Maniwaya Island is a popular beach destination in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque. It offers a decent beach and island hopping activity to spots like the Ungab Rock Formation and Palad Sand Bar. Here’s our trip to Maniwaya Island including a guide with sample 2-days itinerary.
P.S. Planning a summer trip? Here are the Best Beaches Near Manila for Quick Getaways.
Our trip to Maniwaya Island
I went on this trip in 2018. My friend Peng invited me to come along after we’d done a freediving lesson in Batangas. I wanted to practice threading and snorkeling without a vest, so I said yes.
Our group met in Alabang at night and we arrived in the island the morning after. There are a few resorts in Maniwaya Island, and we chose to stay in Wawie’s Beach Resort.
Camping at Wawie’s Beach Resort
Wawi’s Beach Resort is the default choice for backpackers. The resort is okay, but it needs improvement.
The space for camping tents is huge and it’s easy to choose a spot facing the beach. There are outdoor cottages where guests eat and hang out and there’s a kitchen area that’s available for everyone. The staff here is very helpful and friendly, and you can approach them anytime.
What I don’t like about it is the state of the restrooms. I’d been backpacking for a while now, and I’m at this age where I want a decent restroom. It doesn’t have to be super luxurious and even the good ol’ pail system will do, but at least I want it functional and clean. Here, there is constant running water, but some toilet stalls do not have a trash can or pail. Most cubicles don’t have locks, and some doors are broken. When I first went in the restroom, I accidentally walked in on someone in the toilet, and when I took a bath, it was in a shower stall that was half opened so anyone could come in. You can probably tell from my tone how disappointed I was with this.
Anyway, moving forward.
Maniwaya Island is a good option for out-of-town trips especially among barkadas. There are of course better beaches elsewhere, but the island itself is decent enough — the beach is clean and calm, there are activities available such as island hopping, and it’s not as crowded as other locations like Anawangin Cove in Zambales. It’s also easy to look for a place to eat: Wawie’s Beach has its own restaurant and there is also another one nearby. You can also bring your own food for cooking and then use the resort’s kitchen. Moreover, you can buy fresh fish and other seafood, depending on the catch for the day.
You can spend all day relaxing, drinking in the cottages, or strolling along the beach.
The beach looked inviting but we didn’t swim because it was full of seaweeds. If we had more time, we’d probably try to snorkel past the seaweed field to where we can see the corals and starfishes.
Island hopping in Maniwaya Island
If you ask me, a beach getaway isn’t complete without island hopping!
We had three stops for island hopping in Maniwaya Island: Ungab Rock Formation in Mongpong Island, Palad Sand Bar and a snorkeling area. We asked if we could also visit the taclobo (giant clam) sanctuary for snorkeling, but we were told that it had been closed to the public as per DENR.
Our first stop is the Snorkeling Area. I believe it does not have a proper name, it’s just a random spot where the guides take the guests who request to snorkel. This is an amazing location with clear water that allows you to see the underwater from the boat and there are lots of corals, most of them hard types. There are also schools of fishes and sea urchins waiting to prick unsuspecting victims.
Here are some photos that I took of the coral garden. If this doesn’t entice you, I don’t know what will.
P.S. If you like snorkeling or diving, another place I recommend is Apo Reef in Mindoro.
The current here was a little strong though, so if you’re not a confident swimmer, it’s best to wear a lifevest.
Midway through our snorkeling activity, some people in our tour group started stepping on corals. I reminded them not to and explained that they were harming the corals, but no one listened and some of them just made jokes. I was agitated that I didn’t enjoy snorkeling as much as I would have.
I told this to Hali afterwards, and he urged me to post about it online. However, I’m not really a fan public shaming because oftentimes it targets individuals rather than the issue. This incident is not only a matter of discipline but a reflection of a bigger problem — namely, lack of local regulations and training for local guides. I’m not aware if there is any local regulation in place in Maniwaya Island (I hope there is), but at that time no one said anything.
I’m telling this story as a reminder for everyone that we should take Coral Etiquette 101 seriously.
Anyway, we went next to Ungab Rock Formation. It’s a rock formation with an arc, located at Sitio Ungab in Mongpong Island. It looks delicate, as if it would collapse in case of an earthquake.
We swam under the arch and took photos. We also swam in the beach but it’s full of tall seaweeds underneath and it felt like navigating in an underwater maze.
The next morning, we scheduled to visit Palad Sand Bar. We left our resort just after sunrise and arrived at about 6AM. The sand bar only appears during low tide. The sand bar is ordinary — the sand is coarse, grayish. Moreover, due to the low tide, we had to walk very far to be able to swim.
(We’d looked up photos of Palad Sand Bar online after this trip and realized that it’s at its best when partially submerged in water. Then you can see it surrounded in bluish water, similar to that in Kalanggaman Island.)
We dawdled here a little while our boatmen look for shells for food.
After the sand bar, we went back to the snorkeling area for another go.
That’s our island hopping experience in Maniwaya Island. To me, the beaches are ordinary but I love the snorkeling area and this alone made the trip worth it.
As I said above, there are better beach destinations elsewhere but Maniwaya has its positive points too. It’s easy to commute to, it fits a budget plan and it’s less crowded. It’s ideal for large groups of people, in particular barkadas. And last but not the least, it has an amazing snorkeling area.
How to get to Maniwaya Island
There are different ways to get from Manila to Maniwaya Island. The most common is via General Luna in Lucena. Travel time is 6-7 hours.
- From Alabang or Buendia, ride a bus to Lucena and get off at the Grand Terminal. Fare from Alabang is P180, travel time is 2-3.5 hours, depending on traffic and how crazy your bus driver is.
- From the Grand Terminal, board a van to General Luna (P170, 2 hours) and get off at the market (near the port).
- From the market, walk or take a tricycle to the wharf. Ride a boat to Maniwaya Island (1 hour).
Here are some things to note:
- For private cars, there are locals that open their garages for overnight parking for a minimal fee (about P100 overnight).
- Get breakfast and/or buy supplies at the market in General Luna before the boat ride.
- There are scheduled passenger boats to Maniwaya Island (P180 per person). Or you can charter a private boat for transfer. As for us, we have pre-booked island hopping tour which includes round-trip transfer from General Luna to Maniwaya Island.
Where to stay in Maniwaya Island
We stayed in Wawie’s Beach Resort. The resort has a camping ground for tents and also rooms available.
We brought our own tents and then rented an outdoor cottage for the group.
If you’re in a group, I recommend just booking a room because the rates are reasonable and it’s easier than carrying your own tent.
Here are other places to stay in Maniwaya Island:
- Playa Amara – Facebook
- Residencia de Palo Maria – Facebook
- 3 Brothers Beach – Facebook
- Pielago Beach – Lucky 7 – Facebook
- Marikit na Beach Resort
Island hopping tour in Maniwaya Island
An island hopping tour includes Palad Sand Bar, Ungab Rock Formation, and snorkeling area.
Here are some things to note:
- Aside from places mentioned above, you can also visit Sunong Bato. This is a lagoon located in Mongpong Island, where you can swim or cliff jump. You can include it in your island hopping tour or you can visit it via habal-habal.
- We asked Wawie’s Beach Resort to arrange the island hopping tour for us. It is cheaper if you have a direct boat contact.
2 Days Itinerary in Maniwaya Island
Here’s a sample 2 days itinerary in Maniwaya Island:
|Day 1||12 midnight – 6AM – Travel from Manila to General Luna|
6AM – 7AM – Breakfast / buy supplies from market
7AM – 8AM – Boat ride from General Luna port to Maniwaya Island
8AM – 1PM – Check in / lunch / free time
1PM – 4PM – Island hopping
5PM onwards – Free time / dinner
|Day 2||5:30 AM – 8AM – Visit Palad Sand Bar and/or snorkeling area|
9AM – 12 noon – Breakfast / check out of accommodation
12 noon – 1PM – Boat ride back to General Luna port
1PM – 7PM Travel back to Manila
Budget and expenses
Here are the current rates (Updated as of 2020):
|Accommodation||Wawie’s Beach Resort|
Entrance fee: P50 per person
Tent fee: P300 (bring your own) / P500 (tent rental)
Outdoor cottage: P1000 overnight
Overnight rooms: Start at P1200
|Activities||Island hopping: P6500 (good up to 10-15 people)|
Habal-habal to Sunong-Bato: P100 per person
We’re a group of 10 and we spent about P2300 each on this weekend trip.
For a 2-day trip, in a group of people, a safe budget is P2500-3000 per person.
Have you been to Maniwaya Island, Marinduque? What’s your experience? Let us know in the comments section below!
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)
Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).