2014 has been a rather daunting year. As I’ve written in my year-end post, it has been a roller coaster ride, which includes a lot of tears and crazy experiences. A few days before the year ends, Mark and I decided to hop on a bus going to Quezon, with our backpacks and game faces, and the hopes that we’ll find solace on a segregated island far from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Mark and the bright sun
Located off the coast of Mauban, Quezon, Cagbalete Island is perfect for soul searching and retreat from the world. The “segregated” part is no joke, with the island only having a limited supply of electricity, and with little to no crowd on an off-peak season. We stayed at Villa Cleofas, and on our resort, there are only two rooms occupied — our room, and a nice villa that was occupied by a family.
Mark vs. Sandbars vs. Clouds
What enticed us to go to Cagbalete is its proximity to Manila, its affordability, and its gorgeous sandbars that stretch for more than a kilometer from the shore. We stayed there for three days and two nights (originally planned to be an overnight stay) and had the best quality time that we could ever ask for. Last December, Mark and I celebrated our 7th anniversary (yes, we’re already on the 7th year itch), and our busy schedules just kept us from having the bonding time that we both needed. Cagbalete proved itself to be the right place to stay, enveloped with stillness and peace that you cannot simply find the extraordinarily crowded places and beaches nearby.
How we get there via Commute
Lucena Grand Terminal
Mark and I are the types of people who goes around via commuting all the time, so we didn’t find it hard to transfer from one place to another, hauling ourselves into buses and tricycles. Going to Cagbalete is relatively easy — but since we had to travel early and we were asleep the whole time, we ended up finding ourselves in the port going to Marinduque at 4 in the morning. It was a long story, but we eventually find our way back (thanks to that nice manong tricycle driver that helped us out).
Anyway, there are two options to go to Cagbalete: the first option is to take the bus going straight to Mauban, or you may take the bus going to Lucena and then ride another bus going to Mauban proper. Both routes are available via Jac Liner. We took the bus at their Kamias terminal, and we told them to drop us off at the Grand Terminal.
Mauban buses have its schedule (the earliest leaves at 5AM), while the Lucena buses are available 24-hours, with an hour or so interval per trip. We took off at 12AM, and we found ourselves at the terminal in four hours. Travel time can be longer and can take up to 6 hours, depending on your time of departure. Bus fare is at Php 240.00.
The sunrise from the bus!
From the Grand Terminal, we took a non-aircon, decrepit looking bus going to Mauban. The fare is at Php 50.00, and travel time is 1-2 hours. The view was wonderful, and we were able to witness the sun wake up from its slumber at the higher point of the trip. We were able to reach the port by 6AM, the perfect time to eat breakfast and buy our food for the vacation. We weren’t able to buy many supplies for the trip since the wet market is mostly closed, but we were able to score the essentials and some canned goods for our lunch. We thought that we can still buy on the way to the resort but WE THOUGHT WRONG.
View from the port
Tip: Buy enough supplies prior to your travel. There are no convenience stores that are easily accessible once you get to the island. The only sari-sari stores were located near the port of Cagbalete, and it’s a good 2 km. walk before you get there if you are staying at Villa Cleofas.
Our hearty breakfast: Pancit Habhab, Cheap Coffee, and Monays
We took our breakfast, paid our dues at the Tourism Information and Ticketing Booth, and waited patiently for our departure. We paid Php 50.00 each for the environmental fee, while the boat ride cost us Php 50.00 each.
Tip: Travelling during the off-peak season means stronger waves. Unfortunately for us, on our second day, there were no available trips going to back to Mauban, which made us stay for another night. We ended up taking a smaller banca en route to another barangay on our last day, together with 25 other people. It was scary as hell because the waves are super strong, and there were even times where the water would get in. It would be best to travel during the summer, though, since the waves are much calmer and would ensure you a smoother sail.
After roughly 7 hours of traveling, we finally reached our destination.
WHERE WE STAYED
Villa Cleofas Resort
Chillin’ like a villain
The place was no fancy schmancy. We had a small room to ourselves, a bed, a small nightstand, a cabinet, and an electric fan. We also had a two timbas and a tabo to get us through. Our room only had electricity from 6PM-6AM, so we’d usually charge everything up at night. Don’t worry, though, the cellular network’s signal are pretty strong, so you’d still be able to get in touch with your friends and family. Be sure to use your batteries wisely, though.
We originally booked for a one night stay and paid Php 2,000.00 for our studio type room with a private CR. Since we were kind of stuck on the second night, we were able to haggle and ended up with a huge discount (thanks to Mark’s convincing powers).
Villa Cleofas is a 2 km. walk from Sabang (the main port). We had to walk through mud and puddle since it was raining a few days before we get there. You may opt to walk or you may also hire a carabao for Php 150.00 a trip and horses for Php 100.00 a trip. Just make sure that you arrange this prior to your visit.
Tonet Reyeg: 0917 8395852 / 0917 8143475
WHERE TO EAT
Or our unfortunate adventure for food
Mark with our loot!
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are no convenience stores, much more karenderyas around, so you really have to bring in supplies before you ride that boat. Since we only had our essentials, we dared to walk towards Sabang from our resort (it was a good two-hour walk with mini pictorials in between). We were able to buy charcoal and more goodies when we reached the residential area, but it wasn’t much. Instead of cooking our own rice (this was the hard part), we asked the keepers of Villa Cleofas if we could buy rice from them instead. We also borrowed the cookwares for a small sum of money. The keepers were really nice and accommodating, so you wouldn’t have any problems talking to them and asking for help.
WHAT TO DO
Or how to relax on this secluded island
Super gorgeous sandbars!
To be honest, there isn’t much to do in Cagbalete. As I’ve mentioned, it’s a perfect place to retreat because you would be far from everything that you’re used to — no internet, no television, no electricity.
What win us over, though, are the gorgeous sandbars. The sand isn’t white, but it sure is creamy and fine. It’s fun to walk around and just take a bunch of photos, while you lie down on your back and get baked under the sun. Since Mark and I are a talkative bunch, we never run out of things to talk about, things to make fun of, and things to do. We are also the type of people who haven’t really relaxed as much as we wanted to, so the change of scenery and lifestyle was something that we looked forward.
Kickin’ the stress away!
Alternatively, you can bring in some cards to pass the time away, watch the sunset while lying around on the long stretch of the sand, play volleyball, or rent kayaks and mini boats from the resort. You can also go to the Bonsai Island, a few kilometers in front of Villa Cleofas. We didn’t have the chance to explore much since the weather was pretty bad, with unbelievably strong winds. We also had to prepare our dinner and were too tired from walking around the island. We ended up stargazing by the time that the darkness took over.
Cheesy photo, what!
How much we’ve spent for the two days stay!
Jumping for cheap stuff!
Here’s a quick breakdown of our 3-days, 2-nights escapade to Cagbalete!
Please take note that this could go LOWER as we had a lot of unforeseen extra expenses that you can definitely avoid
- Transportation: Php 1,620.00
NOTE: This price is a bit higher since we took a special boat going back to Mauban which cost us Php 150.00/head. We also got lost (we went down at the port instead of the Lucena terminal) and had to take a tricycle.Buses to Mauban from MNL / MNL – Lucena – Mauban and vice versa would just cost you roughly Php 500.00 each (Round trip)Public boat going to Cagbalete from Mauban Port is only Php 50.00 one way
- Food: Php 500.00 (don’t forget to buy supplies!)
- Accommodation for two nights: Php 1,500.00 (discounted price, divided into two)
- Total Expenses: Php 3,620.00 (Php 1,810.00/person)
ARE WE GOING TO GO BACK?
Who wouldn’t fall in love with this place?
Sure! The place is wonderful and the people are nice. Although there aren’t much to do, the solitude itself is enough to keep us coming back. The long stretches of beach with no one around, beautiful creamy sandbars, and a nice view — hell yeah, this is a wonderful retreat from the world.