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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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April 7, 2014

mauban | cagbalete island: revisiting paradise

Cagbalete Island - Boat Taxi

Fire up Google Earth and scour the Philippine map for small white rimmed islands - thats what a friend and I did before that led us to Cagbalete Island. Nobody was really blogging about this small gem in Lamon Bay back in 2006-2007. Off the coast of a small town in Quezon province called Mauban, its fine white sand is clearly visible in Google Earth.

I had a blast on my first visit and I vowed to return. But over the years other small islands and beaches took its place from my to-visit list. With Philippines’ 7107 islands (give or take a few depending on tide), it hard to keep the list small.

But then some destinations are really meant to be re-visited. I got a few friends to agree on a schedule, a itinerary was quickly drafted, and off we went for a weekend on the island.

Cagbalete Island - Commuter Boat

Weather was perfect and the sea was relatively calm. We sat on an extended part of the boat - practically part of the outrigger structure of the boat already, and enjoyed an uneventful 50 minute ride from Mauban to the island.

Not much has changed, the island is still as postcard-perfect looking as the first time I saw it. There is a noticeable increase in the number of tourists, but that could probably just be attributed to the fact that it’s already summer and vacation time.

My resort of choice was Villa Cleofas on the eastern part of the island. The choices for resorts before was limited to Pansacola on the southern tip (near Sabang - the public part of the island that serves as the port) and Villa Cleofas. But nowadays there is a good number of resorts on the eastern part.  I still prefer Villa Cleofas for the following reasons:
  • Wide range of accommodation options to chose from. If you want to rough it out they have a nice shaded area for tents.
Cagbalete Island - Villa Cleofas camp site

Cagbalete Island - Villa Cleofas camp site
  • Facilities are not too fancy, but not shabby either. Staff are helpful and the owner(s) are always there. They have roving security to make sure everyone is safe, especially at night.
  • You can opt for other activities like kayaking and horseback riding.
Cagbalete Island - Raw Beauty
  • Its comfortably isolated, yet not too remote either. Plus from there you have access to a seemingly endless white sand shoreline. Its not a boring shoreline either, there are mangroves on the far end.
We got a small outrigger boat to ferry us and our stuff to the eastern side. There is another option which is to hike 1km or so, but with the heat and the supplies/gear we have to carry, the boat is an obvious winner. (Boat contact: Sergio +63-9213528673. Sergio can help you as well with getting supplies and buying fresh catch. Sergio's son Billy Joe had been our patient island guide the whole time we were there)

Cagbalete Island - Off to Villa Cleofas

We got to Villa Cleofas an hour before low tide. Had low tide beat us, we would have been forced to walk quite a distance. Cagbalete has this surreal low tide where the water recedes to almost 800 meters from the shore!

Cagbalete Island - Off loading in Villa Cleofas

I am excited to share other photos from the trip, but I figured I'd start first with some details to help you organize your own trip to the island.


  • To Lucena/Mauban: There is now a good number of bus lines that has trips to Lucena. JAC Liner (Kamias and Buendia stations) has buses that leaves every hour (24 hours during Fri-Sun). Note as well that bus leaves as soon as its full, and not necessarily on the hour. JAC liner also has trips direct to Mauban (twice daily, one at 4AM and another one at 2PM, though the schedule may change). Travel time from Manila to Lucena is 2.5 - 3 hours. Manila to Lucena fare is 210 pesos. Wifi is available on board JAC Liner buses
  • To Mauban: From Lucena Grand Station, you may take the mini buses to Mauban (fare is 60 pesos). Travel time is 1 - 1.5 hours depending on how many stops the minibus takes, which could be a lot when the driver sees passengers waiting by the road side. Another option is to take the vans (14 and 18 seater vans) in SM Lucena.
  • Back to Lucena/Manila: There is a JAC Liner bus that leaves Mauban at 2PM. On weekends this bus usually gets filled earlier thus leaves before 2PM. If the tricycle driver insist on bringing you to JAC Liner terminal and its already close to 2PM, don't bother. You'll most likely miss it and end up paying the driver more for the return trip to town. There are vans bound for Lucena near Mauban church.

boat to paradise: all aboard!

Cagbalete Island - Commuter Boat
  • To Cagbalete: There are two commuter boats that service Mauban-Cagbalete route. The boats GENERALLY leave Mauban at 10AM and at 1PM. However, if the boats get filled up before 10AM, then they leave earlier. On weekends, seats can get taken as early as 7AM. The boats can leave later too, specially if someone reserved a seat and is still taking his/her sweet time running errands in town. Fare is 50 pesos.
  • From Cagbalete: There is an 8AM trip and another one at 1PM. If you miss both then you'll have to charter an outrigger boat.
Cagbalete Island - Commuter Boats in Lamon Bay
  • Options: An option to is arrange for a boat to pick you up in Mauban. Resorts like Pansacola and Villa Cleofas have their own boats (20-30 person capacity,4000-5000 pesos for the round trip, good for large groups). There are smaller boats you can rent in Mauban port, but the waters between Mauban and Cagbalete can get pretty rough, so its not really recommended unless you love to get tossed around by the waves
Mauban Port
  • Mauban’s port now collects a 50 pesos “environmental fee” from tourists headed to the island. Whether or not this fund is really used for what it is intended for is a different story 

supplies, water, electricity, cellphone signal

  • Better buy your food and water in Mauban if you don’t mind the extra weight. You can buy stuff in Sabang as well (expensive) and in your resorts (priced like gold!). Almost everything has to be brought by boat to the island thats why its expensive. During the boat ride you’ll see everything from livestock to cement to plants or whatever the community needs.
  • Water - most resorts have fresh water supply
  • Electricity - the community and the resorts have their own generators. Usually electricity is available between 6PM to 6AM
  • Cellphone signal - Globe and Smart have coverage. Globe has decent 3G signal

more of photos of Cagbalete from this trip

Daily life at Sabang
Twilight colors
Cagbalete's amazing lowtide

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Lantaw said...

Thanks! Yup the water is amazingly clear. The sand is very fine too.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post. Beautiful water! I'm so excited to see Cagbalete on 26th because of your photos. :)

Lantaw said...

I hope you'll enjoy your stay there :)

Unknown said...

safe po ba dalhin ang 2years old? how much po ang bayad sa boat? for 2adults 1toddler

Lantaw said...

Yes its safe for kids, the commuter ferries are big boats. Fare is 50 pesos per person. I think the toddler's fare is free.

What you'll love about Cagbalete is that the water is pretty shallow on the eastern side. You can walk for quite a distance from the shore and the water is still knee deep, especially when the tide is low. The beach is pretty flat, no sudden drop

Unknown said...

na-excite na ako.. I hope matuloy kami.. we'll be celebrationg our 7th wedding anniversary this 27th and now may kasama na kami sa mga travels namin our 2years old daugher. ^__^ thanks for blogging about this place :) big help tlga ang mga bloggers like you.. atleast we get ideas about the place. God Bless!

Unknown said...

Im going to this place on the 2nd of May!!

Unknown said...

Hi! Ask ko lang po yung sinabi nio na reservation sa boat may number po ba kayo or dahil maaga yung pagdating ng tao? Salamat!

Lantaw said...

@Kristine, Sorry, no number. What I meant with "reservation" is you go there early, leave one of your companions on the boat while the rest of you go somewhere else to buy supplies, etc

Unknown said...

This is the owner of MB ARNEA. :D Thank you for posting this photos, we hope that you'll visit Cagbalete Island again. Thank you very much! :)

Lantaw said...

You are welcome Arnie. I'll surely be back, so much more to see specially on the western side of the island.

Unknown said...

Do they have life vests on the boat ride po? Mejo scared ako s water coz i didnt know how to swim po. Then waht is the best resort? The cleanest? We'll go tjere po on june 14. Me and my bf lang po. Hope you'll reply po ��

Lantaw said...

Vests are available if you ask for them.They dont usually give one to each passenger. The smaller boats from sabang to the resorts have vests as well, well most of them anyway. Try these resorts : pansacola, villa cleofas, villa noe.

Anonymous said...

Hello. Aabot po ba sa bangka pag umalis kami ng Manila ng 5am (Jac Liner) na derecho na Mauban?

Lantaw said...

Its going to be a really tight, and the boat gets filled way before its scheduled departure time, specially on weekends.

Anonymous said...

can i bring my car to the port of mauban and leave it there while im in cagbalete?

Lantaw said...

Yes you can. The folks at the tourism.center can help you

Unknown said...

how much po magagastos??

Lantaw said...

That would depend on a lot of things: we you are coming from, whether commuting or not, what type of accommodations are you looking for

Lantaw said...

Take a look at this as well http://www.lantaw.com/2015/04/villa-pilarosa-cagbalete-best-kept-secret.html

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