Tayabas Bay, Santa Cruz, Marinduque
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Marinduque is widely known for the traditional Moriones Festival celebrated annually during the Holy Week but little do people know that there’s more to this province than men dressed in ancient Roman costumes and morion masks until an island promising white sandy shores, turquiose seawater, stunning sandbar and amazing rock formation surfaced the internet. It didn’t take long for people to take notice of the long, unspoken jewel that was Maniwaya Island and the myriads of splendid things it offers.
Marinduque and is less than an hour of boat ride away from the main island. It is surprisingly undeveloped with only a handful of resorts lined along its shores of rough coral stones and white sugary sands. Its water is teeming with life although negative effects of cyanide and dynamite fishing in the past are still very much evident in one too many dead corals scattered in its ocean floor. Its rustic vibe and tranquil state are its most redeeming qualities. Plus, it is totally off the path and uncrowded so you are guaranteed to have that patch of sand to frolic under the sun with for that much needed tan.
🏻 WHERE TO STAY
There are resorts in the island offering different types of accommodations. The most prominent one is Wawie beach Resort. You may also opt to stay in their open air cabana at P2000 good for four to six or in the tents at P500 per night good for two. You may also bring your own tent and you get to pay only P300 per night or your hammock at P150 per night. Entrance fee is P50 per person.
Wawie’s Beach Resort
Maniwaya Island, Santa Cruz, Marinduque
Contact Numbers: +639213695359 / +639773314872
Rates: Tent – P500 per night | Open Air Cabana – P2,000 per night (5 to 6 persons sharing) | Private Room – P1,200 per night (2 to 3 persons sharing)
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Maniuaya Island is located in Barangay Maniwaya, one of the 55 barangays of Sta. Cruz, Marinduque. To get there it takes five hours of land travel from Manila and another one hour of sea transport.
Superlines terminals in Sampaloc, Cubao, and Alabang have daily routes to Catanuan and Mulanay. Get on on any of these buses then take off at General Luna Crossing in Quezon; fare rate is ₱320 ($5.98). From there, take a tricycle that goes to General Luna Port. Note that the boats that ferry the passengers to the island only travel once per day at 10:00 a.m. Boat fare is ₱150 ($2.80) per head and the journey takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
As with our group, we reached Quezon via van transfer, which we rented for ₱12,500 ($233.71).
We went to one of the rolling stores to break our fast before we proceeded to the harbor. At around 7 in the morning, the tide is still low, thus the tourists had to board those small fisherman boats to get to the ferry boat. When our group was all aboard the ferry, our journey continued.
Our big group found a home at Pielago Beach Resort, owned by a couple, Peter and Liza Quitoriano. During our stay, Ate Liza happened to be on the island. She has a bob hair, always smiling, and you will never see her without her shoulder bag that she likes to wear cross-body. She was present but not intrusive and she made sure that we got everything that we need. She’s also pretty cool, even indulged in joining one of the games that we played during our drinking session.
The resort is beach-front, with an expansive front yard dotted with tall coconut trees. We stayed in a 2-story house with 2 rooms. The ground floor has a common toilet and bath while the room on the second floor has its own, albeit smaller bathroom. It has a kitchen, a balcony, and a veranda. Despite our big number, we were able to squeeze ourselves in the 2 bedrooms. I stayed on the master’s bedroom with 6 other people. The three girls slept on the queen-size bed, I preferred to sleep on the extra mattress on the floor.
Our accommodation arrangement includes delicious home-cooked meals, mostly seafood with vegetable dishes and a generous serving of fruits for dessert.
Maniwaya is where I experienced the most relaxed kind of island hopping. It’s not because we were on a yacht or because we were treated like royals, but because there are only 2 islands to visit, Palad Sandbar and Ungab Rock.
Pielago’s distance to Palad Sandbar is a mere 190 meters, so close you can see the island from the resort.
We were late that by the time we reached the place, the sandbar was already submerged in water, further obscured by the boats that were docked on the side. There are many tourists swimming and taking photos, and pretty soon our group got to working. By working I mean working it for the camera, of course.
The water level reaches up until below my hips. The sandbar may be gone, but the view is still amazing. I stood fascinated at how blue and clear the water is.
Ungab Rock can be found on Mompong Island, about 30 minutes away from Maniuaya Island. This is where we stayed longer to enjoy snorkeling, and in my case, just swimming.
You can see the giant rock formation, jutting out on the shore blanketed by the trees. I just looked at it from afar and took a few photos. I didn’t bother stepping on the island and jumped straight to the water for a swim.
The Philippines is an archipelago, but many Filipinos, like me, can’t swim for shiz. In fact, my friend, Cai was the only strong swimmer in the group. He went off on his own with his free diving gears, while I stayed afloat on the water with the life vest on.
When I grew tired pretending that I was a mermaid, I went back to the boat. As I was sitting there, wondering what time we’d return to the resort, I spotted one of our boatmen eating turon. Turon is one of my favorite Filipino snacks. It’s made of sliced bananas (jackfruit is optional) wrapped in spring roll wrapper, deep-fried with brown sugar. I must have it. Next thing I knew, everyone on the boat was eating turon. It’s important that I mention this because it’s the best turon I have ever had in my life. It was soft and warm, not too sweet, and the spring roll wrapper wasn’t thick unlike most turon in the market. What’s more, it’s cheap, only 10 ($0.19). So if you ever get to Ungab Rock don’t leave without buying that turon. Thank me later.
The island is generally quiet with strong cool winds that blow no matter what time of day. It was not a remote place but underdeveloped, no grand establishments like bars or restos, no nightlife. The network signal is intermittent, in my case, Globe only works when I go by the seashore. It’s the kind of place ideal for a quick escape from the city.
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The place is still pristine. It was not crowded when we went there last year - November. We stayed at Residencia De Palo Maria Resort. They don't have a menu but instead you can let them know what you want to eat at least 4 hours and they can cook and prepare it for you. Their spicy pork sinigang was the crowd favorite. It was always part of our meal. You should also try their steamed lapu lapu.
We also went to the Palar Sandbar. I'll review it separately.
Btw, there is no electricty from 3pm to 5pm/6pm. The cell signal is also weak and I liked it. Good opportunity to enjoy the place and appreciate the people around you.
The only down side of this trip was the long travel hours. Other than that, everything about Marinduque is
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I never thought I could literally solo a resort in an island for just 2,300.00
How? Me and my friends joined an open group tour where joiners are welcome. We were 9 already. And the tour organizer was looking for joiners to fill the van up to 13 participants. Luckily, **wink** the tour has been pushed through even though we are 9. Haha!
The 2,300 we paid was inclusive of van transfers, boat ride, 3 full board meals, accommodation and island hopping. Yes I am a barat traveller and that's how barat I am!
We stayed at Lorna's Place in Maniwaya. By the time we arrived, I can sense that there aren't any other guests. And yes, we got to solo the resort!!! As in we were so pampered.
The food they were served us was restaurant style!!! These are what we had:
Crispy Fried Shrimp
Pineapple for dessert
Deep Fried Chicken with veggies and sauce
Cake for dessert
Sinigang na Labahita
Yang Chao Riiiiiiiiice
We didn't expect that the foods served will be so delicious!! AS IN MASARAP LAHAT
Electricity supply by the way was 3pm to 11pm only.
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Makaka move on ka sa ganda!
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We are so lucky to have some of the most amazing & beautiful beaches in the world, IMO. And man, I tell you, the waters of Marinduque will make you say, "Wow..."
I was just here last weekend along with a friend who's a member of a group of backpackers who have been traveling all over the Philippines. I even met a 23-year old lad who's been to 70+ provinces already which made me think, "What the heck am I doing with my life?"
Being a joiner, I only got to pay 2,300 for the entire trip. Cool, right? It includes transportation (2 vans were rented), food, water, boat rental fees, environmental fees, & tents. I slept on a friend's hammock, actually. Achievement unlocked! There are also rooms for rent, though I don't know how much is their rates.
Anyways, it took us 5 hours (I think) from Ayala-Makati to reach the port of General Luna in Quezon, then another hour of boat ride going to the island.
When we got there, everyone was doing this first: check their phones for signal! And to our surprise, it's really good! You can even use your mobile data for internet! Mawala na lahat wag lang signal. LOL!
The only downside is the water. It'll probably take 3-5 mins. to fill a single bucket. Electricity there mainly depends on a generator which only operates from 3pm-5am, so bring your power banks. Food there is also limited, but they actually have hotdogs, rice, cup noodles, sodas, coffee, chips, etc. No restaurants there, but don't worry, you ain't gonna starve. Some locals also sell fresh seafood & desserts like halo-halo!
It's only ideal to stay here for a night or 2 just to explore what this place has to offer. You can snorkel, rent a jetski, do island hopping, make a bonfire at night, play beach volleyball, and more. Wait until you see the island at night with so many stars and a full moon. Sobrang ganda!
A weekend well spent indeed!
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If you're looking for a nice beach to just relax and unwind without the noisy crowd and all that jazz, Maniwaya Island is the perfect beach getaway.
Unlike any other tourist-y beaches in the Philippines, not too many people flock here, except, of course on Holy Week, which they celebrate Marinduque's star festival, Moriones Festival.
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Maniwaya Island situated along Sta. Cruz Marinduque boasts its white sand and crystal clear water!
Perfect for some quite time and indeed a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of Manila.
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