With 7107 islands (or 7108 in low tide, as Charlene Gonzales would remind you), Philippines is second only to Indonesia in terms of Islands. So, it was no wonder that one of the easiest weekend activities during my stay in Manila, was finding a new island. There are so many options out there, that it is mind-boggling to see all of them. There is Corregidor, Anilao, Puerto Galera, and even the hundred islands. I wanted to blog about these islands, but don’t know where to start, so I’d rather start with a very obscure, yet amazing, island which is roughly about 5 hours from Manila.
Magalawa is a little island off the coast of Zambales, and is everything that an island should be : calm, serene, yet beautiful. If you have your own transport, getting there is relatively easy, as you can follow the route map below. But if you were like me with no transportation, you commute using the local buses. From Manila, take the victory liner bus heading to Zambales. Inform the driver that you need to be dropped off at Brgy. Pangolingan in Palauig. This is a rather obscure drop-off point, so ensure that you keep reminding the driver ;-).
Once you are in the Barangay, you need to hire a tricycle which can take you to the Armada fishdealer compound in Barangay Luan. Now, this part of the trip can freak you out if you are new in the Philippines. There is no road, or at least there wasn’t one when I went there 2 years ago. And there are no other vehicles at some stretches of the road. But nothing to worry about, since the ride was smooth and uneventful.
Once in Barangay Luan, ask for a mini boat that can take you to Magalawa island. It takes about 10 minutes, and the prices vary according to how ‘foreign’ you look. I remember I paid 800 pesos, just for me and a girl I was dating at the time. But after 10 minutes, you will know it was all worth it, when you see powdery sands like below. And the added fact that I was the only tourist, in a sea of locals who are aware of this place.
We stayed on the western side of the island with a resort called the Armada resort. When we visited this back in 2010, there was only 1 resort, but I have heard that there are a few different ones on the east side now, so take a look for more options. You are allowed to pitch a tent at designated spots, but we had already booked a nipa hut.
Lunch was served in a floating restaurant. Well, not technically in the middle of the sea, since it was just 1 metre from the beach! But hey, a floating restaurant is a floating restaurant! And the food was amazing. As we found out the next day, everything was caught fresh and cooked. I was on a seefood diet on this island! The food was so good that I only had to see it, and ended up eating it immediately! Get the joke?
But what truly made Magalawa memorable for me, was the fact that I have seen some of my best sunsets and sunrises here. It is not always that a place shows beauty in both, but due to the small size of the island, I just had to walk around a little bit and catch both the dawn and dusk.
So, that concludes why Magalawa is one of my favorite hidden islands in the Philippines. Have you found any such gems in the Pinas?
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