Cagbalete Island : The Low-Tide Wonders of Mauban Quezon.

Cagbalete Island is a 1,640.4874-hectare property located east of Quezon Province (in Luzon, north of the Philippines). Part of Mauban, Quezon, it rests along the waters of Lamon Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It is home to a number of species of land animals and sea creatures. Kingfishers, parrots, eagles, and other uncommon birds can usually be seen flying over the area of the island. The changing of tides is very evident in Cagbalete. During low tide, the waters can move as far back as 1 kilometer, leaving the shore dry and exposing all the rocks and corals that may be underneath.

Colleagues from other team is working out an out-of-office activities outside Metro Manila since a month ago and I was invited to tag along with them to experience another island get-away in Cagbalete. Since this is the first time I heard about Cagbalete I did some reading and research about Cagbalete through some of our pinoy friends travel bloggers and most them find their trip fun, worthwhile and memorable. At first, I was hesitant to say “yes” due to financial means and school enrollment is just a month away but a colleague offer a good deal in which I cannot refuse with that then I cay say I’m good to go.

A day before our schedule trip to Cagbalete I heard from the local news that the first tropical storm for the year 2012 named “Ambo” is coming in the Philippines area of responsibility as of this writing. Since our trip includes riding a local ferry boat going to an island that makes me worry more that’s why I was having a second thought whether should I go or not. Safety is much more important rather than the chance to write a travel blog (hehe). As I check the storm track looks like we’ll be having a fairly good chance of a safe trip going to the island (I hope).

Track of Tropical Storm “Ambo” inside the Philippines areas of responsibility.

 How to get there :

1. Board an aircon JAC Liner bus in Buendia, Makati going to Lucena Grand Terminal. Fare would cost you around P210 as of June, 02, 2012. Travel time is approximately 3 to 4 hours. We left the terminal at 2am and reach Lucena Grand Terminal at 5am.

JAC Liner Bus in Buendia, Makati.

2. Board a non-aircon bus going to Mauban, Quezon. Fare would cost you around P54 as of June 02, 2012. Travel time is approximately 1 to 2 hours. Inform the driver to drop you off at Mauban Port near the Mauban Public Market or “Pantalan” as what the locals call it. 1st trip starts at 5am. We left the Lucena Grand Terminal at 5:30 am and reach Mauban, Quezon at around 7am.

Lucena Grand Terminal for a bus ride going to Mauban Quezon.

3. Buy a ticket in Tourism Information and Ticketing booth in Mauban Port (“Pantalan”).  Boat leaves at 10am and 2pm only. However, I never got a chance to record other details because I haven’t got a chance to a usual ferry boat ride going to Sabang Port because we were not allowed by Coast Guard to proceed because there is a tropical storm (signal #1) advisory that day.

Finally, after almost 5 hours of long ride (“whew”) we reach the Mauban Port and since boat leave at 10 am we stayed inside the facilities of tourism information. We have at least 3 hours more to buy some fresh supplies and food in the Mauban Public Market which is just a walk away, some are taking pictures and some buying tickets for our ride in Cagbalete. However, we were informed that since there is still tropical storm (signal #1) advisory that we might not be able to proceed without the go signal of Coast Guard. An hour passed by still no advise that we can go. Another hour passed by still no advise by Coast Guard that they will allow our ride to proceed. Looks like were going to be stranded here in Mauban Port if we’re not going to do something. My colleagues decided to contact the owner of the resort and from there gave a few instruction. Meanwhile, as I view the horizon from my point of view the sea look a little bit calm, no violent waves, no strong winds, rain not enough to bring down a small boat and sky is not too dark.

Mauban Quezon Port jump-off point to Cagbalete Island.

Without going on to the lengthy details, after 3 hours of waiting we were advised from our contact to moved to another part of the town and from there we’ll wait our ride with a life vest. While waiting, Kuya Buboy and his family of Brgy. San Lorenzo offered us to use their place so we could cook our lunch and place to cover while raining.

Thanks Kuya Buboy and family of Brgy. San Lorenzo, Mauban, Quezon for accommodating us.

At 2:00 pm, finally our boat ride “Emboy” showed up and we were able to proceed without going through Mauban Port and the Coast Guard permission.

At long last, after reading travel blogs and viewing photos about Cagbalete Island I can now experience it myself the place they are talking about. We reached Villa Cleofas at around 4pm and at that time it was a high tide so our big boat did not have difficulty reaching the shores. First thing I did while is still not dark is swim while it’s still high-tide and then explore the eastern part of the island and took some photos. At night, the water is already in low-tide and you may start exploring the wonders of Mauban, Quezon.

Villa Cleofas Resort with Kayak

See image below for other details or activities you can do in Villa Cleofas :

Villa Cleofas other activities you can do.

Next day, I woke up early around 5am not feeling well but still I push myself to make the most out of the day. Pick-up my camera gear and headed toward the beach hoping I could get a glimpse of sunrise in eastern part of the Philippines in which I believe where you can have one of the best view or place for sunrise viewing and shots. Unfortunately, there are too much clouds in the sky which block possible good sunrise shots. Meanwhile, I took my breakfast and drink coffee while we still waited patiently for possible dramatic sunrise escaping burst effect of lights from clouds. To my surprise, nature did cooperate with us and grab our cameras and took a lot of shots with a very calm sea and sun bursting effects of sun lights as the backdrop (Yess… Thank you LORD!!!)

Morning shot in Villa Cleofas resort as tropical storm “Ambo” is leaving the Philippine area of responsibility.

In the mid-morning,  someone suggested to play Volleyball  so they rent the ball for P50 per hour.  At first, there are only a few of us playing until we are able to complete 6 players per team.  We had a great time playing the sports not because all of the players knows how to play the game well but it is a mixture of players that plays well and others who are playing for fun sake and you combine them — one heck of a laughing trip. Everyone got tired and went ahead on sea.

Photo Credit : Edmar Guerrero

It’s around 10am and the sea is already low-tide.  One of the reason I came to Cagbalete is take travel/landscape photos. I went ahead and pick-up my camera gears, wear my sturdy sandals, fisherman’s hat and sunglass.  Good thing Bonsai Island is located near Villa Cleofas. During high-tide you would not notice that there is a small peck of  islet with a few trees planted on top of the stone. When, it’s  low tide you need to walk for almost 1 km. to reach the biggest islet which is the locals called bonsai island.  I was just astonished and amazed the distance covered by the receding sea starting from the seashore. It’s something you don’t see everyday or anywhere  in the Philippines.

Boat caught up in low-tide


Geometric stone pattern during low-tide
Receding sea in Villa Cleofas
Sand ruffles in Cagbalete Island

Things to remember when going to Cagbalete Islands:

1. Do not push through with your trip to Cagbalete island if there is ongoing tropical storm (signal #1) advisory across Luzon. Coast Guard in Mauban Port will not allow you in any way to proceed to Cagbalete Island. However, it is still possible to go by hiring a private boat but without life-vest (usually) that is  if your group is brave and have courage enough to sail the seas.

2. Generator electricity only runs from 6pm up to 5am.

3. If your planning to cook in Villa Cleofas you can rent anything per hour from cooking gas up anything you can found in the kitchen.

4.  Bonsai Island is located in front of Villa Cleofas. Do not attempt to go to Bonsai island without very sturdy and non-slippery sandals because the islet itself on most part is very very slippery even when walking on foot.

5. Sand ruffles is not quite visible in the Villa Cleofas. However, you may visit other beaches should you wish to see it for yourself  or take pictures.

6. Bring an anti-mosquito lotion, you’ll definitely need it at night.

After lunch around 1 pm, a handful of us went to Pansacola Beach to visit other team who also went to experience Cagbalete Island Getaway. We walk for almost 2 kms from Villa Cleofas to Pansacola Beach under scorching heat of the sun. My advise, make sure you bring at least an umbrella to lessen the effect of the heat and apply a sunblock to avoid sunburn.


A walk to Pansacola Beach from Villa Cleofas under scorching heat of the sun.

I guess they were surprise to see us and visit went well.  After few minutes,  we return back and walk back again another 2 kms under scorching heat of the sun. We are all exhausted as we reached our cottage and badly need something cold to drink. We prepare our thing because our ride back to Parola is around 3pm when it’s already high-tide.

It’s 3pm and our ride back to Parola is now waiting for us. Boarding time and it’s time to go home. All good things must come to an end and on monday it’s back to work for all of us.

Boarding time.

Thank you LORD for our safe trip and the opportunity to visit this low-tide wonders of Mauban, Quezon, Philippines.

KUDOS to these peeps if weren’t for them, Cagbalete Island Getaway would not be possible.
Photo credit : Ichim Borracho


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