Alibijaban and Burias islands: Home of mangroves and white sands

Alibijaban and Burias islands feature

Alibijaban — a name that’s synonymous with a budget-friendly, quiet getaway in the province of Quezon. This foreign-sounding island is mainly known for the numerous mangroves lining up the shore of its beach.

Is it really as good as it seems in Facebook posts?

Alibijaban island has its own charm. In fact I know a few people who’d been here a couple of times already. To me though one visit is enough. Seeing fields of mangroves and relaxing in a beach with just a few people around was a good experience, but not enough to warrant a second visit. To be honest I think there is too much hype built in Facebook about this place. Meanwhile, Burias islands in Masbate is somewhere I would like to go back to again, in particular to explore more of its islands.

Trip to Alibijaban and Burias islands

This excursion to Alibijaban and Burias islands, which happened back in May (as you can see this is a throwback post), was supposed to be for an outreach event organized by the founder Backpackers of the Philippines, Ming. I invited Hali along — we were still dating at this point.

Travel companions in Alibijaban and Burias islands
Supposed-to-be volunteers from Backpackers of the Philippines (BOP). (Photo by Hali Navarro)

On the night of our departure from Manila, we got information that another outreach group arrived a day ahead of us, and apparently there was no coordination with the local barangay so the captain was not aware that there were going to be two outreach activities. We decided to reserve our school supply donations for another community but still push through the trip, this time for a long weekend vacation.

We left at about 11pm in Manila and arrived in Quezon Province in the morning the next day. We stopped for breakfast and then proceeded to the port. In fairness to the local municipality, the San Andres port was nice and looked well maintained. Alibijaban stands just a 30-minute boat ride away from the port.

Alibijaban Island: Mangroves and starfishes

Alibijaban is a small island located in San Andres, Quezon. It’s about 10 hours away from Manila. Based on friends’ advice commuting is a hassle, so it’s better to hire a private van particularly if you’re with a large party. Our safe budget for this trip was P2,500, though actual cost was just about P2,000.

Allibijaban Island mangrove
Lines of mangroves. (Photo credit to Hali)

When we arrived, the caretakers recognized Ming from a previous visit there and accommodated us well, giving us a large open cottage. Unfortunately, some of us were not able to bring tents because of the sudden change in plan.

The weather was sweltering hot, the kind where you want to take a dip but you’re too tired to move and then you want to go around somewhere with more breeze but again you’re too tired to move.

Mangrove in Alibijaban, Quezon
Alibijaban beach (Photo by Hali Navarro)
(Photo credit to Hali)
Small sprouts of mangroves. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

After having freshly cooked fish for lunch we were slightly invigorated and decided to explore the beach. The beach looked beautiful but not ideal for swimming. It is low tide in the morning and late afternoon, and the water level was so low the best we could do was walk shin-deep in the water. There was also a lot of starfishes and charcoal-black sea urchins.

I hope I’m not making the impression that the place was just a drag. I guess there was just too much expectation built up from people singing praises about the place. As I said before the beach in Alibijaban has its own beauty and it was still fun looking around, taking photos, walking along the shore to see the toppled-down trees at the far end, with pieces of shirts tied around the branches. I still wonder what those are for. Hali and I speculated that it was a site for dumping bodies.

Shells in Alibijaban beach
The beach floor was home to numerous starfishes and sea urchins. There were also some large, beautiful shells along the shores. I just have this thing for shells. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

The sunset was perfect for photo-ops.

Sunset in Alibijaban beach
Sunset with Hali. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Sunset among mangroves in Alibijaban beach
The sun starting to recede, in soft colors. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

Since we didn’t have a tent, Hali and I slept in the exposed cottage. During the night (as would the following night), my skin was fodder for niknik or sand flies, which gave me several red spots all over the body. Hali was miraculously spared. I had since included bug spray in my must-have lists for out-of-town beach trips.

The morning was better and a refreshing sunrise greeted us.

Masbate: Sombrero and Pulong Dapa islands

We planned a visit to Sombrero and Pulong Dapa islands. One of my friends commented that Masbate is quite a leap from Quezon, but it’s actually just a 2-hour boat ride! This made the whole trip way, way better.

We alighted from the boat and stayed in a resort. They had huts and open cottages for reasonable fees, although our group talked the caretaker to allowing us to stay under the shade of trees free of charge, since we would be staying for a couple of hours only anyway (I actually do not recommend doing this; let’s support the livelihood of locals in the tourism industry). They also cooked us fresh fish for lunch for a fee.

White sand in Sombrero island
Alone in a beautiful beach, that’s paradise. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Sombrero island has a small land mass that you can wander around, end to end, in just under an hour. The actual sombrero-like (or hat-) rock formation is separated from the resort and you’d need a boat to cross, although we’ve been told that it’s possible to simply swim across the islet.

Sombrero island in Burias, Masbate
This huge land formation is shaped like a sombrero (hat). (Photo by Hali Navarro)
Beach in Sombrero island, Masbate
Hali and I, with the hat-shaped islet at the background. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

We were also told that the islet was, at one point in time, connected to the bigger island where the resort stands until sands were mined for transport to Boracay. Unlike in Alibijaban, the water here was a great blue and more than apt for swimming. There was also a long picturesque sandbar, with a small natural pool at the end.

Our next stop was Pulong Dapa island. Here it was rocky, and seaweeds and corals were close to the shore. It was a nice place for snorkeling and seeing small blue fishes that seemed to glow underwater. You can also climb up the rocks to have an overview of the place.

Pulong dapa island. Masbate
Beautiful view in Pulong Dapa island. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
View in Pulong Dapa island, Masbate
Flora in Pulong Dapa island. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

There was also a series of small “caves” inaccessible to us. I don’t know what they are but they looked amazing.

Cave formation in Pulong Dapa island, Masbate
I wonder what this formation is called. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

On the way back, we passed by a huge fishing boat that gave us (for free!) a large basin full of their catch. I read in an article somewhere that it’s a tradition among fishing boats to give some of their haul to boatmen who were less lucky in their catch. We spent another night getting bitten by niknik (or at least I did) and drinking around a campfire. The next morning, we packed our bags to go home.

And thus concludes our long-weekend visit to Alibijaban and Burias Islands.

Contacts:
Kuya Fidel, boatman to Alibijaban: 0998 411 6076
— P8000 RT including side trip to Burias islands, good for 20 pax

Sample weekend itinerary for Alibijaban and Burias islands

Adding this section due to popular demand. 🙂 Here’s a sample itinerary for Alibijaban and Burias islands in case you only have a weekend to spare. Again, I suggest going in a group so you can hire a private van, which is more convenient compared to commuting, or going in a joiner tour to these places. As of 2016, joiner tours for Alibijaban and Burias islands are priced at about P3000 per person.

If you want to go to Burias Island alone, you can also explore other parts of San Pascual as side trips.

Day 0
– 10:00PM – ETD Manila to San Andres

Day 1
– 6:00AM – Arrival in San Andres, shop for supplies
– 8:00AM – 6:00PM – Island hopping in Burias islands Sombrero island (Dapa Island, Tinalisayan Island and sandbar, Animasola Island)
– 6:00PM – Set camp in Sombrero Island

Day 2
– 8:00AM – ETD Sombrero Island to Alibijaban Island
– 10:00AM – 3:00PM – Explore Alibijaban Island
– 4:00PM – 12 midnight – Travel back to Manila

 

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34 Comment

  1. Burias island is in my list thank you for sharing. the water its clear and like the serene of the island specially in remote one.

  2. Lester says: Reply

    Wow! The place looks extremely awesome. I didn’t know this beach existed until I’ve read your article haha. Looking forward to more of your travel posts! PS: you two look great together 🙂

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Oh? Alibijaban and Burias islands are actually quite famous already, compared to last year. This summer it’s probably one of the most common destinations for those offering packaged tours.

      Thanks so much Lester. Yii. 🙂

  3. Veeyah says: Reply

    These photos are the real thing, haha. Love them! I want to go back to beaching and have a no-care attitude for even just one day out of my busy busy life. I feel like the only problem I should be having is getting a tan on all the wrong places, haha.

    1. Kat says: Reply

      I have uneven tan. It comes with beaching too much I guess. 🙂

      1. Last year I visited this place too. Mine is still with uneven tan. I am a big beaching person too. 😉

  4. Tamz says: Reply

    The sombrero and pulong dapa islands look stunning. Truly, Philippines has the best islands in all of Southeast asia

    1. I agree, Tamz. For someone like me who has been around, and I do mean around, I am still discovering more places that I have never been to, much less heard of. Truly, our country has countless destinations that even for us who live here, are just hearing about.

  5. I love your photos! I’ll save your post for future plans on this island 🙂

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Thanks for the compliment Charm! 🙂

  6. You have amazing photos! You highlighted the charms of the islands. 🙂 Mangroves, white sand, blue sky, sunset, good people – A paradise! 🙂

  7. Glad I had the chance to read your post. I’m from Bicol but I poor me, I haven’t been to Masbate. I should go to Masbate soon to see and experience this too.
    How much did you spent for the Masbate trip?
    I didn’t know that Masbate is just a 2-hr boat trip from Quezon. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Mirriam (Mirriam Dictionary) says: Reply

    the name of the place does sound foreign. I have relatives in Quezon. How do I not know this place? hahaha I should have a serious talk with my dad lol thanks for sharing this one. The place looks fantastic!

  9. Carola says: Reply

    I hadn’t heard of these islands before. I really loved to read your article. Aside from the sand flies, it sound very nice to me. I’m from the Netherlands, I see these kind of islands rarely :). Love to see them in your article. Makes me want to go to a sunny Island. The fresh cooked fish sounds amazing. And I really love the selfie you made at Sombrero island, looks great!

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Thanks Carola! It’s one of our first selfies together so it’s a favorite of mine. 🙂

  10. den says: Reply

    haven’t heard of this haven in Quezon! Looks so serene! Great that it is not as commecialized as other beaches so that you are really one with nature. How much was your total spend when you went there?

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Our budget was less than P2500. Nowadays there’s a lot of tours for Alibijaban and Burias islands for less than P3000. 🙂

  11. I love the sunset. This is the first time that I have heard alibijaban island. The place looks calm and great place to relax with

  12. Hali is a good photographer, the photos bring life to your story. The places you visited seems to be a nice escape from the urban jungle– and just enjoy nature and fresh foods. I guess the only downside are the sea urchins. I got stung by one when I walked thru a low-tide beach, and it took about three weeks before it was completely healed.

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Aww, really? I didn’t know it takes that long to heal. My friend got stung once and it just took several minutes for the pain to subside. Anyway, I still don’t like swimming in areas with sea urchins which is why I liked our trip in Burias islands better than Alibijaban island.

  13. Haven’t heard of this place in Quezon. The beach is very beautiful. I would love to go there but when I read about the travel time — 10 hours! I dunno if my back can endure long hours sitting down. Any idea how much it will cost to hire a van? The 8k is for the boat only, right?

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Hi Roselle! Yes, the 8k is only for the boat. No idea how much is the cost of van rental, sorry. 🙂

  14. I’ve always heard of Burias of my mom and how they have lots of sandbars, but I still haven’t really visited it yet. Hopefully, once I resign from my job, she’ll bring me to her hometown and we get to explore the islands she’s talking of including the islands you’ve featured.

    Truly, Sombrero island and the rock formations in Pulong Dapa island really sparked my interest in going to Masbate. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. Kat says: Reply

      My father is from Masbate as well. 🙂 He was surprised to know I already visited his hometown haha it slipped off my mind.

  15. oh wow, that’s a great place!!! ♥ I know someone who lives in Burias Island but I’ve never been there. There are so many wonderful spots to visit in the PH!

  16. mskathykenny says: Reply

    I love this posts because you really let me see the view. I hate travel posts where it’s selfies everywhere haha. It does look like a charming place and definitely worth a visit.

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Oh. Haha. I know what you mean. 🙂

  17. Hi, may I ask for the itinerary and budget list? And yung 2k na budget niyo, kasama na yung sa burias island? Also confused ako dun sa 8,000 RT sorry. Thank you. 🙂

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Hi, our itinerary is like this:

      Day 0 – ETD Manila
      Day 1 – Arrival in Alibijaban, pitch tents, explore
      Day 2 – Island hopping in Burias islands
      Day 3 – ETD Alibijaban to Manila

      There are other islands in Masbate that you can include in your itinerary such as Animasola and Tinalisayan Islands.

      Yes, budget mentioned covers all-in expenses.

      P8,000 is the rate we paid for the boat to Alibijaban and back and island hopping in Burias islands. 🙂

      1. ian says: Reply

        Uy, thank you very much for the quick reply! Yung sombrero and tinalisayan islet talaga yung target namin, malayo pa ba yun sa burias?

        1. Kat says: Reply

          You mean from the port in San Pascual? I read that it’s 2-3 hours. From Alibijaban, Sombrero Island is 2 hours away. Tinalisayan Island is close by, if I’m not mistaken. 🙂

          1. ian says:

            We’ll be coming from Alibijaban po kasi, the boat you rented po ba also provided the island hopping tour? Here’s our itinerary:

            DAY 0 – ETD Manila
            Day 1 – San Andres port to San Pascual then island hopping or derecho na kami island hopping tapos overnight
            DAY 2 – Alibijaban Island tour then mga hapon back to San Andres port to Manila

            Is this itinerary fine? Can we manage to explore the 4 islands in masbate? We’re fine if hindi naman maexplore lahat sa Alibijaban. What do you think? Thank you!:)

  18. Roda Feruelo says: Reply

    Hi kat. As im reading this blog.. we are literally on our way to San Andres going to Burias Island. Si Kuya Fidel din kinuha namin.. sa Bop ko rin nakuha itong idea ng Burias Island Adventure.. just want to thank you for the tips… we will be staying at Sombrero Island.. hopefully no sand flies please..

    🙂

    1. Kat says: Reply

      Hi Roda! Bring insect repellents na lang to be safe, the sand flies’ bites lasted for weeks in our case, they were really itchy. There are other islands in Burias like Tinalisayan, perhaps you can island hop in those as well. 🙂

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