One of the best beach getaways near Manila is Alibijaban Island (located in Quezon Province) and Burias Island (Masbate Province). We went here on a long weekend sometime ago, and I’d since then updated this guide to Alibijaban Island and Burias Isalnd including a 2 days itinerary!
For a little background:
Alibijaban Island is a quiet, budget-friendly island in San Andres, Quezon. The name sounds foreign, but it’s a now-popular local destination especially during summer. Its known for its white-sand shores surrounded by mangrove trees.
Just 2 hours away from boat, you can reach Burias Island. Burias Island is one of the three major island groups in Masbate (along with Ticao and mainland Masbate). It’s composed of small islands: Sombrero Island, Dapa Island (also known as Snake Island), Tinalisayan Island and Animasola Island.
Without further ado, here is our experience on the trip.
- Our trip to Alibijaban and Burias Island
- How to get here
- 2 Days Itinerary to Alibijaban Island and Burias Island
- Budget and expenses
- Reminders and Tips
- What to read next:
Our trip to Alibijaban and Burias Island
We took this trip a while ago, as organized by Backpackers of the Philippines. I invited Hali along; we were still casual dating at this point.
It was supposed to be an outreach event, but another outreach group went ahead of us without coordination with the local barangay, so our group decided to reserve our donations for another community in the future instead. We just decided to push through with the trip for leisure.
We left at about 11PM in Manila and arrived in Quezon Province in the morning. We stopped for breakfast and then proceeded to the San Andres Port. In fairness to the local municipality, the San Andres port was clean and well maintained.
Alibijaban Island was waiting just 30 minutes of boat ride away from the port.
Alibijaban Island (Quezon Province)
Alibijaban is a small island located in San Andres, Quezon Province. At over 400 hectares in size, it’s home to a local community whose one of main incomes is tourism. The island is blessed with stretches of fine white sand and lush mangroves.
There are homestays and cottages open to tourists staying in the island.
When we arrived, the caretakers led us to a large open cottage. We dropped our bags and rested after the night-long trip to get here.
It was difficult to enjoy the moment because it was sweltering hot — the kind where you want to take a dip or look somewhere else with more breeze but the sun was too harsh and it makes you too tired to move.
We were slightly invigorated after having a lunch meal of freshly cooked fish. Hali and I decided to go to the beach.
The beach in Alibijaban was beautiful but wasn’t good for swimming. It was low tide so we could only walk shin-deep in the water. Also, there were a lot of starfishes and sea urchins in the sand. There was an area a little further which was better for swimming, but we didn’t go there.
I was a little disappointed. There was too much expectation built up from seeing the island in social media, but we wanted a place where we could enjoy a proper swim.
For the rest of the day, we walked around the island and took photos of the beach area.
As sunset came, Hali prepared the camera for some photo-op.
Due to the sudden change of plans, some of us weren’t able to bring tents, including us. Hali and I slept in the exposed cottage. During the night, my skin served as fodder for niknik (sand flies). I woke up with red spots all over the body. Hali was miraculously spared. (Can someone explain to me why sand flies favor other people and ignore the rest?) I had since included insect repellent in my must-bring items for out-of-town beach trips.
The morning was better and a refreshing sunrise greeted us. It was time to island hop to Burias Island in Masbate, about 2 hours away from the island.
Burias Island (Masbate Province)
Burias Island is one of the three main islands in Mabaste. Currently, it’s a favorite island hopping destination especially of tourists in Manila.
It’s composed of several islets, including Sombrero Island, Dapa Island, Tinalisayan Island and Animasola Island.
At the time of our trip, it was still a relatively unknown spot. We only scheduled a visit to Sombrero Island and Dapa Island. However, I’ve included the other must-see islands in Burias Island for your reference.
Sombrero Island is a private island located on the western tip of Burias Island. As we alighted the boat, a caretaker came to us to offer open cottages in the resort for day use. The resort is located along a stretch of white-sand beach with dazzling-blue water, which any beach-goers will love. There is also a long sandbar that forms a natural pool.
At the end of the island, you can see the sombrero (hat)-shaped islet which the island is named after.
The caretaker told us that the islet was once connected to the island, until sands were mined for transport to Boracay. He also told us that it’s possible to swim across to the islet, but for safety reasons, I think it’s best to get a boat.
Hali and I were happy that we’d included an island hopping activity on our trip. Unlike in Alibijaban Island, the beach here was perfect for swimming. I swam near the shore, while Hali snorkeled and swam alongside schools of small fishes. We also walked around — the island is small so you can explore it in under an hour.
The caretaker cooked us fresh fish for lunch for a free. Afterwards, we went to our next stop in the island hopping tour.
Dapa Island (also known as Snake Island) features a small beach cove surrounded by rugged rock formations. The beach here is a little rocky, and close to the shore, you can already see seaweeds and corals. As such, it’s a good place for snorkeling. In particular, you can see schools of glowing blue fishes.
You can also climb up the rock formations to enjoy an overview of the island.
There was a series of small “caves” inaccessible to us. Hali took a snap before we left the island.
Back on the boat, we passed by a huge fishing boat that gave us a large basin for free. I read somewhere that it’s a tradition among fishing boats to give some of their haul to boatmen who are less lucky in their catch. I’m touched by the generosity of the locals here in Masbate.
This is the last island we’ve visited, but I’ve included the other islands you can visit in Burias group of islands.
Tinalisayan Island is a favorite stop during island hopping tours in Burias Island. During low tide, you can see a picturesque sand bar surrounded by bluish water.
It’s best to visit Tinalisayan Island from morning until lunch time.
Animasola Island is known for its remarkable rock formations. In particular, at the eastern end of the island, you can see a giant rock formation with wavy lines. This piece is made up of sedimentary rocks which formed a pattern over the years.
Currently, tourists are not allowed to climb up the rock formation but you can still take photos in the ground. You can also take a swim at the natural pools found at the back of the island.
My thoughts about the trip
I enjoyed this weekend trip with Hali and the rest of our group.
However, I will be honest. Alibijaban Island has its charm, but there’s too much hype built around it. I know a few people who’d been here a couple of times already and love it. For me though, one visit is enough. Seeing the beach and mangroves was nice, but the beach area was mostly shallow and filled with sea urchins and our 2 nights were filled with bites from sand flies. The sand flies are now a humorous topic among us, but it’s not something I would want to experience again.
On the other hand, I enjoyed our island hopping tour in Burias Island in Masbate. I’d love to go back here again, in particular to explore the rest of its islands and whatever else the province offers.
It’s no wonder that it’s now one of the popular summer destinations in Luzon.
How to get here
From Manila, there are 2 options for the jump-off point to island hopping: San Andres in Quezon or San Pascual in Masbate.
Via San Andres Port
San Andres is about 7-8 hours away from Manila. San Andres Port is the common jump-off point to Alibijaban Island and Burias Island.
Here are the commute directions:
- From Alabang (Starmall) or Cubao, ride a bus bound for San Andres, Quezon (about P450-500 per person).
- From the terminal, walk or ride a padyak (side car) to San Andres Port. Once in San Andres Port, register in the tourism office first.
- From San Andres Port, you can either take a motorized banca to Alibijaban Island only (P50 per person, 30-45 minutes) OR charter a private boat for Alibijaban only or island hopping to both Alibijaban Island and Burias Island.
Note: If you’re bringing a car, there is a parking lot in San Andres Port where you can leave your vehicle overnight.
Via San Pascual Port
Another option is San Pascual via Naga.
Here are the commute directions:
- From Cubao, ride a bus bound for Naga City (P700-1000 per person, 8-9 hours).
- From the terminal, take a tricycle to the north-bound terminal and then ride a jeep or van to Pasacao (P70 per peson, 45 minutes).
- From Pasacao, ride a ferry to San Pascual in Burias Island (2 hours, about P130 per person). Once in San Pascual, register at the tourism office.
- Charter a boat for island hopping.
2 Days Itinerary to Alibijaban Island and Burias Island
Here’s a sample 2 days itinerary for Alibijaban and Burias islands.
|Day 0||10PM – ETD Manila to San Andres|
|6AM – Arrival in San Andres / registration|
7AM – Breakfast / shop for supplies
8AM – 6PM – Island hopping in Burias island (Sombrero Island, Dapa Island, Tinalisayan Island and sandbar, Animasola Island)
6PM – Stay overnight in Sombrero Island or Alibijaban Island
|7AM – 3PM – Explore Alibijaban Island|
3PM – 11PM – Travel back to Manila
From San Andres Port, the ideal start of island hopping tour is Animasola Island, which is the furthest island (2-3 hours away), and then the rest of the islands in Masbate.
You may choose to stay overnight in either Sombrero Island or Alibijaban Island.
Budget and expenses
Here are the current rates (Updated as of 2020).
Boat rates from San Andres Port:
- Boat to Alibijaban only: P1500 (good up to 10 people)
- Boat to Burias Island only: P3000 for 3 islands (Animasola, Tinalisayan, and Sombrero) + P500 each island added (Dapa, Arena, Templo, Taguingui, and Busing)
- Boat to Alibijaban and Burias Island: P9000 (good up to 10 people)
Fees in Alibijaban Island:
- Entrance fee: P100 per person
- Tent rental: P200 (good up to 2 pax)
- Room for overnight stay: P700-1000 (good up to 2-3 pax)
Fees in Burias Island:
- Animasola Island: Entrance fee – P20 per person
- Tinalisayen Island: Entrance fee – P50 per person
- Sombrero Island: Entrance fee – P80 per pereson
- Dapa Island: None
For hassle-free travel, you can easily find packaged joiner tours in Facebook. As of 2020, joiner tours for Alibijaban and Burias islands are priced at about P3000 per person.
Reminders and Tips
- Commuting to either port may be a hassle. I highly suggest going in a group so you can charter a private van for transport or join a packaged tour to Alibijaban Island and Burias Island.
- If you don’t have a pre-arranged meal setup, you can buy ingredients in San Andres Market and have it cooked for you in the island for a fee. You may also buy fresh catch from the island locals.
- Bring aqua shoes for protection. There are sea urchins in Alibijaban Island, as well as Animasola Island and Tinalisayan Island.
- Bring insect repellent, especially if you plan to stay overnight in Alibijaban Island.
- You can also explore other parts of San Pascual in Masbate as side tours if you still have time.
Here are some boat operators you can contact:
- Kuya Fidel: 09984116076
- Kuya Randy: 09107629271/ 09982758413
What to read next:
Looking for fun, affordable summer getaways near Manila? Check these out:
- Alibijaban Island and Burias Island (Quezon & Masbate)
- Jomalig Island (Quezon)
- Maniwaya Island (Marinduque)
- Bulalacao (Oriental Mindoro)
- Tambobong Beach and Cabongaoan Beach (Pangasinan)
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).