Recently, Quezon Province is becoming a popular backpacking destination because of its secluded white sand beaches perfect for weekend getaways. Leading the list of white sand beaches is Cagbalete Island, an underrated island with a mile long sandbar, just three hours from Manila.
By Private Transportation:
- Take Calamba Exit in SLEX and go straight to Los Banos.
- From Los Banos, follow the National Highway passing through the towns of Pila, Santa Cruz, Pagsanjan and Luisiana.
- Just before Lucban is a fork, one leading to Lucban Town Proper, and another leading to Mauban Port. Take the latter.
- Mauban Port is around 20-30 minutes away from the fork.
Taking private transportation to Mauban, Quezon means faster travel time, flexibility in schedule and quick food trip stop-over in the quaint town of Lucban or other neighboring towns in Laguna. Groups of more than 6-8 people can save more compared to public transportation due to Mauban’s proximity to Manila.
By Public Transportation:
- Ride the JAC Liner bus straight to Mauban Port for P270. Note, however, that there are only limited trips every day so we advise that you book beforehand. Travel time is 4-5 hours. Another option is to ride a bus from Cubao or Buendia to Lucena. Manila to Lucena via bus takes around 3-4 hours. Bus fare is P200.
- From Lucena Bus Terminal, ride a mini-bus to Mauban Port for P60-70. Travel time from Lucena to Mauban Port is around 1-2 hours.
Upon arriving in Mauban Port, register in the tourism office, pay for the environmental fee of P50/person, and ride a passenger boat to Cagbalete Island for P50. There’s a regular schedule of public boats to Cagbalete Island; however, waiting time varies depending on the number of tourists. On low season, they can limit the trips to two/day. On peak season, waiting time for boat can reach up to 3 hours. Alternatively, you may rent a private boat directly to your resort for P3,500, good for 8-10 people.
The surge of tourists travelling to Cagbalete Island means more resorts have opened in the island. Almost all resorts offer villas, huts and camping grounds, catering to different group sizes and types of tourists.
Our recommendation is Pansacola Beach Resort in the southern tip of the island. The resort probably has the widest beach front, expanding about a hundred meters long to the sea during low tide. Pansacola Beach Resort offers tent rentals at P300/night good for 2-3 people on top of the camping fee, but if you bring your own tent, you just have to pay for the camping fee of P250/head.
To save on expenses, our group (of 10 people) decided to bring a van and split fuel cost, toll and parking. Each paid only P250 for the transportation. Commuting, on the other hand, going to Mauban Port costs around P600 round-trip. This includes the bus to Lucena, plus bus or van from Lucena to Mauban Port.
We advise to leave Manila by sunrise so you’ll be in Quezon before lunch time. Once in the town of Mauban, go to the port beside the public market. You can buy your supplies, food and drinks in the market.
The resorts in Cagbalete Island have kiosks in Mauban Port where you can canvas for the cheapest private boat rates. Since we got there in the afternoon, we chose to take a private boat and decided to split the cost among our group. We paid P350 each for a private boat that can comfortably fit 10 people.
Located in Lamon Bay in the eastern coast of Luzon, Cagbalete Island is a 30 to 45-minute boat ride from Quezon. The beach front of the island is lined up with different types of budget resorts.
Again, we recommend Pansacola Beach Resort where the famous Cagbalete sandbar is. The wide beach is perfect for beach volleyball, soccer, ultimate frisbee and skim boarding.
Grilling and cooking your own food is available in all resorts. There are also sari-sari stores where you can buy snacks, drinks and light meals. Other resorts offer packed meals upon prior notice.
Here are some tips to keep your budget under P1,000:
- Transportation: P250 for a group of 10. This includes gas, toll fees along SLEX and parking in Mauban. Aside from being inconvenient, public transportation is more expensive in total.
- Boat to Cagbalete Island: P100 round-trip + P50 environmental fee. Though we hired a private boat, roughing it out for the public boat will help you save around P200.
- Accommodation: P250/head for tent pitching fee. This already includes the entrance fee. By bringing your own tent, you can cut accommodation expenses by half.
- Food: P300 each for pre-cooked food and food supplies and drinks bought in Mauban Port. Bringing meals and cooking your own food will help you save even more.
- Extra: P50 each for grilling fee and rental of cooking utensils.
- Avoid peak season if you can. The port, boats, beach and resorts get easily full. Otherwise, book your accommodations beforehand and prepare to wait in Mauban Port for the public ferry.
- Come prepared. Bring your own tent and meals to save on costs. Do your grocery in Manila if you can.
- 3G signal is weak for all networks.