Cagbalete Island sits off the coast of Mauban, a municipality in the province of Quezon, on the eastern Pacific side of the Philippines. Mauban is some 150 kilometers southeast of Manila. Here’s our Cagbalete Island travel guide and tips to help you plan your Cagbalete Island itinerary and budget.
Getting to Cagbalete Island
A. From Metro Manila to Mauban
1. From Metro Manila direct to Mauban (1 ride)
JAC Liner has two trips daily from its Quezon City terminal (Kamias Road cor EDSA) direct to Mauban town. The bus departs at 5:00 AM and 1:00 PM. There are no reservations, therefore seats are on a first-come, first-serve basis. It’s best to arrive at the terminal by 4:00 AM or earlier to stake out your seats. Once the bus is full it may leave earlier than 5:00 AM. Travel time varies between 4-5 hours and the fare is around Php 280.00. Our bus left Manila at 4:33 AM and arrived in Mauban at 9:38 AM. The bus offloads passengers at the outskirts of the town, so after you get off, take a 10-minute tricycle ride to the port or “pantalan” at Barangay Daungan for Php 50.00.
2. From Metro Manila to Lucena City to Mauban (2 rides)
JAC Liner, JAM Liner and Lucena Lines have hourly trips to Lucena City from their terminals in Quezon City (Kamias Road corner EDSA) and in Pasay City (Buendia Avenue corner Taft Avenue). Travel time varies between 3-4 hours. All buses will unload Lucena-bound passengers at the Lucena City Grand Terminal. From here, there are non-airconditioned mini-buses run by NCR Bus Lines that leaves for Mauban on an hourly interval, with the first trip at 5:00 AM and the last trip at 6:00 PM. Travel time is roughly 1.5 hours and the fare is Php 60.00.
If you would like to take the Lucena-Mauban leg of the trip in cooler comfort, then you may take a 15-seater air-conditioned van. From the Grand Terminal, take a jeepney to the SM Lucena Mall or Pacific Mall. There you’ll find the GT Express vans bound for Mauban. Fare is Php 70.00. Since the van has a smaller capacity, there are fewer stops, therefore you can cut travel time by about 30 minutes.
If you’re bringing your own vehicle, then your travel time to Mauban is cut down to 2.5 hours as there’s no need to dogleg through Lucena City. Park your vehicle at the church compound in Mauban town and take a tricycle to the port at Barangay Daungan. There’s also the Antipolo route, via Rizal Province, which makes for a very scenic drive.
B. From Mauban to Cagbalete Island
At the Barangay Daungan port, proceed to the Tourism Information and Ticketing Booth. Pay the Php 40.00 terminal fee and the Php 30.00 environmental fee.
There are two scheduled public commuter banca trips from Mauban port to Cagbalete Sabang port daily, one at 10:30 AM and another at 4:00 PM. From Cagbalete Sabang port, the scheduled trips back to Mauban are at 7:30 AM and 1:00 PM. You’ll be taking either the M/B Neneng or M/B Anthony. M/B stands for Motorized Banca. These bancas have a passenger capacity of 40 persons each. We enjoyed the ride with chickens, concrete hollow blocks and cartons of peanut butter. The Php 50.00 ferry ride takes about 45 minutes.
If the tide is low at the time of your approach to Cagbalete Sabang port, you’ll be transferred from the banca to shore by a flat-hulled boat. This is moment you’ll be thankful you brought a drybag or waterproofed your bags with large trashbags. From there, it’s about a 10-20 minute trek to your resort of choice. Sabang is in a small fishing village, so expect a lot of kids and a handful of adults to come up to you offering porterage and guide services. Turn the kids down down if it’s school hours and get an adult instead. We got a kid named Marco, since we went during the summer vacation and we were his for the duration.
Alternatively, if you want to avoid the 1.5 kilometer trek or so, there are small bancas for rent at Sabang that can bring you to your resort. Rates depend on the resort’s location, on the average it’s like Php 50.00 per person.
Just in case you miss the public commuter banca trips, no worries – there are private motorized bancas for hire and the good thing is the community standardized the rates:
Packing tip: Bring a large drybag to keep your important gear dry while in in the banca. In a pinch, trash bags will waterproof your larger bags. Bring purified drinking water by the gallon and mosquito repellant.
UPDATE: According to a reader’s recent visit to Cagbalete Is;and, the banca rates indicated above have doubled as of January 2015. Please see the comments section below.
At maxed out capacity, the price per head is at least twice the commuter rate, but hey – you’re on vacation! Two things make a private hire convenient: 1. The banca will drop you off in front of your resort (not at Sabang) and 2. It’s up to you to decide when you want to be picked up to leave the island.
Our first visit to Cagbalete was in April, 2014, which is the middle of summer in the Philippines. Blue skies, calm waters and sunny all around.
On our next visit, there were four of us, in January 2015, which is usually a cold but dry month. But we got hit with slate gray skies, rain and strong gusts of wind when we arrived in Mauban. The waves at Barangay Daungan Port were crashing against the pier which is most probably why all the bancas were tied down on the pier or were ashore when we got there.
Oh well – it looked like we were going to be stuck for the day in Mauban. A young couple was hanging around inside the port’s passenger terminal. They were also headed to Cagbalete Island but couldn’t find a boatman willing to brave the seas. We all made fast friends and explored the town of Mauban in search of brunch.
The weather hadn’t changed when we returned to the passenger terminal around noon. But there was a large family there waiting too. The father approached us inquiring if we were going to Cagbalete too and if we had a boat already. When we replied that we were and we didn’t, he offered that he was able to convince a (crazy) boatman to head out to sea and take them to Cagbalete. The private banca that they had chartered had extra seats for all of us and that we were welcome to join.
So we paid our share and waited to get aboard. I think the boat ride was the scariest 2 hours for all of us. The waves were about 3 feet high, tossing and pitching the banca with the bow nose-diving into the water. With the outriggers flapping and crashing, it was a small miracle they didn’t break off. It would have capsized us if they had. Anyway, we arrived in Cagbalete all drenched after that harrowing ride. Thankfully the rest of our days there had good weather. Moral of the story – exercise good judgment.
The Amihan wind was prevailing during our second visit which washed ashore a lot of dead seaweeds on the southeastern part of Cagbalete Island.
Update: This episode has generated concern from several readers interested in going to Cagbalete Island, asking if the boat trip to Cagbalete is safe. So to allay your fears, the answer is yes, as long as the weather’s good. Same way it would or should be if, let’s say if we’re taking a boat from Batangas City to Puerto Galera or Vinzons to the Calaguas Islands.
Where to Stay – Hotels and Beach Resorts in Cagbalete Island
First off, there are no “hotels”. There are 5 beach resorts but if you are looking for luxury, you will not find it in any of them. I listed them in the order they appear on the map below. We stayed a night each at Villa Noe and Joven’s. We found out the same clan owns the string of properties on the eastern side. There is no electricity on the island. Resort power is provided by private generator sets running from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM. Remarkably, we never heard the generators running at all while we were at Villa Noe’s and Joven’s.
Food choices at the resorts are sparse and a bit pricey as you can deduce from the food packages below. If you want to cut down on costs, bring a cookset and burner and cook your own food, or go to the barangay/Centro and eat at any of the carinderias there. Most resorts also have outdoor grills that guests may use for free. But you have to bring/buy your charcoal briquettes.
Most accommodations do not have en suite showers and toilets. Some are outhouses that you’ll be sharing them with other guests. Make sure you confirm that with the resort when you make your booking.
Pansacola Beach Resort
Phone: +63 42 7840158 Phone: +63 928 5058633
Phone: +63 917 5465901
Main House w/T&B (20 pax) Php 5,000.00 per night
Buho House w/T&B w/Kitchen (20 pax) Php 4,500.00 per night
Agoho House w/T&B (14 pax) Php 4,000.00 per night
Sasag House 1 w/T&B (10 pax) Php 3,000.00 per night
Sasag House 2 w/T&B (12 pax) Php 3,500.00 per night
Sasag House 3 w/T&B (12 pax) Php 3,500.00 per night
Nipa Hut 1 (10 pax) Php 2,200.00 per night
Nipa Hut 2 (10 pax) Php 2,200.00 per night
Nipa Hut 3 (10 pax) Php 2,200.00 per night
Sawali House w/Kitchen (10 pax) Php 2,500.00 per night
Tree House (6 pax) Php 2,500.00 per night
Open Beach Hut/Kubo 1 (4 pax) Php 1,200.00 per night
Open Beach Hut/Kubo 2 (4 pax) Php 1,200.00 per night
Food packages – includes 3 meals and 2 meriendas (snacks)
2-3pax Php 1,000.00/pax 4-6pax Php 950.00/pax
7-9pax Php 900.00/pax 10pax+ Php 850.00/pax
Doña Choleng Camping Resort
Phone: +63 910 8823346
Phone: +63 910 5244370
Phone: +63 916 4270487
Phone: +63 926 6549958
Phone: +63 927 9680690
Phone: +63 928 2569919
Phone: +63 932 8525489
Phone: +63 998 3520544
Tent (2-3 pax) Php 400.00 – Php500.00 per night
Open Bali Hut Php 1000.00 per night
Bali Hut (with Electric Fan, 4-6 pax) Php 2000.00 per night
Room with aircon (6-8 pax) Php 4500.00 per night
Room with aircon (18-20 pax) Php 8000.00 per night
Villa Noe Resort
Phone: +63 929 217 6971
Phone: +63 905 519 3847
Phone: +63 909 524 1773
Phone: +63 910 416 2536
Cottage 10-12 pax Php 4,000.00 per night
Cottage 8-10 pax Php 3,500.00 per night
Cottage 6-8 pax Php 3,000.00 per night
Cottage 4-6 pax Php 2,500.00 per night
Cottage 2-4 pax Php 1,500.00 – PHP 2,000.00 per night
Cottage 2 pax Php 1,000.00 per night
Picnic Huts Php 500.00 – PHP 800.00 per day (for daytrippers)
Tent Php 300.00 – Php 600.00 per night depending on tent capacity
Pitching Fee Php 200.00 per night (if you’re bringing your own tent)
Cooking/grilling area is available for free if you wish to cook your own food.
Food package (3 meals and 1 meryenda) – Php 750.00/pax/day
Cooking Fee (Paluto) – Php 150.00 (If you want the resort’s kitchen to cook food that you brought along)