B E A C H
D E S T I N A T I O N
Mauban’s port is thriving, thanks to the clear waters surrounding the distant Cagbalete Island and the rustic resorts that span its pristine beaches. This part of Quezon Province is a great distance and a veer away from the usual tourism route that’s from Manila to Bicol’s Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon. To reach such destinations, one has to steer clear of Mauban and the island that’s bereft of tourism ennui. To keep Mayon waiting means to find your spot of paradise in Cagbalete Island. It’s exactly what I did. The restive volcano of Bicol can wait.
After a pleasant 5-hour Jacliner bus ride from Kamias, I reached Mauban with anticipation of good weather as I particularly chose my 3 days of island immersion based on Accuweather.com’s good advice. The first night was a reunion of sorts with a group tour of former officemates from a previous Ayala-based company that I worked for. I led them to a Google-friendly resort that arranged the accommodations and food catering for 8 people via email and bank transaction.
|Bukawin (top) and Pusit Lumot or Squid (bottom)|
Travel Blogger Mode On My 2nd Night
My second night, however, was my turn to experience the island alone and via a resort that I managed to correspond with on Facebook as its website was not turning up on various search engines. Thankfully, a fellow travel blogger, Claire Madarang of Traveling Light, accompanied me.
Discovering Bonsai Islet
Before checking in at our next resort, we tackled the low tide expanse from the beachfront to reach the nearby Bonsai Islet after 15-minutes. It was formerly known by many names but a local resort owner dubbed it as such because only during low tide does the rock expanse appear with the set of mangroves that look like bonsai trees from the shore. It was past 12:00pm and the rock expanse showed more seductive details as the tides receded further. Tunnel-like chambers were suddenly visible in one spot while a seemingly man-made space that resembled an old worship ruin with amazing patterns captivated me in another.
The accommodation of my choice was Dona Choleng Camping Resort which I discovered to be located at a patch of land with the same fine sand beachfront as the other resorts in the island but sandwiched between unoccupied but highly vegetated lots.
The elusiveness of the location appealed to me. When I learned in one of my strolls with Claire in the island by the beach that a graveyard of Cagbalete’s dead is just a 5-minute walk away from the resort, I got more excited. Having seen for myself open graves broken in two by years of tides that pushed water in and receded sand from underneath them, I felt compelled to linger. I wondered if the departed felt special to be booked forever at a beachfront space that closely rivals the fine sand of Boracay. As one of the owners of a resort in the island boasted, the sand in Cagbalete turns to white during summer after being pink all throughout the rainy season.
Upgraded To Casa Maybel
I was originally booked to stay at a rustic cottage but since I had company, I got it upgraded to one of the more spacious rooms of Casa Maybel which had air conditioning. The house where our room was looked every inch a charming beach house outside. The room had three king-sized beds that were lined up next to each other to form a huge sleeping quarters that could fit six people. There is an option for a more affordable rate for almost half the price for those who want to use an electric fan instead of the AC.
Although electricity is rationed at the island from 6:00am to 6:00pm, Dona Choleng Camping Resort sees to it that guests for peak season (summertime) are allowed to experience generated electricity from 10:00am to 4:00pm. For the rest of the year, though, the island is laid back and resolved to contend with the reality of being elusive from such a modern benefit of progress. Most foreigner guests actually liked the idea that they can be away from the decadence of city life and voluntarily abandoned to read a good book by the beach, kayak on low tide or kiteboard in the middle of the day.
As for me, I went skinny-dipping, something that not even the restrained Puka Beach of Boracay allowed me to do last year. I resorted to doing so only because no one and nothing in the surroundings of tall trees and thick bushes prevented me. Also, I cajoled myself. Cagbalete was that elusive to me. That once it was mine to spent time in, I had to let go of everything I was wearing. I loved the dip. I loved the few minutes of sunbathing naked. The idea of being alone in the expanse of the beach riveted me. Soon, about 20 minutes of strolling, I was back at Dona Choleng Camping Resort. Most of the other resorts in the island that I passed along the way were empty. Thank goodness that a group of guests at one resort arrived from their island-hopping boat ride just in time after I got myself clad again.
|Tent rental at the resort|
|The vanishing rock expanse of Bonsai Islet|
|Cagbalete Island boatman|
Meals at the resort were fresh and filling. Seafood like squid or pusit lumot and bukawin (a local favorite in the island) were fished out of the sea by the resort staff. Claire and I also had more than seafood. She had pinakbet and I had pork liempo for dinner.
Night Time Spectacles
By night time, we had the resort caretaker set up a decent bonfire for us and we resorted to singing our life frustrations away via the resort restaurant’s videoke machine after the flame had fizzled out. Inevitably, the rain poured down on our 11:00pm, so we headed back to our booked Casa Maybel room to retire for the night.
The next day yielded for me an experience to kayak for a few minutes. I also enjoyed a filling breakfast with my travel buddy prior to that. By 12:00pm we had to check out and rush on foot to the nearby Mauban port which was just a 15-minute walking distance away. The caretaker guided us on our way out as we had to eventually walk into a congested barrio before reaching the port to ride the boat that departs from the island every 1:00pm. If we missed it, we would have to wait for 3 more hours.
The passenger boat fare cost us no more than P50 per head, one-way, while the terminal and environmental fee at the Mauban Port-based tourist information and ticket booth costs P70 per head one-time. Boats from the port to Cagbalete leave at 10:00am, so it’s best to ride the Mauban-bound Jacliner bus that leaves Kamias at 4:00 or 5:00am. Another commute option is to ride any Lucena-bound bus from Manila and take a van or another bus ride from there to Mauban.
Dona Choleng Camping Resort
Official website of Dona Choleng Camping Resort
Official Facebook fan page
Address: Cagbalete Island, Mauban, Quezon Province, Philippines
Check out my other Quezon Province-related blog posts:
+ Infanta, Balagbag Falls, and Nonok Falls
+ General Nakar and Agos River
+ Real's Tignoan Beach
+ Attractions in Mauban
+ Attractions in Tayabas City
+ Graceland Estate and Country Club of Tabayas
More Photos Below:
|Low tide at Bonsai Islet|
|A room at Casa Maybel|
|Pinakbet (top) and Pork Liempo (bottom)|
|Details of the rock expanse|
|An exotic flower that fell off from one of the trees at the beach|
|Bonfire by the beach|
|Tunnel-like chambers at the vanishing Bonsai Islet|
|I kayaked for a few minutes at the resort|