The search for the next Boracay: Magalawa Island, Zambales
Looking to escape the city bustle this summer? This secluded island may be just for you.
Magalawa is a 56-hectare island on the west coast of Luzon. It is located in Palauig, Zambales, which is also home to surf spots and hidden coves. The island is best known for its white fine sand and pristine sandbar. It is also called the Island of the Stars because of the abundance of starfish in its waters, according to locals.
Magalawa Island with its creamy white sand beaches and prestine waters is perfect for swimming, water/sand sports, boat riding, jetskiing, scuba diving, snorkelling or just relaxing on the beach amidst the crystal clear waters and white sand. Other attractions in the island include: coral reefs, magroves and abundant water resources.
HOW TO GET THERE:
BY PRIVATE VEHICLE: take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTex) thru Subic Bay Freeport Zone or Olongapo City on to Zambales; pass by the towns of Castillejos, San Marcelino, San Antonio, San Narciso, San Felipe, Botolan, and Iba before finally reaching Palauig; upon reaching the town of Palauig, turn right at Banlog Triangle and drive north to Brgy. Pangolingan; turn left at Veritas Road and drive straight ahead to the respective ports of your resort; and finally a boat ride to Magalawa Island. Travel time is less than 20 minutes.BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: take a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales from Victory Liner terminals in Pasay, Manila, and Caloocan. Travel time is 4 - 5 hours, more or less; alight at Veritas Road in Brgy. Pangolingan in Palauig; from there, it's just a tricycle ride to the shore; and finally a boat ride to Magalawa Island.
WHERE TO STAY:
Ruiz Resort: cottages start at P500/night. Phone: +63 928 856 8242; Armada Resort: cottages start at P1,000/night. Phone: +63 920 948 3303 or visit their website at magalawaislandresort.com
WHAT TO DO:
Magalawa Island is ideal for backpackers who want to lay back and retreat from the busy lifestyle of the metro.
Both resorts offer snorkeling as part of their day tour and overnight packages. If you opt not to avail of a package, snorkeling rates start at P100/head.
2. Pitch a tent and camp around a bonfire
Both resorts offer tent pitching and tent rentals. However, only Ruiz Resort offers lighting of bonfires.
• Day tour: Tent rentals start at P200.
• Overnight Camping: P1,800 / person minimum of 2 pax. Includes 2 days 1-night stay, round-trip boat transportation, entrance fee, a tent, and 4 meals.
3. Take a walk on the island's sandbar
If you're staying at Ruiz Resort, a P50 fee will be collected by the Armada Resort.
There is a rip current on the left side of the sandbar. Heed the warning sign.
4. Go island hopping
Ruiz Resort offers island hopping to Potipot Island and Bacala Sandbar in San Salvador Island. Rates start at P200/head to Bacala Sandbar, while guests must rent a boat for P1,000 to go to Potipot Island.
5. Go kayaking
Ruiz Resort offers small boats which can be used for kayaking for P100/head for one hour.
WHERE TO EAT:
It is best to bring your own food or avail of the resorts' packages as they have meals included. Ruiz Resort offers a grilling station while Armada Resort has a floating restaurant and a canteen where you can buy all-day breakfast meals, which start at P100.
WHAT TO BUY:
As a budding tourist island, Magalawa offers shirts and accessories made of shells as souvenirs. Fresh fish and dried fish could also be bought.
TIPS FOR RESPONSIBLE BEACHGOERS:
1. Respect the surroundings. Don't leave your trash on the beach. Better yet, don't create trash. Avoid buying drinks in plastic bottles, using plastic straws and plastic bags.
2. Respect marine life. Don't disturb turtles, fish and other creatures. Don't step on corals because those things are fragile.
3. Respect people. Avoid playing loud music that disturbs others. Be sensitive by wearing appropriate clothing. Wearing bikinis near churches, schools or offices may offend the locals.
4. Patronize establishments that don't pollute. If your hotel's drainage leads directly to the sea, maybe it's time to check other accommodations.
5. Pick a beach that doesn't get a lot of people as congestion puts stress on the environment.
NEARBY DESTINATIONS TO CHECK OUT:
MANGROVE FOREST: located at the western trip of the island, a 20-minute walk from Ruiz Resort. Such a tranquil place to spot egrets.
SAN SALVADOR ISLAND: Visible to the east from Magalawa Island. Accessible via a 10-minute boat ride from Magalawa, San Salvador is home to various taklobo (giant clams) species and a small coral garden as well.
POTIPOT ISLAND: Though farther than Magalawa, Potipot is more popular and more frequented by tourists. It is a small 7-kilometer island located off the coast of Uacon in Candelaria, two towns further north. Accessible in a one to two-hour land trip from Palauig, plus a 5-minute boat ride from any resort in Uacon.
MASINLOC ECOTOURISM WONDERS: Come and join the Masinloc Ecotour Program in San Salvador Island. Participate in the Marine Ecology Learning Program that includes: trip to the Mangrove Island, marine protected areas and Giant Taklobo Farm. Explore the natural beauty of underwater scenery thru scuba diving and snorkeling. Enjoy the sumptuous food (seafood, vegetable and fruits, and seaweeds) that will surely delight the visitors. Have fun while learning the environmental development program. OTHER ATTRACTIONS: 1) Masinloc Boardwalk Project. The project serves as a marine park, playground and a favorite site for various arts and cultural programs and activities; 2) Marine Sanctuaries. Two (2) other marine sanctuaries were established in sitios Panglit and San Lorenzo, managed by the Marine Protected Area managers or Bantay Dagat volunteers; 3) San Salvador Island. The long stretch and white sand beach around the pristine island captivates hundreds of tourists every year. Snorkeling on the Giant Clam Farm (Tridacna Gigas) in San Salvador provides enjoyment to nature lovers with awesome underwater scenery; 4) Caving. The unexplored caves of Sitio Bunga in Brgy Sta. Rita will surely amaze nature lovers with their astounding stalactites and stalagmite formation; 5) Waterfalls. The descending cool fresh water at KM 18 with its 15-ft waterfall provides relaxing moments for visitors and picnic - goers; 6) Mangrove. A 5-ha Mangrove-formed island (Yaha) in San Lorenzo is one of two sites in the Philippines where rare breed of mangrove abounds; 7) Coto Kidz Poo. The site offers a naturally designed swimming pool at the foot of a forest reserve where one is bound to walk thru a breathtaking hanging bridges at Coto Mines; 8) Pawikan and other Marine Species. Endangered sea turtles abound in Sitio Longos, Brgy. Bani where these sea creatures freely lay their eggs. Other marine species abundant in the area include: yellow fin (tuna), skip jack (round scad), squid, octopus, lapu-lapu, Spanish mackerel, seaweeds, among other species; 9) Fresh Mango (Carabao variety). Masinloc's One Town One Product (OTOP). Known as the sweetest fruit in the country as declared by the Guiness Book of Records; 10) San Andres Parish Church. A 400-year structure is the oldest Augustinian Catholic church built in Zambales in 1607. In 2001, the church, made of coral stones, was declared as a national cultural treasure by the National Museum; 11) Bacala Guesthouse. This structure sits astride a sand bar in the middle of the bay; 12) Binabayani Festival. Celebrated on November 30 every year, the event is a street dance/play depicting the clash between the Spaniards and the native of Masinloc - in honor of San Andres, the patron saint of the town.
Credit: Gillan Ropero / http://news.abs-cbn.com/life/multimedia/slideshow/04/02/18/the-search-for-the-next-boracay-magalawa-island-zambales. N.B. Rates may change without prior notice. Contact your favorite tour operator for further details. Or contact the following office:
Zambales Provincial Tourism & Investment Promotions Office
Office of the Governor, Provincial Capitol Bldg., Iba, Zambales
Contact Maria Domitela Mora - Provincial Tourism Officer
Phone (63 47) 307-2450 / 0918-217-5929
Office of the Governor (63 47) 811-3228/7203
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