Magalawa Island: 2021 Updated Travel Guide

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Magalawa Island is a remote paradise located near the coastal town of Palauig, Zambales. Its location is excellent for a quick getaway for friends and families. Compared to the other famous islands, travelers will love its peaceful and quiet atmosphere, which is perfect for those who need to unwind from the busy lifestyle of the city. We went for a weekend getaway in Magalawa Island, and here’s our comprehensive travel guide, experience, and review.

Magalawa Island Location and Description

Photo of Magalawa Island
This photo is an aerial shot of the southern part of Magalawa Island with the South China Sea on the horizon.

Magalawa Island is located in Palauig, Zambales. It has a total land area of 56 hectares, and it is accessible through a 10-minute boat ride from Sitio Luan. The island boasts creamy white sand beaches, towering coconut trees, rich marine life, and sea corals perfect for snorkeling and diving.

Even though the island is surrounded by seawater, potable drinking water is enormous, acquired through jetmatic and pitcher pumps. Fishing is an everyday livelihood, but rice is not grown on this island; thus, the locals must buy grains from the mainland.

Unlike other beaches, Magalawa island has a calm and quiet environment, a zen place away from the noisy and stressful atmosphere of the metro.

An Interesting History

Photo: drone shot of Magalawa Island in Zambales

According to the elders living in the place, the Magalawa Island was once connected in Sitio Luan Barangay Lipay with a river bisecting the two areas. As years passed, the current from the river became stronger and broader. Finally, due to continuous erosion, the land started to separate, creating an island. The natives called this formed island “MAG-LUWA,” which means “about two places.”

Travel Requirements Before Visiting Magalawa Island

Our travel lifestyle has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we can finally see the light at the end of this dark tunnel. Travel policies implemented across the country are more direct and established, enabling travelers to visit several tourist destinations. Here are the travel requirements that you need to complete and do before visiting Magalawa Island (these requirements are up to date as of November 13, 2021).

Step 1: Check if you’re eligible to visit the province of Zambales

Who is allowed to travel? Who is NOT allowed to travel?
Residents from Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3 areas

  • Non-risk individuals 18 to 65 years old who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals.
  • Children below 18 years old should be accompanied by their parents or guardians.
  • Individuals above 65 years old, pregnant women, and those with comorbidities who are fully vaccinated.
Residents from MECQ, GCQ with heightened restrictions, Alert Level 4 and 5 areas are not allowed to travel.

Step 2: Make a reservation at Armada Resort on Magalawa Island

Once you have identified that you are eligible for travel, don’t hesitate to contact the Armada Resort and make a reservation. You can reach out the Armada Resort through the following:

Step 3: Complete Travel Requirements

Please take note that residents of Zambales are not required to complete these travel requirements. If you are a resident of Zambales, you only need to bring your valid government ID, and vaccine card for resort entry passes. However, if you are a non-resident of Zambales, then you need to fulfill these requirements:

Zambales Travel Requirements for Non-Residents Specific Details
First, register at visita.zambales.gov.ph Prepare the following during online registration:

  • Valid Identification Card.
  • Confirmed booking at hotels or resorts with DOT-accreditation or Local Certificate of Compliance (LCOC)
Second, have a negative COVID-19 test result.
  • Unvaccinated & partially vaccinated individuals must have a negative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test result performed by a DOH accredited facility, 48-hours before travel, or negative Saliva RT-PCR test from Philippine Red Cross, 48-hours prior to travel.
  • Fully Vaccinated individuals must have a negative Rapid Antigen Test result performed by a medical clinic or hospital 24-hours prior to travel.
Third, have your vaccination card handy.
Fourth, you will receive QR-code Travelers Pass (QTP) from Visita Zambales once everything is fulfilled.

For more information and questions about travel requirements in Zambales, you can reach out the Zambales Tourism Office through the following:

How to go to Magalawa Island?

For pubic commuters, you can easily visit Magalawa Island via bus ride from Victory Liner Caloocan City going to Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Here are the directions:

  1. Visit Victory Liner Caloocan Bus Terminal and book a bus ride to Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Fare is PHP 490 (USD 9.8).
  2. Travel time from Manila going to Zambales is around 5-6 hours, depending on the traffic.
  3. Advise the bus driver or staff that you will alight at Radio Veritas Road in Barangay Pangolinan, Palauig, Zambales (please check the photos below to be familiar with the landmark).
  4. Once you arrive at Radio Veritas Road, take a public tricycle and go to Oslet Armada Fish Port in Barangay Luan. The ride from the drop-off point to the fish port is around 30 minutes. Fare is around PHP 100 (USD 2) per person.
  5. Lastly, take a boat ride from Oslet Armada Fish Port going to Magalawa Island. Travel time is around 10 minutes.

For visitors with private vehicles, there’s an available parking lot near the Oslet Armada Fish Port.

Photo of Radio Veritas Road in Barangay Pangolinan, Palauig, Zambales
This is Radio Veritas Road in Barangay Pangolinan, Palauig, Zambales. You will alight here, and there’s a tricycle station across the street going to Barangay Luan.

Tricycle route from Radio Veritas Road to Barangay Luan

photo of radio veritas road going to barangay luan in palauig, zambales
The path going to the port in Barangay Luan is smooth at first (left), but the latter part is unpaved and bumpy (right).

Once you arrive at Barangay Pangolinan in Radio Veritas Road, you can take a tricycle to Oslet Armada Fishdealer Compound in Brgy. Luan. Going to the port is smooth except on the last 1/3 of the ride due to its unpaved path and ongoing road construction.

TAKE NOTE: Magalawa Island has two available resorts, Ruiz and Armada Resort. We recommend the Magalawa Island Armada Resort since they have a better beachfront, longer shoreline of white sand beach and a sandbar. It is recommended to contact your chosen resort before going to Magalawa Island; because most of their packages include boat transfers to and fro the island. For visitors of Magalawa Island Armada Resort, you will alight in Oslet Armada Fishdealer Compound in Brgy. Luan and their staff will be waiting there.

Boat Ride from Brgy. Luan to Magalawa Island

Photo of Oslet Fish Dealer Compound in Barangay Luan in Palauig, Zambales. This port will take you to Magalawa Island.
At Oslet Fish Dealer Compound in Barangay Luan, Palauig, Zambales.

We notified the staff of Armada Resort when we arrived at Radio Veritas Road. As we reached the port, the resort staff was already waiting for us. The boat ride going to the island is around 10 minutes.


Magalawa Island Review and Experience

Photo of Magalawa Island Armada Resort
I just arrived at Magalawa Island Armada Resort.

After more than six hours of travel, we finally arrived at Magalawa Island. My tiredness was gone as I stepped down from the boat after I saw the beauty of the island. Magalawa is indeed peaceful and quiet, a signature most travelers will surely love. A staff member greeted us upon arrival. She gave a brief reminder on the house rules and features, and amenities of the place.

Magalawa Island Rates

Armada Resort has many tour packages depending on the length of stay and the number of people in a group. We availed of their 2-Day 1-Night Complete Package for two people. This includes a round trip boat transportation, entrance fee, four meals, and snorkeling activity. The price is reasonable because it already consists of the roundtrip boat ride and the snorkeling activity. Although we bring our tent for our accommodation, this is their cheapest package available for a group of 2.

If you don’t want to stay in a tent overnight, you can avail yourself of their AC or non-AC rooms for an additional price. Here are their updated rates, packages, and accommodations:

Package Details
Day Tour The island is open from 7 AM to 4 PM only for day tours.

Entrance Fee: PHP 200 (USD 4) per person

Optional cottage rental (capacity 3-6 persons): PHP 500 (USD10) per person

Overnight Tour (2 Days and 1 Night)  Check-in time on the island is at 1:30 PM, and check-out time is at noon the next day.

Entrance Fee: PHP 500 (USD 10) per person

Check the following table for the available accommodation options for an overnight stay.

Overnight Accommodations (capacity of 2-6 persons each) Price and Details
Kubo with standard fan and use of public bathroom PHP 2500-3000 per room (USD 50-60)
Room with standard fan and private bathroom PHP 3500 per room (USD 70)
Room with AC and private bathroom PHP 4000-5000 per room (USD 80-100)
Tent Rental (good for two persons per tent) PHP 600 (USD 12) per tent. Inclusions: sleeping mat, linen, and pillows.
Bring own tent Pitching fee of PHP 200 (USD 4) per tent.

If your group plans to bring your food and drinks, you need to pay the corkage fee of PHP 500 (USD 10) per group.

Photo of Magalawa Island Armada Resort Logo

About the Resort

The insignia of Armada Resort is a chocolate chip sea star that can be found around the island. Although you will see these sea stars scattered all over the shore, visitors are prohibited from touching and capturing these creatures for souvenirs.

Photo of Magalawa Island

photo of magalawa island area for tent pitching

Generally, the whole place is calm and relaxing, and loud music is prohibited. The area for pitching tents is surrounded by tall trees, perfect for providing comfort and shade in the middle of the day. The sand here is coarse yet white, and the beach waves are mild and timid. There are available nipa huts around the beachfront where you can stay and savor the wind.

Photo of sandbar in Magalawa Island
The beautiful sandbar of Magalawa Island.

My most favorite part of the island is the sandbar decorated with colorful beach flags. There are nipa huts in the sandbar too, where we spent most of the afternoon.

Photo at the sandbar of Magalawa Island
At the sandbar of Magalawa Island, avoid swimming near the riptide to prevent accidents.

Take caution because of a riptide near the sandbar. Don’t go near the riptide to prevent any accidents.

Common Bath

Their shared bathroom is not impressive. Water supply in the afternoon is limited, and the locks in some shower cubicles are defective, which is a nuisance. If you’re concerned with your privacy and bothered with the sanitation of their shared baths, then we would recommend availing their room accommodations with private toilets.

Seafood Everywhere

Our four-set meals include lunch, dinner, breakfast, and another lunch for the following day. Most meals served were abundant in seafood like fish, shrimp, crabs, mussels, and seaweeds. If you’re allergic to seafood, inform the staff for assistance.

Photo of Magalawa Island in the Morning

Photo of a visitor in Magalawa Island
Enjoy the calm and serene atmosphere of Magalawa Island.

Our Solo Experience in the Island

The number of guests was few when we visited Magalawa Island. By afternoon, we were the only guests left on the island! So we enjoyed our stay in the whole Magalawa Island Armada Resort all by ourselves.

Photo of Magalawa Island Snorkeling
There’s also a snorkeling site near the island, and the snorkeling activity is part of the resort package.

Snorkeling in Magalawa Island

After having our breakfast the next day, we went out and availed of their snorkeling activity. Snorkeling gears and fees are already included in the package.


Going Back to Manila

We checked out in the resort at 1200H and rode a boat going back to the port. After it, we took a public tricycle going back to the main highway. From the main road, we took a jeep going to Victory Liner Iba Bus Terminal. From Iba Bus Terminal, we took a bus going back to Cubao.

Photo of the admins of Lost and Wonder Philippines

Conclusion

Overall, we enjoyed our 2-day 1-night stay on Magalawa Island. The place is not crowded, unlike the other popular islands and beaches. Therefore, it is perfect for people looking for a quiet and peaceful place to stay away from the metro.


Magalawa Island Itinerary

Here’s our sample itinerary in Magalawa Island for 2 days and 1 night.

Time DAY 1
0430H ETD Victory Liner Caloocan (Bus ride from Caloocan going to Palauig, Zambales)
1000H ETA Palauig, Zambales (Drop off point: Radio Veritas Road, Barangay Pangolinan, Palauig, Zambales)

Take a tricycle going to Oslet Armada Fish Dealer Compound in Brgy. Luan

1020H ETA Brgy. Luan (Take a boat going to Magalawa Island)
1030H ETA Magalawa Island Armada Resort
1030H onwards Free time (Beach bum, swim, snorkel, and explore the island)
Time DAY 2
1200H ETD Magalawa Island (Boat ride from island going back to Brgy. Luan)
1210H ETD Brgy Luan to Main Highway (Take a tricycle ride going to the main highway)
1240H ETD Radio Veritas Road to Victory Liner Iba Bus Terminal (Take a jeep going to the bus terminal)
1300H ETA Victory Liner Iba Bus Terminal (Take a bus back to Manila)
1900H ETA Manila

Photo of Magalawa Island Restobar

Magalawa Island Trip Expenses

Here are our travel expenses for this trip. Please take note that other foods and souvenir expenses are not included in the list. If your group consists of more than 5, then you will save more money.

ITEM PRICE
Bus From Caloocan going to Palauig, Zambales PHP 391/pax (New Rate is PHP 401/pax)
Tricycle from Brgy. Pangolinan, Radio Veritas Road going to Brgy. Luan (Round Trip) PHP 100/pax

PHP 200/pax (Round Trip)

Magalawa Island Armada Resort 2D1N Complete Package for 2 PHP 1,600/pax
Jeep from Brgy. Pangolinan going to Victory Liner Iba Bus Terminal PHP 23/pax
Bus from Iba, Zambales going to Cubao PHP 375/pax (New Rate is PHP 437/pax)
TOTAL EXPENSES PHP 2,589/pax

Magalawa Island Travel Tips

Photo of Armada Fish Port
Inside Oslet Armada Fish Dealer Compound in Barangay Luan, Palauig, Zambales
  • Ensure to contact your chosen resort before going to the island for proper boat transportation arrangements and seamless travel. You can contact Ms. Rechie Armada-Rivera for reservations at 09198196725.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by bringing water-filled bottles with you all the time. There is a free water dispenser in the restaurant of Magalawa Island Armada Resort, so utilize it.
Photo of tents in the beach
A cheaper and more adventurous option is pitching a tent overnight on the island.
  • Bring mosquito repellents like lotions for protection, especially for travelers availing a tent accommodation.
  • Also, for tent accommodations, bring your bag locks for safety and security.
  • The signal reception for both Smart and Globe on the island is inconsistent.
  • Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera. Marine life is rich on the island, so don’t miss a shot!
  • Bring a first-aid kit! This is self-explanatory.
  • Bring sunscreen for protection from harmful UV rays.
  • If you’re uncomfortable with common baths, then avail of their AC rooms. These rooms have private baths, but they come with a hefty price tag.
  • There are two mini-stores inside Magalawa Island Armada Resort, where you can buy beers, junk foods, and other kinds of stuff.
Photo of at Armada's Sandbar
Enjoy the sunset at the sandbar of Magalawa Island.

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