Back in the summer of 2014, my family and I went to this beach in Quezon Province about three to four hours (without traffic) from Manila — it’s an island part of Mauban. To get there, we took a 45-minute boat ride from Mauban Port to get to Cagbalete Island. I hate boat rides so the one we took to get there was hell-ish for me. Because it’s not altogether accessible by land, I consider it hidden and far but it was worth it. It was beautiful.
The water is crystal clear, the sand is white and fine, and best of all, it’s not crowded. There aren’t huge hotels and there aren’t any bars which I consider to be a good thing because it helps the visitors appreciate the island’s beauty in silence.
Everything is simple. We only stayed overnight (as I had a debut to attend the following night) but I fell in love. We got there before lunch time and we busied ourselves with pictures because duh, Instagram.
We found a spot under a tree and it was the perfect place to relax. The cool sea breeze, beautiful view, good food, and the best company — I was having the time of my life. This island has the lowest of the low tides. By dusk, we were able to walk yards away from the shore. It felt like I could walk towards the next island (note: I can’t). We had so much fun paddling a plastic boat we rented. It was just awesome.
At night, after dinner, we went out to the beach front again and watched a group of fire dancers perform. They were good and I loved their performance because, although short, it was full of life. And it was easy to enjoy because again, the island is not crowded.
My cousins and I slept in a tent and it has been years since I last slept in one. It felt good to really just be at one with nature. It felt good and calm. However, that calm did not last for long as there was a typhoon about to hit. It rained a lot so we had to leave the camp we set up and go back to the inn.
By lunch, it was time to go home. We had to walk f a r to reach the boat as the water was very shallow (still low tide by then). We were able to see some urchins and starfishes.
The waves were pretty strong on the boat ride home and I felt like I was in hell. To make the situation worse a part of the boat’s outrigger (katig) broke off! Imagine our fear as we were in the middle of the sea in a damaged boat with waves ready to rock us not gently. Good thing though that our boatmen were attentive and experienced that they repaired it before it got worse. I’ve never felt so relieved in my whole life than I ever had when we reached the port.
Overall, minus the boat mishap, it was a wonderful experience. I could only wish for industrialization not to spoil the island’s beauty and sereneness. Cagbalete Island is truly a hidden gem so near yet so far from Manila. Below, a few tips for planning your trip to Cagbalete. Do note that if you’re going to bring your own vehicle to get to Mauban Port, you have to have a plan where you’re going to park that vehicle. Also, the boats to Cagbalete Island leave a a certain time so you have to have your group booked beforehand (or be there at the booking booth as early as possible). You can also cook your own meals (our inn allowed it).
Where is your hidden gem? 🙂
(Disclaimer: All photos belong to Jelai Sisante. It may not be reproduced and/or copied without prior notice to her.)