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A Complete Trip Guide To Magalawa Island, Zambales

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 Travel , Zambales


A month after our Magalawa jaunt and Im still hung over. Its still, clear waters, powdery sands and soberness, a
constant memory. If you wish to be hung over the way I am, heres a comprehensive guide on this secluded
Zambales getaway. I included transport options, directions, food, accommodations, dangers, activities, and nearby
destinations you can check out.

Directions on How to Go To Magalawa Island


By private vehicle
From Balintawak, take the NLEX and then SCTEX. Magalawa Island is about 4-5 hours by car. Same route going to
Subic. Make your way past the Subic Tipo Road to RH5 and exit the gate (fronting the cemetery), turning to the left
going to Iba. There's a huge Iba signboard by the cemetery, you won't miss it.

SBMA gate/ exit to Iba, Zambales


You will pass by the towns of Castillejos, San Marcelino, San Antonio, San Narciso, San Felipe, Botolan and Iba
before finally reaching Palauig. Just follow the road straight and you' won't wind up lost. Theres practically no
street light for miles from San Antonio all the way to Botolan, so better drive early, the latest 12 noon.
Head north of the road going to Masinloc, past Iba market. There are two junctions in Palauig: Amungan and
Banlog. Keep right at the first junction/ fork toward Banlog. Turn right when you reach Banlog Triangle (marked by
a statue of a farmer on a carabao) and drive north to Brgy. Pamolingan (some say it's Pangolingan, but Pamolingan
is more apt).

Drive past Zameco Electric Cooperative and Salaza Bridge, after which, youll see the Pamolingan welcome
signage. A few minutes further and youll see a narrow road at the left side of the highway, with a tricycle shed and a
JB store next to it. Turn left. This is the road going to Luan Port. Its a 20 to 30-minute rocky but quite scenic ride to
the port, passing by Radyo Veritas to the left.
You can park your car at the port. It is a huge, beautiful and secure port, with a guard near the entrance (Michelle
Hill). From there, a boat takes you to Magalawa Island in 5 minutes tops.

Luan Port
By public commute (from Manila, Bulacan, or Pampanga)
1. Take a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales

Via the Iba-Sta. Cruz bus:


From Manila, take any Iba-Sta. Cruz bound bus. Victory Liner is one and is preferable as they have regular
schedules posted on their site and WiFi on board! Their dispatchers reply pretty quickly to texts too even in wee
hours. Tell the conductor to drop you off at the tricycle terminal to Luan Port/ Radyo Veritas at Pamolingan. Theres
a JB store beside the tric shed. This is perhaps the only landmark youll see for miles.
Bus fare ranges from P450+ to P490+.
Some terminals have hourly trips, some every 2 to 3 hours. There are schedules for Iba-Sta. Cruz via SCTEX too
(non-SCTEX buses use the old Olongapo road) in their terminals in Sampaloc (1PM) and Pasay (not in website;
phone rep said it was 11 or 1pm. Call to check). Trips via SCTEX cut travel time by 30 minutes, as per Victory reps.

View of Luan Port and Matalvis Island (foreground) from Magalawa


Victory Liner Monumento is located from the street across Edsa Grand Central. I suggest taking the LRT to there,
cause its the nearest one to NLEX and will significantly cut your travel time than if youre boarding a bus from the
others (from VL Pasay or Sampaloc, the travel time could take 7 to 7.5 hours; from Monumento, its 6 hours).
If you're coming from elsewhere in the north (i.e. Bulacan or Pampanga), the Iba-Sta. Cruz Victory buses pass
by the back of Robinson's Star Mills San Fernando, Pampanga, then stops for a 5-minute pee break at Double
Happiness in Lubao, Pampanga. You could make your way there instead of traveling back to Monumento, but be
advised that it might be standing room already by then especially on weekends. Half the passengers alight by San
Narciso in Zambales.
The bus also makes a stop at the Olongapo branch and lastly at the Iba, Zambalesterminal. Theres plenty of Sta.
Cruz-bound buses in both.

Via the Iba bus:


Since there are no restaurants in Magalawa, some visitors opt for Iba-bound buses to buy fresh meat for cooking at
the Iba market.

From Iba, you can take a Sta. Cruz-bound bus (A/C bus fare is less than P100; P30+ for ordinary) or ride a jeepney
(P20+). Both Iba and Iba-Sta. Cruz buses run through the same route.
Important note: Take the jeepney bearing the Masinloc signboard, not the ones going to Palauig. While Magalawa
Island is located in Palauig, Palauig jeepneys go directly into Palauig town proper. Magalawa is en route to

Masinloc, not central Palauig.


All the same, tell the driver to drop you off at the tricycle terminal to Radyo Veritas, approximately 20 to 30 minutes
away.
2. From the Pamolingan tricycle terminal, tell the driver to take you to Luan Port. Be ready for a bumpy 30minute trip. The fare is P100/ head for two or more passengers. Lone ones, prepare P150. If youll be staying at the
Ruiz Resort (which I strongly suggest you do), the resort caretaker, Kuya Mulo, will arrange a tricycle for you. Just
advise him around what time you'll be arriving and a tricycle will be ready when you arrive.
Kuya Mulo's number is 09294670505 or 09288568242. If those dont work, contact Kuya Raymond at
09127894571.

There's a JB store beside the tricycle shed (upper right) and small nipa shed across the street. Alight here.
3. Boat ride to Magalawa Island
Kuya Mulo will be waiting at the port an hour before you arrive. He's awesome like that. It's a short, uneventful 5minute boat ride to Magalawa Island. Boat fee is P100/ head. Free for toddlers. Adult vests are available, but if you
have an infant or toddler, better bring one. Theres virtually no current whatever time of day it is and Kuya Mulo
uses big, stable boats, but as we say, safety first. ALWAYS.

The water is this still all-day at Magalawa Island. Super kidfriendly!


Going back
Advise Kuya Mulo of your check-out time ahead of time (since tricycle drivers travel from the shed all the way to
the port) and request a tricycle pick-up.
Few buses pass by the tricycle shed, much less buses headed straight for Manila. I took the mini-bus (ordinary, no
A/C) to Iba, but there are also jeepneys. Both are recommended, unless you're willing to wait for long for an A/C

bus that goes straight to Manila. From Iba, board a bus going to Cubao or Manila. Buses that ply the SCTEX-Manila
route are only available in the Olongapo terminal (so if you prefer that, then take a bus from Iba, alight at Olongapo,
and take another bus from there).
We live in Bulacan and Manila-bound buses DONT stop at the Bocaue tollgate, so we took the Baguio-bound
bus at the Olongapo terminal. These buses pass by SM City San Fernando in Pampanga. Applicable if you live
near SM Pampanga too.
Accommodations
There are 2 resorts at the island: Armada Resort (western side) and Ruiz Resort (eastern side). Theres an ongoing
legal dispute between these two. Though their accommodations are more rustic, I chose Ruiz because THEY ARE
THE ORIGINAL OWNERS and have the land title and court approval to prove it. They're much nicer too, even
according to guests who've been to Armada. They even discreetly sent a staff to accompany Lia and I as we combed
the other side of the island (there have been incidents when the Armadas have manhandled Ruiz Resort guests who
visit the western side of the island, which they claim as theirs).

Ruiz Resort

Armada Resort
There are two types of accommodations in Ruiz Resort. Tell Kuya Mulo you were referred by Demeter or Francis
of libot.blogspot.com for discounted rates.
1. Nipa cottages
Got the cottage for P1,200/ day; Original rate is P1,700, if Im not mistaken. Room can be shared by up to 5
persons. Extra mattress available for a nominal fee. The resort isnt strict with the check-in and check-out time.
The room has a double bed, a fan, a wall mirror and a broom. Theres a 220V socket. No TV and no A/C.

Our home for the night. Were assigned cottage #4.


Coincidentally, Lia and I were both born on the 4th. This room is so us!
For bigger groups (2 or more, I think), theres a special rate of P1,500/head which includes the cottage and fullboard meals. Unfortunately, they dont offer that for singles.
Youll be handed your own key to a basic shackle padlock. Common toilets (three cubicles) for everyone with the
good old buhos and tabo system. If you run out of water, advise the staff and theyll motor-pump a barrel for you.

Electricity is available from 6pm to 7am only using a generator, so make sure to charge your gadgets during that
time. Cell signal is available for Sun, Smart and Globe users.
2. Tent pitching
P200/ head for campers. Free use of facilities (i.e. volleyball, hammock, beachside bamboo cottages). Bring your
own tent, needless to say.

UPDATE: Ruiz Resort now has a full list of packages for both fan room and ten accommodations. Including fullboard meals and the two-way boat ride, tent and fan room accommodations are priced at P1,500/head and
P1,700/head respectively (prices as of May 2014).

For those who prefer a fuss-free stay, you may opt for the package with two-way aircon van transpo (Manila to
Zambales and vice-versa), which is P2,800 and P3,000, respectively for tent and fan room accommodations. This
includes an island hopping trip to San Salvador and Bakala Islands.
You can view the packages in detail on their Facebook fan page HERE.
Food
Because there arent any restaurants in the island, you can either bring canned goods/ instant stuff or fresh meat and
rice for cooking (dont forget the charcoal!). There are cooking stations at the beach. Cookware can be borrowed for
free.

Plenty of cooking bunks like this one where you can cook fresh meat on
charcoal!
Alternatively, you can have Kuya Mulo cook food for you. P200 paluto fee, food not included. I heard they also
have a store on the island. If youre traveling in a group, take the P1,500/day package with full-board meals for
convenience.
Bonfire setting is prohibited to protect the sands.
Watch out for
Sandflies. Got bit by the little rascals while in the water and boy, do they sting (harmless though, but not so much
fun). Regular Off lotion doesnt work. I read you can make your own anti-sandfly lotion using
Citronella. Demeter has details.

Rip tide. Theres a rip current at the western part of the island, fronting the Armada Resort. Theres a huge warning
sign posted at the exact location area, so please, try not to do anything silly. People have died from rip tides.
Otherwise, the rest of the island is perfect for kids. Almost no current, and the sand slopes gently.

Part of the island with rip current, seen on the right as a white hued area in the water (next to the
sand).
Food-ransacking dogs. Please dont make the same mistake that I did and leave your food outside the cottage, no
matter how sealed it is (unless its stored inside a thermochest or a sturdy cooler). Mine were sitting on our table

outside, sealed in plastic and in microwavable containers and still, when I woke up at 2am, all that's left were canned
tuna, Lia's meds for colds, and pieces of torn plastic. Found out the culprit is a dog from the adjacent Armada
Resort. Thankfully, Kuya Mulo and his wife were kind enough to give us rice for free and a cup of instant coffee.

Activities you can do


Relax on a balsa. Both Ruiz and Armada resorts have roofed balsas for rent (P100 per balsa), which many use when
snorkeling.

Balsa
Snorkeling. Theres an amazing coral garden just 10 meters off shore (fronting Ruiz Resort). Vests are free, but the
snorkeling gear you need to rent for P50 per set.
Volleyball. There's a volleyball net at the back of the beach cottages, fronting the toilet. Usage is free.
Nearby destinations to check out
Mangrove forest. Located at the western tip, at the end of Armada Resort. About a 20-minute walk from Ruiz
Resort. You may also ride a boat going there - ask Kuya Mulo. Lovely, tranquil place to spot egrets.

Mangrove forest at the end of the western tip. That little white things is an egret!
San Salvador Island. Visible to the east from Magalawa Island. Accessible via a 10-minute boat ride from
Magalawa, San Salvador is home to various taklobo (giant clams) species and a small coral garden as well. Two-way

trip costs P1,000 plus P200 maintenance fee for the islands caretakers. Kuya Mulo offers free rides if hes headed to
the island (for fishing, I presume), so do ask beforehand.

San Salvador Island, seen at the right.


Matalvis Island. Not sure if this ones open for visitors as its a titled land for sale, but you might want to ask Kuya
Mulo too. Its the island near Luan Port, across San Salvador.

Potipot Island. Though farther than Magalawa, Potipot is more popular and more frequented by tourists. It is a
small 7-kilometer island located off the coast of Uacon in Candelaria, two towns further north. Accessible in a one to
two-hour land trip from Palauig, plus a 5-minute boat ride from any resort in Uacon.

So many starfishes in Magalawa!


Masinloc attractions. A visit to adjacent Masinloc after your Magalawa trip is great for maximizing that uber
looong trip. Wasnt able to check these out though due to time constraint. There are jeepneys passing by the
Pamolingan tricycle terminal going to Masinloc. Its easy to ask around. Locals are super friendly and helpful. If
youre driving, Id suggest using Google Maps.
1. Masinloc Baywalk
2. Masinloc Church
3. Coto Mines/ Kidz Pool Mountain Resort
A nature park cum resort fit for the adrenaline junkie (oddly, not too much for kidz). Complete with falls,
humongous rocks, a mountain, and a river. I read you need a bad ass 4x4 going there because the road can get
disastrously rocky and it thats way for two hours.

Coto mines/ Kidz Pool Resort. Photo from limbonis.com


Surfing at Liwliwa or San Narciso. Zambales has great swells especially during the summer season, making it a
suitble alternative to San Juan in La Union or Baler. If youre headed home to Manila, drop by the neighboring
towns of Liwliwa in San Felipe or San Narciso (home to the famous Crystal Beach resort) for some surfing. Or drop
by either town before heading to Magalawa. They are just along the way.
Iba resorts. Being the provincial capital, Iba is perhaps the most popular of all coastal towns in Zambales. It is
teeming with resorts, both basic and upscale, lined side by side. Its more mod and more convenient (in terms of the
trip) than Magalawa. Sands black and coarser and can get quite crowded too.