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The Castle Bernardina was OK for the PHP1,000 / night that I paid. I got it at a good price because I used an AsiaTravel discount voucher. Without that voucher, it would have cost PHP1,300 / night. At that latter price, it would have been poor value for money.
I was in Lucena to make my way to Marinduque Island.
My plan was to spend 4 nights in Marinduque en route to Puerto Galera, Mindoro.
The information on the internet said that I could catch a Bangka from Gasan Town, Marinduque for Pilamalayan, Mindoro.
Going via Marinduque would not only allow me to see another island … but it would, also, act as a shortcut to Puerto Galera.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY:
Marinduque is an ‘up and coming’ Tourist Destination in The Philippines.
It boasts a number of nice beaches:
- “Poctoy Beach is located in Torrijos. It is a white-sanded beach abundant with coconut trees, rock formations, sparkling blue waves, and peace! For a small entrance fee (Php 20 for entrance fee and Php 10 for environmental fee), you can swim, stroll, and sunbathe to your heart’s content like there’s no tomorrow. Unlike its other white-sand counterparts, Poctoy Beach is slightly underdeveloped and is yet to be reached by the hands of urbanization. With that said, if you want to stay the night in this white-sand paradise, don’t expect to see any five-star hotels nearby. You can, instead, rent small ‘transient’ houses and live closer to nature.
- Aroma Beach is located in Gasan. It is the gateway to paradise of sun lovers and castaways from the city. The beach is so unnoticed and underdeveloped that there are more trees than the number of nearby buildings. Of course, having no nearby buildings means you should bring your own food, etc — but is that a problem? At least you can camp and start a bonfire at night!
- Ulong Beach is a humble beach abundant with vegetation, and towering coconut trees. The shorelines faces westward towards Mindoro and Batangas, and can become crowded during peak seasons. With that aside, however, there are a lot of activities to do here. You may rent one of the boats and set off to an adventure in the middle of the sea, perhaps?
- Amoingon Beach is located in Boac. If you like gazing at corals and colourful schools of fish rather than swimming and grilling, then you shouldn’t miss Amoingon Beach. Its waters are so teeming with marine life that many would call it the snorkeling capital of Marinduque. Still, if you’re not a fan of marine life or anything like that, you can still have fun above the clear shallow waters of Amoingon Beach. Get some fresh air and sunshine outdoors, or rent the nearest transient house and inhale the smell of the sea every morning while jogging”.
The beaches sounded promising, but I was in Marinduque at the end of the season … and the rains were coming …
The are about 6 towns on the island. Jeepneys are available to take you from one town to the next. But, the Jeepney prices from Mogpog Ferry Port are more expensive than normal … expect to pay PHP3 / km. It cost me PHP70 for the 20kms from the Port to my hotel.
Trikes are also available. Again, expect to pay more than usual per km.
Once you get inland away from Mogpog, the Jeepney costs normalise back to my rule of thumb.
WHAT TO SEE:
- Boac Cathedral
- Boac Heritage Houses
- Boac Museum
- Luzon Datum
- Malbog Surfer Spring
- Paadjao Falls
- Maniwaya Island
- Palad Sandbar
- Ungab Rock Formations
- Bathala Cave (PHP150 for a guide)
- Ka-amon Cave (PHP150 for a guide)
- Tres Reyes Island (Gaspara, Baltazar, Melchor) hopping (PHP1,000)
MY HOTEL TO DALAHICAN FERRY TERMINAL:
My research on the internet left me confused. There are meant to be 2 companies servicing the Lucena to Marinduque Island route: Starhorse and Montenegro.
Ferry times on the internet varied … there was doubt about whether or not Montenegro were still operating. They seem to ‘come and go’.
It looked like there was a ferry from one of them at either 10:30am or 11:30am. Either way, it looked like I was guaranteed at least 2 ferries between 9:00am and noon. I decided to get there by 9:30am and see what happened … as usual, I wasn’t ‘in a rush’.
The distance from my hotel to Dalahican Ferry Terminal was about 5-6kms. My rule of thumb says that this should be no more than PHP70.
I checked out of my hotel at 9:00am and walked the 30m to the front of the SM City Mall. There were Trikes waiting. I asked the first Trike for a price … he wanted PHP120. I said that it was only 5kms and that I would only pay PHP50 (pushing my luck). He showed me terminal fee chits that the Trikes have to pay of PHP18. I offered PHP70. He dropped to PHP100. I declined.
I walked to the other side of the road and flagged down a passing Trike. I asked him for a price, he said PHP100. I asked him for his best price, he said PHP80. I said OK.
THE RORO FERRY TO MARINDUQUE:
The next ferry was a Montenegro RORO leaving at 10:00am.
The internet says that it should be PHP260.
The next ferry after that was a Starhorse leaving at 11:30am.
They had a promotion on … the ticket was only PHP50.
This was the end of the season and they were both dropping their prices.
We set sail at 10:10am.
They had both indoor and outdoor seating. Both had a tv showing an old B movie in English.
I have no idea what we watched but it was very entertaining … some sort of weird docu-movie set in Africa. I laughed aloud several times … which I don’t usually do in modern comedies.
The trip was comfortable and took 3 hours.
WHERE TO STAY:
Marinduque is a fairly small island. It is easy to get around by Jeepney, but it may be best to place yourself within walking distance of one of the nice beaches.
I searched all of my usual online hotel sites. As usual, there were very few accommodation options within GRANDAcker price range.
In fact, there is very little information online about accommodation in Marinduque, full stop … and very few hotels listed in the search engines with prices. Agoda and TravelBook have no hotels listed … Tripadvisor shows 7 hotels but no prices:
Note: The A&B Coral Beach Resort is wrongly shown in the middle of the island. It should, in fact, be on the east coast in-line-with the word ‘Boac’.
It is almost like The Philippines are trying to keep Marinduque Island a ‘secret’ and off of the Western Tourist ‘beaten track’.
Booking.com list 2 hotels with Double Room with ensuite prices starting at PHP1,850 / night.
AsiaTravel.com list 5 hotels with prices starting at PHP1,000 / night … but all of their listed hotels are ‘On Request’ … which means that the booking is not guaranteed until AsiaTravel confirm room availability with the resort.
There is very little help from travel blogs. What I did find was:
- Boac Hotel, Boac Town: PHP500-PHP1,500
- Tahanan Sa Islok, Boac Town: PHP1,000-PHP2,200
- Abby’s Place, Boac Town: Aircon rooms start at PHP900
Treat these prices as ‘indicative’.
What is obvious, is that there is plenty of accommodation around the island but the majority of that accommodation is not listed on the internet.
TRIKE TO THE A&B CORAL BEACH RESORT:
As usual, I walked out of the Ferry Terminal and ignored the touts.
Just outside of the terminal you will find Jeepneys going to all sorts of destinations around the island.
I was expecting to catch a Jeepney to Boac Town followed by another Jeepney to my hotel.
I was surprised to find a Jeepney going direct to Gasan Town. This meant that it would go past my resort.
I jumped on the Jeepney and told the driver where I was going. He said that he would stop for me.
We left port at 1:25pm. The heavens opened up and it ‘persisted down’. He dropped me off at the gate to my resort at 2:05pm. It was still pouring. I took shelter under trees for a while … I ended up huddling in some poor locals front porch!
The trip cost PHP70 – which is expensive for a Jeepney in The Philippines. The trip was just under 20kms … so the rule of thumb is that it shouldn’t cost more than PHP40.
MY HOTEL – A&B CORAL BEACH RESORT:
In the end, I found the A&B Coral Beach Resort on AsiaTravel.com and booked a ‘Double Suite with Wifi’.
The room was PHP1,000 / night including taxes.
It excluded breakfast.
The Suite came with aircon, hot water shower, cable tv, and in-room wifi.
The French owner (Bruno) and his Filipina wife (Amelia) have gone to some lengths to try and address the poor accommodation standards normally found in The Philippines in this price range.
This place is one of the best value for money beach resorts that I have found after 5 months in The Philippines.
The ensuite was small but made OK by placing the sink inside the room.
The hot water shower was good and so was the water pressure.
The cable tv had movie and sports channels.
It is a small resort that focuses on a picturesque central garden.
They also have a very pleasant restaurant / bar / lounge area. The lounge area has cable tv.
The whole place has a very relaxing feel. Peaceful and homely.
It is a bit remote and 3kms away from the nearest town (Boac) – and about 1km away from the nearest Tinpot cafe.
There are a couple of local shops within 500m if you want to buy odds and sods (like a bottle of Emporia Brandy or Tanduay Rum).
The restaurant has no menu. You just ask for what you want … or ask for what they have.
Without a menu … you just have to trust them (like I did in Quan Lan, Vietnam). And, you can trust them.
On my first night, I tried their Pork Adobo with a Dangit (fish) starter.
They fed me very well with good food and plenty of it. They gave me a special price on the food because I spent a few hours helping Bruno on his laptop … but they are very reasonably priced … and so is the bar (with a beer just PHP40).
Marinduque can get crowded (with visitors from Manila) and expensive in High Season. I would suggest that you come in Shoulder Season.
I was here at the wrong time of year. At this time of year you start getting heavy rains in the afternoon. I did not see the best of Marinduque …
The trip from Lucena City to Marinduque Island is an easy one.
It took me 5.5 hours door-to-door and cost PHP310. Two GRANDPAckers should budget PHP440.
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