The Story

Last July, we were looking for a serene place to spend our long weekend vacation. You might be wondering if there is any long weekend during that month , but we had. 🙂  My current company follows US Holidays, and thus we had a holiday because of US Independence Day last July 4.

So what might be the best place or thing to do?

a. Go hiking, pinch a tent on a top of a mountain? Ahm, maybe, but we are not mountaineers!

b. Check-in in a farm resort? Sounds good. But we already did that.

c. How about having an island getaway and get lost? That’s a great idea!

Obviously, we had selected option C. It just proves that being the last is not bad. 😀

We did some google searches and visited some instagram feed of our friends to get some ideas and places to have on our list. We had about 4 places in our list. We ended up choosing Cagbalete Island at Mauban, Quezon as it is not that far from Manila and also, the island seems to have a unique personality.

Cagbalete Private Boat

Travelling to Cagbalete Island.

Looking Back: Cagbalete Island

A few years ago, Cagabalete is known to be one of the unspoiled island here in the Philippines that does not only offer white sand coastline but the quietness and a mere attachment to nature. However, the eastern part of the island has been so known, that it now has a number of resorts offering accommodations. These resorts are being patronize by many tourists even after the summer season.

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View of Cagablete Island a few kilometers away.

It is a bit hard to think that once, Cagbalete, a closed and private property, has turned into a known summer destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Most of the resorts in  the island are being managed by the relatives and family members of the owner of the private property. It seems to be a corporation to me. Haha.

Villa Pilarosa: Hidden in Mangroves

Given that we want to achieve serenity as much as possible, we did not opt to get a resort, especially the very known ones like Villa Noe, Dona Choleng, Villa Cleofas, Pansacola, MVP, to name a few. Luckily, we’ve found out that there is a resort on the other side of the island that is named Villa Pilarosa.Villa Pilarosa is located in Cagbalete 2 while most of the popular resorts are in Cagbalete 1. Yes, the island is divided into two, and these two are barangays of Mauban. 🙂

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Mangroves right in front of Villa Pilarosa. Shot taken after noon. Cloudy skies.

As others say, Villa Pilarosa is a little bit hidden because of vast number of mangroves fencing the property. You won’t even know that there is a resort in there if you just passed-by your boat. (Yes, I wondered at first where is the path to the resort when we arrived.)

This duyan will welcome you once you entered Villa Pilarosa.

This duyan will welcome you once you entered Villa Pilarosa.

Villa Pilarosa is the only resort, at least the one we know, on that side of the island. It is just beside Yang-In, known as the best place in the island to swim, well, on a high tide. Oh, wait! Did I even told you that Cagbalete is different from all the beaches out there due to its low tide uniqueness? Shoreline can be as far as 1 kilometer away from the original point when it is low tide! Yes, and when it is low tide, you can’t even swim because every corner is surrounded with beautifully crafted-sandbars made by waves in the Lamon Bay. But don’t be sad as you’d be welcomed by the seabed where you are free to explore! It is like walking in the sea!

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Mangroves and rising water right after sunset.

Actually, we’re caught by these high and low tide thing, since the water rises rapidly after noon and it resides fast in the morning. So, for guys who wanted to swim, make your schedule around 4pm and beyond or else, you’ll be caught swimming on sand when you do it in the morning! Haha. Just kidding.

Where shall I go?

Where shall I go?

To those who are wondering about our itinerary, here it is:

2D1N DIY Itinerary / Travel Guide to Cagbalete Island

Day 1

12:00 AM –  Departure: Dau, Mabalacat Bus Terminal

1:15 AM – Arrival: Kamias, Cubao JAC Liner Bus Station

1:30 AM – Departs to Lucena Grand Terminal

4:00 AM – Arrival: Lucena Grand Terminal

5:30 AM – Depature: NCR-Rienton Mini Bus to Mauban

6:30 AM – Touchdown at Mauban

7:00 AM – Entrance Fee Payment at Environmetal Ticketing Office

7:10 AM – Welcome aboard! Private boat to Villa Pilarosa

8:00 AM – Touchdown at Villa Pilarosa

9:00 AM – Island Hopping at Bonsai Island & Snorkeling

12:00 PM – Back to Villa Pilarosa

2:00 PM – Check-In, rest, snack, chitchat, nap

4:00 PM –  Wake-up call; Brief walk around Pilarosa

6:00 PM – Prepares dinner; Dinner Time

9:00 PM – Sleep time

Day 2

5:00 AM- Wake-up Call

6:00 AM- Breakfast

8:00 AM – Tour around the island (or the sea bed :-P)

1:00 PM – Back to room, packed-up

1:45 PM – Check-out

2:15 PM – Arrival: Mauban

3:00 PM – Departs to Lucena Grand Terminal (UV)

4:00 PM – Arrival: Lucena

5:00 PM – Departure: Cubao

10:00 PM – Arrival: JAC Liner Bus Station; Departs to Dau

11:30 PM – Arrival:  Dau Bus Terminal

If you would like to use this itinerary, I am suggesting that you take the first or second trip of JAC Liner going to Lucena. Then, take the NCR Rienton Line minibus to maximize your time. There is also a trip going directly to Mauban but it only departs Cubao at 4am and 11am. Both trips have nearly the same time of arrival to Mauban. Expect that travel time will be a bit longer when you decide to leave Manila at a later time since traffic conditions will be different. Going back to Manila is way more time eater as the bus will take many stops and is hurdled by heavy traffic. To know more about trip schedule of JAC Liner, visit: http://jacliner.com/routes.html

NCR Rienton Line bus passing the road of Mauban, Quezon.

NCR Rienton Line bus passing the road of Mauban, Quezon.

If you decide to maximize your time, then you would also want to hire a private boat that will bring you directly to the resort. Private boat rates starts at P1,500, good for up to 2pax, round trip). On the other hand, public boat will leave Mauban port at 9:30 AM (Anthony) and 1:00 PM (Neneng); the said boats will leave Sabang port  (Cagbalete Island) by 10AM and 1:45PM. Fare is P70, one way. These time frames can change depending on passenger load and weather conditions. Public boat will only dock to Sabang Port and you still need to negotiate a private boat that will bring you to the resort. Mang Pando, the resident boatman of Villa Pilarosa can fetch you from Sabang to the resort and bring you back for P500. For us, having a private boat is a better choice since we can set our own time when we will go and leave the island, however, with an additional cost. If you plan to take the public boat, advise the resort before hand so you’ll get fetch at Sabang port.

Registration Desk at Mauban's Environmental Office.

Registration Desk at Mauban’s Environmental Office.

Public boat (MB Anthony) on Mauban Port.

Public boat (MB Anthony) on Mauban Port.

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Plan your island hopping and snorkeling, if you want to have one, in the morning especially if it is already rainy season. We’re caught by heavy rains in the middle of the sea when we are on our way back to resort around noon time.

Sonny and I on your way to Bonsai Island. Oops. Sorry. We haven't worn our safety vest yet. Haha.

On your way to Bonsai Island. Oops. Sorry. We haven’t worn our safety vest yet. Haha.

Island Hopping adventure in Bonsai Island.

Island Hopping adventure in Bonsai Island.

The one and only bonsai tree.

The one and only bonsai tree.

Prepare your swimming attire and swim during late afternoon. You can also borrow the “balsa” from the caretakers. It is free to use. However, on our stay, we neither swim nor use the balsa because the current setting that time is like on the 2013 Horror Thai movie, Pee Mak Phrakanong. If you had watched the movie, you can imagine how it was. Maybe it is  just me, aggregating the scene. Haha! During our stay, we are only two groups that are booked at Villa Pilarosa. The other group chose to use the balsa but they we’re so afraid and borrowed life vest from Mang Pando. Better to be safe, right? Water is at chest level during late afternoon.

You can’t swim on the area during morning since the nearest coast then will be full of sea urchins. During our stay, we woke and there is a mild rain. We don’t have any water-proof cases/protector for our camera/smartphone. Luckily, we had brought a transparent pouch and used it as a case. It does the job but photos are a bit blurry. Fortunately, weather become better as noon time approaches.

A cemeted path in front of the resort going to the shore. Shot taken during a mild rain.

A cemented path in front of the resort going to the shore. Shot taken during a mild rain.

This area is submerged on a chest deep water when it is high tide.

This area is submerged on a chest deep water when it is high tide.

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We own the entire shore. 😛

Do someone have any intentions joining this buddy?

Do someone have any intentions joining this buddy?

Mangroves starting to spurt and grow.

Mangroves starting to grow.

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There is no Globe cellular signal in this part of Cagbalete Island. Sun Cellular/Smart signal can be found at some areas but 2G/3G mobile data service is not dependable. Electricity is available from 6pm to 6am only. Just enjoy your island getaway and postpone updating your instagram feed or facebook timeline. Tip: Do it at Lucena Terminal, mobile internet is fast (Globe) 🙂

Some more pictures:

Look! An orange and blue starfish!

Look! An orange and blue starfish!

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Presenting you our boat! Haha.

Exploring the sea bed.

Exploring the sea bed.

A jelly fish stucked in the sand.

A jelly fish stucked in the sand.

Do you wonder what are these?

Do you wonder what are these?

This photo answers the last one.

This photo answers the last one.

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Sight in front of our room.

Accommodation and Room options:

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This is where we stay:

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Actual Expenses (for two pax)

Dau to Cubao (Aircon Bus) –  278

Cubao to Lucena (Aircon Bus) – 436

Lucena to Mauban (Minibus) – 108

Tricycle Fare to Mauban Office – 20

Environmental Fee -100

Tricycle Fare to Private Boat – 27

Private Boat (round trio for two)- 1,500

Accommodation (Air-conditioned) – 2,000

Island Hopping – 600

Tricycle to UV Terminal – 20

Mauban to Lucena (Van) – 120

Lucena to Cubao – 436

Cubao to Dau – 278

Food – 700

Total Expenses: P6,623 (two persons)

Do-It-Yourself Trip

If you plan to DIY this trip, create a budget of P2,500/person if you are coming from Metro Manila. It will be slightly cheaper  (around P2,000) if you’ll take the public boat. Tricycle fares can also be omitted since the tourism office and terminals are just a 5-10min walking distance.

When we are in our way home, we decided to ride the UV going to Lucena. This is more comfortable than the mini bus and the additional fare is only P6.

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Are we visiting Cagbalete again? Definitely yes!

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Contact Persons:

Andrew (Villa Pilarosa) –  09993663884

Mang Pando – 09073843253

Boatman (Private/from Mauban) – 09127517034

You can visit Villa Pilarosa’s facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Villa-Pilarosa-Cagbalete-Island