As we docked along the shores of Cagbalete, Asher can no longer contain her excitement that she jumped off our hired motorized boat into the clear and shallow waters of the island. It was a joy watching her swimming by the beach with her big smile and I just knew that she would have a grand time in Cagbalete.
Cagbalete Island, just off the coast of Quezon mainland, is known for its clear waters and cream-colored sand. It is one of the destinations frequented by tourists because of its proximity to Metro Manila and has caught the attention of visitors because of its sandbars and its “rippled sand” when the tides are low.
I first heard about Cagbalete last year when we had our Calaguas Instaviaje and some of our fellow instaviajeros was prodding us to hold one in the island. We already had locations mapped out for the year so Cagbalete was set aside. It was only during this year’s Holy Week that I worked on researching and planning a trip to the place. Our trip was our second attempt to go to Cagbalete and I am glad that our feet finally landed on its sandy shores. It was also nice that this was my first trip with Asher as we launch our new Instagram travel joint account, @thetravelingdada, which will document our trips together as a traveling dad and daughter tandem. Of course, I would like to invite you to follow the account.
Mauban: Gateway to Cagbalete Island
Tourists were trickling inside the tourist center as we waited for our turn to board the public boat for Cagbalete. We have been patiently waiting for our turn for about 45 minutes and Asher was already starting to get bored.
We have been on the road for 6 hours, including our 1 hour and 30 minute combined transit time in Lucena and Mauban. Our journey started at 3am with us boarding an airconditioned bus to Lucena where we transferred to a non-aircon bus that ply the route of Lucena-Mauban. The last leg to Mauban was very refreshing because of the countryside landscape that excited me throughout the ride. It was refreshing to see so many greens especially if you are used to seeing city landscapes.
Mauban is the jump-off point to Cagbalete Island. It is located along the main island of Luzon and it serves as the main artery for individuals who plan to visit Cagbalete. The great thing about their tourism sector here in Mauban is that everything is organized and regulated. It is good because tourists are not abused because of overpriced goods and, on the other side, local business are protected from severe haggling from tourists.
As passenger boat trips to the island are scheduled, we opted to hire a private boat that would take us directly from the mainland to our resort. It would cost us more but the good thing about it was that the rates are all regulated based on the actual number of occupants. We opted to get a private boat as it would allow us the convenience of managing our time.
Cagbalete Island: Chilling by the Beach Bars
Our small boat was tugging nicely along the waters of Lamon Bay. I was comforted by the thought that the weather was good and the waves were friendly. Initially, I had apprehensions when I saw the boat that would get across the bay. It can only take in a maximum of four people and that our movement is very limited once Asher and I were seated. But I saw the brave smile of my little girl who was just excited to try it out so I thought to myself that this was going to be an exciting ride.
The 45-minute boat ride went very smoothly that both Asher and I enjoyed every minute of it. Our excitement grew when we saw the bright cream colored sandy beach and clear waters of Cagbalete. The island was slowly unfolding its beauty that it got us really excited and looking forward to great weekend by the beach.
We did come in at the right time that our small boat was able to dock by the shores of our chosen beach resort – Joven’s Blue Beach Resort. A staff was already at bay to help us with our stuff. Asher, of course, could no longer contain her excitement that she just jumped off the boat to enjoy the waters. We checked in quickly with our tent accommodation, just by the beach front, and in no time we were having lunch by the beach.
Joven’s Blue Beach Resort is a great place to stay in Cagbalete as it is right smack in the middle of the long stretch of cream-colored beach. They have cottages that you can rent if you want to spend the night on the island or you can also opt to go camping. They can provide tents with pillows at a good price. They have a small kitchen where you can order food. They also provide a cooking area for groups who prefer cooking their own meals. They also have clean common showers and restrooms which was a huge plus for me. What makes the place really stand out are its warm staff who take the time to ask how you are doing or who are always up for a quick chat.
Our Saturday afternoon was spent just chilling by the beach with Asher enjoying the sun and the beach. By 3pm, we started to walk by the beach shores towards a sandbar where we saw a group of people exploring it. The great thing about the beach in Cagbalete is that the waves are tame and the water level are shallow making it safe and ideal for kids.
The sandbar was a unique experience for Asher and me. We had a great time playing around, taking photos, and splashing around. It was amazing to see the sandbar get submerged slowly by waters and then re-appear again after a few minutes.
The famed sand ripples of Cagbalete started appearing late in the afternoon. The sea bed started appearing as waters recede further towards the deeper part of the sea. It was amazing to see the seascape change into a landscape molded by the movement of sea. I finally got to see the famed ripples of Cagbalete. By the evening, the sea bed was already fully exposed and sea waters have completely retreated out to sea. All you can hear are the crashing of the waves from afar.
The Morning After
I was awake at 5am. I was excited and ready to catch the sunrise. The sea was calm and this time sea water was back from its evening retreat. The rural feel was evident with locals selling breakfast like pandesal and pancit. A couple of people were already awake and was already anticipating the sun’s wake up call.
The night before was a bit cold with the wind blowing from the sea that I had to close down the tent doors to control the temperature inside the tent. Electricity in Cagbalete starts at 6pm and it makes moving around easier. One good thing about Joven’s Blue Beach Resort is that they also have security so you get peace of mind sleeping through the night.
The sunrise was a bit bummed with a cloud formation on the horizon. I was not able to catch the sun rising from the sea. Instead I saw the sun breaking out of the cloud formation. It was a magnificent view as the sun slowly revealed itself. Asher woke up just right in time to see the sun in its full glory. I also took the time to catch the sun at different points along the beach.
Of Mangroves and Living Things
After the usual Filipino “Silog” breakfast, Asher and I got ready for our island hopping. Again, island hopping rates are also regulated by the local government so it was quite easy to request for one. Our initial itinerary was to head off to Cagbalete’s famed mangroves and then snorkelling.
After a 45-minute motorized boat ride, I already saw the boats lined up along the shores of the mangrove area. Kids were enjoying a quick swim while the adults were enjoying taking shots of the scenery and, of course, the customary selfies. The scene was a beauty to see from afar that as soon as we docked along the shores, both Asher and I jumped off the boat.
One thing that makes the famed mangroves appealing is the very fine white sand bars with the rustic view of mangroves in the background. The water was shallow and clean that kids can readily play around the place. I guess this was the spot where most of the “dramatic” nature captures were taken and were posted on Instagram and Facebook. I must say that the seascape and the landscape here are so great that you can do a lot of amazing shots, whether you are a selfie-addict, the artistic type, and the in-betweens.
Nature is definitely at its best here. Mangroves continually flourish in the area while maintaining the tourist appeal of the white sand bars. The clear waters are just immaculate that I enjoyed playing around with Asher and enjoying its warm waters. Nature is very much alive here that I had my first encounter with an Octopus who happened to fancy wrapping itself on my toes. Initially, I thought that it was a seaweed but after a vigorous kick, it did let go of my foot but not without the black ink. It was then that I figured that it was a living thing but I was not sure whether it was a squid or an octopus. Only after a brave soul pulled it out of the water that I realized that I had a first-hand encounter with an octopus.
After about an hour of taking shots and getting mesmerized by nature, I set aside my stuff and had a great time playing around with Asher by the beach. It was then that we both decided to forego the snorkelling activity as we wanted to enjoy the waters of the Cagbalete’s mangrove area. It was just a morning of “kulitan” by the beach between me and Asher.
Be forewarned though to waterproof your stuff as the sandbar can be retrieved by seawaters in a matter of minutes.
Post Travel Notes
Asher and I had fun bar hopping in Cagbalete… sand bar hopping that is. The island is definitely a great weekend escape especially for those who want to just spend a weekend chilling down. Activities are laid back and you really get to enjoy your time in Cagbalete. It is also a great place to bring kids as its shorelines are kid-friendly.
One thing that really stands out for me is how effective the local government manages its tourism front. Everything is standardized which secures tourists and even the local service providers. However, I think the local government can still beef up on increasing the public boats that ply the route of Mauban and Cagbalete to be able to maintain its budget-friendly image. This way it will also be able to address the increase in the demand from its tourists. Other than that, I am very happy with the local tourism office of Mauban.
I heard that there are still a lot of places to explore in Cagbalete – an old lighthouse, the Sabang Port area, a river, etc. I guess I would have to reserve that when I am in the company of a more adventurous travelers. You see traveling plans can change when you have kids around as you need to make sure that it is kid-friendly. Well, it only means that Cagbalete will have to welcome me again soon with open arms.
I would have to say that having Asher around re-defines my trips. It is a great way to spend time with her. The smile on her face as she enjoys the beach is priceless. It is also a great way to open her eyes to traveling and being earth-friendly. One thing that I noticed with her now is that she is more conscious with her surroundings and being earth-friendly. She picks up trash and puts it in our trash bag. She asks question about conservation and nothing beats teaching your kids about it than in an actual setting, in our case in a trip.
This was also our kick-off for our new IG account - @thetravelingDaDa, short for “the traveling dad and daughter”, so you can expect more child-friendly trips soon from us. As for now, we encourage you to follow us on this account and enjoy our feature on Cagbalete.
Getting There: JAC Liner in Kamias have direct trips to Mauban at 5am and 12.30p. Another option is to take a JAC or Jam Liner to Lucena Grand Terminal where you can take an ordinary bus or a van to Mauban. Once in Mauban, you can proceed to their tourist center to register and get your sequence for the public boat to Sabang Port in Cagbalete Island. Note that public boats have schedules. From Sabang Port, you can trek to your resort or hire a boat to bring you to your resort. You can also opt to take a private boat from Mauban directly to your resort.
Where to Stay: I give strong recommendation to Joven Blue Beach Resort. The place is clean and nice and the staff are friendly and helpful. The resort also has a kitchen where you can order food. You can reach them at (0939) 2899752 and you can look for Ann or Cedie.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.