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09 October 2015

Travel: "Cagbalete Island Under 2,000 Pesos! Saan Ka Pa?" (A Travel Guide in Three Parts)

Part 1: Travel Tips
Part 3: Photo Gallery (soon)

PART 1: Travel Tips

If you are tired of going to Mindoro and Batangas, and Boracay and Palawan are just too pricey and far for you, you may want to consider Cagbalete Island. The island is not as famous as the aforementioned beaches but Cagbalete has its quaint country feel to it. The place is not yet commercialized and, if you visit during lean season, you can enjoy the very laid-back atmosphere. You can just lie on a hammock and enjoy the sea breeze.  Getting to the place may be too tiring for some but I think it is worth it. Most importantly, the trip is cheap, and it can even be cheaper if you are creative. Members of the Biyaherong Kulang sa Boojei visited the island during the lean season (last October 3 and 4, 2015) and at some point, we had the resort and beach all to ourselves. Paradise indeed.

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BUDGET PER PERSON (for a group of 10 people)
  • P350 – Accommodation (P3,500 for a medium cottage overnight / 10 people)= P350
  • P360 – Food (let’s suppose you will spend 60 pesos per meal; that will be 6 meals – Saturday breakfast, Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast, Sunday lunch, Sunday dinner)
  • P440 – Bus from Kamias to Lucena (P220) / Lucena to Kamias (P220)
  • P108 – Mini-bus from Lucena to Mauban (P54) / Mauban to Lucena (P54). Aircon mini-van is P60
  • P100 – Public boat from Mauban to Sabang port in Cagbalete (P50 one-way x 2)

 TOTAL: P1,358

POSSIBLE ADDITIONAL COST
Additional expenses will be up to you. You may want to buy alcoholic beverages, snacks, souvenir items and delicacies.  You may also want to spend money on other activities in the island. However, if you keep things simple, you can manage with a budget of less than 2,000.

TENT
If you decide to use a tent, the total budget will even be less. Check with your resort regarding rental of tent or just rent for a space to put up your own tent.

HIDDEN COST
Resort corkage fees
Charge for the use of utensils
Tips for porters at the port (optional)

Panoramic shot of the aquamarine water. Click image to enlarge
Panoramic shot of Bonsai Island during low tide. Click image to enlarge
Panoramic shot of the beach at Villa Cleofas. Click image to enlarge

THINGS TO DO
  • Swimming
  • Just enjoy the beach and relax
  • Bonfire at the beach at night (if your resorts allows)
  • Island hopping
  • Walk to Bonsai Island, which is submerged during high tide but you can reach on foot during low tide
  • Enjoy the many sandbars of the island
  • Kayaking,
  • Snorkeling,
  • Horse riding (if available in your chosen resort)
  • Fishing tour,
  • Beach volleyball

SWIMMING
The best time to swim is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the tide is high. Otherwise, most of the beach is sandbar, which is not good for swimming.

WALK ALONG THE BEACH
If you have time and energy, walk along the coastline, some parts of the island have better beaches plus walking is great exercise. Great way to lose all that excess fat and get a banging beach body.

HOW TO GET THERE

Touchdown!
A. GOING TO CAGBALETE
  • Total travel time is around 6 hours
  • Take either Jac Liner or JAM Liner (along EDSA near Kamias) or at Buendia/Taft (LRT)
  • Option 1: From Kamias bus station to Lucena = the bus leaves every hour, the first trip is 1 or 2 AM (Travel time: 3 hours)
  • Option 2: From Kamias directly to Mauban = 4:00 or 4:30 AM. (Travel time: 4 hours) But the departure time is not reliable so if you want to reach Mauban before the first boat trip to Cagbalete at 10AM, I suggest taking the bus bound for Lucena at 2:30 AM instead.
  • From Lucena, take an ordinary mini-bus to Mauban. The fare is 54 pesos. (Travel time: 1.5 hours)
  • From Mauban, you may take the public boat. The fare is 50 pesos and the first trip is 10 AM. You may also hire a private boat that some resorts offer to their visitors. Villa Cleofas offers private boats and the boat rental depends on the number of passengers. For 15 to 20 people, the rent is usually 5,000 pesos (two-way). We rented a private boat good for 10 people and we paid 3,000 (two-way). (Travel time: 40 minutes to 1 hour)


B. GOING BACK TO MANILA
  • The best time to leave is around 1 P.M. The public boat in Sabang port also leaves at 1 P.M. but it is advisable to leave before 4 P.M.
  • At Mauban, you can take the ordinary mini-bus back to Lucena Grand Station or an air-conditioned UV Express van (60 pesos). Both the bus and the van are located near 7-11.
  • From Lucena Grand Station, there are many buses bound for Cubao or Taft.

Medium-size cottages in Villa Cleofas
Good for 12 people
ACCOMMODATION
Villa Cleofas
Chek-in 12 PM/ Check out 12 P.M.

There are many resorts in Cagbalete and the best resort for you will depend on your budget. In our case, we chose Villa Cleofas because many bloggers wrote good reviews about the place. We also had a pleasant experience. The staff were quite accommodating. Our contact person, Sir Tonet Reyeg, replied to all my text messages and even my e-mails. He also answered all my questions regarding the trip. When we decided to book a private boat, he also quickly arranged it and gave me the contact number of our boatman.  Three days before our trip, I was already communicating via text with our boatman, Toto.  The caretaker of the resort was also quite friendly and considerate. Some resorts are very strict with their check-in and check-out schedules, but at Villa Cleofas, you can check in early or check out late as long as no new visitors will be using your room.

For room rates, visit their web site. Click this

TOTO, BOATMAN / TOUR GUIDE
"Better than your average posh tour guide"

Toto was quite attentive. He periodically kept us updated. He asked us regarding our estimated time of arrival at Lucena.  He informed us when his boat already docked Mauban port. He even regularly asked us where we were and wished us a safe journey. He even accompanied us when we decided to walk to Sabang port to buy food even though we did not ask him. He also offered us some tips on how to save money on food.  A day after our trip, he even sent me text messages asking if we arrived safely home. Now, that is great customer service. I guess we were also nice and respectful of him so he returned the favor but I think he is just good at his work.

Top: Relaxing on a hammock
Bottom: Bianca with a large squid.
Fresh catch of the day
FOOD
The best way is to bring canned goods or cooked foods that will not spoil for 1 or 2 days. Some locals also offer to cook food for you for a specific price but be careful. I heard from a group of tourists that they paid a local 2,000 pesos to cook dishes for them, good for 2 days, but there was some delayed and ended up skipping breakfast. We were lucky because our boatman just happens to be married to a cook and his wife did some of the cooking for us. They also bought the fish and rice for us and the dishes were delivered to our cottage on time. The dishes were also scrumptious. As my friend said, “may pagmamahal ang pagkaluto.” You can also cook your own food but check with your resort if they have a charge for using their kitchen or utensils. Ask for any corkage fee as well. Villa Cleofas does not have any corkage fees for food and alcoholic drinks but they have a small charge for the use their cooking utensils.


ELECTRICITY
Electricity is only available from 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. so bring power banks. I also saw a charging device in Lucena Grand Station but I was not able to check if that works. Some resorts have air-conditioned rooms but most of the rooms in Villa Cleofas only have electric fans. From October to February, this may not be a problem because of the cool temperature but some people may find the heat unbearable during the summer months. If this is a problem for you, choose a resort that has air-conditioned rooms.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
These are our suggestions but feel free to modify depending on your schedule and plans. When in doubt, ask the locals or the contact person of your chosen resort. They are quite friendly and accommodating.

  1. Take the 2:30 AM bus from Kamias (Jac Liner or JAM Liner) to Lucena Grand Station
  2. You will reach Lucena Grand Station around 5:30 AM
  3. You can have breakfast there. The station is filled with cheap turo-turo restaurants. The price of a regular meal is around P50.
  4. The ordinary mini-bus to Mauban leaves around 6:10 AM. Just look for the Mauban sign or ask around.
  5. You will reach Mauban around 7:30 AM
  6. If you are planning to cook your own meal and your resort allows it without any corkage, then I suggest buying stuff at Mauban public market. Mineral water, soda and the like are cheaper in Mauban than in most resorts. If you want seafood, our local guide said that it is cheaper to buy at Sabang port in Cagbalete. If you are taking the public boat, your boat will dock at Sabang.
  7. The system in Mauban is organized. By the time we got off the bus, a tourism official wearing green shirt asked us if we were headed for Cagbalete and he informed us to register and pay the environmental fee (P50) at the Tourism Office. You can take the tricycle to the Tourism Office or just walk. It is only 10 minutes away. Just keep looking for people in green shirt with IDs, they will be your guide.
  8. You may also buy beer at Mauban port. We bought one case of beer and the owner of the store just charge a deposit for each bottle, and we were able to get back our deposit once we returned the empty beer bottles.
  9. At the Tourism Office, you need to register and pay. You will be given a ticket that you will present to the boat checker at the port. The staff members are quite friendly. You can also use the toilet in the Tourism office.
  10. It is quite a long walk from the Tourism Office to the port, especially if you are carrying heavy bags. I suggest taking a tricycle.  The fare is P10 per person but other tricycle drivers may say “bahala na po kayo.”
  11. At the port, look for the public boat to Cagbalete. The first trip is at 10 AM. If you booked a private boat from your resort, most likely, you will also meet your contact person at the port.
  12. In case, you choose Villa Cleofas and you arrive during low tide, be ready to walk to the beach (the water is just knee deep). Wear shorts. Low tide is usually past 12 PM.
  13. If you get off at Sabang port, there are many sari-sari stores so you can have lunch and buy some food items. From Sabang port, you will take a 15-minute walk to your resort.   
  14. Depending on your resort, a number of activities are available but these activities may be additional cost. Common activities are island hopping, kayaking, snorkeling, horse riding, fishing tour, beach volleyball and so on.


The famous pancit habhab
of Quezon Province
SIDE TRIP
On our way home, one Biyahero member recommended that we stopped at Tayabas to enjoy the local food like pansit habhab, tamales, and the famous Rodillas yema cake and yema puto. From Tayabas, we took a tricycle to Calumpang. The fare was P60 per trip, not per person, and it took 30 minutes to reach Calumpang. From there, we waited for a bus bound for Cubao although some of the buses were full so we had to choose a bus that can accommodate 8 people.


CONTACT DETAILS

VILLA CLEOFAS
Sir Tonet Reyeg
Landline : Home (+632) 928-7934
Mobile: (+63) 917-8395852 /(+63) 917-8143475
E-mail: treyeg01@yahoo.com.ph

Private Boatman (in case you will not use the public boat)
Toto
Mobile: 0908-717-2962

Toto is connected with Villa Cleofas so contact Villa Cleofas first before contacting Toto to avoid any problems or conflict of interest. Just request for Toto as your boatman. 


Some members of the B.K.B. From left to right (A.R., Chris, Rob, Carol, Marriane, Renan, Bianca, Gwendy and the newest and youngest member, Sachi


RELATED POST

FOR MORE TRAVEL TIPS, VISIT OUR TRAVEL PAGE. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this very informative post! It's also good to note that JAC Liner now offers direct Mauban bus trips to/from their terminals in Kamias and Buendia :) It is even available for online reservations. Just go to their Facebook page (facebook.com/jaclinerinc) or at www.biyaheroes.com :)

    ReplyDelete

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