Unplanned Trip to a Beautiful Island near Metro Manila

If you are planning to pull off a remarkable vacation near Manila by using just your week end offs, then this post is for you. If you are planning to swim on a pristine beach, stroll on a beautiful sand bar, and do snorkeling and island hopping, then you might want to choose Cagbalete Island in Quezon.


Cagbalete Island is located off the coast of Mauban, Quezon. It is just a bus and a boat ride away. We decided to take this route due to its accessibility and the variety of activities and adventures that can be done.

To get there, we rode a bus to Lucena at DLTB Gil Puyat Station. Fare from Manila to Lucena is around P210 per passenger. We took the first trip which leaves at 3AM because we want to catch the public boat ride to Cagbalete. Surprisingly, the bus really leaves at 3AM even if there are only five passengers. And since its very early, there were no traffic and we were already at Lucena at around 6:30AM. We ate breakfast at Lucena Grand Terminal, then rode another bus headed to Mauban, Quezon. The bus ride is about an hour of provincial life sight seeing.

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Upon arrival at Mauban, we took a short walk to their port. Alternatively, there are tricycle drivers offering a ride to the port for only P10. The port’s ticketing office is very comfortable and organized. There are plenty of benches and information desks of resorts at Cagbalete located around the office. We paid P50 each for the environmental fee and reserved P70 each for the public boat. We waited for our boat headed to Sabang Port which left by 10 AM. The port is very near the public market and it is advisable to buy foods at Mauban because the goods at the resorts are very expensive.

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Upon arrival at Sabang port, you can either take a small boat or trek to the resorts surrounding the island. And since we do not have a planned resort to stay in, we took the offer of the approachable boat man of Doña Choleng Resort, Kuya Ompong. We decided to trek towards the resort because we wanted to observe the community in the island. Kuya Ompong, also advised us to just walk because the tide is already low and boats usually cannot dock near the shore. If you opt to rent a boat for P500, be forewarned that you still have to walk from the boat to the shore in order to get to the resort, roughly the same distance it might take you if you walk from the port to the near resorts.

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We were greeted by the accommodating staffs of Doña Choleng Resort. They offered us one of their best rooms complete with bath tubs for half of its price because it is not peak season. They also have a canteen where you can order island foods like fishes and squids. They also offer plenty of activities like Kayak, Beach Volley Ball and Island Hopping. We chose Island Hopping with Kuya Ompong. We would highly recommend the resort. If you plan on just camping, there is a location in the island called Tent Place where you can pitch your tent for free. For reviews of the different resorts in the island you may visit this blog article of My Backpacking Diaries.

After eating our lunch, we went island hopping. We were like kids very excited for another adventure. The first thing we discovered is that the tide at noon til afternoon is very shallow. We had to walk for 15 mins to reach our boat which was docked almost halfway into the sea. But this is all part of the adventure and we were amazed by the sea weeds touching our feet.

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The boat ride around the island was one of the most adrenaline-filled boat ride we had. It was just a small boat, so splashes of sea water sometimes enter our boat making the experience fascinating. The first stop we had was in what Kuya Emong called “Buntis Island” because of its shape.

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It was a rocky island with gray sand filled with crushed corals. We were fascinated with the holes on the island rocks that resembled mini bath tubs. There were plenty of crabs on the rocks but surprisingly there were no sea urchin.


When we were there the tide is already low, so we did not witness the tides crushing on these rock formations. But it did not lessen the experience because we explored the whole area.

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Our next stop is the Yang In sand bar of Cagbalete which is perfect for picture taking. Sand ripples adds to the beauty of the sand bar. There were mangroves sprouting on the sand near the shore.

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Our island hopping tour ended with exploring the marine life. There were only few fishes and corals compared to our previous snorkeling experiences. But we still enjoyed exploring under the sea (or barely under because we were just snorkeling not scuba diving). We saw plenty and different-colored of starfishes.


The next day, we had an early morning swim to catch the sunrise. Morning is the perfect time to swim at the island because the tide is still high. Although, the water level at 6AM is only at thigh level.

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Then it was time to say good bye to Cagbalete. We walked again back to Sabang port to catch the 1PM public boat ride and the 2PM bus ride at Mauban headed back to Manila. JAC Liner has a route direct from Mauban to LRT Gil Puyat and Cubao which leaves at 2PM.

Visit this gallery for the full set of photos.


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