Snorkeling area in Maniwaya Island
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

Maniwaya Island (Marinduque): DIY Guide + 2 Days itinerary

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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 Maniwaya Island itinerary.

P.S. Planning a summer trip? Here are the Best Beaches Near Manila for Quick Getaways.

Our trip to Maniwaya Island

This trip was taken 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. At the time of our stay, I’d say that the resort was okay but needed 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.

Maniwaya Island, Marinduque
Arriving in Maniwaya Island.
Outdoor cottages in Maniwaya Island
Outdoor cottages for day trips and overnight.
Camping grounds in Maniwaya Island
Camping grounds.

What I didn’t like is the restrooms. Some toilet stalls did not have a trash can or pail. Most cubicles didn’t have locks, and some doors were even broken so you couldn’t close them properly. 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. I was really disappointed 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.

Beach in Maniwaya Island, Marinduque
Beach in Maniwaya Island.

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.

Snorkeling Area

Our first stop is the Snorkeling Area. I don’t know if it has a name, I think 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.

Snorkeling area in Maniwaya Island, Marinduque
Snorkeling area during low tide.
Snorkeling area in Maniwaya Island
Me looking out.
Snorkeling area in Maniwaya Island
You don’t need to wear goggles and swim underneath to see the thriving coral life.
Peng snorkeling in Maniwaya Island
Our friend Peng.
Freediving in Maniwaya Island
Peng freediving.
Corals in snorkeling area in Maniwaya Island
Snorkeling in Maniwaya Island, Marinduque

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 laughed and made jokes. I was agitated that I didn’t enjoy snorkeling as much as I would have.

Hali urged me to post about this incident online. However, I’m not a fan of public shaming and I think this is 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.

Ungab Rock Formation

Ungab Rock Formation, Marinduque
Ungab Rock Formation.

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.

Palad Sand Bar

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.)

Palad Sand Bar, Marinduque
Me in Palad Sand Bar.

We dawdled here a little while our boatmen look for shells for food.

Shells in Maniwaya Island
Our boatmen gathered 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.

Overall thoughts

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 Maniwaya Island from Manila. The most common is via General Luna in Lucena. Travel time is about 6-7 hours.

Here are the commute directions:

  • From Alabang or Buendia, ride a bus to Lucena and get off at the Grand Terminal. (From Alabang, 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 (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).
Sunrise in Maniwaya Island

Here are some things to note:

  • For private cars, there are locals that open their garages for overnight parking for a minimal fee.
  • Get breakfast and/or buy supplies at the market in General Luna before the boat ride.
  • There are scheduled passenger boats to Maniwaya Island. 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

Here are the accommodations in Maniwaya Island:

  • Wawie’s Beach Resort
  • Playa Amara
  • Residencia de Palo Maria
  • 3 Brothers Beach
  • Pielago Beach – Lucky 7
  • Marikit na Beach Resort
  • Cozea Beach Lodge

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.

Island hopping tour in Maniwaya Island

An island hopping tour includes:

  • Palad Sand Bar
  • Ungab Rock Formation
  • Snorkeling area

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. But it is cheaper if you have a direct boat contact.

2 Days Maniwaya Island Itinerary

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 25:30 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):

AccommodationWawie’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
ActivitiesIsland hopping: P6500 (good up to 10-15 people)
Habal-habal to Sunong-Bato: P100 per person
OthersParking fee (General Luna Port): P100 overnight
General Luna to Maniwaya Island boat: P180 per person

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!

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    • Katherine Cortes

      Hello. We asked the resort to arrange the island hopping tour. I wasn’t able to get our boatman’s number.

  • lebron

    i love how honest you are in your review. im a rugged male adventurer/freediver, but when it comes to hotels, it’s always the restrooms i check first. so, thanks for the heads up.

  • Chat

    Hi thanks for the info. I really appreciate it. Were going to maniwaya this May. A friend of mine told me that the easiest and safest way if through dalahican. Do you have any idea?

    • Katherine Cortes

      Hi Chat! I’m not familiar with that route but I researched a bit and it says going via Dalahican Port is best if you’re going to explore the mainland first. If you’re going straight to Maniwaya Island, better go via General Luna.

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