Quezon’s hidden treasure: Golden sands in Jomalig Island

So while I’m waiting for Hali’s photos of past events, I’m going to reminisce a little about our not-so-long-ago visit in Jomalig Island in Quezon Province last April just after holy week.

If you haven’t heard of this place, that’s totally understandable and also now that you do, congrats! This place is totally awesome. If you have heard of it before, two things may come to mind:

  • (a) Golden sands
  • (b) A tiring 6-hour boat ride from the mainland.

Discovering Jomalig Island in Quezon Province

Jomalig Island is the least populated municipality in the Quezon province, according to the 2010 census. It can be reached via public boat (P300 per person) or private boat (P23-26,000 or depending on your negotiation skills). All in all, it takes about 10 hours of travel time from Manila: 3-4 hours of land travel from Manila to Quezon and then another 6 hours of boat ride to the island.

If you’re the type who prefers easy travel then I’m warning you, just forego this one.

Jomalig Island is significant to me because it’s where I met Hali (his cue to say “Ayiii”) and because this is the first outreach event of our group, which will later be known as Alon ng Pag-asa.

ALSO READ: Voluntourism in the Philippines: A New Travel Trend

Because we were carrying tons of donations — and I mean tons, we have several large boxes containing school supplies, groceries, medicines and whatnot — as well as personal luggage such as tent bags, cook set and food ingredients, we opted to rent a private boat for, in my personal opinion, a hefty price (see above). Hopefully there will be discounts for groups doing outreach programs in the future.

Six hours of sleeping, eating, chatting and basking in the sun while the boat jolts up and down with the waves. (Photo by Hali Navarro)

After much eating, sleeping in the boat and watching the seemingly endless sea, we had an exciting glimpse of the beach.

Almost untouched, Salibungot beach. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
(Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
We took shelter in the agoho trees. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

From thereon we stayed at Salibungot beach, which according to locals is the best place to stay in the area. We pitched our tents under the shades of agoho trees, about a 15-min walk from the local houses where we would wash after bathing in the sea. Another group of travelers opt to pitch beside the houses, as the golden sands are soft and would sink as one steps into them, making even a short walk tiring especially for those who spent the afternoon playing in the waters.

We brought prepared meals for a day and then ingredients to last during our 3-day stay.

Having a photo-op while our lunch was getting prepared, picnic style. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

A 3-day stay with the golden sands

As I said, this isn’t just a beach-bumming tour. Our group, Alon ng Pag-asa, is in essence promoting voluntourism or traveling with a purpose. Thus, our stay in Jomalig island in Quezon Province included a half-day outreach to 250 children (and several more not in our official list).

Donations, both in cash and kind, outpoured. We had school supplies for elementary and high school students, school bags, groceries including cereals and bread, hygiene kits, loot bags (with a few pocketed by Ryan), a hundred or so toys, slippers and used clothes (I don’t get why people call them pre-loved).

Giving away slippers to little kids (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
Kids in line for games (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

We also held games and a feeding program. It was very heartwarming. The barangay officials said that they were thankful we chose their community because their area would get overlooked by outreach organizations in the past.

The local kids hanging out (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
View of our boat from Gango community, where the outreach took place (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Before and after this short event, we were able to enjoy the untouched beauty of Jomalig Island in Salibungot beach. Apart from another group of travelers mentioned earlier, we had the whole beach for ourselves. The water in Jomalig Island is one of the clearest I’ve seen as of yet. The sands were a golden color, and it was nothing like I’ve seen before.

Aside from swimming, my companions also enjoyed jumping from the second story of the boat to the sea. (Meanwhile, I was in a life vest being drifted away by the waves.)

Hali jumping shuriken style from the boat (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Another thing that I enjoyed was the fresh coconuts being sold by the local kids. I simply love coconuts. (Hali calls me takaw-buko). I don’t think we have enough of them in the metro. I call the coconuts in Jomalig self-refilling because there’s so much coconut water inside that it’s difficult to have two.

Local kids hauling fresh coconut for us. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

The sunset in the island was equally amazing. When night came, we lit bonfires and looked up in the sky — the stars were bright, as they often are in provinces.

Sunset in Jomalig Island (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)
You can only see stars like these away from the city. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

The boatmen were nothing but nice to us. I do wish, however, that they — as well as the local government who oversee the transportation — become more environmentally aware. We were confused and shocked when the boatmen threw our thrash bags into the open sea. When asked about it, they said that’s their usual way of disposing garbage. Ah, the poor turtles and sea creatures that are going to suffer in whichever part of the ocean the trash bags will end up in.

Still, we are very grateful to our boatmen. This trip was supposed to be held during the holy week, but due to a warning of a super typhoon, we had to reschedule the following week. Our numbers trimmed down to less than 20, which means we were on a tighter budget than planned. On our last day, we were supposed to take a public boat back to Real, and the boatmen insisted that we still ride on their boat without paying the fee for private ride. They simply called for more passengers to offset the cost. They also cooked us free lunch.

Another one of Hali’s exhibitions – dolphin jump. (Photo by Hali Navarro)
We stopped by this snorkeling area before going home. (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

Travel guide to Jomalig Island in Quezon Province

I’ve added this section as response to all the inquiries we’ve been receiving after posting this article.

How to get to Jomalig Island

Option A: Real, Quezon

To go here via commute, go to Legarda Terminal in Manila and ride a Raymond bus bound to Infanta. You can ride the buses scheduled at 11:30PM – 1:00AM or wait ’til morning for the 4:00AM schedule. Alternately, you can also ride a van. Prepare P200+ each for fare. Alight at Ungos Port in Real. Travel time is 4-5 hours for bus and 3-4 hours for van.

In the port of Real, get on a fishing boat heading to Jomalig Island. Boats normally leave at 10AM-12noon. The boat ride takes about 6 hours and costs P350 per person.

Option B: Atimonan, Quezon

Go to Kamias or Cubao bus station and look for a bus en route to Lucena City. Fare is P250 per person. From the grand central terminal, take a bus or jeepney to Atimonan for P75 each. Ride a tricycle to the old port and look for MB Nicole, Mary Rose lines or other boats headed to Jomalig Island.

Budget

Prepare a safe budget of P2500-3000 per person. The more you are in the group, the lesser the expenses.

Jomalig Island Itinerary

Here’s a sample 3-day itinerary for Jomalig Island:

Day 1:
4:00AM Bus ride to Real, Quezon
8:00AM – 9:00AM Arrival in Real, buy supplies
9:00AM Ride trike to Ungos Port
10:00AM – 4:00PM Arrival in Jomalig Island, set camp

Day 2:
Island hopping

Day 3:
7:00AM Breakfast, break camp
11:00AM – 4:00PM Boat ride from Jomalig Island to Ungos Port
4:00PM Merienda
6:00PM – 10:00PM Bus ride back to Manila

Accommodations

Salibungot Beach is the premier beach in Jomalig Island in Quezon Province, and this is where we camped our tents. Now, there are lodgings and homestays in the area. The ones I know of are:

Tejada’s Resort: 0939 9097 532
– Tejada’s Resort has 2 locations in Jomalig Island
– Room rate ranges from P300 (common CR) to P500 per night
– A transient house is also available, good for 15 people

Madi’s Island Beach Resort: 0918 415 7376 or 0949 948 9210, Facebook page here

Island hopping in Jomalig Island

While in Jomalig Island, you can also island hopped to Kanaway Liit and Kanaway Laki islands by hiring a private boat. Rate costs P1200 to P4000 depending on the size of the boat. You can also tour the island via habal-habal and visit the following locations: Sadung river or brown beach and little Boracay. A habal-habal tour costs about P450-600.

During ber-months up to January, waves can be rough and as such it’s not recommended to visit during these months. Although you can visit Jomalig Island on a weekend, I recommend staying there for at least 3 days to compensate for the long travel time.

Contacts:

Any inquiries not included in this short guide, you can ask the tourism officer below. We haven’t availed the services of the guide below, but he’s been mentioned a few times in online forums.

  • Ms. Malou, Jomalig’s tourism officer: 0929 957 3655
  • Kelly Bautista, Quezon Province Tourism Office: 0922 949 1145
  • Kuya Rommel, habal-habal guide: 0909 112 145

Afterword

This trip to Jomalig Island in Quezon Province was organized by Marics Bustos and an official event of Alon ng Pag-asa. To donate, volunteer or simply know more about us, visit our Facebook page. We try our best to reply immediately to messages.

Alon ng Pag-asa volunteers (Photo credit to Hali Navarro)

We welcome friends and strangers (soon-to-be friends). Please only inquire if you are truly interested and willing to volunteer. You can contact us directly through Facebook (link above). 🙂

If you’d like to see more of our adventure in Jomalig island in Quezon Province, watch this one below. This gives so much good vibes and will probably be one of my all-time favorite videos of Hali.

We’d like to hear from you! Are you interested in visiting Jomalig Island in Quezon Province as well?

37 Comments

  1. The sparkling water is simply amazing but what is amazing-er is the spark in the children’s eyes. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience 😀

  2. Keep up the volunteering work, you guys are a blessing to this planet. I hope someday I get to join too. The smile on the kid’s face is really worth all the trouble. And the island is a beauty.

  3. This looks interesting! I do wish that it would be more convenient to reach the place though! Huhu! I feel sorry for the sea creatures affected by the garbage throwing! We really need to educate everyone on how to recycle and segregate things properly to help the environment!

    1. I agree. 🙁 Some people seem to think disposing thrash in the ocean is okay because nobody informed them otherwise.

    1. You should try camping! I love it especially beach camping. You’ll wake with a beautiful view and sound of the ocean.

  4. Inspiring and truly amazing trip as always. I wish to visit these places and be of help as well. Thanks for inspiring. Now I’m reconsidering coming up with an outreach program with our group as well. 🙂

  5. Woah! I love it when people travel for a cause. <3 I've heard of the island when some mountaineers went to Sagada and told me about their travels. Indeed, your photos show how lovely the place is. Would love to be part of your outreach program if ever I'll be in Manila, hope you would have some activities by then.

    1. You can leave a message to our page or just contact me and I can inquire about on-going outreach events. Sometimes I’m a bit busy but I try to help as much as I can. 🙂

  6. Wow, I wanna go here, I just don’t know if I’m up for camping. But this seems like a very beautiful place. Will keep this saved for future reference! 🙂

  7. Your photos are really good! It’s like, you brought me to that place. I’m checking the Facebook page now for volunteering, I’m really interested. Great read! 🙂

  8. Golden sands, clear waters, and scenic views, what more could you ask for, right? Worth a visit, I must say!! I also salute you for traveling for a cause. Keep it up! 🙂

    Regarding the incident of boatmen throwing garbage into the open sea, were you able to report it to the local government??

    1. Sadly, no. We didn’t know how to handle incidents like that. We simply talked to the boatmen and they said they’ve always been doing that. 🙁 Well, the tourism in Jomalig Island is booming now so I hope the local government has now stricter regulations on garbage disposal.

  9. You have the best photos! Really artsy. I must say that what you had is quality travel since you also had some program for the local kids! I like this idea, where can I join? 🙂

  10. I fell in love with Jomalig. And if you will ask me if there’s a chance to visit it again despite of the travel time? It’s definitely a big YES! I super love this island. The people, the golden powdery sand, the crystal clear water.

    1. If a community there needs a medical mission, why not. 🙂 Pag-usapan niyo na.

      IMO dami rin kasi ngayon nakikiuso lang, kung saan may nakitang nag-outreach dun na rin sila. Walang study or survey, ocular, etc.

  11. Thank you for “touring” us to Jomalig Island! I’m not sure if I can endure the extra 6 hour boat ride, as I get sea sick easily.. I think I’ll still love to come here, when my kids are older and they can handle the boat ride as well.. 🙂

  12. First, I love your photos in this post, they were all beautiful. I heard so much about Jomalig Island from local backpackers and they have nothing but good things to say about it. My friends and I are planning to go there but we still haven’t decided on a date. I think I’d love to bring some things for the children too, you guys got a great idea bringing in those donations.

    1. I wish you good luck then! If you’re going to hold a proper outreach event, please coordinate with the tourism officer first so you’ll know which communities to give attention to. 🙂 We were told ours was the first outreach held in Barangay Gango, so the locals were thankful that their community was finally chosen as a beneficiary location.

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