Okay, so! I know there are a ton of blogs out there detailing how you can get to Cagbalete Island for less than two thousand pesos (check out my favorite from The Lost Kids PH and The Shoestring Diary). But, here’s the kicker. Most of those posts involve groups of people no less than five. Well, the boyfriend and I went to Cagbalete last weekend, and we each only spent a grand total of Php 1,900!
Honestly, I was kind of amazed with how we managed to spend so little money, considering it was just the two of us. So I decided to make my first ever actual travel blog post! (Clearly, my other travel posts don’t count since they just talk about the place in general, rather than detailing how to get there, how much everything cost, etc. Like I said in a previous entry, I don’t really blog for an audience.)
How it happened:
I was sick and tired of the cold weather. It seemed like the rainy season just wouldn’t let go. I needed the beach, stat. So as soon as the skies showed signs of clearing, we decided to spend the weekend somewhere warm and sunny. A search of various travel blogs yielded entries on the little island of Cagbalete, which, with its clear waters and coconut trees, seemed just like what we needed. So we booked bus tickets to Mauban for the weekend of February 11 to 12, deciding that this would be our pre-Valentine’s Day date since we’d be too busy on the 14th to do anything.
How we got there
We were at the tail-end of the pay period (petsa de peligro, according to my boyfriend – I learned something new today!) so instead of shelling out for gas we commuted to Mauban, which is the jump-off point for the island. We took a JAC Liner bus from the Cubao terminal which we booked in advance through Biyaheroes.com. There are only two trips going straight to Mauban and seats sell fast, so it’s better to buy your tickets early.
(Another alternative is to take a bus from Cubao or Buendia to Lucena. Then from the Lucena Bus Terminal, take another bus to Mauban.)
From the JAC Liner terminal in Mauban, we took a tricycle to Mauban Port. There, you’ll have a variety of options to get to the island. You can hire a private boat which goes anyway from Php 2,000 to Php 4,000, or you can ride the public boat for Php 70 per head. Obviously, since we wanted to save money, we took the public boat. There are several boats, but they’re only operational from 10AM to 3PM, so if you can’t plan your trip around that time frame, better have some extra cash to rent a private boat.
If you get a private boat, they can take you to the docks of the resort you’re staying at. But since we took the public boat, we got off at the public docks which I found out is called Sabang Port (what is it with tourist spots and having public docks called Sabang? There’s the port going to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the port going to Caramoan, the Sabang Ferry Terminal in Puerto Galera, and now this one on Cagbalete – so weird). From there, you can either walk to the resort you’re staying at, or take a habal-habal for Php 70 per head. We decided to take the habal-habal, and good thing too because the pathways leading to the resorts are so muddy. But hey, you do you, friend. Maybe the mud is good for your skin?
When leaving Cagbalete, we found out that the resort where we were staying had a private ferry that took guests from their docks back to Mauban Port for Php 150, so we decided to take that ferry so we wouldn’t have to go back to Sabang Port. From Mauban Port, we took a tricycle to the JAC Liner terminal in Mauban.
Where we stayed:
We stayed at Villa Cleofas. They have good facilities like beach volleyball, table tennis, karaoke, horseback riding, and boats for snorkeling and island hopping. They also have a fridge and cooler that you can use at no charge, a stove you can cook at for Php 30, charcoal for sale at Php 20 per bag, and grilling stations which you can use for free. Instead of getting rooms, we chose to camp it out. Their tent-pitching area is located beneath the cover of a thick copse of trees, so it’s perfect for taking a break from the sunshine. Behind the tents is a small building which houses the communal restrooms.
Because I am a terrible travel blogger, I have no pictures of Villa Cleofas’s amenities, so have a photo of the sunrise instead.
(Be warned that I’m not the maarte kind of traveler. As I’ve been told numerous times by my more discerning friends, my definition of ‘clean’ and ‘comfortable’ is not everyone’s. As long as the floors are free of dirt and the toilets can be flushed, I consider a bathroom clean; and as long as I can sleep, I consider myself comfortable. So take my assessment with a grain of salt.)
You contact Villa Cleofas at their website here, or at the following numbers: (0917) 839 5852 / (0917) 814 3475 / (0919) 220 5000.
What to do:
Apparently, one of the more famous features of Cagbalete Island is the Yang-in Sandbar – but if you don’t have the money to hire a boat to take you there, I highly suggest staying at Villa Cleofas because this little slice of paradise has a sandbar of its own! You can walk to it from the shore, slip into the surrounding water for a swim, and even just lie down on the sand during low tide.
Aside from this, there’s a ton of stuff to do at Villa Cleofas: island hopping, snorkeling, beach volleyball, table tennis, horseback riding, and kayaking, amongst others. But for those like me and the boyfriend who aren’t exactly flush, walking around, taking pictures, and swimming is enough to occupy your weekend.
Additionally, we had some time to kill in Mauban before our bus left for Manila, so we went to see the Rizal Hill Park. No photos because our phones and power banks were dead by then, but the view is nice and the entrance fee is only Php 10, so if you have the time, check it out!
Budget and expenses:
|JAC Liner bus to Mauban (booked through Biyaheroes.com)||Php 277|
|Tricycle from JAC Liner to Mauban Port||Php 10 (Php 20 total)|
|Environmental fee||Php 50|
|Public boat from Mauban Port to Sabang Port||Php 70|
|Habal-habal from Sabang Port to Villa Cleofas||Php 70|
|Entrance fee at Villa Cleofas||Php 50|
|Tent pitching fee||Php 125 (Php 250 total)|
|One plastic bag of charcoal – use of the grill is free||Php 10 (Php 20 total)|
||Php 500 (Php 1000 total)|
|Breakfast ℅ Villa Cleofas (rice, eggs, spam, corned beef)||Php 140|
|Boat ℅ Villa Cleofas from the resort to Mauban Port||Php 150|
|Tricycle from Mauban Port to JAC Liner terminal||Php 10 (Php 20 total)|
|Lunch in Mauban||Php 120|
|Tricycle to Rizal Hill Park||Php 10 (Php 20 total)|
|Entrance fee at Rizal Hill Park||Php 10|
|Tricycle from Rizal Hill Park to JAC Liner terminal||Php 10 (Php 20 total)|
|JAC Liner bus to Cubao (booked through Biyaheroes.com)||Php 277|
|TOTAL||PHP 1,889 → PHP 1,900|
|03:00AM – 08:00AM||Departure from JAC Liner terminal, travel time to Mauban terminal|
|08:00AM – 09:00AM||Arrival at Mauban terminal, tricycle to Mauban Port, public boat from Mauban Port to Cagbalete|
|09:00AM – 09:30AM||Arrival at Sabang Port on Cagbalete, habal-habal to Villa Cleofas|
|09:30AM – 10:00AM||Check-in at Villa Cleofas, tent-pitching, breakfast|
|10:00AM – 12:00NN||Explore Cagbalete Island, swimming, etc.|
|12:00NN – 01:00PM||Lunch|
|01:00PM – 05:00PM||Swimming, exploring, sunbathing, etc.|
|05:00PM – 06:00PM||Dinner, charge electronics (electricity comes on at 6PM)|
|06:00PM – 10:00PM||Drinks, socials|
|04:00AM – 06:00AM||Hang out at the beach, wait for the sunrise, breakfast|
|06:00AM – 10:00AM||Last minute swimming|
|10:00AM – 12:00NN||Break camp, shower and get dressed, pack up things|
|12:00NN – 01:00PM||Lunch|
|01:00PM – 02:00PM||Ferry from Villa Cleofas to Mauban Port, tricycle to Mauban terminal, stored luggage on the bus|
|02:00PM – 03:00PM||Tricycle from Mauban terminal to Rizal Hill Park, climb to the top, picture-taking|
|03:00PM – 03:30PM||Tricycle from Rizal Hill Park to Mauban terminal|
|03:30PM – 08:30PM||Travel time from Mauban terminal to JAC Liner terminal|