Cagbalete Island: A beauty offered only to those who seek for it.

As stated on my previous post  – I really needed some time off away from the city. Originally, I really wanted to visit atleast 7-8 islands/provinces within a year, but recently I decided to actually save money. I would still like to make that dream come true if possible. I still have 6 more months, so the rest is still unwritten.

Ive been reading alot of good experiences from other blogs about this little, quiet island of Cagbalete. Me and my friends are the kind who enjoys camping out. We prefer Le Cheapo over Le Leux, tents over 5 star hotels, old rickety fisherman’s boat over a yacht (well I think I want the yacht this time). So it was a no brainer to invite them to go and see the island for ourselves.


Cagbalete Island is located off the coast of Mauban, Quezon. A privately owned island that has a diverse ecosystem. It is very famous for its picturesque “sand ripples” during low tide, white sand and blue waters. Its very tempting to go there given that its just “supposedly” a stone throw away from Manila. How to get there? Here is a very comprehensive guide. Personal note : Due to our schedule, we did not make it on time for the earliest public boat ride from Mauban Port to Cagbalete Island. So we decided to rent a private boat (good for 10) for 2000 pesos – back and forth. Which is alot more convenient since we can decide what time we want to leave the island and not depend it from the public boat schedule. For the contact number, you can leave a message below.

From Mauban port, its nearly a 1 hour boat ride to the island. The water is unusually calm, which is a good thing because we dont have any life jackets. Any sudden sway of the bangka means alot of hand gripping and worried stares. But thank God the sea is not cruel that day- it was even giving, and watchful. The sea has prepared us for something beautiful. And it wont let any ounce of fear ruin it. During the boat ride, our eyes feasted on the view, an early gift, a sneak peek.

Collage 1

During any boat ride, I always tell my self to Keep your eyes open. You will never know what you will miss. I remember when I was little, while on my first ship ride – my mom told me to always look out on the ocean with watchful eyes. “You will never know what you will see”, she said. An hour or two after she said that, while I clasped the railings, I saw a  school of dolphins, dancing and gliding through the waters, as if telling me that this is what my mother means. Standing there, with pigtails and watchful eyes, seeing a pod of dolphins for the first time, is one of the most magical moments of my life.

Surely, there are no dolphins off the island’s coast (cause if there is, we would all freak out), but the island has its own spectacle. 

We arrived at Villa Cleofas around 3 PM. We hurriedly set up our tents because after almost 8 hours of travel time, we all just want to take a dip.

collage 2

Cagbalete’s sunset is composed of pastel hues and very very warm water (seriously warm. It felt like a hotspring and not an ocean.) We hesitated at first to take a swim but you just cant resist to soak in this beauty. Everything looks happy, and warm and beautiful.

collage 3

We all took as much photos as we can before dropping off our cameras inside the tent and plunge into the summer water. Apparently, after a day in Cagbalete, you will know there’s only two shifts here in the island – High Tide and Low Tide.( I’ll explain further). But this time in the afternoon, is the deepest the water can get around here. So we enjoyed it while it last.

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Cagbalete Island is known for its sand ripples, which you can see during low tide. During  Low Tide, the water ceases up to hundreds of meters, exposing the white sand surrounding the island. That day, we swam and prepared our food (hotdogs and canned tuna haha) and swam a bit more until the water ceases to ankle length. When it did, we just lay there on the ocean, pretending its a water bed – while we laugh and tell stories. One of the best beach memories that I have. We made a bonfire, drink and talk some more. The island is even more beautiful at night.

Our improvised “shot glass”, the tiny bonfire, full moon, that sweet liquor (one and only bottle) and some chips with sand.

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The night is getting old and we are all getting extremely tired and sleepy. So by 10 PM, we decided to enter our comfy tents and snooze off. Personal tip: DO NOT REMOVE THE SCREEN OFF YOUR TENTS although the night is really hot (No breeze at all). Mosquitoes here are ruthless (and BIG).

In the morning, we are awoken by the splendid beauty of the sunrise.

We had some coffee, instant noodles, biscuits – then were off to our next adventure.

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I saw a list of “what to see” written on the resort’s dining area. One of them says: Ilog Bukana ( or River-mouth). Its says its roughly about 800 meters away from the resort. After changing into our swimming clothes, we started walking into the long stretch of undisturbed shore. Throughout the walk, we saw alot of insects, birds, hermit crabs and wild flowers. There was another group ahead of us, we pass by them mid-way and overheard them saying that they’ve been walking for a long time but they didn’t see the river. They decided to head back to the resort. We are walking for about 30 mins but all we see is a vast sea on the left and tall tress on the right. Part of us want to head back too, but I know my friends – they are the type who dont give up easily. So after another 20 mins of walking, we finally saw the River. And it was indeed beautiful – a pot of gold at the rainbow’s end, A beauty offered only to those who seek for it.

We probably had the best time here throughout the entire trip. We were all laughing. swimming, taking pictures, scaring each other that there’s crocodiles, picturing us as cast of Lake Placid and making up stories from every piece of anything the river will give at us (styrofoams, plastic cups, etc). Genuine fun. The kind you wont forget that easily.

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Some small proof that this island still has a diverse ecosystem : Hermit crabs, sea urchins, a woodpecker and other stuff (I’m bad with animal species names).

collage 10

After about 2 hours of frolicking on the river bed, we headed back to the shore to prepare our lunch and to relax. The rest of the day was spent eating, sitting under the trees, musing and marveling at  the vast expanse of white sand exposed during this hot summer weekend.

His and hers humble throne.

By 2PM, when the sea completely forsake the shore, we headed home. Since its low tide, we had to walk for another 30 mins under the scorching sun to meet our boat somewhere the water is deep enough. We passed by Bonsai Island and saw some weird sea creatures during our walk. Here are the rest of the things that waved at us during our walk back home. Truly, this island is a splendor.

During the boat ride, we used a different route and passed by the town of Mauban. My boyfriend was able to capture some photos of it while Im busy composing this blog post in my head.

The sleepy town of Mauban, with its cemetery overlooking the ocean.

The busy port with happy kids.

I went home with a smile on my face that didn’t left me for days. This is the kind of getaway I was hoping. The heavens heard my prayers.

This world is still a happy place, and my life is the best it can ever get-  thanks to my family and friends who shares their happiness with me.

Thank you Amfi and Vice – I have seen you both fell inlove with each other and continue doing so after 8 years. Thank you both, as you are always there with me during most of the best moments of my life. 

Thank you Tine, for coming with us. You know how much I treasure our small talks and coffee times together. Continue being an independent, beautiful, single woman. 

Abby – you are always the quiet one. Im glad you didnt sleep the entire trip. Haha. Cheers to more of this travel together! Thank you for being you all throughout our friendship.

mem and don

Thank you Mem and Don for going. Thanks for being such great sport. 

Gab- one of the smartest 4 years old you will ever met. Thank you for being our “leader” and for teaching me how to swim in the sand.

Thank you my dear sandals – for travelling the country with me. You took me t0 places I will never forget. Now you have to rest.  I hope to find someone as great as you again. 

And to my own sunbeam, Kirby – we are a team. I love you like I love Century Tuna.

Some days we get lost and some we stay lost.

Stay happy! 🙂


Published by

Jona Alday

A corporate slave who finds joy in motivating and leading people but ultimately yearns for weekends and plotted vacation leaves. An Engineering graduate who HATES Math. An acrophobic who conquers mountains. A lover of sleepy towns, dawn, poetry, pancit canton and cats.

4 thoughts on “Cagbalete Island: A beauty offered only to those who seek for it.”

  1. Well written piece, Jona. Thanks for staying at Villa Cleofas and sharing your wonderful experience at cagbalete. Hope to meet your group next time. Tonet – villa cleofas

  2. Very nice blog:-) great island paradise, want to visit there anytime this week, i wonder if you have any contact for boat men that we can be able to hire in the port, any tip or recommendation is highly appreciated 🙂 thank you so much, God bless!

  3. Nice piece on Cagbalete 😊 we’re planning to go there next week. May I ask for the contact number of the boatman that you hired? Thanks!

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