Cagbalete Travel Guide – Quezon’s pristine island

Quezon is the eighth largest province in the Philippines. A part of this huge province covers the isthmus that connects Bicol Peninsula to the mainland Luzon. It is that same strip of land that lies between the Ragay Gulf and the Philippine Sea. Given its geographic location, it is not surprising at all that this province is also the home to several island destinations, one of which is the pristine island of Cagbalete.

Cagbalete Island

Cagbalete is part of the municipality of Mauban that lies approximately 157 kilometres away from Metro Manila. Given its proximity to the Capital of the Philippines, it is no surprise that for years it has become one of the go-to destinations for quick island getaways.

It may not be as famous as the Boracay, El Nido, or Coron, but travelers consider the island perfect for an island adventure. It has all the island must-haves that beach bums could ask for. From fine white sand, pristine and turquoise water, glorious sandbars, and even colourful marine life. The island is also partly developed which makes it perfect for people who would love to travel either in comfort or just like an island’s castaway.

If you are planning to have an island escape, then you must include Cagbalete Island on your list.

 

Getting to and around Cagbalete Island

Getting to the Island is a combination of land and sea travel. See details below:

How to go to Cagbalete Island?

Metro Manila (Cubao) – Lucena – Mauban (Public Transport, 4 – 5 hours)

Ride a JAC Liner bus to Lucena Central Grand Terminal in Quezon. From there, you can take a minibus to the Mauban Port. Round trip bus ride per person could cost PhP 500 –  600 (USD 9.50 – 11.50).  The port has public and private boat rental services that can take you to the resort of your choice.

Metro Manila – South Luzon Expressway – Calamba – Mauban (Private Vehicle, 3 – 4 hours)

Depart from Metro Manila via the South Luzon Expressway and exit at Calamba Toll Gate. From there, head straight to Mauban, Quezon. For a group of 4 – 5, the ride to Mauban Port could cost Php 600 – 750 (USD 12 – 15) per person.  There are guarded parking areas at the port itself and you can leave your vehicle off to the island. Then take a public or private boat that can take you to the resort of your choice.

 

Private boat ride from Mauban Port will range from PhP 1,500 (USD 29, for 2 persons) to PhP 5,000 (USD 96, for 20 persons). If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, you can opt to ride a public boat which will cost PhP 200 (USD 4 for round trip, per person). However, you’ll have to endure the long lines especially during peak seasons.

Getting around Cagbalete Island

The only way to explore the Island is by hiring a boatman. There are several activities in the Island that you can try. The Cagbalete Island tour which is good for two hours, ranges from PhP 1,000 – 1,500 (USD 19 – 29) for 5 – 7 individuals.

You can book your island tour at the resort where you’ll be staying at.

 

Estimated overall transportation expenses

The estimated overall transportation expenses, including boat rides and island tours, could range from PhP 1,000 – 3,000 (USD 20 – 57) per person. This depends on the options you will take and the number of people in your group.

 

The bluest of blue waters

Even before arriving at the Island and while being cradled by the boat and calm waves, you’ll already feel that the Island has great adventures in store for you. It is one of the bluest and the cleanest sea that you’ll ever see. It gives off a distinct calming effect as you get lost watching the gentle waves. You may even catch a glimpse of schools of fish jumping out of the waters from time to time!

Blue-Sea - Cagbalete

 

As you approach some parts of the island and the sea becomes even more shallow, you’d see how clean and clear the water is. It gives you that perfect aquamarine colour that is just too difficult to unsee.

Aquamarine-sea--Cagbalete
Cagbalete Island Activities

Here’s a list of activities that you shouldn’t miss in Cagbalete:

1. Swim in shallow waters – Its water is relatively shallow compared to other islands in the Philippines. During high-tide, you can walk a kilometre or two away from the shore and the water will still be just waist-high or even lower. It is perfect for those who just want to wade in the water and for non-swimmers alike. Note though that the high tides happen early morning till around 10:00 AM. The low tide will start after 10:00 AM till around 4:00 PM.

Shallow Waters - Cagbalete

 

2. Visit the Mangrove Forest – The Island has an area where mangroves abound and shelter all the marine animals. It serves as the breeding ground for fishes, too. Don’t be surprised to see schools of fish swimming near the roots of the mangroves.

Mangrove-Forest Cagbalete

 

3. Snorkel in Cagbalete – There are snorkelling sites in the Island that are rich with multi-coloured starfishes and sea urchins. Unfortunately, some corals have already bleached and there’s not much fish in certain spots anymore.

 

Snorkel Cagbalete

4. Enjoy the Yang-in Sandbar – Given the Island’s sea tides, it has an abundance of sandbars. One of them is the Yang-in Sand Bar which is a must-see. The Yang-in Sandbar is near the Mangrove forest. Depending on the tide, the area could either be a shallow crystal-clear playground or a long stretch of white sandbar.

Cagbalete Island Yang in sandbar

 

Where to stay in Cagbalete?

Here are some of the resorts where you could stay overnight to fully enjoy your vacation in Cagbalete Island:

1. Pansacola Resort – Looking for a sweet and quiet escape, Pansacola could be your best option. The resort is quiet and you can definitely enjoy chilling in the place. Sleep on its white sand under the coconut trees, and enjoy the calm sanctuary the island exudes. The beach is not as crowded as the other accommodation choices in Cagbalete since Pansacola is literally the only resort on that side of the Island. There are fire-dance and hula performances at night to entertain all their guests. Check out some of the important details below:

Pansacola Resort Cagbalete

 

Tent: Pitching fee is PhP 200 (USD 4). Tent rental is PhP 300 (USD 5.75) per night, good for three persons.
Kubo (nipa hut): Starts at PhP 2,000 (USD 38, good for four persons) to PhP 4,000 (USD 77, good for 12 persons). Pansacola also has cottages that could fit in 20 individuals. Best to contact them to know how much it will cost:
Air-conditioned rooms: Starts at PhP 3,500 (USD 67, good for two individuals) to PhP 9,500 (USD 182, good for 8 persons). You can fit more people in your rooms for additional PhP 500 (USD 9.6) per head. 
Food: You can bring your own food, or bring something to cook while in the resort. If you value convenience, you could avail of their food package which includes 3 meals and an afternoon snack for only PhP 950 (USD 18.2) per day per person.
Electricity: The resort’s power runs on generator from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
Bathroom: Public toilets and shower rooms are available. Some rooms do have their own bathroom.
Contact: Pansacola’s Facebook Page

 

2. Villa Noe Beach – If you’d like to relax but would prefer a beach with more activities and fellow travelers you could interact with, Villa Noe might suit you. The beach is not as isolated as Pansacola, and if you’re more into socialising and making new friends, the resort can do just that. In the evening, they have a full sound system to entertain their guests with upbeat music that you could listen to while swimming or simply watching the stars. They also have fire dancers as the main attraction for the night.

 

Villa-Noe-Resort Cagbalete

Tent: Pitching fee is PhP 300 (USD 5.75). Tent rental starts at PhP 400 (USD 7.65) to PhP 800 (USD15.30) depending on the size.
Kubo (nipa hut): Starts at PhP 1,700 (USD 32.15, good for 2 persons) to Php 8,500 (USD 163, good for 20 persons).
Air-conditioned rooms: Starts at PhP 4,500 (USD 87, good for four individuals) to PhP 5,500 (USD 106, good for 7 persons).
Food: You can bring your own food, or bring something to cook while in the resort. Cooking area could be used for free. If you do not have cooking utensils, you can rent at the resort for only PhP 100 (USD 2). You could also buy coal. They also have a food package which includes 3 meals for only PhP 1000 (USD 18.2) per day per person.
Electricity: The resort’s power runs on generator from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
Bathroom: Public toilets and shower rooms are available. Some rooms do have their own bathroom.
Contact: Villa Noe’s Website

 

3. Aquazul Hotel and Resort – The only resort in Cagbalete that boasts a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi. This resort is also perfect for team-building activities and for those travelers who would love to be on an island without compromising comfort. The resort has 24/7 electricity and free boat transfers from and to the port. Check out our resort review through this link.

AquazulResort-182

 

Air-conditioned kubo (nipa hut): Starts at PhP 3,500 (USD 67, good for 2 persons). You can fit more people in your rooms for additional PhP 500 (USD 9.6) per head. Rates include free breakfast.
Air-conditioned Villa: Starts at PhP 4,500 (USD 87) to PhP 5,000 (USD 100). Rates include free breakfast.
Food: You can buy food and drinks in their clubhouse. Breakfast is normally included for free.
Electricity: The resort’s power runs 24/7.
Contact: Aquazul’s Website

 

Harv Experiences

Here are top harv experiences you shouldn’t miss while in Cagbalete Island:

1. Witness both the sunrise and the sunset – Sunrise and sunsets in the Philippines are simply the best and you can witness both depending on which side of the island you’re at.

Cagbalete Sun set

 

2. Sleep on the sand, under the trees – Given the Island’s extreme tide conditions, you’ll be spending hours doing nothing. Take that sweet time to lie on the sand, read a book, or even sleep under the coconut trees. Experience serenity like no other.

Cagbalete

3. Gaze at the stars – It is really a great pleasure to lie on the cold sand and gaze at the stars from the Quezon’s night sky.

Cagbalete-Milkyway

 

Tips and reminders when visiting Cagbalete

1. Summer is definitely the best time to visit Cagbalete Island, but expect the island to be a lot more crowded during the summer weekends. Even their Tourist Centre is jam-packed with people waiting for their turn to ride the public boat.

2. Speaking of boats, it would be best to charter your own boat than to take the public one. You wouldn’t have to wait for the long queue plus you have the liberty to control your time of arrival to, and departure from, the island.

3. The Island doesn’t have electricity between 6:00 AM till 6:00 PM. Some resorts might offer to activate your cottage’s power at a cost per hour.

4. Bring extension wires. Some rooms may have limited number of sockets that wouldn’t be enough for your gadgets.

5. Maximise the high-tide time to swim and enjoy the crystal clear water. And maximise the low-tide time to go to the sandbar and/or relax.

6. On your way back home, there’s a bus straight from Mauban, Quezon to Metro Manila that leaves at 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM, respectively. Just ask the locals / tricycle drivers to bring you to JAC Bus Terminal.

7. It would be a lot more practical to travel with a big group (at least 7- 9) via public transport.

 

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