This is our long weekend trip to Alibijaban Island in Quezon and Burias Island in Masbate.
Alibijaban Island — 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 Island in Masbate is somewhere I would like to go back to again, in particular to explore more of its islands.
Trip to Alibijaban Island and Burias Island
This excursion to Alibijaban Island and Burias Island, 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.
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, Quezon: 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.
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.
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.
The sunset was perfect for photo-ops.
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.
Burias Island, Masbate: Beautiful small islands
Burias Island is one of the main islands in the province of Masbate. Within Burias Island, you can visit other spots and in fact this is a favorite island hopping destination near Manila.
At the time of our visit though, it was still an unknown spot and we didn’t know about all the islands we could visit here. We only 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.
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.
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.
There was also a series of small “caves” inaccessible to us. I don’t know what they are but they looked amazing.
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.
Travel guide to Alibijaban Island and Burias Island
How to get here
Here are the commute directions:
- To go to Alibijaban Island, ride a bus in Alabang or Cubao to San Andres, Quezon. Rent a boat that will take you to Alibijaban Island.
- To head directly to Burias Island, ride a bus in Cubao en route to Naga. Ride a van or jeep to Pasacao terminal and then walk towards the port. Ride a passenger boat to San Pascual. Inquire and register at the tourism office.
I suggest going in a group so you can hire a private van, which is more convenient compared to commuting, or going in a packaged joiner tour so transport is already taken care of.
Here’s a sample itinerary for Alibijaban and Burias islands in case you only have a weekend to spare.
– 10:00PM – ETD Manila to San Andres
– 6:00AM – Arrival in San Andres, shop for supplies
– 8:00AM-6:00PM – Island hopping in Burias island (Sombrero Island, Dapa Island, Tinalisayan Island and sandbar, Animasola Island)
– 6:00PM – Set camp in Sombrero Island
– 8:00AM – ETD Sombrero Island to Alibijaban Island
– 10:00AM-3:00PM – Explore Alibijaban Island
– 4:00PM-12 midnight – Travel back to Manila
Costs and expenses
We were a big group and we spent about P2000-2500 each.
For those who’re planning to do it DIY, here are the island hopping rates:
- P8000 for a round-trip boat service to Alibijaban Island, including side trip to Burias Island, good for 20 pax (updated as of May 2015)
- P3000 for island hopping in Burias Island only, good for 6 people, care of San Pascual tourism office (updated as of March 2017)
You can also explore other parts of San Pascual as side tours.
For hassle-free travel, you can easily find packaged joiner tours in Facebook. As of 2016, joiner tours for Alibijaban and Burias islands are priced at about P2500-3000 per person.
- Kuya Fidel, boatman to Alibijaban (including Burias Island): 0998 411 6076
- San Pascual tourism office: 0909 498 8530
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