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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Finding Magalawa: Your Do-It-Yourself Travel Guide

Sudden changes at work, deadlines, trainings... sigh... what happens when all of these happen to a clique of happy-go-lucky-call-center-slaves? Hmmm... Burnout!

So without any further a do, as soon as some extra pennies can be pulled out of our pockets, we came up with this bright, yes, a very very bright idea - tsararan! OPERATION PALABOY. Okay, I don't want to go on details what Operation Palaboy is (I think it's self-explanatory); and trying to use some of my brain cells will contradict the main purpose of its foundation.

I have learned about Magalawa Island 2 years ago (again because of playing with Google Earth). Two years ago, I searched about getting there and total expense will just be around nearly Php1000.00. I got too excited about the island since it's like what most average working individuals would say a "pasok-sa-banga" budget trip. However, circumstances happened that this Magalawa Island Trip plan got cancelled numerous times.

For this year, after being on a long leave from going outside, I decided to go back on the road. This time, it's a road trip with good cool friends at work. The pressure was like dominating 80% of my body for about a week and a half during the planning stage - this trip should be good, WE needed it, THEY badly needed to be relaxed, I WANTED it.

(plus some fun facts and exclusive friendly trips, how about that?!?)

I know for a fact that when people want to learn about a certain place, they rely with their bestfriend named Google for some help (I do too). Here's a sample, look:

As of November 4, 2012 2:22PM, if you're going to type 'magalawa island' and/or 'magalawa' in Google, you'll end up with the results shown above. Most of those who have visited Magalawa Island went there through Ate Grace of Armada Resort. Yeah, about 2 weeks ago, I tried to check their Facebook Page and website, however, I found it pricey(for me) and quite disappointing. Why? Aside from the fact that they only offer packages, I would understand if my trip will cost a little higher because of the transpo fares(it's inevitable due to continuous price increase of gasoline) but if it's because of  a sudden increase in one's accommodation in a supposed-to-be-not-exclusive-island, nah, expect me to pass.

I almost gave up my dream to visit Magalawa Island; thanks to the help of my blogger friends in our Facebook Group; Astrid Zoe of Starfish Travels shared an unfamiliar contact named Mang Mulo.

(This is it, pancit! Your all-out DIY Travel Guide)

Take Victory Liner either to Sta. Cruz or Iba, Zambales.
Schedule and Ticket Price of Victory Liner.
For inquiries, you can send an e-mail to, you may also call (02)3611506, (02)3614665 to 66. Bus leaves exactly on time so make sure to be there at least 30 minutes before. Make sure to specifically tell the cashier or to the bus conductor that you're getting off at Veritas Road or Brgy. Pangolinan so you will be priced accurately. In short, do not just simply say 'Iba' or 'Sta. Cruz'; it's far different.

Our original plan was to take the 4:00 AM trip via Sta. Cruz. Unfortunately, though we're quite 25 minutes early, there were no longer available seats. We got 2 options left - wait for the Sta. Cruz bound at 7:20 AM or Take Iba route instead and we can leave at 5:00 AM. Hmmm... we took the latter even that meant that we needed to take another 30-minute-bus-ride.

via Sta. Cruz
From Caloocan, take a Sta. Cruz bound bus. Asked the bus driver to drop you off at Radio Veritas Road in Brgy. Pangolinan (Palauig Zambales).

via Iba
From Caloocan, take an Iba bound bus. At the Iba Bus Terminal, take an ordinary bus to Palauig. Asked the bus driver to drop you off at Radio Veritas Road in Brgy. Pangolinan. Fare is Php34.00.
How to know if you're already at Veritas Road? Watch out for that waiting shed. 

From the drop-off point at Veritas Road, ride a tricycle. Fixed rate is Php150 which is good for 2 pax only. Make sure to tell the driver that you will be staying at Mang Mulo (locals call it 'Ruiz') since almost all of the drivers there are used to bringing visitors to Armada Resort; it's important because the 2 got different ports.

After a 30-minute-exhausting-bumpy-ouch-ugh-super-rough-road-tricycle-ride, Mang Mulo's boatmen will pick you up at Luan Port. Don't worry about the boatride to Magalawa Island; it is smooth and will only last for about 10 minutes or so.

Magalawa Island is quite an off-the-beaten beach destination. Do not expect hotels, resorts, rooms with aircon, and free WIFI. There are 2 resorts in Magalawa Island - Magalawa Island Resort (a.k.a. Armada) and Ruiz Resort (Mang Mulo: 09294670505).

Magalawa Island Rates via Mang Mulo
Tent ...................................  Php300.00
Bring your own tent ............   Php200.00
Kubo (w/ fan) ....................    Php1000.00/5-6pax
Open Cottage ....................   Php500.00/10-11pax

Roundtrip Boatride is just Php100.00.

* What's the maximum capacity for Tent? How much are we going to pay? Is it Php200 per tent or Php200 per pax?
Good news, backpackers! It's Php200/tent. Do not worry about the maximum capacity. If your tent is good for 4 pax, or if it can accommodate 10 pax, then the charge will be Php200/4pax or Php200/10pax. 

* Is there any electricity in Magalawa?
Magalawa's electricity is up from 6:00 PM to 7:00 AM only.

* Is there any menu available at Ruiz Resort? or food packaged with the accommodation?
(Unlike in Armada) Ruiz Resort is not into tour/trip packages. You can bring your own food, cook your own food, buy your own food in the barrio, or even catch for your own food too. You are allowed to bring your fish rods, so you can catch some fish for your meals. No extra charge.  

*Can we set-up a bonfire?
Yes. And the good news is that you can do it for free.
(Optional: you can ask Mang Mulo and his boatmen to look and pile some wood for your group for Php50.00)  

Finding Magalawa, the Photogenic Island
Have you heard about a 'photogenic' place? If not, Magalawa is definitely one. To be honest, as we get closer to the island, my excitement died. The sand is not white as what Google shows, there were even a lot of weeds on the shore; that time, I couldn't even imagine where we can swim.

Underwhelmed, I'd been talking to myself since we set foot on the island; hmmm... I just can't believe that I traveled that far, spent almost 7 hours just to see an ordinary beach. (Or maybe, I was just expecting too much that at least it could be next to Calaguas). Sigh (repeat 24x).

Sigh again (repeat until fade).

Late afternoon, we took a silent walk by the beach and still, I tried my best not to vent out my disappointments. That time, Magalawa Island is no longer my ideal type of beach... not until my boss asked to take a picture of her...

...we can say that that's where all the magic started. Unbelievable.
shot taken by Nico T.
Jumpshot, anyone?

Not believing the shot we just took, I tried to click the shutter again, making sure if it's for real.
Late afternoon at Magalawa Island
See the sand? It's not white fine powdery sand like how most of the pics in Google say. Don't expect too much.
But you can look up, Magalawa got a great sky above. 
Let's try another one...
Clear Water + Great Sunset+ Nice BlueSky  
Definitely, Magalawa Island is a perfect photo session destination!

I'm supposed to give you a sexy pose like the one above...
but I saw a big fish just right in front of me... I got amazed and chased it instead.

Sorry, next time na lang.
Again, they say, a trip will not be complete without a group jumpshot. So... tsaran!
shot taken by Nico T.
Please don't look at my big tummy though (I'm not an expert in Photoshop).

"True. There would be trips that will not turn out as expected and planned.
But just like in life, we should always look at the BRIGHT side of every thing."

So we tried to look for something bright in Magalawa... hmmm... they're not shining and bright though, but they're cute... 
Magalawa Island is blessed with hundreds of constellations of starfish. I tell you, there's A LOT.

Of course, it would depend on your chosen accommodation. Accommodation cost will be less expensive if you'll opt to stay in a tent. Ahmmm... sssh... use your haggling skills too, we actually got it a way little cheaper than that. *wink*

Friendly Tips/Things to Remember/Important Info
(Whatever you might wanna call it, read it):

* If you do not want to take the rough road, you can take the boatride at Masinloc. Masinloc is the town after Pangolinan. Roundtrip boatride is Php200.00. If you opt to do so, make sure to send a text to Mang Mulo indicating that you want to be picked-up at Masinloc.

* Send SMS to Mang Mulo before riding the tricycle so he can send his boat before your group's arrival at Luan Port.

* There's a common bathroom in Ruiz Resort. Though, it's called 'common', no need to worry since Magalawa Island is not known to everyone. The CR is clean, well maintained, and got ample supply of water.

* Make sure to buy food at the town proper in Iba or maybe before you take the bus. Do not expect that there are some small sari-sari stores or a small wet market at the port. The answer? hmm... there's none.

* You can ask Mang Mulo and his wife, Ate Beng to prepare food for you. IMPORTANT, NO, VERY IMPORTANT: Send them a text at least a day before your visit that you want them to cook some seafood, or whatever your cravings are. Consider that since, there's no market in Magalawa, they need to take a boat, ride a 30 minute tricycle, and a quick jeepney ride to satisfy your cravings. Understand. 

* Do not expect that you can buy fish, crabs, or pusit fresh from the catch if the there's a full moon the night before

* Mosquitoes roam around from 6PM to 8PM only. =)

All shots are taken with my 3 year old Nikon D60 and 18-55 kitlens.


  1. The sky looks really...breathtaking. Is there any specific month when it's ideal to go there?

  2. this is really inviting Mitch and lovely shoots too :)

  3. Chasing PhilippinesMonday, November 05, 2012

    Thanks Doc! :)

  4. Chasing PhilippinesMonday, November 05, 2012

    @ Apollo,

    Ang alam ko, sabi ni Mang Mulo, all-year-round okay naman puntahan ang Magalawa. Kung hindi man maganda ang panahon, itetext kaagad nila kayo na wag na munang tumuloy.

  5. The sand is not that inviting, but the skies are. :D Buti na lang nakisama ang panahon. :)

  6. Wow! I love DIYs and your post is so enticing!

  7. The place really looks scenic and very affordable. They really have great beaches in Zambales.

  8. Chasing PhilippinesThursday, November 08, 2012

    @ Cris | Pinay Thrillseeker,

    The sand is pretty okay. I just thought that it's as white as Calaguas. And yes, buti nakisama yung panahon. Pero ang saya pa rin dito, super tahimik. Sarap matulog at mag-"Me" time.

  9. Chasing PhilippinesThursday, November 08, 2012

    @ Franc Ramon,

    I agree, Zambales got a lot to offer. Hmm... This is the first one I got to visit, hope I can also see Nagsasa, Anawangin, and Capones soon.

    1. Go visit Nagsasa..super peaceful...

  10. Chasing PhilippinesThursday, November 08, 2012

    @ Galilee,

    Thanks, Im glad you liked it. Hope it could be a great help for those looking for a quick cheap weekend getaway in Zambales.

  11. the beaches in Zambales is really one of the best! would try to insert this in our zambales trip next year!

  12. Chasing PhilippinesSunday, November 18, 2012

    @ My Nomadic Habits,

    Yah, they have some of the best and they're just accessible. I would like to try the other beaches there too like Anawangin, Nagsasa, and Capones

  13. Wow! Ang ganda ng island! Pasok na pasok sa banga! Love it! =)

  14. Chasing PhilippinesSaturday, December 08, 2012

    @ Joni Kiki,

    Pasok na pasok talaga to sa banga! Promise! :D

  15. Very informative entry about Magalawa.

  16. thanks for this post, I actually followed your itinerary when we went here first week of dec. Looking forward for more travel post in your blog

  17. Chasing PhilippinesWednesday, January 02, 2013

    @ Girl with a lot of riches,

    wow, glad to hear to you visited Magalawa. So how do you find the beach?

  18. Been there too last year. I was underwhelmed too. But the pictures tell a different story. Our contact was Grace Armada and when we got there, I wished we stayed to Mang Ruiz. The people from Mang Ruiz's resort was more accommodating.

    I'll follow your posts na kasi its super helpful for aspiring travellers like me.

  19. Chasing PhilippinesFriday, February 01, 2013

    Hi Mommy Jhen,

    Thanks for checking my blog. :)
    I tried to go and check the other resort (Armada), they're too busy and not that accommodating.
    The people in Ruiz Resort (Mang Mulo and family) were very helpful and attended to all of our needs.

  20. Can we get the n7mber of mqnh mulo or ruiz

  21. Can we get the n7mber of mqnh mulo or ruiz

  22. Chasing PhilippinesMonday, March 25, 2013

    Here Davey, Mang Mulo: 09294670505

  23. Hi Mich! Nice write-up. I was smiling while reading your post. Question, oks lang ba for kids ito? How about the sandfly, any bad experience? may mga nabasa kasi ako about it.

  24. Chasing PhilippinesTuesday, April 16, 2013

    @ Trip@dora,

    When we went there, may 1 family with 3 or 4 kids ata ages 2-7. Kids friendly yung shore sa tapat nila Mang Mulo, yung mga bata walang bantay kasi super mababaw lang yung tubig. Yung sa kabila kasi is medyo malalim ang biglang lumalalim yung shore. About sa sandfly, wala naman kaming na-encounter during our stay.

  25. Hi. Ask kolang sa IBA bus terminal ba may pa-cubao doon? Thanks!

  26. Chasing PhilippinesSunday, April 28, 2013

    Meron din po ata. 2 bus po kasi yung nandoon. Pero para po sigurado, tawag ka sa Victory Liner.

  27. Aun ohhhh...
    After. Potipot island, Nagsasa cove and capones island!!,

    Eto na issunod qng puntahan!!!
    Ahehehe masaya to!!!
    Tnx for sharing this...


  28. great blog...Thanks for sharing your experiences..we'll definitely look an eye to your tips/guide...

  29. Thanks for the information. Astig.

  30. if manggagaling pong cubao ano po pede sakyan dito na malapit kasi madaeng bus terminal dito? thanks

    1. Yes po. As long as may pa Iba Zambales na byahe, okay lang.

  31. magandang araw po,updated number po ni mang mulo? or same padin po 09294670505

  32. Lugar na hindi ko na babalikan. hehe. Nagexpect din ako na parang Calaguas siya., Medyo overrated lang yung place. Madamo, madumi tubig at maraming sea urchins.

    1. Hahahaha ang ganda kasi ng mga pictures sa google. Ang puti and very fine yung sand. Akala ko din. :p

  33. Hi! Anong time po last trip ng boat papunta sa island? Thanks!


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