Sunday, June 13, 2010

Magalawa Island: The Babymooners

The term "babymoon" these days pertains to the final vacation of a couple who are expecting a baby. Babymoons almost always are spent in luxurious resorts which provide pampering services, especially for the soon to be mom. In our case, it's far from such. Even at six months pregnant, our weekend babymoon was the usual P1,500 camping affair.

A happy, shiny 6-month preggy camper.

Magalawa Island has rapidly become one of the top choices of beach campers (at least for Manileños) today. From Manila, it will take you six hours via public transport (4 and a half to 5 hours with private vehicle) to get there, double the travel time to Anawangin Cove.

It can be an exhausting ride for a pregnant woman, but the island's promise of uncrowdedness on a Friday lured me. After a much heated debate with my hubby, I convinced him that I could handle the trip. Thursday night, 10th of June, we stuffed our camping gears in a couple of duffel bags instead of backpacks. We find duffel bags cumbersome to lug around but we didn't have much choice. Obviously I am no longer allowed to carry heavy load, while Shervin's suffering from a slight RSI.

I called Victory Liner Caloocan and inquired about the schedule of buses going to Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Friday trips aren't as frequent as Saturday's so it's crucial to be informed. We chose the 7:30 AM bus instead of the 4:00 AM one so we could take an LRT train (P15 from Vito Cruz to Monumento Sation) to the bus terminal.

When buying the tickets, remember to mention that you'll get off Palauig. Otherwise you will be charged the full amount of the Caloocan-Sta. Cruz ride. Ticket costs not more than P340.

Our bus left 10 minutes past its departure time. We only had one stopover for meals (yup, at the famous Double Happiness Restaurant in Pampanga), and another to pick up more passengers at Victory Liner Olongapo. A bit traumatizing for a preggy woman's urinary bladder.

Once we were in Iba, we reminded the conductor to drop us off Radio Veritas Road at Brgy. Pangoligan in Palauig. He's familiar with the area, and I'd like to assume that all conductors are. This would be of big help because the road does not have a signage.

There is a waiting shed just at the tip of Radio Veritas Road where you can hire a tricycle which will take you to Oslet Armada Fishdealer Compound in Brgy. Luan. Trike ride is no longer P25 per head. It is now P100 for the 20-minute trip, half of which on a paved road and half on a rough/bumpy one.

Top: Waiting for our trike driver, corner of Radio Veritas Road. Bottom: Instead of the Oslet Armada Fishdealer Compound, our trike driver took us to a different small makeshift port and made us hike downhill a loose, slippery ground.

One of the owners of Magalawa Island's beach area, Ate Grace, is actually maintaining a very informative Facebook Fan Page. If you're driving a private vehicle, you'll find information on how to get there from the said account.

There is also a mobile number of a trike driver posted there, but I suggest you guys contact it as a last resort. This would mean equal distribution of business for the drivers. It's highly likely anyway that there's at least one trike available at the shed.

A couple of days prior our babymoon, I already arranged the boat rental with Ate Grace. The boat ride is P100 per head 2-way, but for a minimum of 4 persons. She quoted P400 for a special trip and I agreed to this since they weren't expecting other visitors that day. Besides, our budget could still afford it.

I was relieved to find out that the 15-minute boat ride is just a smooth cruise (choppy water's a nightmare for me). Ate grace was already waiting for us at the beach. She and the other caretakers were painstakingly raking sea grass off the whole stretch of the shore. Impressive.

She made us choose an open cottage which we also reserved two days ago. We decided not to bring Hurley, our tent, to lighten our load. For only P500, an open cottage can be shared by 5 persons. Mattress, blanket and pillow are provided. That, my dear friends, is what we already consider as luxury.

Shaded campsite for those with tents.

We were the only campers on the island. Admission fee by the way is P100/head for a day tour, P150/head for an overnight stay, and P200 for a 2 days 1 night stay (and nope, I don't know how it is different from the overnight one).

After we have settled in our somewhat posh accommodation, we ate our baon. A late lunch of homemade chicken tocino with rice. Shortly after, heavy rain fell and we were confined momentarily in our airy cottage. According to Ate Grace, the cottages were just constructed last December, so they are still in top shape. No need to worry about leaks. Drops of rain could be blown in through the window though (caretakers could easily solve this issue by covering it with a tarp).

In just half an hour, the rain retreated. We took the chance to explore the beach within a 20-meter radius. Yeah, we were that lazy. The starfishes got us excited, but we fought the urge of toying with them for photos. They are marine creatures that need to be protected from human's curious hands.

Left: Starfishes scattered on Magalawa's creamy white shore. Right: Lounging on one of the beach's hammocks.

Before it got dark, we prepared our dinner. The caretakers helped us flame up our coals (P20 per bag sold by the resort), which was a daunting task because the grill was soaking wet. I tossed our liempo (half-cooked and frozen to prevent it from spoiling) on the fire while we snacked on toasted marshmallows. It was done in a jiffy, and soon after we were chowing it with rice. Our equally yummy side dish, salted egg with roasted tomatoes.

It would have been a perfect dinner had I capped it off with a bottle of cold beer (the resort sells for P35 a bottle). Shucks, I'd have to wait for several months before I could drink again.

Due to lack of sleep, we hit the sack early. No opportunity to star-gaze anyway since clouds were still hovering above the island. We awoke very early as well, to the noise of pumped up newcomers at 6 in the morning. By the tone of their shrieks, it was quite obvious they were first timers too.

More than fifty weekend vacationers were expected to arrive that Saturday. We couldn't go back to sleep with the commotion going on, so we had our breakfast. Canned beans, sardines and bread. After which we watched Trainspotting on our netbook. We brought it for the sole purpose of viewing films.

And oh, we had a quick swim of course. For the first few minutes, I felt awkward walking around in a 2-piece suit with that big belly of mine hanging out. Not for long, I've acclimatized to the constant staring.

Half an hour before noon, we packed our things. I settled our P1,420 bill with Ate Grace (admission fee + cottage rental + bag of charcoal + special boat trip). I was surprised to see the breakdown of our charges. Boat rental was P500 instead of the P400 she quoted on her text message. Though I still got that message in my inbox, I didn't point it out anymore. They spoiled us to bits, so I just considered it as a tip.

It wasn't exactly a stress free babymoon, but we had so much fun... Just the two of us - which is the main objective of a babymoon anyway. Shervin's glad I persistently nagged him to take this arduous Magalawa Island trip.

Commuting back to Manila from Palauig is not difficult, though it might take a while before an Olongapo-bound bus passes by Radio Veritas Road. We hopped on an ordinary bus and paid P100 to Olongapo. From there, you can choose among several Victory Liner buses going to Caloocan, Cubao and Pasay (about P250).


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WeekendHaven said...
July 6, 2010 at 6:23 PM

Preggy and having fun! like it! :) Will have to list magalawa on our weekend getaways too. thanks for sharing.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 6, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Yup, add that to your bucket list. Charming beach it is! By the way, great photos of Gunung Bromo!

The Nomadic Pinoy said...
July 9, 2010 at 7:43 PM

At 6 months into your 'highly active' pregnancy, your baby must already be feeding on your adrenaline even inside the womb.
And before I read your first paragraph, I thought Magalawa is part of Borneo hahaha!

July 11, 2010 at 9:26 PM

This is lovely guys.

and this is during the gestation phase, i can just imagine when the travel junkie baby comes out!

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 11, 2010 at 10:29 PM

Yeah Dennis. Baby will definitely come out as an adrenaline junkie!

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 12, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Uhm, Ron (FlIPN TRAVELS) is that you? Anyways, thanks. We are sooo excited to see our future backpack buddy!

Renz said...
July 17, 2010 at 9:31 AM

I'm not a beach person but hubby is..I'm considering a surprise birthday beach treat for him... let's see..

Great blog you've got here!

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 17, 2010 at 4:58 PM

That sounds sooo romantic Renz! I bet he will love it! Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...
December 8, 2010 at 6:26 AM

Thanks for dropping by my blog.
geez! What you got here is better than mine. Amazing! Now I'm your fan! :)

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
December 8, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Thanks SolePendulum! Will definitely visit your blog again. Following now.

Magalawa Beach said...
January 9, 2011 at 12:07 PM

Magalawa beach is truly an amazing place, people visited this place really enjoyed their stay. Hope that we can maintain this place so that next visitor can enjoy the place.

Pinoy AdvenTurista said...
January 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM

i luv beach camping... this will definitely be on my list this year... thanks for sharing...

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
January 25, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Mervs, if you love beach camping, for sure you will love Magalawa!

Nonoy said...
March 3, 2011 at 11:04 PM

Ang ganda dito ah. Sana makapunta na me ng manila pra maka visit ako sa Magalawa island.:-)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 4, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Yeah! Make sure you visit pag napunta ka ng Luzon :)

demeter said...
March 7, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Hi! Be careful of sandflies on this island as these are very small bloodsuckers that are abundant in their sands (NIKNIK). I blogged about them last 2006 when I wrote about Magalawa Island. The island was very different back then. Totally no material about it on the net yet so I just brought my trusty GPS and looked for the place. The beach areas were very unkept because very few tourists went there. Thanks so much for your blog and updates. I can see that the group of boy armada has setup some small cottages already and are cleaning up the place? Incidentally, two factions are currently fighting for the rights to this island, that group of Mr.Armada and a certain "MISSISS". Be careful not to get in the middle of this argument as people there feel very passionate about it. There have been some threats and even deaths reported as a result of bickering amongst the locals. The cottages as well as the website you mentioned in facebook are owned by the Armadas. However, I think a majority of locals feel and support the authority of this "Mississ" as owner of the island so do be warned and be careful when you stay at anything owned by the Armadas on the island.

If you wish to read what I wrote back in 2006 then here is the link.

demeter said...
March 7, 2011 at 11:46 AM

By the way, bring fruits when you go there this summer. These will help augment the bland fare they have available on the island.

Altogether, Magalawa island is STILL truly a beautiful place to go to. Did you know there is a marine sanctuary between this island and Pulo (San.Salvador Island). I saw it once and it was BEAUTIFUL!!! Lots of corals and fish. I believe that prior permission is required and a fee of 50 per head is exacted from tourists who wish to explore there. Please contact the Tordillo family (Mily, Junior or Raymond) at SMART# 0909 341 4621 or 0907 275 6995

Badet said...
March 15, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Wow, the baby is a travel junkie in the making. Hmmm, they should be BFF with my baby. She's been to a bumpy bus ride to Baler when I'm 5 weeks preggy, to Boracay at 2 months and Cebu at 3 months. =)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 15, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Awww... my baby Luna's got a future BFF!

cha said...
April 5, 2011 at 7:23 PM

hi mam..
white po talaga yung sands sa shore.. overall ang ganda ganda talaga po ng Magalawa :D

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 5, 2011 at 10:47 PM

Yeah, Cha. Sa photos ko kasi parang cream because it was overcast when we were there :(

Anonymous said...
April 12, 2011 at 9:45 AM

can you give us an itinerary? magkano package deal?thanku- lilac

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Hi Lilac, please contact Ate Grace for the package. Like them on FB then send them a message:!/pages/Magalawa-Island/204336016808

demeter said...
April 14, 2011 at 10:37 AM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yna said...
April 29, 2011 at 11:10 AM

hi po.. is the island already crowded with other campers? thanks po =)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 30, 2011 at 9:19 PM

It could get crowded on weekends. Plus it's summer, so loads of people flock there now.

Axel said...
May 3, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Wow!! The place really looks nice and peaceful, I will try to visit this place sometime soon..

demeter said...
May 5, 2011 at 9:54 AM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...
August 27, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Really love your style of writing. :) Detailed yet concise at the same time! Kudos to your great work!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
August 27, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Thank you :)

Dee Quixotic said...
August 27, 2011 at 3:40 PM

the big starfishes allure me to visit this island.
sana soon. Victory Liner lang...? andali lang ng instructions...

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
August 27, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Yup! Victory Liner lang, then trike going to the pantalan :)

demeter said...
November 4, 2011 at 6:58 AM

UPDATE November 2, 2011

1. Good news! The Ruiz Resort in Magalawa Island is NOW OPEN for Amihan season 2011-2012!!! Please call Raymond Tordillo for reservations now!!! 0922 268 8111 or (02)983 0432

2. Parking at LUAN PORT in Pangolingan has been raised to a whopping 200pesos / night. However, there is now a guarded parking area in Masinloc Port, Town proper at only 100pesos/night. Please choose which option is right for your group.

3. GATE 3 in Subic Bay Freeport Zone is now OPEN ! (hooray!!!)

Deo Bobis said...
November 14, 2011 at 12:13 PM

May maganda po na beach/camp area sa Tambobong, Pangasinan. Hindi pa siya commercialized kaya sobra ganda ng beach at mababait ang mga tao. There is a new resort there, just starting. Its called PANTALAN BEACH RESORT in Tambobong. Bawal ang maingay na karaoke, cemented parking for 10 cars(50/night), kubo rental at only 1.5k per night and maintenance fees at only 50/head for use of cr and bath kung gusto niyo mag tent lang sa beach!!! Pero very very basic facilities lang. They even offer set meals for groups. Or if you want them to cook merong minimal fees lang. The kubos are built right on the pantalan (port) so GREAT view of the ocean talaga. Maganda yung kubo and can fit 8 to 10 yata. Meron din built in tables made of bamboo lang. Rustic. Its owned by the Bobises so just call nanay Precy bobis or Deo Bobis at SUN#09227154685 or SUN#09236685401 or SMART#09075183062 for reservations and arrangements. I understand they can even arrange transpo to/from manila na rin now. Pls call or text for rates nalang. Thanks.






Badet said...
December 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM

The cottage and the hammock looks inviting. I hope we can bring baby there soon.

Lyndsay/Discount Travel Blogger said...
January 16, 2012 at 1:19 AM

I'm planning to camp there by February to show a visiting friend. From the photos, I think I won't be embarrassed showing them Magalawa Island. I'm excited, I can't wait!

Raymond said...
January 27, 2012 at 1:14 PM

May iba pa po kayong option maliban sa resort nila Grace Armada na yan. May camping area po sa harap ng isla kung saan mas malamig at may mga cottage din. Nakapunta na ba kayo ng Anawangin or Nagsasa cove? Parang ganun din ang style. Mahangin din at mas maganda ang Magalawa Island hindi naman sa nagyayabang...
Kung gusto niyo pong i-try na pumunta tawagan niyo po ako sa Manila at tutulungan ko po kayong magcoordinate sa caretaker na isla na uncle ko din na si Uncle Mulo. Ito po yung landline number ko sa Maynila (02)983 0432 or sun number 09222688111 or smart number 09475181409 hanapin niyo lang po si Raymond (ako po yun).
Ito po ang presyuhan doon sa campsite :

Boatpick up (2 way)
-- 100/pax-kung galing luan
-- 200/pax-kung galing masinloc

Entrance fee 100 per pax overnight,

kubo 1000 per night (kasya 4-5pax)

Cottage 700 per night ( pagkainan at pang relaxing )

Kasama na po sa entrance fee ang paggamit ng cr at maintenance ng lugar. Ingat lang po na huwag magkalat masyado kasi po maliit lang po na isla yun at mahirap kung magka garbage-problem. You will be spending about 300 or less for food siguro. Maraming nabibilhan ng pagkain sa loob ng island. Puwede rin po kayong magpaluto for a small fee. No available rental of snorkel/mask/fins dun for now so its a good idea to invest on a good set nalang. Wala pa rin po available na rental ng tent pero malapit na po. Mag inquire nalang po kayo kung may available na pagtawag ninyo. Kung magdadala po kayo ng sarili ninyong tent ay libre na po ang puwesto kasi po kasama na po sa entrance fee yun kaya entrance fee nalang at boatride nalang ang babayaran ninyo.

Basta tawag lang po kayo sakin..

Anonymous said...
March 12, 2012 at 4:03 AM

I have read lots of blogs about Magalawa - it's beauty and it's issue of ownership. Nakakathreateaned actually. Halos lahat ng blogs e mentioned un ownership issues. Hindi po kaya macompromise ang safety ng mga tourists? Me and my teammates are planning to have a teambuilding in this place pero im having second thoughts because of the issue. And were 15 so mejo mahirap i-manage. Others are advsing to stay away from Armada Resort while others say it's okay kc accommodating sila. Hmmm... this is a burden for the tourists kc instead na magenjoy e bka in the middle of our stay e magkagulo sila :) Please help to decide kuing san ba tlga okay magstay,asap. thanks - Beachbod

Anonymous said...
April 3, 2012 at 2:13 PM

is this place safe for a lone traveller like me? have plan to spend my holy week in this wonderful island.

Yee Sindayen said...
April 11, 2012 at 8:40 AM

I think I love you na ;) Super thanks for the info!!!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 11, 2012 at 11:18 AM

^^ Haha! No prob :)

Joyce said...
April 23, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Wow. Such a wonderful place. Starfish are everywhere! Will visit this place soon. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...
May 3, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Hindi cia kasinggnda tulad ng mga pics sa internet, dame tuyong dahon nkalutang sa dagat..dameng bawal sa Armada 1ng place dun na sinigawan kme ng 1ng guy na bawal picturan ung view na un kse raw sa Armada rw kme ngbayad tpos ung view na un ang kukuhanan namin..ang pangit dun sa guy na un, pasigaw tlga at galit na galit tono ng salita nya, na dapat nman kse turista kme, sna sa maayos na paraan kme cnabihan..

Anonymous said...
May 3, 2012 at 11:35 AM

GANID sa pera mga ARMADA, biruin mo dumating kme dun ng 2pm, dahil sa pangyayari na dameng bawal, ngdecide na lng kme na umalis na lng khit ang layo pa ng byahe nmin frm manila..6pm magbabayad na kme, nka-package kme ng 1800 per head, pro cningil pa rin kme ng 1400 per head, grabeh, ganid tlga, wla man lng kme nagamit sa facilities nila, tpos 1400 pa rin cnicngil sa amin..kesyo nka-pckage dw kme..kesyo luto na rw dinner namin, kesyo nkapamile na rw cla. ndi man lng kme binigyan ng konting consideration man lng...ngpigil na lng kme na wg magalit kse nga dayo lng kme sa place na bad experienced tlga yang Armada Resort na un..

IanFresco said...
September 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Nice im planning to have my Birthday here on November! :)

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