It took us hours on the road to get to the remote island that is Magalawa Island. When left with no unusual sights, I find that it is easier to more receptive to beauty and even humor when I am with the familiars.
Once again, Zambales is the travel destination of my high school pals this year. And why not? In just one province, we are given a handful of summer activities to do such as climbing a mountain, surfing the waves, or island hopping. This year, we zeroed in on the Western Coast where Magalawa Island is found.
It’s the Spontaneous Trips that Push Through
The trip was close to being unplanned, which is unusual for someone who would gladly be spoiled by itineraries. Calling Mang Mulo of Ruiz Resort in Magalawa Island the night before, we found out cottages and tents are fully booked for the weekend. Meanwhile its rival resort, Armada Resort, is three times more pricey.
At 6AM, aiming to risk not getting accommodation at Magalawa Island, the bus at Victory Liner Caloocan-Monumento only afforded us a chance passenger option. Needless to say, we had to endure the hassle of standing on the estimated four-hour bus ride and being transferred to a bus with no sure seating.
The Long Road to Magalawa Island
Being on the Westmost of the Philippines, Malagawa Island’s surrounding waters is already the West Philippine Sea. The bus ride is long and arduous. It requires a nearly 7-hour patience, frequent stretches, and light-hearted company.
After the bus trips from Manila to Olongapo, and Olongapo to Pangolingan via Sta. Cruz bus, we took the tricycle to Radyo Veritas Port. From there a boat fetched us from Magalawa Island. The cost of travelling roundtrip is a little more than PHP 1,300.
Surprise! The risk was worth it, as there is a cottage available at Magalawa Island for the six of us priced at PHP 1,500. Couldn’t be more convenient, being equipped with electricity plugs, electric fan, a bed and a mattress. We quickly tended to our starving tummies by ordering lunch at Ate Leny’s karinderia.
Activities in a Secluded Island
At Magalawa Island, you can go jet ski tubing, snorkeling and island hopping care of Mang Mulo. Beach bums can also enjoy halo-halo at Ate Leny’s and go stargazing by the bonfire by nighttime. There’s zero challenge in terms of amenities as there is a toilet, shower and a water pump within the vicinity and electricity at night.
Beach Rivalry and Plant-Infested Shores
Apparently, the beaches of Magalawa Island are private property and we cannot cross to Armada Resort, which has the finer sand. It is only in retrospect that I realized this rivalry between the two resort damages the reputation of Magalawa Island as a whole.
Sand-wise, Ruiz Resort beach is average. But what I didn’t like about the water is that there were seaweeds, starfish and jellyfish on the beach. Made it a bit icky to swim in.
It’s kind of a bummer to travel for nearly 7 hours only to find out you can’t cross into the finer white sands, or swim too far from the seaweed-laden shore. The activity we enjoyed the most — that made up for it — was sweating ourselves out with beach volleyball. That, and going on photowalks along the limited shoreline we had.
Sometimes, It’s the People that Make a Trip Worth It
When it took us hours on the road to get to Mt. Magalawa, I find that it is easier to more receptive to beauty and even humor with friends. While traveling for places and not people is still my mantra, I can say that sometimes, a trip is only as good as the ones you are with.
Thank you Wesley Soriano for photos!