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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 27, 2015

villa pilarosa : cagbalete's best kept secret

Crystal clear
Dubbed as the "Boracay of the Pacific", Cagbalete's popularity has grown over the years, especially among the budget conscious travel crowd. There was a time when the island was Quezon's hidden gem, with only a few photos or blog articles about its crystal clear water and surreal low tide.

Related post: Revisiting the paradise island of Cagbalete

From the original Pansacol and Villa Cleofas resorts, the eastern side (facing the Pacific ocean) now has at least 7 resorts. The two ferry boats servicing Mauban to Cagbalete island route now need to make several trips during weekends to accommodate the huge number of beach goers heading to one of the usual equipment resorts. Suddenly Cagbalete is not so hidden any more.

Hidden Villa Pilarosa
hidden among the mangroves

One resort however has kept a low profile and has stayed literally hidden. Tucked behind a wall of mangroves on the north western side of the island , Villa Pilarosa is away from the crowds on eastern shore and is still quite a distance from Sabang (Cagbalete's public port). In fact a tourism staff gave me a quizzical look when I indicated "Villa Pilarosa" while registering at the town's tourism office. "There is no resort with that name in Cagbalete..", she said. I smiled and just said, "its on the other side".

Villa Pilarosa boat taxi

If not for a couple of colored flags, one would totally miss Villa Pilarosa, as there is no clearly visible beach.  There is a small gap among the mangroves that leads to nondescript structures of the resort. The owners deliberately chose this spot because it felt secluded and secure, the latter was proven after typhoons left the the resort facilities unscathed over the years.

But the thing that would be very hard to miss is the huge expanse of shallow water, one of the clearest I have ever seen, along the resort's beach line.

Out for a swim
out for a swim

Villa Pilarosa clear and shallow

Cagbalete's best swimming area

Swimming area

The water is so clear and shallow that you can be more than 200 meters from the shoreline at still be at waist deep water. Boatmen would bring guests from other resorts here as part of their beach-hopping package. The owners of Villa Pilarosa allowed the boats to dock in the northern part of their property, away from where the resort's cottages are.

Swimming area

All through out the day boats making a beeline to the swimming spot would be the normal scene. On the second day of our stay, there were already at least 10 boats there by breakfast time. But the area is so wide that it could never get really crowded, even with the huge number of transient visitors.

Swimming area
perfect for a midday swim

Cagbalete's signature low tide

When tide gets low in Cagbalete island, the water really disappears (especially on the eastern side) and you can see the pattern the waves have temporarily etched on the sand. On the eastern side the water can recede to as far as 800 meters from the usual shoreline and the dry area can stretch for kilometers.

Sand waves at lowtide
sand ripples

Related post: amazing Cagbalete low tide

Beautiful mangroves at lowtide

The tide started receding by 2PM and stayed low until after sunset (Tide level and low/high tide times, by the way, depends a number of factors including the time of the year, the position of the sun and the moon, etc). The next lowtide came after midnight and lasted until sunrise.


Sunset at Villa Pilarosa
sun down

Starry starry night

Villa Pilarosa's magic did not end at sundown.  No time for sleep here, not when the sky dazzled with a billion stars. Fireflies lingered in some of the mangroves and occasionally meteors streaked by.

Starry starry night at Cagbalete Island

Even with the artificial light coming from the power plant on the mainland, light pollution was still very minimal that the Milky Way was clearly visible.

Mangroves under a starry night

Everything just fell into place: clear skies (occasional clouds), low tide, moon set, beautiful mangroves, the Milky Way at just the right location.

Colorful sunrise

By the time you think you have enough of the stars and the fireflies and gets ready to hit the sack, its time for sunrise. There is no shortage of beautiful mangroves along Villa Pilarosa's shoreline.

Sunrise light show

So I lingered among the mangroves for a bit longer. Breakfast can wait too :)

Sunrise light show

Villa Pilarosa's rustic appeal

Non-aircon cottage

Though they have an air-conditioned cottage that can accommodate about 6-8 persons, everything is kept simple in Villa Pilarosa. The large non aircon cottage is spacious and comfortable and can accommodate a large group of 10-12 pax. [Contact Jun 0999 3663884 / 0908-7300411]


There is cabana nearby that can accommodate maybe another 10. So even at full capacity, there is still way less number of people here compared to other resorts in the island.


The seeming lack of fancy facilities is more than made up for by the resort's overflowing hospitality.  It is homey and it felt like your own private resort.  The resort's unofficial policy is to leave the fun to you and they take care of the rest.  You can have all the fun under the sun and come back to a lovely meal cooked per your instructions. (You can use the resort's utensils and they don't charge you anything for cooking or washing the dishes. Though they don't ask for it, tipping is highly recommended)

You'll have to bring your food for cooking though and the resort does not have short orders. The staff will happily buy the supplies for you at Mauban market - that's one less thing to worry about.

Mang Pando

The ever smiling Mang Pando, the resort's resident boatman, can fetch your group at Sabang if you are arriving via the public ferries. [Contact: Mang Pando +63-9073843253]

Update 2016/01/23: If you are a large group (16-20 pax), you can just hire a boat to take you straight from Mauban to Villa Pilarosa.  [Contact Mang Tedison +63-0947-614-1261]

Travel tips

Convinced on spending a summer weekend here? Here are a few tips :)

From Manila by bus

If you leave Manila by 11PM - 12 midnight, you would be the Lucena Grand terminal around 3-4AM. You can then get catch the first bus to Mauban, arriving there just before sunrise. There are regular trips from JAC and JAM bus lines in both their Kamuning and Buendia stations. Fare is 210 - 220 pesos

Mauban sunrise
Mauban sunrise

Environmental fee and boat rates

You'll have to register and pay the environmental fee (50.00 pesos) at Mauban's new tourism office. It used to be by the entrance to the port but now its located near Gat Uban's statue along Mauban's "baywalk".

Mauban Pier
Mauban port area

Public ferryboat (M/B Neneng and M/B St. Anthony)  fare is 50 pesos. but if you want to rent your own boat, here are the rates as of April 2015 (one way and round trip boat rental):
  • 1-2 pax     - 1000, 1500
  • 3-5 pax     -  1500, 2000
  • 6 pax        -  2000, 2500
  • 7-8 pax     -  2500, 3000
  • 9-10 pax   -  3000, 3500
  • 11-15 pax -  3500, 4000
  • 16-20 pax -  4000, 5000
Sabang - Cagbalete's public port area

Essentials in Villa Pilarosa

Electricity - yes, between 6PM to 6AM
Potable water - yes
Cellular signal - GLOBE: very spotty or almost non existent, SMART: slow but usable data signal

Contact Info for Villa Pilarosa

Villa Pilarosa FB page
Contact numbers: 0999 3663884 / 0908-7300411(Jun)

View in Wikimapia
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ahdette said...

Hi.. Ask ko lng po f my contact number kau ng resort? And if un resort e my tent area, how much and entrance fee? Tenkyu for blogging abt this.. the place is rili heavenly.. hope u can help me.. tenkyu so much po...

Strange Pariah said...

Ang ganda! Magkano po yung cabana? Pwede kaya mag-camping jan?

JEP said...

As always, beautiful and amazing shot for Sir Allan, and your schedule of travel to the place, well planned! Naalala ko tuloy yung hike natin sa Mt. Romelo, Buruwisan falls, wherein naligaw tayo in the middle of the night.

Lantaw said...

You may contact Villa Pilarosa here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Villa-Pilarosa-Cagbalete-Island/217287048361837?fref=ts

The rates are there as well as the contact numbers.

Anonymous said...

hi, what camera did you use for the photos?

Lantaw said...

Nikon D7000 + Nikkor 10-24mm

Lantaw said...

Long time a!

Lantaw said...

Camping - yes I think its permitted. As for the rates, please contact 0999 3663884 / 0908-7300411(Jun)

Anonymous said...

photos are superb! eyegasm at its best!

Filipina Explorer said...

Beautiful! And it's amazing to see a sea with mangrvoves na ganito ka-clear. Usually the ones I see na mangrove-lined, maputik ang tubig. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Lantaw said...

My pleasure! The owners informed me that suddenly get an avalanche of request to stay in the resort :D. I guess Villa Pilarosa will be busy this summer

Unknown said...

hi sir good day just want to know about sa tent pinch po .. or any near the island , fully booked sila sa 16-17

by the way nice blog again !

Unknown said...

Very nice place to enjoy and have fun our full summer

Lantaw said...

You can try other resorts on the east side

serahhh said...

Wala na po yung fb page nila

Lantaw said...

Yes looks like the page is down, will check with the owners.

Anonymous said...

pwede po ba lakarin mula port hanggang sa villa pilarosa? gano po siya kalayo?

Lantaw said...

Possible, but it will take you more than half a day through rough terrain :). Best option it to take a 15 minute boat ride

Anonymous said...

Hi. Pano po makakacontact ng boat ride from Sabang port to Villa Pilarosa? at magkano po kaya yun? :)

Lantaw said...

Kindly see the bottom part of the post. I've even posted the photo of the boatman ;)

Antipara ni Fong said...

Just noticed that the way wikimapia separated Cagbalete I and II is wrong :) The line should be tilted the other direction. The San Jose River found on the western side of Cagbalete bisects Uno from Dos. :) Follow that line through and you have the right halves. :)

Lantaw said...

I think you'd able to correct that in Wikimapia :)

Anonymous said...

when would be the best time to visit the place? :)

Lantaw said...

summer should be best, but the owners mentioned its still OK to visit until late July

Anonymous said...

sir ang gaganda po ng mga pictures mo. gumagamit po ba kyo ng filters? thanks..

Lantaw said...

Thanks. I used CPL and GND filters

Anonymous said...

May I know if visiting during the months of November or December be a good time? The pictures shown on this site is very beautiful.

Lantaw said...

Really depends on the weather

Anonymous said...

But have you had visitors in the past that come around the same months? Thanks!

Lantaw said...

I have not been to Cagbalete on November/December, but I think its fine as long as the weather is good. Better confirm with the resort folks (contact details on the article)

Neknek mong ambassador ka said...

Magkano kaya kung bibili ng lupa sa lugar na ito.. 09227517534

Unknown said...

Hi sir, pasensiya na po. pupunta kase ako sa saturday kaya lang alis namin dito is 2 pm sa cubao kung makakarating kami sa mauban by mga 6-7 at most may mag babayahe pa ba na bangka to get to cagbalete? thanks po

Unknown said...

thanks po - Jeibie

Anonymous said...

you have the best photos of Cagbalete!

Lantaw said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks sa informative blog mo.. ang galing ng mga kuha lalo na sa gabi.. captured mo lahat ng gusto mong makita..congrats sir.. sir sana e na feature din ung ibang site ng beach para po magkaroon kami ng idea sa ibang resort..thanks.

Unknown said...

hi i have this tour package nkta ko online.. including transfer n from manila to cagbalete for 15pax.. villa pilarosa is the resort mentioned.. have you heard of ayos ka dito travel and tours? just want to confirm if legit before i reserve the package.. thanks so much! will appreciate your response..

Unknown said...

hi i have this tour package nkta ko online.. whicb includes transfer from manila to cagbalete via van for 15pax and the said resort is villa pilarosa.. have you heard of ayos ka dito travel and tours? just want to confirm if legit before i reserve the package.. thanks so much! will appreciate your response..

Lantaw said...

@Janne, I have not heard of them. Better arrange directly with Villa Pilarosa. Can you send me a link of their travel promo?

Anonymous said...

Hi sir. Magkano po kaya ang pamasahe from sabang port to the villa kapag nagpasundo kay Mang Pando? :)

Lantaw said...

@josephdl, please contact Mang Pando directly

Anonymous said...

Do have any Idea if we can travel from Perez Quezon to get here? This is Julius by the way.

Anonymous said...

Do you have idea if we can travel from perez, quezon to get on that spot?

Lantaw said...

@julius, via mauban. or if you can hire a boat that can take you direct to Cagbalete thats better. This is on the western side of the island

Unknown said...

"PilaRosa, Cagbalete Island" na yung FB page nila.

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