26 August 2008

Escape to Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon


Where can you be so close to nature that you can't help but feel awed at the sight before you?

Where shells big and small are not just washed-up remnants of a life they once lived, but are instead teeming with crabs seeking their protection? Where fish hastily glide by while you tread on their waters, and brittlestars take refuge amongst the rocks as the water recedes in tune with the low tide? Where else does the ocean become calm, breaking the surface with only the slightest ripple?

Where else, but in Cagbalete Island!

Cagbalete Island is part of the expansive Quezon province of which my wife also hails from. Last weekend saw us at this wonderful island, a place so remote from the main islands that it has no electricity and yet it can be reached in about 7 hours by land and sea (at least, that's what our experience was; in some sites the trip is . Our meeting set at 3AM, I did not dare sleep as I might miss the trip. I was at already at Wendy's Buendia a few minutes early but some even arrived much earlier. Our party complete, we headed for the bus terminal.

Here is our itinerary in a nutshell:
3:00 AM - Met at Wendy's Buendia, then proceeded to JAC Liner (P216.00 each)
3:30 - Bus moves for Grand Terminal
6:15 - Arrive at Grand Terminal, take a ride at the Mauban mini bus (P50.00 each)
6:30 - Mini bus leaves for Mauban (there's a mini bus departing every 30 minutes)
8:00 - Arrive at Mauban, time to go to market for supplies!
Don't forget to buy ice! For your fish and meats.
Villa Cleofas has ice boxes.
Electricity is available at Villa Cleofas at 6:00PM - 1:00 AM
You may just walk to the bangka (ask for directions from the locals), or rent a tricycle (P30.00 per person)
Go to the bangka as early as possible to get seats you want (P40.00 each)
Tip the persons loading your things if you ask for their help. They are a jolly, helpful lot.
10:30 - Bangka leaves for Sabang port in Cagbalete Island.
11:30 - Arrive at Sabang port
There is also ice here and stores in case you forget something.
Villa Cleofas had a bangka fetch our supplies and two of our company
was also able to hitch a ride at the bangka. P200.00
The rest trekked across the island for 20 minutes non-stop.

Welcome to Villa Cleofas!

The Grand Terminal

The boat transports not only people, but also goods. It was exciting because I do not experience this everyday and you get a feel for local life. Their language is the deeper version of Filipino but you'll manage.

The island is in view!


Sabang port. A dinghy will escort you to shore (no charge)

Trek time!

Villa Cleofas! to the left is the big cottage where we stayed, at right is the dining area. We cooked our meals using their gas range and their utensils and plates with a rental fee of P150.00 per use. We were charged 30 pesos per head for entrance fee as well. If you don't feel like cooking, ask Manang to cook for you and tip her. She cooks real well.
Low tide was upon us when we arrived...
Low tide here is dramatic. The water literally disappears!


I was at the shore when I took this shot. Look how far away that person is already, and the water is still so shallow!

The black speck beyond is bonsai island, which can be reached by simply walking at low tide.
Stranded boats
The sea is alive! Hermit crabs, polyps, brittle stars (pictured below), fish, and plants abound. You have to tread around carefully and observe them. It's wonderful just walking around looking at the abundance of life.
If you want to take a bath at the sea and you are at Villa Cleofas, I suggest that you don't swim in this area. Too many living things taking residence here. Instead, turn left from Villa Cleofas, walk 800 meters, and you will get to a river mouth! The river is waist-deep.

Cagbalete as viewed from the cottage.


My comment about the place?
It is certainly different from Boracay and Puerto Galera, where nightlife and abundance of people and entertainment are the highlights. Also very different from regular beaches where all you get is sand and water. Cagbalete Island is something else. It's quiet, you get to commune with nature, here time takes a slow turn and you can enjoy the peace and quiet.

The last time I have ever been to a beach with so much life teeming around me was in Marinduque 14 years ago. I was on vacation all by myself and I was staying with my grandmother. I would go to the beach almost everyday for 2 weeks and swim around by my lonesome. I loved it. The water so clear, and in the afternoons, the setting sun would cast rays of light underwater....

I felt the same thing for Cagbalete, although I did not have the chance to swim a lot. I would have wanted to stay longer.

The Villa Cleofas staff are also very kind and helpful. Their website is at www.cagbalete.com.

These photos came from my iPhone. I will post more photos from my friends' cameras some other time.

I would like to thank Zherwin and his blog for the enticing photos and the detailed "how-to-get-there" guide.

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