Zambales is a coastal province located beside the South China Sea, and it’s known for its long shoreline of beaches perfect for family getaways and barkada trips. Aside from its beaches and coves, Zambales also has several beautiful islands for beach bumming and vacations. One of these is the Magalawa Island in Palauig, Zambales. Although the island is 6 hours away from Manila, its peaceful and serene atmosphere is enriching. We went for a quick 2-day trip to Magalawa Island, and here’s our DIY travel guide and review.
This post was updated on June 28, 2021: We added the current status of Magalawa Island in this time of the pandemic. Details came from the local government of Zambales.
Magalawa Island: Brief Details
Magalawa Island is located in Palauig, Zambales, and is enveloped with the waters of the South China Sea. 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 in the island acquired through jetmatic and pitcher pumps. Fishing is a common livelihood, but rice is not grown on this island; thus, the locals have to 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
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 places. As years passed, the current from the river became stronger and wider. 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.”
How to go to Magalawa Island?
Option 1: Bus from Manila to Palauig, Zambales
In our case, we went to Victory Liner Caloocan Express Bus Terminal and took the 0430H bus bound to Sta. Cruz, Zambales. At the ticket booth, inform the staff that you will alight in Palauig, Zambales so you will not be charged with a bus ticket going to Sta. Cruz, Zambales.
Bus fare going to Palauig, Zambales, costs PHP 490/pax (USD 9.8/pax) (as of June 28, 2021), and this will take the San Fernando / Lubao route. The bus ride takes around 5-6 hours, depending on the traffic. Inform the bus conductor that you will alight in Radio Veritas Road in Barangay Pangolinan.
Option 2: Bus from Manila to Iba, Zambales
You can also take a bus bound to Iba, Zambales, but you have to retake a jeep or a bus from Iba Terminal going to Palauig. Bus fare going to Iba, Zambales varies from different terminals. (Fares posted in the table below are updated as of June 28, 2021)
|Victory Liner Cubao||PHP 437/pax (Dau – SCTEX Route)|
|Victory Liner Sampaloc, Manila||PHP 379/pax (San Fernando Route)|
|Victory Liner Pasay City||PHP 389/pax (San Fernando / Lubao Route)|
|Victory Liner Pasay City||PHP 448/pax (SCTEX Route)|
Once you arrived at the Iba Bus terminal, you can take a jeep bound to Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Inform the driver that you will alight in Radio Veritas Road in Barangay Pangolinan. Jeepney fare is PHP 23/pax.
We recommend the first option since this will take you to Palauig in just one ride rather than the second option, but this depends on your location and schedule.
Tricycle from Radio Veritas Road to Barangay Luan
Once you arrived at Barangay Pangolinan in Radio Veritas Road, you can take a tricycle going to Oslet Armada Fishdealer Compound in Brgy. Luan. Tricycle fare is PHP 100/pax, and the ride is around 20-30 minutes. 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
As I mentioned earlier, it is recommended to contact your chosen resort before going to the island for boat transfer arrangements. 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.
TRAVEL TIP: Please contact Ms. Rechie Armada-Rivera for reservations in Magalawa Island Armada Resort. Contact # 09198196725. FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/armada.resort.magalawa.island
Magalawa Island Armada Resort
We arrived on the island at around 1040H. My sleepiness was gone as I stepped down from the boat and saw the beauty of the island. Magalawa is indeed peaceful and quiet, a signature most travelers will take note of. A staff member greeted us upon arrival. She gave a brief reminder on the house rules and features and amenities of the place.
Armada Resort has many tour packages depending on the length of stay and the number of people in a group. We availed their 2D1N Complete Package for 2 for only PHP 1,600/pax. This includes a round trip boat transportation, entrance fee, 4 set of meals, and snorkeling activity.
The price is reasonable because it already includes the boat rental fee to and fro the island and the snorkeling activity. The 4 set of meals is also a great deal; thus, this rate is already a bang for the buck. Although we bring our own 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 rates for 2D1N complete package: (Updated as of June 28, 2021)
|ACCOMMODATION||1-2 PAX||3-4 PAX||5 PAX and ABOVE|
|Bring your own tent (use of common CR)||PHP 1,600/pax||PHP 1,500/pax||PHP 1,400/pax|
|Tent Accommodation (use of common CR)||PHP 1,800/pax||PHP 1,600/pax||PHP 1,500/pax|
|Fan Kubo (use of common CR)||PHP 2,000/pax||PHP 1,800/pax||PHP 1,600/pax|
|Fan Room Tree House||PHP 2,300/pax||PHP 2,000/pax||PHP 1,800/pax|
|Fan Room with CR||PHP 2,500/pax||PHP 2,300/pax||PHP 2,000/pax|
|AC Room with CR||PHP 3,000/pax||PHP 2,500/pax||PHP 2,200/pax|
The package above includes a round trip boat transfers to and fro the island, entrance fee, 4 sets of meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast, and lunch), and snorkeling activity.
About the Resort
The insignia of Armada Resort is a chocolate chip sea star, which is ubiquitous 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.
Generally, the whole place is calm and relaxing, and loud music is prohibited. The place 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 in color, and the beach waves are mild and timid. There are available nipa huts around the beachfront where you can stay and savor the wind.
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.
Take caution because of a riptide near the sandbar. Don’t go near the riptide to prevent any accidents.
Their common bathroom, though, 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 concern with your own privacy and bothered with the sanitation of their common baths, then we would recommend availing their room accommodations with private toilets.
Our 4-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.
Our Solo Experience in the Island
The number of guests was few when we visited Magalawa Island since it’s a weekday. 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.
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 tricycle going to the main highway. From the main highway, we took a jeep going to Victory Liner Iba Bus Terminal; jeepney fare is PHP 23/pax. From Iba Bus Terminal, we took a bus going back to Cubao; the bus fare is PHP 375/pax.
Overall, we enjoyed our 2D1N stay on Magalawa Island. The place is not crowded, unlike the other popular islands and beaches. 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.
|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)|
|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)|
Magalawa Island Trip Expenses
Here are our travel expenses for this 2D1N trip to Magalawa Island for 2. Please take note that additional food and pasalubong expenses are not included in the list. If your group consists of more than 5, then you will save more money and decrease expenses.
|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
- 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. Here’s her FB Account: https://www.facebook.com/rechie.armada.71
- 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.
- Bring mosquito repellents like lotions for protection, especially for travelers availing a tent accommodation.
- Also, for tent accommodations, bring your own 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 their own private baths, but they come with a hefty price tag.
- There are 2 mini-stores inside Magalawa Island Armada Resort where you can buy beers, junk foods, and other kinds of stuff.
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