was a low-pressure area (LPA) coming, so the weather wasn’t cooperative. But still, we tried it, and to cap it off, the snorkeling was a failure. Because of the big waves, the snorkeling activity seemed like a rescue operation. LOL! of people who tried to snorkel but couldn’t take the huge waves.
We were like, “we’re trying our best to get close to the boat, but we ain’t movin’.” LOL!
The best of Cagbalete can be experienced in the morning. People can swim because it’s not low tide, but for us (Eloi and I), it was a chance just to have some good laughs and take some pictures.
Are you looking for a hotel on your next trip? Check this out!
Where to Stay in Cagbalete Island?
We stayed at Dona Choleng resort (Check Rooms and Availability). One of the best in Cagbalete in terms of rooms and amenities. I will create a blog review soon. You may check the room rates and book here (Dona Choleng)
We availed a room for a big group like us. It was a pleasant stay, comfortable and perfect for families and group of friends. When you avail of the accommodation from Dona Choleng, you have the option to choose from below types of rooms.
Camping Tents – You may rent tents from them for a price of Php 400 (for two persons) and Php 500 for tents for three persons.
Huts – These are huge accommodations made of nipa huts or Kubo style of accommodation. This is good for groups—price range from Php 1,000 for Open Huts to 4,500 for the Island Huts.
Rooms – These have good modern designs perfect for couples or groups. Price ranges from Php 2,500 to Php 5,500.
Aside from Dona Choleng, Here are some of the hotels, resorts, and accommodation to check out if you plan to experience Cagbalete.
Villa Cleofas – Contact: 09178395852 / 09178143475 – Contact Person: Tess Reyes – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pansacola Beach Resort – 09175465901 /09285058633 – www.facebook.com/pansacolabeachresort
MVT Sto. Nino Resort – 09175621106 – Contact Person: Theresa Virrey / Website: mvtstoninoresort.net
Villa Noe Beach Resort – 9292176971 /09052054348 /09095241773 – Website: www.villanoe.com
Cagbalete Island Itinerary
Of course, you can be flexible in planning your trip. But this is just a suggested itinerary, especially if you’re taking the 4 AM first bus trip to Mauban.
3:00 AM – Call time at Jac Liner Cubao (near GMA)
4:00 AM – Departure to Mauban
9:00 AM – ETA at Mauban Port
9:30 AM – Boat Ride to Cagbalete
10:30 AM – Arrival in Cagbalete
11:00 AM – Arrival in Resort
12:00 Noon – Lunchtime
1:00 PM – Rest
2:00 PM – Start of island hopping
5:00 PM – Back to the resort
5:00 PM – free time and freshen up
8:00 PM – Dinner
10:00 PM – Sleep
6:00 AM – Wake Up
7:00 AM – Breakfast
8:00 AM – Freetime
10:00 AM – Prepare
12:30 – ETD Departure of the boat back to Mauban
1:30 PM – ETA in Mauban
2:30 PM – Jac Liner Bus. If you’ll be unable to catch this bus you have to go via Lucena.
Cagbalete Island Budget and Expenses
Below is your estimated budget and expenses for a two days one night trip to Cagbalete Island for one person.
The bus ride from Cubao to Mauban (Round Trip) – 554
Tricycle from Mauban Bus Terminal to Port (Round Trip)– Php 20
Environmental Fee – Php 50
Boat Fare to Cagbalete (Round Trip) – Php 100
Accommodation – Lowest of Php 500 for tent and highest is Php 5,500 for a huge room
Boat Rental from Mauban to Cagbalte, in case you’re unable to catch the public boat – Php 2,000 to Php4,000
Base on this budget, you can explore Cagbalete Island on a budget for Php 1,500 per person, or you can go for extra lavish to Php 3,000 per person.
Things to do in Cagbalete Island
- Swimming – this is best during the morning when there’s enough water on the beach and not low tide. You better wake up early to enjoy this, so get enough sleep okay and avoid drinking too much. Hahaha! Low tide in Cagbalete can be extreme like even you’re too far from the shore, the water level is still like below your knees. Plus, the beach in Cagablete is so rich in marine life that a considerable part of it is filled with seagrass and aquatic organism. If you’re a biologist, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re not, better avoid entertaining the idea that there might be some organisms that could lure beside or on your feet.
- Beach bumming – Cagbalete has spectacular views and relaxing island vide. You can just sit at the main beach and enjoy the view, or when you rent a boat, take advantage of the beauty of the sandbars.
- Snorkeling – there are parts of the island that’s good for snorkeling. The boatmen know this spot, and they will take you there probably after exploring the sandbar. You can bring your snorkeling gear, or you can rent it with the bangkeros for a minimal fee like 100 pesos.
- Bird watching – During low tide, there are lots of birds searching for food at some parts of the beach.
- Beach Volleyball – You can find a volleyball net at the beach. If you’re a sports enthusiast, it’s something worthwhile to do. You’ll enjoy it, and it’s also good exercise.
- Frisbee – If you want to be like “Derek Ramsey” for a day, you can play frisbee at the long shores of Cagbalete
- Visit sandbars – This is a must when you’re in Cagbalete. Its sandbars in the afternoon are just impressive.
- Visit Bonsai Island – There’s a lot of small trees in Cagbalete. It took time for me to realize that those are Bonsai.
- Visit the lighthouse in Baliscar Island – This is part of the itinerary when you hire a boat to explore the Cagbalete and nearby islands.
Cagbalete Island Travel Tips
- Bring lots of water, especially during the summer! When you avail of the meal package at Dona Choleng, they’ll just give you a small bottle of soft drinks or bottled water during the meal. Sadly, during our time, they’re not offering unli-water. I suggest you can walk further near the area where locals live, and you can buy bottled water there. Of course, it’s a bit expensive.
- Electricity on the entire island is only available from 6 AM to 6 PM. For some resorts, they use generators to extend power until midnight.
- If you’re on a budget, resorts are offering tents for rent for Php 400 to Php 500 per night. Better avail this during summer. If you go there during the rainy season, you know what to do, get a room. 🙂
- Swimming time is best enjoyed early in the morning while it’s high tide (or late in the afternoon)
- There’s no loud party or sound system during the night on the entire island.
- Be mindful of the boat schedule in Cagbalete and also the bus schedules of Jac Liner (4 AM and 2 PM) in Mauban.
- You have the option to bring your food and cook there, but resorts are also offering package meals. Just contact them ahead of time.
- There are a lot of adventures and activities to do in Cagbalete Island – like swimming, island hopping, snorkeling, camping, playing frisbee or volleyball, watching the sunrise and sunset, and even bird watching.
- It is better to do it the DIY way. But there are also some options for tour packages. Just search online.
- It’s better to experience Cagbalete on the weekend, 2D1N. Not that fun if you want to do it for a day tour.
Going Back to Manila
From Cagbalete Island, two scheduled public boats are going to Mauban at around 7 AM and 1 PM. We were able to catch the 1 PM schedule. At last, we were able to experience the raft or mini-boat that took us to the big motorboat going to mainland Quezon province.
Once you get to Mauban, be sure to catch the Jac Liner buses going to Manila, the schedule is 4 AM and 2 PM.
Verdict for Cagbalete
The best thing about traveling is its spontaneity, no matter how you plan it, there are still some problems that may arise along the way. But what’s important is we learn from it, we grow.
And all in all, Cagbalete is peaceful and beautiful. This is perfect for those who want just to enjoy and relax, not minding about work and the stress of the city.
Batangas or Zambales? I know you’ve explored them enough. Do something different. Go to Cagbalete. Make your weekend more memorable.
For more details about the latest weather condition on the island, check Accuweather here.
Cagbalete Island Map
First published on August 21, 2015
Updated on May 4, 2018 / Updated 2020