Quezon Province: Laidback Island Experience
April of this year, me and my colleagues took a breather from our fast-paced work. We were persistently thinking of it since March, however, we couldn’t get our schedules together. Top priority was to find a destination that is at least 3-4 hour ride from Manila, affordable, less polluted and free from the metro-traffic! Oh, yes! That daily traffic that annoys every commuter! And so, the searching begun…
Our hunt ceased when we discovered about the famous ‘BORAWAN BEACH’ or the Boracay and Palawan of Quezon Province. The name itself intrigued us for this was compared to two of the world class tourists spots in the Philippines.
Since it was our first time in Quezon, we googled for guides online which led us to Mr. Aldy Torrenueva. He and his wife, Belle provided info’s and offered tour package at an affordable price, just what we needed! If you want to reach them, just click on his name. (Tip # 1 : Always compare tour proposals from different tour guides to get the most of it’s inclusions or get the value of your money).
We left Jac Liner, Kamias Terminal (Cubao) at 2AM and arrived at Lucena Grand Terminal Station at around 5AM. From there, we took a UV express ride to Padre Burgos, Quezon wherein we met up with Kuya Aldy. Our group opted for the UV rather than the mini-buses for our convenience, but riding the mini-bus is cheaper if you’re on a very tight budget.
Before heading the beach we dropped at a nearby “Talipapa” (mini-market) and bought tilapia, liempo, sweet potatoes, banana’s, 3in1 coffee, rice and water for our 2days and 1 night island hopping adventure. (Tip # 2 : Buying from the local market is better than bringing along food as it is cheaper, plus you won’t have to carry them during the trip. Moreover, market goods are fresh).
We then rented tricycle going to Padre Burgos beach, registered at their local tourism desk and off we aboard the boat after a swift orientation. Hooray!
Below is a photo taken while we were on our way to the first island, look at those green bushes and clear seawater!
Boat rental costs Php 1,800.00 (good for 10 persons) plus cooking utensils (cookwares, plates, spoon, fork, knife and chopping board). The rent covered trips to three islands namely, Puting Buhangin, Dampalitan Island and of course, Borawan Island.
Kuya Aldy and his wife also sells water and charcoals so no need to bring them. (Tip # 3 : Remember, always inquire the service scope of the guides. Sometimes they are extensive to keep guests coming back. In our case, we did not know that they sell water and charcoals so we end up carrying along a 5-gallon water.)
Our first destination was Puting Buhangin Island that took at least 30-minute boat travel. The sands were white but not really fine, water is clear and according to the boatman is the best beach for swimming compared to Borawan and Dampalitan. No wonder there are lot of foreign and local tourists plunging at sea.
Entrance and cottage fee rentals are collected upon arrival. After having lunch, which was our very first meal for the day, everyone felt sleepy. It was time for a short nap as we could not resist the inviting fresh warm weather. Luckily, our cottage was large enough to provide space for our SIESTA!
There are many campers and beach bums that are on this island. Sadly, this made it hard for us to find a an area to put our our tents up. By the way, tent rental costs Php 500.00 good for 4-6 person plus a pitching fee of around Php 75.00 to Php 150.00 depending on which of the the three islands you’ll stay on. There’s also a fee of Php 5.00 for every use of the comfort room, however, let the keeper know if you’ll just change clothes as this is free.
Moving on, at the left corner of the beach you’ll find “Kuwebang Lampas”. It is a cave with sea water floor as the local describes it. People were all around taking pictures so we did not bother exploring the cave further, instead, we spent the rest of our stay on the beach. (Tip # 4 : If you want to have a trip with less people, travel during lean season. Will definitely follow this trip on my next adventure.)
At around 1PM, we decided to leave Puting Buhangin and get ahead of the campers to the next island. Another reason was to get ourselves space for pitching our tents. As much as we would like to stay on the island, we were worried to not have a space to sleep for the night. So, we contacted our boatman and off we go…..
Again, upon arriving to Dampalitan Island, entrance and pitching fee’s were collected.
Finally, we found a good location to pitch our tents on. Another good news was, we were under the trees which gave us a cooler surroundings and best part? It was also fronting the beach! Couldn’t get any better!
Since we have so much time to spend, we bond over cooking, exploration of the island, taking pictures, had some reading time, swimming and getting ourselves tanned! Well, in my case getting my skin darker! LOL!
As mentioned, use of comfort rooms costs Php 5.00, but taking a bath costs more! A 5-gallon bathing water is sold at Php 50.00. Since the comfort rooms are shared publicly, don’t expect it to be super clean. (Tip # 5: Make sure to prepare extra money for unexpected expenses such as this.)
After dinner, we made a bonfire, slept at the sand and stargazed. I enjoyed much the stargazing part of our trip. We were looking at the stars and making stories out of them. Laughing at every story made and naming stars as if it was ours. Seldom you’ll see stars in the Metro clearly, if ever you will, heavy pollution from vehicle exhaust will fill your face first. That is not an exaggeration, sad to say.
This experience is overwhelming but could be difficult if you’re used to the city life. Good thing I was born and raised in one of the islands in our country so I did enjoy and treasured this trip very much! You could walk along by the seashore and watch the sunrise or in the afternoon, the sunset. Very much of a barkada and or lover’s kind of trip.
“Sunset and sunrise at Dampalitan Island”
The next day, which was our last day, we again roamed around the island and took pictures of almost everywhere. We couldn’t get ourselves over as every spot is picturesque. And I really meant that! You can experience them yourselves.
“Getting wild with the mangroves”
“Long stretch of seashore”
“Our sweet ride”
We left Dampalitan Island at around 11AM and went to our last and final island adventure, the famous “Borawan Island.”
You can’t go wrong, the place is as beautiful as Boracay minus the not so fine sand, however, jellyfish are almost everywhere so there are areas only that are permitted to swim on. This specific area is enclosed with fishing net so that the jellyfishes could not enter and harm any of the guests. Unfortunately, one of my colleague was stung by this creature. Don’t worry, it was not that serious, anyhow, in case you visit Borawan, just be very careful.
In my personal opinion, Puting buhangin and Dampalitan island are better compared to Borawan. I am referring to the peacefulness, the view and the charming power of their shoreline. Borawan is as developed as Boracay. Villas and beach hotels are readily available to choose from plus comfort rooms are more sanitary. If you are more of a swimmer than a viewer, then I suggest that you spend the trip either at Puting Buhangin or Dampalitan Island, just for the jelly fish reason alone. However, even though this is the case for Borawan, we spent our swimming activity the longest on this island. There are still part of the island that is not crowded.
We stayed on the island until 3PM, as we don’t want to get stuck in traffic back home. There were no snorkeling activity offered to us during our tour, so again, if you plan on visiting Quezon, expect it to be as laidback experience just what we did. A trip that restored our peace of mind, heart and soul…
One thing I know for sure, this trip made me appreciate God’s creation more. Most of all made me want to explore and live the life of a wanderer. It might be a dream right now but nothing is impossible. Getting out from your comfort zone, satisfying the passion and craving for more excites the wanderlust in me! This will not be the last. (Tip # 6: If you have the chance to travel, don’t ever hesitate grabbing it. Travel before you run of time, money can be earned, but time and memories is priceless.)
Happy island hopping from us! Until our next adventure!
Disclaimer: This trip is not sponsored, every words written are my personal opinions. Photo credits to a dear Friend S. De Leon. Please also check below video compiled by yours truly.