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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Alibijaban Island: A Sweet Faraway Escape

2/08/2017 09:11:00 PM 4 Comments
I felt deprived of a getaway for quite sometime. The last time I went on a vacation was back in May. OMG, that was 4 months! A quarter of just home-office-home, I can't believe I went through that haha! So I asked Beau why don't we go somewhere. The next question was where? We've been to almost all the nearby beaches. That's when I thought about Alibijaban.

A colleague of mine went there a year ago and I saw their stunning photos. I was sold. I knew it is far but we already ran out of island destinations near Manila. I asked Beau to take care of the research and logistics because I was so busy on my Japan visa application and trip preparations.

we had Alibijiban Island to ourselves for a day!

Day 0

We decided on a night departure so we can be in the island early morning and still have the whole day to spend there. From Buendia, we took the 9:00 PM JAC Liner bus bound for Lucena. The trip only took 3 hours so we were already in Lucena at around 12:00 midnight. Both of us didn't have dinner so we took our time and ate at the Grand Terminal. After filling our tummies, we looked for the San Andres van terminal. Unfortunately, the last one just departed so we would have to wait for the next one to get filled up again before we can go. We waited from 1:00 AM to 2:30 AM!

There is also an ordinary bus going that route but it'll take longer because it will stop from town to town. Another thing was, ordinary means no A/C and you'll inhale all the dust for 5 hours. Who wants that? Though waiting in the terminal almost drove me nuts, I don't think I wanna go through that.

Day 1

The van ride only took 4 hours. We were already in San Andres Port by 6:30 AM. The town was just beginning to wake up. We were relieved to see a burger stand at the port entrance. Breakfast! While we were waiting for our burgers, a Manong with his grandson arrived and approached us. He asked if we already have a ride to the island, which was none. Their timing was perfect because there are no signs of other tourists yet, wala pa kaming makaka-share to rent a private boat. We told Ate to just make our burgers to-go so we can already leave. Excited!

the island welcoming committee :)

He initially wanted to charge us 200 pesos each but we negotiated that 200 should be for round trip. It isn't very far. We actually read somewhere that they were only charged 30 per head. But then they were like 4 or 5 in a group so we think 100 per person is already fair enough since we were just a couple. He agreed and we decided to just pay for one-way trip for the mean time.

first order of the day: sleep!

The island is big! I never thought it was that huge. Manong who took us to the island also have some huts and accommodations available but since we brought our own tent, we looked for a much better location where we can pitch it. And this is the perfect place:

loved our camp site!

Original plan was to just set camp, rest a little then start exploring the island and swim. What really happened was, we just rest the whole day haha! After we pitched the tent we said we'll just nap for an hour or two. When we woke up the sun was already setting. Oh no.

sunset and low tide

We underestimated the distance and the journey going to the island. We realized that were so tired even the day before because I came straight from work and didn't have enough sleep during our commute.

nothing to do but stroll because low-tide

 We just had a late afternoon stroll at the beach with the dogs. So much for Day 1. :)

Day 2

To make it up for the lost time the day before, we started early on our second day. We prepared a heavy brunch as soon as we woke up. We planned to explore the island the whole day so we need to be full and energized.

our super yum brunch with fried rice!

And so we began our hike. Our first goal is to find the bridge with the picturesque view of the mangroves. We passed by the village first and asked the locals for directions.

their clean and quiet village

We actually have 2 other companions. The 2 friendly dogs that were guiding us since Day 1. We didn't asked them to go with us, they just instinctively followed even though we don't have food with us. Well, I love dogs so we just let them follow around. Maybe they also sense people who are nice to dogs. :)

hiking it up!

I initially thought it was just near but I was wrong. It took us 20 minutes to reach the first bridge and we're still not seeing the view we're expecting to see. It was so hot that day and we didn't even bring some water! Akala kase namin malapit lang!

the first bridge :)

We also stop from time to time because we were also kinda worried about the thin dog. It's a good thing that whenever they see a stream, they swim to refresh themselves!

very relaxing to see!

Finally, after another 10 minutes we found what we were looking for - the beautiful mangroves all lined up at the side of the crystal clear river. We stayed there for about 15 minutes just to soak in the view.

just happy with nature :)

We continued to hike some more to see where we'll end up. It seemed like an endless trail so we decided to turn left towards the beach.

maybe this way...?

After passing by some residential houses, we reached the beach. And then we found what seemed to be a floating hut. It is already high tide when we came out, so it is the perfect time to swim! We decided to stay in this place because it looks awesome. And you can swim nonstop without getting sun burnt because it has a roof!


After 40 minutes or so, a local resident who owned the place noticed that there were two strangers horsing around in her hut and asked us to pay for Php 20.00 for its usage. No biggie, we paid her 40.00.

natural swimming pool!

Anyway, we were really planning to stay there for a while. I also took it as, us helping them in our own little way. Life is hard in the island. When I actually saw the condition of the school there, I actually felt sad. Our Php 40.00 was so worth it.

When low tide came, it's time to walk back to our camp site but - we have to find that sand bar first! We asked a boat man about it and we were told that it wasn't that far from where we are so we can just walk.

yep, you have to pass through a lot of these!

We can just walk in the shores because it's low tide but we just have to go through  a lot of mangroves on the way. Beau no longer wanted to trek back on the same path we took that morning, so you know what happened next...

this amazing dog guided us all the way!

If you are not very adventurous and courageous, I wouldn't recommend what we did! Not only walking through the mangroves is difficult, there are also a lot of things to watch out for! We saw several sea snakes and other suspicious creatures while making our way to the sand bar! You really have to be very careful and be always on the watch on what you're stepping at.

hello from the sand bar!!! :)

I was actually also worried for the dogs! Thank goodness, all four (Beau, I and the 2 dogs) of us made it to the sand bar safely!

in the middle of nowhere :)

Other tourists were actually renting a boat from the camp site to the sand bar. Yes, you can do that! So if you're not a hard core explorer like we are, don't do the same thing haha!

a cloudy end of the day
We were very glad with what we've accomplished on our second (last) day. It was tiring but very exciting. That night, we rewarded the dogs who accompanied us with food. We cooked some extra rice for them and fed them the same thing we had for dinner. It was heartwarming that they never left us despite the difficult trails we took. They are even guarding our tent at night. Such sweet dogs.

How we made it to Alibijaban Island:

  1. JAC Liner Bus from Buendia/Taft bound to Lucena City.
  2. Alighted in Lucena Grand Central Terminal and looked for the van terminal for San Andres.
  3. Told the driver to drop us off near the port. They already guessed we're bound for Alibijaban :)
  4. At the port, there are actually no "passenger" boats going to the island. You just have to ask locals if, pwede kayo "tumawid" with them. That is their local term hehe. We were accommodated by an island local for Php 100 each. Haggle if you feel like they're asking for too much. Php 100 is fair enough. If you're a big group, you can hire an entire boat for yourselves. There are some boatmen offering that kind of service too. We did not avail that since we were just 2 pax and it'll be expensive for sure. 

our loyal companions :)

Transpo and Resort Expenses:
Php 420.00 - Bus, Pasay to Lucena (210 one-way)
       540.00 - Van, Lucena to San Andres (270 one-way)
       200.00 - Boat, San Andres Port to Alibijaban Island (100 one-way)
       200.00 - Camping/Tent Pitching Fee (100 per pax per night)
         20.00 - Cottage Rental Fee (20 per person)
         30.00 - Mineral Water (60 per container)
         50.00 - Bathing Water (10 per bucket - yes, it's not free!)

Food budget depends on your group. In our case, we brought our own rice and some cooked adobo that lasted for a day. We just bought our additional food at the island - namely dried fish (tuyo), sardines, misua and what not. Who needs fancy food in a far away island? Unfortunately, no fisherman's catch during our stay because it was full moon! Yaiiks!

no electricity: island life

We spent approximately Php 2000.00 per person for this 3D2N beach camping trip. The biggest chunk (more than half) of the budget went to transportation, well... because it is far. ;)

What I Liked About It:
  • The beach is so clean and beautiful!
  • The island is kinda huge so they do have a big community meaning - a lot of sari-sari stores. No need to bring everything there.
  • No bunch of noisy drunk campers haha. Because it is far from the Metro, it is not crowded. Not sure if it's the same during summer though.
  • And because it's not crowded, it's so peaceful! Perfect for relieving stress from the big city.
  • Budget-friendly. For me it still is. If not for the long commute, it won't be as expensive.
  • The bathrooms and toilets are clean. Hallelujah!  
  • The locals are very kind.

 What I Didn't Like About It:
  • You have to pay for the bathing water. It's not like they're getting it manually from a well but whatever. Not a big deal. Help na lang din sa community.
  • Though the island dogs are very friendly, don't leave your food or groceries unattended. I think they weren't being fed well that's why they steal food from the visitors. But please don't hurt them, they are just hungry.
  • It is far. I mean from Metro Manila. The long commute was tiring. Don't get me wrong, it is worth it!
*The last three things I mentioned were not deal breakers at all. I still recommend it! I would still love to go back to this island.

I'd also like to recommend where we stayed (where we pitched our tent). They have good facilities and they are attentive to the needs of their guests.

Pension Beach House 
Brgy. Alibijaban, San Andres, Quezon 
Owner: Violyfer Badua 
Contact #s: 0998-571-4614; 0998-569-8047; 0920-760-3204

You can reach out to them if you want a contact from the island or want to arrange a boat transfer and accommodation for your group.

Have fun in Alibijaban! :)

We travel not to escape life, but so life does not escape us.