Roughing It Out In Alibihaban Island

Alibihaban Island
If you're into fancy resort stays complete with a cozy bed, a squeaky clean toilet and bath, and yeah, a luxurious breakfast buffet, then stop reading--this post is not for you. Yes, I said STOP.

On the contrary, if you're game for a night or two in paradise and you don't mind the 7- to 8-hour long drive, as well as sleeping on a tent under a tree and eating grilled fresh catch with your bare hands, then by all means, read on.

Over the Labor Day weekend, while everyone was having margaritas and mojitos in LaBoracay, our group went all the way to San Andres, Quezon, in the quaint place called Alibihaban Island. Also known as "pulo" to the locals, the island is fast becoming a popular destination for camping and barkada getaways. Alibihaban Island is a fourth class municipality located off the southeastern tip of the province of Quezon.

Arriving at the San Andres port in time for sunrise

How to go to Alibihaban Island:

  • The most convenient way to go to Alibihaban Island is through a 7- to 8-hour land trip via private transportation. This gives you the flexibility to have stopovers in between, as well as the freedom to choose the less crowded route. Our group rented a 2013 Toyota Hi-Ace Commuter 12-seater van from Mec Tiangco (+639336309660). We left Makati at around 10:30 PM and arrived at the San Andres port at 5:30 AM.
  • Alternatively, you can take a bus from Cubao, which goes straight to San Andres. Superlines (aircon and non-aircon) and Barney Auto Lines (non-aircon) ply this route. Please make sure though to call your preferred bus line as the schedules may vary from time to time. Travel time is approximately 10 hours.
  • You may also board a bus (like JAC Liner and DLTB) bound to Lucena and from the grand terminal, take a van or bus to San Andres. Travel time is approximately 10 hours excluding waiting time at the grand terminal as well the several stops to pick up and drop off passengers.
  • From San Andres public market, you may walk towards the port where your boat will pick you up. In our case, since we were on a private van, we went straight to the port where we left our vehicle for the night. Minimal parking fee applies. 
  • Boat transfers to and from Alibihaban Island can be arranged through Kuya Randy (+639107629271). Please call him as he doesn't reply via text. We rented his boat at Php 1,500. We were 12 in the group plus huge bags and tents so the boat was quite overloaded. I suggest you limit the capacity to 10 people max in a boat so it is more comfy and it feels "safer." The boat ride takes around 15-20 minutes depending on sea conditions.

The wharf
The cream sand at Alibihaban Island
Where to stay in Alibihaban Island:
There are no posh resorts or inns on the island but there are locals who offer their homes for the night. You may ask Kuya Randy or his wife Ate JinJin (+639107629271) as they are one of those who have a room and a hut for rent. The room is priced at Php 500 good for 3 pax. Do not expect too much though as the room is just basic, enough to keep you safe and warm at night.

Alternatively, most tourists just camp the night away. Our group opted to bring our own tents and do the same.

Entrance fee to the island is Php 100 per person for an overnight stay and Php 30 for day tour. This is a just a new "policy" being implemented by the barangay.

There are no restaurants on the island but you can either bring cooked food enough for the duration of your stay from the mainland, or buy ingredients and have it cooked at Ate JinJin's place. There is no standard cooking fee but best to clarify with Ate JinJin first. Reasonably priced rice, water, sodas, canned goods, and alcoholic beverages are also available on the island. We opted to buy meat at the public market and water, rice, and sodas from the island so we can somehow support their small enterprise.

There are clean, basic bathrooms at Ate JinJin's place that are shared by the guests camping on this side of the island. Water is priced at Php 10 per bucket.

Our view from our tent
Our suite =)
What to do on the island?
The island is laid back and not yet developed so there's no other thing to enjoy here but communing with nature. Just in front of Ate JinJin's place, a few steps on the cream-sand beach is a nice spot for snorkeling. There are huge corals (but not much fish) out there. Beware though as oversized sea urchins and schools of jellyfish are also enjoying the view as much as you do.

Underwater in Alibihaban Island
Sea urchin is everywhere!

There are other snorkeling sites around the island, which you can visit when you do the 360-degree tour of Alibihaban. We arranged this with Kuya Randy, too. He only charged us Php 200 for gasoline on top of our roundtrip boat transfers. The tour takes around 3-4 hours depending on how long do you want to stay in one spot. The island tour is best done in the morning when the tide is still high.

Beach bumming
At low tide, you may visit the sand bar a few meters away from Ate JinJin's place. We were supposed to visit this but it was already high tide when we did the island tour so the sand bar was not visible.

Sunset on the island
The island is also a perfect place for beach bumming and sunset watching. On a clear day, the sunset is vivid and dramatic, casting yellow and orange hues over the view of the mainland.

Everyone was waiting for the sunset

The island is surrounded by pocket beaches
While my friends were snorkeling, I enjoyed the view
The rock formations on the island are also amazing

This is part of the sandbar
You may also delight in the beautiful view of the many species of mangroves that line one side of Alibihaban. You will be asked to transfer to a smaller boat should you wish to go explore the river lined with mangroves. Otherwise, you may have fun swimming at the beachside of the mangrove area during high tide. Wear aqua shoes.

The entrance to the river
The river
The boat that cruises along the mangrove-lined river

If you have the luxury of time, hire a boat to the nearby Burias Island in Masbate. Travel time is about 3 hours and boat rental is Php 6,000. This requires at least a night in Burias Island.
On our way back to our base camp
The azure waters and cream sand right in front of our base camp

If you decide to push through despite reading all the inconveniences that you might encounter on a trip to Alibihaban Island, then, by all means, go ahead. Roughing it out is part of the experience, so just be prepared to live Survivor-style. Enjoy the company of your friends and savor the beautiful views. Indulge in fresh sea breeze and bathe in the sun. Walk barefoot. Eat with your bare hands. Have a nice conversation over bonfire and roasted marshmallows. Find pleasure in the simplicity of life on the island. Travel while you can.


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