Let me get it straight, I've been in this island for few times already because of 2 reasons: its accessibility without the hassle of spending too much.
Cagbalete Island (Quezon Province) is just 4-5 hours away from Manila wherein you can already experience white sand, pristine waters, and unspoiled shores. This island has a lot of resorts and accommodations so no need to worry about having a quick getaway (except for holidays and long weekends).
I would suggest staying at the resorts we've tried staying in: Villa Noe, Nilandingan Cove and Villa Cleofas (twice). I have read a lot of travel blogs highly recommending Pansacola Beach Resort but we have yet to try it soon though we find the rates a little higher compared to the resorts we've tried already.
So to summarize my Cagbalete experiences:
Vila Noe (April 2015)
First time to ride a public boat (I quite feared that boat might be overloaded haha) for only 50php per head + 50php environmental fee (required) in tourism office
Nilandingan Cove (January 2016)
This is the farthest cove according to the tourism office. If I remember it right, it took us 1.5 hrs to get there through private boat (PhP 2500 for 3 pax, round trip). We went to Yang-in Sandbar again.
I really commend their food (we even had snacks: Pancit Habhab) especially their liempo and bistek talong.
Villa Cleofas (August 2017)
We went there as a couple (Aug 12-13, initially intended to stargaze Perseid meteor shower that time but weather did not permit us to do so) and as a group of 10 friends (Aug 19-20). Initially, the first trip to this resort served as an ocular visit before our barkada's trip (FYI: I was the organizer of the trip and the OC-ness in me just can't help but plan everything thoroughly and I wanted my friends to relax in the next weekend getaway).
It might not have white sand like Villa Noe but it has sandbar and it's near the Bonsai Island (can be seen on high tide and you can visit it by foot when low tide!)
WE ACTUALLY WENT TO BONSAI ISLAND! We just usually pass by this small island during island-hopping. Nothing to do on a low-tide morning? This island is just across the resort and get to see mini pools, colorful fishes and mimic octopus.
How to get there:
Ride bus from JAC Liner Mauban route (Kamias/Buendia terminal) that departs at 3am. Alight from their Mauban terminal and ride a trike to Tourism office (you may tell the trike driver to wait for you outside the office as you pay for environmental fees or private boat fees if you don't have a prior contact person). After payment to Tourism office, you may now proceed to the exact port when public boat or private boat will accommodate you. ETA at Mauban port is 9am which means low tide in the island. Boat ride is usually 45 minutes (except for Nilandingan Cove which is the farthest cove for 1.5hrs). Alight from Sabang Port to ride habal-habal to Villa Cleofas.
Estimated Expenses (Villa Cleofas as reference):
Bus fare to Mauban - 270 php
Bus fare to Manila - 270 php
Environmental fee c/o tourism office
Private Boat - 6000 php for 10 pax (inlcusive of to and fro trip + island hop)
Contact Kuya Jerome for boat package 09194953545
Habal-habal ride - 25php/pax
Villa Cleofas entrance fee - 50php/pax
Hut accommodation for 12 pax - 3800php/night
Buffet - 900php/pax
You can opt to have Tuna/Corned Beef Meal for 150php/meal
I hope this post will help you plan your trip to Cagbalete island! If you have questions, you may leave comments below or feel free to share this (I'll be glad if you do!)
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Photo Credits to: Kayle Castro