Thursday, May 5, 2011
Ahh...Cagbalete. Whenever I hear about this place it just brings out the good old memories on how it reignited my passion for traveling. It all started when I joined a forum of travelers who wanted to go to the 2010 Pahiyas festival in Lucban, Quezon. Since this event will fall on a weekend, somebody suggested that we also try visiting Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon which is just a 2-hour drive. And so everybody's attention shifted to the mysterious island instead of the festival. Too add more anticipation, someone suggested to do an all-white photoshoot courtesy of a fellow traveler who happens to be a professional photographer.
There are only 3 resorts in Cagbalete: Villa Cleofas, Pansacola and MVT Sto. Nino. Ghe was very good in making reservations and drafting itineraries so we were lucky to book in advance at Villa Cleofas.
In order to get to the resort, one has to take a private boat for 45 minutes from the Pantalan Port. The rountrip transfer costs Php 4000 which can accomodate 20 people so if you can form a big group, you can share with the expenses. We arrived around 4pm and it was already low tide so we had to transfer to a smaller boat.
And so we finally reached Cagbalete. If you're the type of beach bum that likes busy bars and and high end resorts then this place is definitely not for you. Cagbalete's main attraction is its simple and natural beauty which is why I rate it as one of the best beaches in the Philippines. Yes there are resorts already in the place but the good thing about these resorts is that they never spoiled or lessened the beauty of the island. We availed of the 'paluto' at Php 250 per meal so we could have more time for exploring the place and socializing. The food was ok and as far as I can remember no one has made any negative remark about their servings. However one might think that it's a buffet meal because you'll be provided with a plate and then you need to get your own food at the table.
This is the only island that I know of where the sea can move as far back as 1 kilometer during the low tide season. I've been to several beaches in the Philippines but I've never seen a beach recede with this scale. And it was a delightful sight to behold. It leaves the shore dry and exposes all the rocks and corals that can normally be seen when one goes snorkelling.
One of Cagbalete's unique attraction is the Bonsai Island that connects to the island of Cagbalete when it's low tide. It's best to ask the locals or the resort staff first on how long the low tide will be because you might get stranded at the island when the sea level goes back to normal. One piece of advise, don't ever try walking on barefoot because you might just step on some sharp corals.
And when you have finally put on your gowns and suits, prepare for an exciting photoshoot because the results will definitely blow you away. Of course DSLR's will produce outstanding results but even point-and-shoot cameras can definitely capture the beauty of the beach. This place is the perfect spot if you want a kick-ass profile photo in Facebook or some cool prenup shots because the setting is just perfect - an amazing bedrock with mangroves all over the place. You can checkout Ryan's set to know what I'm talking about. Oh, and don't forget to do those jumpshots and if you're always dreaming of doing a group shot like those that you see in the TV show Survivor then this is the place to be.
And when you're finally tired of all those flashing lights and camera snaps, you can just settle into a hammock and doze off under the guard of majestic a tree nearby while listening to waves gently lapping on the beach.
Cagbalete will always have a special place in my heart. First, because it has one of the most amazing beaches I've ever seen and secondly because this where it reignited my passion for traveling.
How to get there:
By car - take the South Luzon Expressway passing by Sto. Tomas, Batangas, San Pablo, Tiaong, Candelaria, Sariaya, Tayabas and finally Mauban all the way to the Pantalan Port.
By public transport - take a bus bound for Mauban (JAC Liner). Once you reach Mauban Bus Station, take a trike to the Pantalan Port.
From the port, you could either hire a private boat to bring you directly to Villa Cleofas or you can look for the ferry boats going to Cagbalete. Once you reach Sabang Port, you need to trek for 20 minutes to the resort (Pansacola or Villa Cleofas).